SilentStalker, who most of you may know as the head of FTR, he was my Mentor and Sensei (he hates when I call him this *Evil giggle*) in the ways of the blogging and father of the Czechoslovak Tech Tree in WoT has agreed to write an series of posts about the incoming CZ Tanks:
The Czechoslovak tier 6 premium is the first introductory Czechoslovak medium tank for the upcoming line. As someone who helped putting it all together, I'll post my few comments about this tank and the Czechoslovak branch in general. I won't comment on the general things as there will be a series of posts - Rita willing - on how this entire thing was put together and why some (seemingly illogical) details are there.
Right then. The T 40. The T 40 was a medium tank designed in very late 1946 as a response to the demand of the Czechoslovak military to develop a unified medium tank. At this point the communist future of the country was far from certain and many people could not imagine what would happen a little more than a year from that point so basically it wasn't really considered to arm the entire military with Soviet tech (or, rather, it was not considered any more than arming it with - for example - the British tech). Indigenous development was generally preferred in 1945 to 1947 but the army seriously lacked any number of armored vehicles. There was a whole bunch of Soviet tanks from state-of-the-art (IS-2) to worn out vehicles (76mm T-34's for example). There was a bunch of western tanks as well (Challengers, Cromwells, some Stuarts) but the most armored vehicles we had were German (Panzer IV's, Panthers, some Tigers of various mods - those were never used though, a lot of Jagdpanzer 38t's and such). In other words, there was no real unfication in anything. The TVP program (a "universal tank", basically a precursor to the MBT class) was a way to remedy the situation.
Now, why T 40 as a premium tank
As you know, in WoT each new nation is preceded by a premium tank that comes one or two patches ahead (two patches in this case IIRC as all the Czechoslovaks might appear in 0.9.12 by the end of the year). Therefore, in order to get the branch approved, there also had to be - apart from the suitable branch candidates - a proper candidate for the premium tanks. At this point the T 40 was not discovered in the archives yet (I'll get to that). The vehicle had to be mid-high tier (6-8, because those sell well) - this removed a lot of interesting vehicles from the play as those appear to be tier 4-5 at most.
First candidates for this role were:
- some sort of TVP stage with a suitable gun - you simply pick one of the guns that were intended for the program, put it on one of the early vehicle models and make it a premium, much like WG is so fond of doing lately
- T-40/75 - a modified (often kitbashed) Panzer IV
- some clone of an existing vehicle with Czechoslovak markings
The first option was the most desirable, the last was the least desirable and the T-40/75 is just "meh". And so the search for the suitable variant began.
In the literature (the only book there is by M.Dubánek) however, the T 40 is - incorrectly - marked as the early part of the T 50 program by Škoda. Dubánek mislabeled a whole bunch of things but luckily I got in touch with Mr. Jiří Tintěra and Mr. Vladimír Francev. Both are renowned Czech military historians and their knowledge of Škoda and Praga vehicles knows no equal. They were kind enough to agree to help.
It was Jiří Tintěra who found the blueprints of the T 40 in the archives. Dubánek (who published the book on post-war Czechoslovak designs earlier) did not mention the T 40 designation at all. Oh well, we just found a new, suitable tank :) The blueprints of the tank were passed to Wargaming and it turned out to be a pretty good tier 6 candidate. The deal was "sealed" by Yuri Pasholok and his colleagues traveling to Prague last year and confirming the validity of the vehicle as a premium to the person who decides the branch design (it's actually not Storm, or at least not directly but I would probably be doing the guys a disservice by mentioning exact names beyond Yuri, who is publicly known).
And so we suddenly had the premium vehicle. With this vehicle in play, the branch was finally approved. By that time I collected a lot of materials on the rest of the branch and passed them to WG as well.
About the T 40 in the game
Škoda T 40 in the game is actually very historical (or at least true to the materials provided). The way the vehicle looks had to be reconstructed by a Wargaming specialist (as it happens to all "paper" vehicles). When I first saw the reconstructed looks on paper, I was like "that's awesome!" - seriously, this requires the amount of detail rarely seen even in books. And so the looks are as historical as it gets.
Now, the armor:
Again, quite historical. The problem is, some parts in the documents didn't have the thickness described (specifically the mantlet) but overall, the vehicle is quite correct - 65mm front, 30mm sides, 40mm turret sides and unsloped hull sides etc. Not a lot of armor of course but given the tier of the vehicle, it's sufficient.
Tier: 6 MT
Engine: 700 hp
Weight: 39.95 tons
Power-to-weight: 17,52 hp/t
Maximum speed: 50/20 km/h
Hull traverse: 38 deg/s
Turret traverse: 33,4 deg/s
Terrain resistance: 0,767/0,863/0,918
Radio range: 740,4
Hull armor: 65/40/?
Turret armor: 65/40/?
Gun: 88mm L/57
As you guessed it, it's the Tiger gun. Not! Actually it's a modified 88mm flak gun, not the Tiger gun itself. The gun is a bit longer (L/57) and as you can see, it's missing the muzzle brake. But for gameplay purposes it IS the Tiger gun with the exception of shells. The gold shells are "Vz.46 průpalný" (1946 pattern HEAT) and are mostly fictional - there was the intention to develop such shells for the gun but as far as I know it never happened. The depression is mediocre (-5/+20) and the aimtimes and accuracy do correspond to the general performance of the gun as well as the fact the vehicle is a premium one. The vehicle carries 80 rounds that are placed on turret sides and hull sides (in the "niches" above the tracks). That makes it quite vulnerable from the sides.
16 cylinder diesel Škoda engine, 700 horsepower - historical. The weight (39,95) is historical as well and so the power-to-weight ratio is also (17,52). Maximum speed (50 km/h) is also historical - interestingly enough the vehicle also had 5 gears for reverse and could go backwards as fast as forwards but this is not possible to model for balance purposes.
This one is actually interesting. By 1946 there was no unified radio station and the description of the vehicle doesn't mention the type. Therefore it was pretty much a "what would be the best radio for the vehicle" call as anything British, German or Soviet could be picked. In the end we went with German Fu 7 radio station (in later vehicles this would be replaced by indigenous RM-31T radio station). The designation however ("FU 7 SE 20 U") is made up by WG and I have no idea what it means.
Overall it's a nice little tank I think. It's not very slow and the gun is sufficient even against tier 8's (well, with the gold ammo anyway).
RG: Hope you enjoyed! :)