mercoledì 17 aprile 2013

"Buff my tank!" - Panzer III

Hello and welcome to the first edition of "Buff my tank!"

The "Buff my tank!" articles are meant as an historical way to look at some tanks considered underpowered in game and ways to improve their combat abilities discussed by the original german engineers.
Beware that while being sometimes ironic in tone, the article treats about both costs and benefits of every choice and it most likely will never be listened by WG as suggestion.

Panzer III... almost the perfect MMO tank.
It has been "buffed" several times during its historical operational life, but ultimately it faced its demise as it was hopelessy outgunned by T-34 and KV tanks, while being in trouble returning fire as both 5cm and 7.5cm L/24 cannons were effective only when firing special ammunition such as APCR or HEAT.

In game the situation is pretty much the same and we will be using Panzer Tracts 20-1 to showcase a possible tank modification.
While being an agile and reasonably armored medium good versus its tier IV peers, its gun selection is rather anemic against most tier V enemies.
This made many players (especially the less experienced ones) ask for a buff of the tank as it can be rather dependent on "gold" ammunition when not top tier.

Historically, german engineers faced similar troubles and of course raced to find alternate solutions.
APCR was a short term patch, although an expensive one, while operationally the Panzer III ended up being replaced by the rearmed Panzer IV with the 75mm L/43 and L/48, while the chassis itself found its second life as STUG III.

The Panzer III/IV was another solution that found itself on prototype stage while its chassis powered again some (rather good) self propelled guns, but in game it is already represented as a tier V tank.

Still, this was not the first attempt to merge the two tanks:

In december 1941 Krupp was requested to mount the Panzer IV turret in a Panzer III chassis, and by the end of the year a preliminary design was ready:

Thus, the Panzer III Ausf K was born.
As "pimp my ride" was not on TV yet, calculations were started and the price to pay was a large increase in weight, meaning new tracks and suspensions were needed, as well as the fact that mobility was surely impacted despite the best design efforts.

In game terms this is a very similar situation to the old Pz IV with Panther narrow turret.
Estimating with game stats, it means over half a ton extra weight without taking into account any ancillaries and going by "Wargaming Engineering".
As the in game improved suspensions limit is set at 22.65 tons so it could be doable and using the top 440HP engine even power to weight ratio still looks good enough so mobility shouldn't be affected overall.

It looks almost too good to be true, right?

To balance this, unfortunately reality strikes with a huge nerfbat.

Mounting a bigger turret without serious modifications to the hydraulics means that rotation will become a lot more sluggish, prone to failure or will plainly require manual cranking.
This means in game a greatly reduced turret rotation.

Mounting a more powerful gun on a lighter chassis that is already unbalanced by an heavier turret means that recoil will have a stronger kick.
This translates in lowered accuracy, increased aim time and gun dispersion.

Oh, did I mention the designers saw the modification would affect the center of gravity?
Say hello to terrain passability and track rotation nerf.

Finally, bigger gun on a smaller tank?
Less ammo of course.

The final verdict:

Doable, but it will transform german ergonomics into a disguised mid-tier french tank.

Are you sure you want to pay the price?

Thank you for reading and see you in the next article!

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