For the Record: Amphibious tanks in World of Tanks?
Hello everyone, not so long ago, I wrote about airborne tanks and how pointless they would be in World of Tanks battles. Let’s have a look at the other category, that is sometimes brought up in various World of Tanks proposals and there was a time when players were asking “what about amphibious tanks?” quite often. Since then, this question appeared somewhat less, but it still pops up every now and then. Let’s have a look at it. Short summary of amphibeans There are technically three ways for a tank to cross a deep body of water without someone else’s assistance. First (and probably the least important in our context) is deep fording. The vehicle is converted with a fording kit (usually a large snorkel), that allow it to basically ride on the bottom of the water body. A lot of tanks can actually do this in a limited way, including for example the Leopard 2 or T-54 (the T-54AR is a Czechoslovak modification of the T-54 medium tank for deep fording). This is obviously pointless in World of Tanks, as it would completely break the game balance on some maps, if regular tanks could go underwater. Additionally, it would create the same issues as the other amphibious variants, but on even larger scale. We’ll get to that. It’s worth noting that the Maus was theoretically capable of deep fording too, but only with the help of another Maus. Second are “native” amphibious vehicles, eg. armored vehicles, that are constructed specifically to float on water. There are several of these tanks technically viable for World of Tanks in fact, but they invariably would belong to very low tiers. Above, you can see the Soviet T-37 amphibious tankette. The development of these light floating vehicles begun in 1931 or so in Britain by Vickers – Britain was not interested and therefore Vickers sold the design to Russia, where it was gradually developed into the line of T-37, T-38 and T-40 amphibious tankettes. These vehicles were equipped only with a 7,62mm machinegun (the T-40 had a 12,7mm though) and had extremely thin armor (4-14mm on T-40), making them tier 2 at best (T-40). In real life, these vehicles were (just like other tankettes) not very successful and practically disappeared after 1941. Another country with “viable” design would be probably the USA and its LVT series (specifically LVT(A)-1 and LVT(A)-4) – the two models mentioned were equipped with what was basically an M3 Stuart or M8 Scott turret. Extremely lightly armored, these vehicles saw service with the US Marines in the Pacific and some remained in service well until the 50′s. This is by the way where China could come in, as it was found out that in China, the LVT vehicles were actually converted into tank destroyers by mounting the ZIS-2 57mm gun. An unlikely “candidate” would also be Czechoslovakia, that in fact created three amphibious tankette projects before the war (ŠOT, ŠET, F-4-H), quite an odd choice for a country without its own sea. Either way, that gets us to the third category (that is possibly the most famous), the conversions. Before and especially during the war, there numerous attempts to make various “regular” tanks float, so they could cross bodies of water. This was a category the British were very interested in. Probably the best known is the Sherman DD (Duplex Drive), where additional floaters and a amphibious propulsion system (propellers) were added to the Sherman by British engineers (based on the Straussler floater system, named after its Hungarian inventor). Sherman DD’s actually saw successful service during D-Day (although some were lost), so the device worked. The British tried to convert other vehicles to the DD system (specifically, Valentine, Cromwell and even Churchill) with various results, but none were as successful as the Sherman DD. The Americans also had such a device, called “T-6″, it was used in the Pacific, but it wasn’t apparently as widespread. Another nation with convertible tanks were the Japanese – most notable of them being the Type 2 Ka-Mi. Although it was designed as an amphibious vehicle in the first place and as such it should theoretically fall into the second group, for land operations, it could be converted into a “regular” vehicle by removing the large floaters, resembling a boat. Ka-Mi design was somewhat successful and was used practically until 1945, although mostly not in the role it was intended for. Only 184 units were made – it was quite a complicated vehicle to produce and later (during the island defense battles) there was no real demand for amphibious operations. Its two successors (Ka-Chi and Ka-Tsu) were not mass-produced. Finally, the Germans were testing two concepts for the invasion of Britain (Operation Seelöwe): the Schwimmpanzer II (basically a Panzer II with floaters) and the Tauchpanzers (based on Panzer III and IV), deep-fording conversions capable of travel on sea bottom. Around 250 pieces of all three types were converted before the operation was cancelled. The concept of an amphibios tank (apart from the DD Sherman and the Pacific theater) sort of died during the war, only to re-appear in post war years as a part of the APC/IFV concept. The American Sheridan was concieved as amphibious and so was the Soviet PT-76. In World of Tanks I think it is absolutely clear to everyone that the amphibious tanks cannot appear in the current game form, as that would be completely pointless. There are practically no maps with large water bodies and the ability to cross (currently uncrossable) rivers would also be redundant: with the addition of more fords to Erlenberg in 8.11, there are enough places to cross any river, should a player desire to do so. The only thing that would happen, should amphibious vehicles be implemented right now would be various abuse of this mechanism (for example an amphibious vehicle could scale down the Cliff map side towards the sea and hide where no other tank could reach it). Eventual large maps with large water bodies, that would justify the use of an amphibious vehicle, carry another danger with them. Want to camp safely? No problem – go to the middle of a large body of water and stay there. Noone else will be able to reach you. I am sure this would actually make many botters, campers and AFKers very happy, but it also would bring nothing to the game. The ability to appear unnoticed behind enemy lines would require a map big enough for you not to get spotted as soon as you get into water. In this sense, amphibious vehicles would be even more vulnerable than regular scouts, as there is Continue reading →