today, we are going to have a look at the tier 2 of the Czechoslovak branch, the LT Vz.35. This tank is well-known to most of you under the designation of Panzer 35t and it is actually in the game already. I won't dig into the history of this vehicle too much as it is well-described by many sources in many languages (wikipedia is not that good but generally sufficient). To sum it up: it's a 1935 pattern light tank designed by Škoda. It is inspired by the Vickers designs and it was actually a really solid light tank for its time, being superior to both Panzer I and Panzer II and somewhat better than the Polish 7TP (another Vickers clone). 298 were made for Czechoslovakia, 126 for Romania (R-2, these had slightly different turrets) and 10 for Bulgaria (these had different guns). By 1939-1940 however the tank was rather obsolete and was generally phased out quite fast.
Now, that's the basic history. So, was this the only Czechoslovak candidate for tier 2?
Not really. Czechoslovakia has shitloads of tier 2 light/medium tank candidates actually - but most were just prototypes and so it boils down to only two serious candidates. Praga LT Vz.34 and Škoda LT Vz.35.
This is LT Vz.34. As the number suggests, it was the predecessor of the LT Vz.35 and the first mass-produced actual light tank of the Czechoslovak military (designed and made by Praga). It doesn't look all that different from the LT Vz.35 - if you can't tell the tanks apart at first glance, look at the suspension. If it has that massive bar covering the bogeys, it's the LT Vz.34. Vz.34 was actually also quite important for the Czechoslovak military - just not as much as the 35, since only 51 were made (including the prototype). It had very thin armor and mediocre mobility and was in most aspects inferior to the LT Vz.35. It stayed in service until the war when it was probably used for training by Germans.
In any case, in the contest between these two vehicles, I picked the LT Vz.35 for tier 2 and left LT Vz.34 for the alternative light tank branch. There were more of them and it is one of the most important vehicles of our military as I said. Recently one was restored (the only one running in the world) and can be seen during various events (next one will take place on 29.8.2015 in Lešany):
Okay, back to the vehicle in the game. Here's how it will look:
Well, that's just the preview anyway. So I know what you are thinking - how will that tank be different from the Panzer 35t that we already have? What will happen to the German one?
Hm. For one, the German Panzer 35t is not getting removed like some of the false rumors suggested. Nope, it is staying, just... with fake modules. Some time ago I wrote about how unhistorical the LT Vz.35t (Panzer 35t) is in the game and how it should be fixed (have a look at it if you are interested in details): http://ftr.wot-news.com/2014/09/29/fixing-the-panzer-35t-tank-in-hd/
So, basically what happens now is: Panzer 35t will stay around with fake turret, modules and stuff while the LT Vz.35 is what the tank should historically look like. If you've read the article above, what happened was that the Czech LT Vz.35 will be turned into "option one".
But... why that option? Okay, this requires a bit more explanation.
The major problem with balancing the Panzer 35t is not a lack of modules (there are plenty, including guns), it's the tank one tier above, the LT Vz.38 which is a massive pain in the ass to balance. Its biggest problem is the firepower - the LT Vz.38 (or Panzer 38t as you know it) didn't carry any 47mm guns, that is a Wargaming fake in WoT. And no, there was not even a project for that (we'll get to the joys of 38t balancing in our next article but basically its top caliber was 37mm). That essentially means that we are also limited to 37mm caliber on LT Vz.35 despite the fact it had 47mm options available - it would be really weird to "downgrade" the firepower from tier 2 to tier 3 by removing the 47mm caliber for tier 3 if tier 2 has it after all.
That limits our options severely as we have to have the top gun of 37mm caliber. This leaves us only with two options because we have to throw out the large T-12 (47mm) turret as an upgrade, leaving:
- option 1: top turret T-11, gun 37mm A8
- option 2: top turret T-13M, gun 37mm A7
Option 2 is not only not well-documented however (there are only like 2 photos of the vehicle), it is also just a prototype while option 1 was mass-produced (well, of sorts - the tanks originally meant for Afghanistan went to Bulgaria instead afte the occupation). Historically option 1 seems more logical, the same goes for the modelling side (T-11 turret is identical to the original LT Vz.35 turret with one exception - the viewport on the left side of the gun).
