Thursday, 25 September 2014

World of Tanks History Section: Post-War Light Tanks

LTTB

The acronym has a rather oxymoronic meaning: Light Tank with Heavy Armour (Legkiy Tank Tyazhelogo Bronirovaniya). However, if one looks at the requirements sent by the military to the Omsk tank factory in 1944, everything falls in its place.

The LTTB was meant for recce in force. Because of this, it was supposed to have good armour protection from the front. The sides were about on the level of a T-34, up to 45 mm. The tank was first planned with a 76 mm gun, but it was later replaced with an 85 mm S-53.

In theory, this tank could be useful for the army. Fast, well protected, effectively armed. However, the production of the LTTB would have been too complicated. It would have to start from scratch, which means new assembly lines, extra spending, extensive trials. Neither the extra time nor money existed for this project, as the factory was busy producing T-34-85s. In the end, the design never left paper.

T-54 Lightened

The project was developed at factory #183 in Nizhniy Tagil, a producer of the regular T-54, in 1949. The vehicle was meant for special duties, for which the use of a regular T-54 was not possible.

The tank had thinner armour in the turret and hull, which allowed the reduction in mass from 36 tons to 31 tons. Additionally, the new vehicle would have had wider tracks, reducing ground pressure even further, and allowing for the vehicle to be used in difficult terrain.

Due to its lighter mass, the speed of the tank was expected to reach nearly 58 kph. The armament would have been the 100 mm D-10T. Work on the vehicle never made it past blueprints.

T37

This tank was designed as a replacement for the M24 Chaffee. The requirements for this vehicle were ready in early 1945. Work on the project started after the end of the war, when the American military budget was slashed.

The T37 received its designation in September of 1946. Initially, the military ordered three prototypes at the Detroit Arsenal, but this order was reduced to 2. The wooden mockup and technical documentation were ready by 1949. The vehicle was tested at Aberdeen in 1949-1950.

The T37 did not reach mass production. The Korean War, which began in 1950, forced some changes to the American design program. The T37 did not meet the new requirements, and a new vehicle was designed using it as a starting point, the T41.

M41 Walker Bulldog

The vehicle was initially indexed T41, and used many components of the T37. It was ready in 1948, and Cadillac Motors received an order for 100 vehicles, increased tenfold with the start of the Korean War, along with increased requirements for the engine, aiming mechanisms, and ammunition rack. In 1953, it was adopted into the Army under the index M41.

At first, the tank was to be called "little bulldog". However, after American General Walton Walker died in an airplane crash, the vehicle was renamed in his honour.

The Walker Bulldog was produced until the end of the 1950s, with over 3700 vehicles built. The tank was taken out of the American armed forces for its weak armour and armament, but continued service in some nations for many years.

T49

The Korean War and clashes of American vehicles with the T-34-85 forced the US military to consider greatly increasing the firepower of its vehicles, including light tanks.

In 1954, the T49 began trials at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. The M41 chassis was equipped with a new turret and the 90 mm T231E3 gun. Trials of the T49 lasted until May of 1955, but the military demanded even greater firepower.

In the end, the T49 was equipped with a new 152 mm gun. T49 trials ended when a new chassis was developed, and the turret with the 152 mm gun was transferred over to it.

Spahpanzer Ru 251

This lesser known German experimental tank was based on the Kanonenjagdpanzer 4-5 vehicle with a 90 mm gun. Unusual, since usually SPGs are based on a tank chassis, and not the other way around.

The light, fast, and well armed Ru 251 was meant to replace the ageing Walker Bulldog in the German army. The Henschel company was tasked with production and testing. The tank was meant for reconnaissance battalions of tank divisions and other units. A notable feature of the vehicle was its speed, up to 80 kph. The Ru 251 had a 90 mm Rheinmetall gun.

According to known sources, there were two Ru 251 vehicles built.

Original article available here.

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