Friday 17 January 2014

World of Tanks History Section: Sharing Parts

Two articles on similar themes were posted, and both were pretty short, so I am going to merge them into one. The theme is components that belonged in both a tank and an airplane, in this case, engines and guns.

A Tank's Winged Heart

The tank is a mobile battle unit. Therefore, its engine is no less important than the gun or armour. Every country building a tank encountered the problem of an engine that combined two important factors:. First of all, a tank engine needs to be powerful enough to move a multi-ton vehicle. Second, the engine needs to work in conditions far from ideal, it needs to be reliable and forgiving.

The optimal solution would be a special tank engine, but it was not always possible to develop one. Tanks used engines from tractors, cars, airplanes. 

The talented American engineer J. Christie used airplane engines for his vehicles. The experimental M1928 used a V-shaped Liberty L-12 engine. The tank reached a speed of 120 kph in trials on wheels, and 65 kph on tracks. This engine was used on aircraft until 1927.

Liberty engines were used on British cruiser tanks, including the Crusader tank, widely used in the first parts of WWII. The later Cromwell tank used an engine derived from an aviational design, the 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Merlin III. Famous airplanes such as the Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and Mustang X used this engine.

The Continental W6709A engine was used on the American M5 Stuart tank, one of the country's most massively produced tanks. The M2 Medium tank, another tank from the early days of WWII, used the 9-cylinder Continental R975EC2. 

The USSR developed the M-5 engine based on the Liberty L-12, which was used on BT series tanks. Later, the USSR developed another engine that was installed on planes, as well as tanks. The M-17 engine was based on the German BMW-VI. M-17 engines were installed in heavy TB-3 bombers, I-3 fighters, MDR-2 flying boats, and other vehicles. Modified M-17 engines were used on BT-7, T-35, and T-28 tanks.

It's hard to find a person that has not heard of the German super-heavy Maus tank. Many don't know that one of the potential engines that could have powered it was the Daimler-Benz DB.603 airplane engine, manufactured since 1942. This engine was used in He-219A-7 long range bombers, Me-410B heavy fighters, and other aircraft.

The eventual decline of aircraft engines used in tanks was due to the fact that airplane engines are more suited for working in the air. They were unreliable on tanks and needed high quality fuel, which was expensive to produce. Finally, airplane engine factories simply could not provide enough engines for all customers. Nevertheless, over the course of many years, tanks from many countries rode into battle with "winged hearts".

Original article available here.

Weapons of Two Worlds

Development and improvements in airplane design led to aircraft that were difficult to shoot down. This was especially true for bombers, whose toughness grew with size. Typical armament of a 1930s fighter consisted only of rifle caliber machine guns, making shooting down a bomber very difficult.

Adding more machine guns did not solve the problem. 

Earlier, we spoke of airplane motors used in armoured vehicles. The same thing happened with guns. Some of them descended from the skies, others did the opposite, flying upward after being developed for land combat.

Airplane guns usually had a small caliber, 20-37 mm, but they were automatic, which meant they could fire in bursts. Cannons drastically increased the firepower of aircraft.

The small T-60 tank was developed and produced in 1941 to replace the losses of Soviet tank units during the first stages of the Great Patriotic War. The first T-60s were armed with the tank version of the 20 mm automatic ShVAK cannon, based on the ShVAK-20 aircraft cannon. The use of the ShVAK did not start with the T-60, it was used on earlier T-40 and T-30 tanks. The gun proved itself picky: it was not used to a dirty tank, and the automatic mechanisms would jam. The gun was modified, and the result was called TNSh-20 (Tank, Nudelman-Shpitalniy). The VJa (Volkov-Jartsev) cannon was also explored, but was never implemented in metal.

There were also large caliber plane guns. For example, G and H modifications of the Mitchell B25 bomber had 75 mm cannons. This gun was later used on the M24 Chaffee tank. It was planned with an M3 gun, like the Sherman, but it turned out that the mass and recoil were too much for a light tank. Engineers decided to equip the Chaffee with the bomber's gun.

An example of a gun that migrated from tanks to planes would be the 50 mm KwK 39 German gun, used in the PzIII tank. The BK-5 aircraft cannon was inspired by its design, and was used on the Me.410, Junkers Ju88P4, and jet fighter Me.262.

Original article available here


  1. "He 219 A-7 long range bombers"

    What the flying freck?! He 219 is not a long range bomber, not even the A-7 version of it, and it's a highly advanced specialised night-fighter! What a translation mistake!

    1. "Этим мотором оснащался дальний бомбардировщик He-219A-7"

      Don't shoot the messenger.