Status Report: CZ Tree Part 5 - T-24 (also: "WG modelling")
long working day, too much coffee... what does it mean? That's right, another piece of the Czechoslovak series. This time about the tier 5 - the T-24. There was a lot of fun with this one as well.
So, this is how the T-24 is supposed to look. And yes, there's a story hidden behind the "supposed to".
First a bit of history. TLDR version: two wartime projects by Škoda for a medium tank to replace Panzer IV, sloped armor inspired by T-34 - lighter T-24, heavier T-25. T-24 was cancelled very early on. Long history can be read here (under the T-25 entry). Please otherwise disregard everything in that article, it is very old and obsolete. The history part is sound though.
So, about the T-24. As it was true with the other tanks (see the ancient article I linked above), the plan to put the T-24 on tier 5 (at least my proposal) was very, very old. Back then, I kinda thought - so, there's a drawing, the vehicle roughly fits, there are some modules... no problem, right?
Naturally I was wrong but this is where things start to get interesting. See that drawing above? That's the only published "official" drawing in existence. Its author is Ivo Pejčoch - a renowned Czech military historian and a prolific writer (he wrote the Obrněná Technika series where he in multiple volumes describes the pre-war and wartime era armored vehicles of each country). When it comes to Czechoslovak armor research, he's very famous - much like Vladimír Francev, he's to Czechoslovak tanks what Hilary Doyle is to German ones and his books are the foundation on which I based my tree proposal.
Or is he...
Let's get back to July-September 2014. By that point the cooperation with Wargaming was well underway and materials were being assembled for months by then. To digress:
Wargaming modelling process
The modelling process Wargaming uses is actually very, very requiring when ti comes to references. Many players (especially those who are proposing trees full of obscure prototypes with one photo or so in existence) think a tank is modelled by the artist checking out a photo and just making it according to it. Nope. You have to understand that HD models (and everything is made in HD these days) are outsourced. They are outsourced to people who have NO idea how a tank should look like, they might as well be modelling a tree or an animal, they don't care. That's why they need very, very detailed references. These references are assembled primarily by historical department, then they are submitted by Pyotr Bityukov (I believe he still does that) who then directs their conversion into technical plans that are then in turn given as references to modellers.
This is not an easy process, but it is made SIGNIFICANTLY easier if you manage to find actual drawings in the archive as converting those to the references required by modellers is much easier, faster and cheaper. An independent branch of this process is the 3D photography WG uses for extra realistic models where an extremely high number of pictures of a vehicle made in special format (we are talking thousands if I remember correctly) is coverted into a 3D model. This method is very slow and (most importantly) very expensive and requires an existing vehicle and access to it. Obviously that is not the case for the hightier Czechoslovak vehicles. 3D scanning is also an option but sorry, I am digressing now.
So, let's say you get plans for the vehicle in the archive. That makes the process whole lot easier and much more likely to be accepted - and it is true: if any of you reading this have access to military archives and find a vehicle plans, it's quite possible you have a chance to have that vehicle implemented in WoT (especially if it is suitable and you present the plans to WG for free). If you DON'T have any plans, there is one more step in the entire process Wargaming has to take: they take all the references they can find (photos, non-accurate drawings, descriptions) and give it to a military specialist in Wargaming service. He (since he has a very good idea of what he is doing) with the help of historical department then re-draws the entire vehicle into the format that is usable for 3D modellers. I've seen a couple of these drawings as I was consulted on them and they are very, very detailed.
This drawing process is also slow, expensive and - most importantly - creates a process bottleneck: there is only ONE person who can do this phase, each drawing takes a lot of time and basically if you propose a branch that consists of vehicles where EVERY vehicle requires some sort of re-drawing like this (I can imagine this is the case of the Yugoslav medium tank branch), you're fucked because it's simply not worth the effort. In other words, unless Wargaming has some sort of interest in doing it anyway (as in for example a branch where the drawings were partially found and only needs partial redrawing this way), they probably won't do it. Of course, this is only my simplified perception (in reality there are other elements in the process as well I am sure).