Right, now you are probably lost in the numbers and stuff again, so let me just get back to the vehicle itself. I only wanted to demonstrate how convoluted the decisions what modules to take can be.
Modelling this vehicle (or - rather - getting materials for it) was actually a bit of a pain in the ass as well. Getting to the measurements of a LT Vz.35 is not that hard, that tank is covered well in many, many books. The T-11 is much more interesting. For one, there are very likely none left in the world. One LT Vz.35 (or T-11 - so I thought) is actually in the Sofia military museum:
Have a look at the turret and gun, this is not a T-11, this is a stock LT Vz.35. See the white cross right from the gun? There should be a special viewport there - that's how you can tell it's a T-11 turret and not a LT Vz.35. This is the T-11 for comparison:
In short, T-11 turret was not different from the LT Vz.35 turret at all - the major difference was the gun. See how it is missing the large "dick" (recoil compensator) above the gun? That's because the gun was reworked for different recoil mechanism. One thing though: this is NOT the same game as can be found on LT Vz.38 (even though it looks roughly the same). That one is called the A7 and this one is called the A8. A8 was developed from A3 (which is the Škoda LT Vz.35 stock gun) and is - performance wise - somewhat inferior than the A7. The main point of the A8 was to make it fire faster than the A3 (semi-automatic loading mechanism).
Anyway... let's have a look at the vehicle in the game:
Weight: 10,5 tons (both LT Vz.35 shared the same weight, the only major difference was the gun)
Crew: 3 or 4 (driver, radioman (both in the hull), gunner/loader/commander or separate loader) - one is "early" variant, the other is "late" (used by Germans)
Armor is sufficient for its tier, not much can be said about it:
Stock turret (LT Vz.35): 25/16/16mm
Top turret (T-11): 25/16/16mm
As you can see, the armor of the stock turret does not really increase. The T-13M variant mentioned earlier would increase it to 30mm but that's really not all that much difference (save maybe for overmatch purposes but with such low tiers this is mostly pointless anyway).
Mobility - here's where it gets a bit confusing. I am actually not sure which engines will they pick (they haven't been picked yet), there are only two historical engines:
- T-11/0 with 120hp
- T-11/2 with 135hp
The vehicles's maximum speed was 34 km/h and with 12,86 hp/t, it won't be the most agile vehicle out there really. So - so far we have mediocre armor (if sufficient) and mediocre mobility, what about firepower? There are basically two guns:
Škoda A3 and Škoda A8. The first one we already have in the game (check the Panzer 35t 37mm L/40 gun)
Rate of fire: 23 RPM (theoretical), 12 RPM (aimed)
Barrel length: L/39,5 (sometimes noted as L/40, 1460mm)
AP shell weight: 0,85 kg
Muzzle velocity: 685 m/s (675 m/s Pejčoch)
Penetration: 30mm at 1000m (Francev) or 30mm (90 deg, 550m) (Kosar), 32mm (90 deg, 650m) (Pejčoch)
HE shell weight: 0,825 kg (1,42kg the entire shell)
In the game:
The A8 gun we know next to nothing about save that it fired faster than the A3 and that it had roughly the same parameters. It's possible it will be buffed to the A7 level or that both guns will have buffed penetration in general. Time will tell. Gun depression is very comfortable for both guns: -10/+25.
Suspension: likely just named LT Vz.35 and T-11
Radios: likely Radiostanice vz.35 as stock and FuG's as elite
So what we have here is a mostly mediocre vehicle with no real strong side but also without glaring weaknesses. The armor is relatively okay for its tier, it doesn't have pesky limited range autocannons and it's not terribly slow (not very fast either but what the hell). What is however most important for me: it's almost completely historical and that's the way I like it.