For the Record: Potential Hull Upgrades: Soviet SPGs and TDs
Light, Medium, and Heavy tanks are all done with, so let’s move on to the rest of the tech tree. I will be combining the two branches into one article, since the potential for extra hulls is a bit lacking on the SPG side. Tier 2 does not give us very much. The AT-1 was released in a very limited production run (10 units), and it is unclear how far the SU-18 made it off paper. The tier 3 SPG SU-26 also does not have much in the way of alternate hulls. Since these vehicles were improvised in Leningrad during the blockade, the hulls are likely to vary visually, but nothing that would have any effect on the gameplay. The SU-76 on the other hand is where we hit the jackpot. Aside from the experimental SU-16 (one drive wheel shorter), there was a variant of the SU-12 (SU-76′s initial index) with a 6 mm roof. My personal favourite would be this variant of the SU-76M, with a fully enclosed crew compartment. * At tier 4, the SU-85B is another one-off prototype, but it does have a development trail that could supply alternative hulls. The SU-85 14-ton tank destroyer developed at the Molotov factory was first fully enclosed, but then the A and B variants had open fighting compartments. 3 modifications of the SU-5 were accepted by the Red Army: SU-5-1 (76 mm divisional gun), SU-5-2 (122 mm howitzer) and SU-5-3 (152 mm mortar). However, the SPG hull remained unchanged between the modifications. Only minor variations in the gun shield would give away what kind of SPG you were looking at. A hull option for this SPG is very unlikely. At tier 5, the SU-122A is another one-off prototype (if that, I have never seen a photo of one), but the SU-85 was very much mass produced! Not only that, but the SU-85 also matches another mass produced vehicle, the SU-122, giving us a lot of freedom to work with the hulls. Here is a SU-122 prototype, the U-35. It was entirely unacceptable from a crew ergonomics point of view, leading to an enlarged hull for later SU-122 models, but had some advantages that would be represented in game, such as 60 mm of front armour (as opposed to 45 mm on the current SU-85). The SU-122 adapted for the S-41 howitzer project*further increases the size of the crew compartment by 100 mm (sadly, I don’t have any photos of that). There were many more variations of the SU-85, but their changes mostly affected the gun and gun mantlet, and not so much the hull. A case can be made for the SU-85M hull (commander’s cupola, 75 mm of front armour), but such a vehicle is already represented by a stock SU-100. The SU-100 is in the same boat as the SU-85: lots of modifications, but they only concern the gun. However, its artillery tier-mate, the SU-8, finally gets a modification: the SU-8 was developed with both front and rear gun placements. Those of you that have been with TFR for a while are probably familiar with this modification from one of my earlier articles. Up at tier 7, the TD branch splits, but doesn’t make my job any harder: the vehicles in the new TD tree are all shameful failures*experimental prototypes, and do not come with hull modifications. The non-shameful tier 7 TD, the SU-152, sadly, does not have any alternate hulls, as it was in production for a relatively short amount of time. Perhaps the slightly flatter hull of its precursor, the KV-7, could be used, even though it never mounted a 152 mm gun. However, the two-gun and three-gun KV-7 armament models existed in the game client, at least when I last checked about 2 years ago. The SU-14-1 artillery does not lag behind. In 1936, the open top 203 mm SPG was re-armed with a 152 mm gun and received an armoured casemate. The result, SU-14-Br2, is similar to the SU-14-2 SPG at tier 8. Interestingly enough, the SU-14-2 itself is a SU-14 that received the same treatment: addition of an armoured casemate and replacement of a 203 mm howitzer with a 152 mm gun. Both of these vehicles could have a closed and open hull configuration. The S-51 was only built in one configuration, but a note from the Kirov factory gives it some hope of having another hull: “As a result of experience in the construction of self-propelled guns in 1942-1943, it was deemed possible to install a B-4 howitzer in a semi-enclosed SPG”. It’s possible that such a hull was designed, but I have never seen it. The tier 8 ISU-152 matches its SPG peer with a hull option. Someone noticed that the ISU-122 was a whole ton lighter than the ISU-152, and that this ton could be filled with extra armour. There is enough space to increase the front armour of the vehicle to 150 mm, and the mantlet to 160 mm. Only one Object 704 was built, and the 212 did not even get that far: an armoured hull was built, was shuffled between factories for a while, and then recycled, likely in 1943. The tier 10 vehicles are also prototypes, and would not get hull upgrades anyway, due to their tier 10 status. This concludes my series of articles exploring alternative hulls for Soviet vehicles. It will be interesting to see which of these options will actually be implemented in 9.0*in*2014*within our lifetimes eventually KTTC.