Back to T-24...
Of course, I knew nothing of the above early one and at that point I had this one drawing of the T-24 you can see above. Just this drawing. It is the ONLY officially published drawing in existence and thus everyone takes it as canon, you can see history-related webpages referring to this drawing in multiple languages. As far as I can tell, it was made and published in the 90s at some point and later it appeared in Pejčoch's book.
And, as you can imagine, this was not enough for Wargaming and the T-24 (and T-25) became a "holy grail" of sorts. Mr.Francev and Mr.Tintěra scoured their personal archives as well as the Škoda archives and (later on) the VHU archives too look for plans for the T-24 and T-25 tanks. And they found them!
And the tank looks NOTHING like the Pejčoch's version.
We have absolutely no idea where Pejčoch took that look from. Considering the extensive knowledge of Škoda products by Mr.Francev, it's possible he made it up, wouldn't be the first time (remember this episode, this is not the only case of dealing with fakes) but the T-24 in the game will be made according to the drawings provided by Mr. Tintěra and Mr. Francev and it looks significantly better than the one presented by Ivo Pejčoch.
Actually, it's not as simple as that either. The drawing found in the archives depicts the T-24 and T-25 on ONE drawing - two different turrets but one hull, implying the T-24 hull is basically identical with the T-25 (at least the turrets were compatible, definitely). Why did Ivo Pejčoch write the hull different... no idea. But the turrets are compatible, which led to the idea to actually make the T-25 turret the elite turret for the vehicle. This did not happen (the T-24 with T-25 turret would basically look identical to T-25 apart from a couple of details) and instead, a modification of the "stock" T-24 turret with T-25 style cupola was selected.
Yea, I know, what a mess. Wargaming tried to contact Ivo Pejčoch directly but he refused to work with them. It's a damn shame, I would have loved to find out how "his T-24" came to be and what sources did he use. Definitely nothing from Škoda archive! Anyway, to the...
The T-24 is a classic medium tank without any glaring features. There are only two sources of characteristics for the vehicle, an old article in a military magazine by P.Pilař (a pseudonyme, I have my suspicions as to who it is, but that is irrelevant) and the book by Ivo Pejčoch, who basically copied the content of the article.
The vehicle has 4 crewmembers (tier 4 has 4 as well, as does tier 6 and tier 7-10 have 5)
Armor:nothing too fancy here. These are the only data we actually have so I guess the top turret will have the same armor as the elite one, unless Wargaming decides to make something up (this is not balanced yet).
Hull: 60/30/20, front is nicely sloped
Turret: 60/30/20 as well
Pretty bland but for tier 5 it's fine and no Czechoslovak tanks are exactly overarmored anyway. Not the strong suite. Let's have a look at the mobility:
Weight: 18,5 tons
Engines: Škoda V12 16,2 liter (380hp), given the hull is practically identical, they will probably give it the T-25 engine as well, so we now have another Škoda V12 19,8 liter (450hp).
Speed: 58 km/h
That means 24 hp/t in top configuration. See? Not bad. From now on, mobility will be the key to Czechoslovak vehicles really. It's however also possible the vehicle will get a "Škoda Diesel" engine (which is about as historical as two guys sitting and saying "it would be cool if we could have a diesel in there" - nothing is known so WG can balance how it wants).
The guns will be... sufficient. The original A13 from T-24 (75mm, no autoloader) and A18 from T-25, also without autoloader.
Stock - A13:
Rate of fire: unknown
Barrel length: L/36,4 (2720mm)
AP shell weight: 6,7 kg
Muzzle velocity: 790 m/s
Penetration: 70mm (1500m, 30 deg)
Estimated performance in WoT terms:
Elite gun - A18:
Barrel length: L/55 (4130mm)
AP shell weight: 6 kg
Muzzle velocity: 900 m/s
Penetration: 98mm (1000m, 30 deg)
Estimated performance in WoT terms:
Sleek, sloped armor vehicle. You'll like it when you see the model, trust me. Not overarmored but really fast with a good, well-performing gun. It will be fine for its tier.