For the Record: On Tank Dimensions
Hello everyone, this is something I actually wanted to post for a while, but it’s quite a long topic, so I wasn’t sure how to tackle it. We will be talking about tank dimensions. You know, when I started out reading on tanks, I always took the drawings in books as… I don’t know… granted – there is a schematic drawing for example (in German case, it’s usually copied from Panzer Tracts or some other work of H.Doyle and T.Jentz) and it doesn’t occur to you that it might be actually wrong. But it can be. Maybe it won’t come as a shock to you, but even respected historians (or authors at least) can get drawings wrong. I must say this is another point I didn’t know about, before Yuri Pasholok started posting about it and initially, it came to me as a surprise. This might seem an insignificant thing (so a picture in a book gets something wrong, who the hell cares), but this has strong impact on World of Tanks models. You see, contrary to popular belief, World of Tanks models aren’t all made by people, who run around tanks and measure them with a tape. In some cases this actually might have happened, but WoT is full of tanks, that existed only in blueprints or Wargaming simply doesn’t have access to them and that’s where drawings from books come into play. Sometimes, even vehicles, that exist in real life, are modelled after drawings, because for one, it’s easier (you have the dimensions and everything laid down) and secondly, often more accurate (in case you use accurate sources) than real life measuring. For example – we remember the IS-3 turret armor changes, right? These (along with the shape and dimension changes) happened, after Wargaming got their hands on real assembly blueprints, which were different from what was written in some books on the IS-3. Another case could be the IS-4 – a known Russian author, M.Svirin, created a projection of the IS-4. Yuri Pasholok took it and compared it to the real vehicle: As you can see, Svirin’s projection is clearly wrong. It’s not the only case of course. Two prominent examples, concerning World of Tanks, came up lately. First is Yuri Pasholok’s measurements of the Hummel. It’s a long post, but the point of it is that not always do the drawings correspond to the “canonical numbers” (of course, there is the part where Polish “Militaria” publishing company gets bashed, apparently, they got the Hummel drawing completely wrong). And even IF you measure the vehicle in real life yourself, there is no guarantee you get it right. This would be the notorious example of then FV4202, the armor thickness of which got measured by WG EU staff (in this case, Challenger plus one other guy, can’t remember who), who apparently (if I remember the story correctly) had an ultrasound measuring device, but either couldn’t operate it properly, or couldn’t get a proper reading – the first being more likely, because some time after them, US player Xlucine went to Bovington as well with a borrowed ultrasound device (this stuff is expensive and not easy to come by btw) and measured it properly. After not managing to use the device, WG staff simply took rulers and roughly measured the thicknesses based on various holes and openings in the armor. I don’t probably need to say how well that went and the result is, FV4202 in game is quite overarmored. In their defense, measuring something as large as a tank is actually not trivial – tried it myself on a vehicle much smaller than the FV4202, didn’t work too well either. Generally speaking, the factory drawings themselves are the best source for tank modelling – better than measuring real life vehicles even! Why? Because during the assembly, there can be mistakes, there can even be tolerances (in case of some Russian and German wartime tanks, VERY large tolerances), various “unhistorical” (one-time only) armor can be used (like the 5mm thicker lower frontal plate on some Panthers) or the shape might simply end up different (for example, the IS-3, that can be found in Lešany (CZ) looks different from one other IS-3 in Russia, so one of them is “wrong”). In the end though, the decision which sources to use for modelling WoT vehicles is sort-of arbitrary. Sometimes, there is exactly one book that deals with some vehicles and when you don’t have access to that particular archive, you have to trust it. Or you don’t. But the fact that Wargaming actually TRIES to bring the vehicles to their historical dimensions is quite positive. Of course, you can make mistakes even if you have all the literature in the world (example being the M6A2E1 “Alien”, that has wrong hull, despite Hunnicutt describing the correct hull – someone simply screwed up), but it’s the intention that counts in this case.