Hello everyone, today’s article will be about certain Rheinmetall prototypes and their ability to actually make a minibranch. Is it even possible? Rheinmetall was not THAT active, when it comes to tank design, certainly not as much as Krupp, Henschel, Porsche or MAN, but early (before the war), they produced a number of interesting things. But first, a little history. By the time the World War Two broke out, Rheinmetall (Rheinmetall-Borsig during the war) was already a well estabilished large weapons manufacturer. Founded as early as 1889, it was a weapons producer from the start, focusing mainly on artillery pieces. In World War I, more than one of the participants was armed with Rheinmetall guns – and the production expanded more and more. In 1925, Third Reich became a majority shareholder in the Rheinmetall company and by that time, Rheinmetall merged with Borsig Berlin to form the famous Rheinmetall-Borsig trademark, a name that disappeared only after the war. The company became even more successful after the war and exists until this day as Rheinmetall AG. We will of course focus on the tank development (specifically, early tank development). Rheinmetall did develop certain tank parts later on, but it’s the tier 2-5 branch, that is interesting. Technically, it would be possible to consider the start the branch to be tier 1 (as the Leichttraktor in game is the Rheinmetall Borsig prototype). The branch would go something like this: Tier 2 – Grosstraktor (medium tank) Tier 3 – Neubaufahrzeug (medium tank) Tier 4 – VK2001(Rh) (medium tank) Tier 5 – VK2002(Rh) – or VK6501(H) (medium/heavy tank) Let’s have a look at them. Tier 2 – Grosstraktor Both the Leichttraktor and the Grosstractor (“big tractor”) were the results of the early German armor program, that ran in secret and was in violation of the Versailles treaty. The reason for that was that the German army officers – many of them World War 1 veterans, saw that there was the danger of old tankers disappearing without teaching others and passing their experience to the young generation. They obviously didn’t want that to happen and so the tank program was born as early as the 20′s. And so, in 1925, specifications of a brand new and ambitious medium tank (under the codename designation “Armeewagen 20″) were laid down. The vehicle was to have following parameters: 20 tons in weight, 6 meters maximum length, 2,35 meters maximum weight, 40km/h maximum speed and a 75mm L/24 gun in fully traversable turret, with 2-4 machineguns, one of them aiming backwards. There was however one even stricter demand: the tanks were supposed to be basically amphibious – either capable of wading thru 0,8m of water, or of swimming over deeper bodies of water. Three competing companies (Krupp, Daimler, Rheinmetall-Borsig) were to build two prototypes each. These vehicles were then destined to be used as training vehicles for the new generation of tankers. The various companies were to build the parts and the vehicles themselves were all to be assembled in a Rheinmetall-Borsig factory. All three of the companies did present their vision of the “Grosstraktor” (depicted above) and as you can see, all of the projects were largely similiar. The hull was very long and the suspension used many smaller roadwheels and a very complicated system. Each vehicle also had a smaller machinegun miniturret in the back. The flanks of each vehicle are protected by a metal sheet. In order to swimm, all the prototypes had marine propellers at the back. Rheinmetall Grosstraktor used the “Cletrac” suspension system, which used sixteen doubled small roadwheels on each side (plus the wheels, used for stretching the tracks), weighted 19,32 tons and used a BMW 250hp aviatation engine, allowing it to go as fast as 40km/h on the road and 4km/h when swimming. The armor was 13mm thick. It was armed with a 75mm L/24 gun in a fully traversable turret, capable of -12/+60 degrees of depression/elevation. The crew consisted of six men. Two prototypes were built in 1928 and 1929 – one of them was sent in 1933, along with the Krupp vehicles, in secret to the Soviet Kama base near Kazan (the name “Kama” comes from the word Kazan and Marlbrandt, the commander of the base) – after all, back then, Germany and Soviet Union were close allies. The testing results were mixed, the suspension was complex and didn’t do too well. Other prototypes served (after being tested in 1930) as training vehicles and in 1935, a unit was formed out of the Grosstraktor vehicles as a part of the 1st Panzer Division and it took part in the August 1935 military excercise. After that (around 1937), they were deactivated and were made into monuments near the “home” barracks of various tank units, such as the one in Wünsdorf. Their final destiny is unknown however, they disappeared during the war, presumably they were melted down for metal. Some older sources state that the Heer was actually considering producing the Grosstraktors in small numbers and more were made. This is not true, only the prototypes were produced, but it was considered (however, the idea was scrapped for political and financial reasons). Also, when considering World of Tanks, it’s a bit unclear, whether this vehicle should be considered to be medium tank or heavy tank. Historically, definitely a medium tank. Common sense dictates that something so big should probably be a heavy tank – but then, both Grosstraktor and Neubaufahrzeug were considered to be medium tanks. Characteristics (Rheinmetall prototype): Weight: 19,32 tons Crew: 6 Armor: 13mm Armament: 75mm L/24 Engine: 250hp BMW Va V6 Maximum speed: 40km/h Tier 3 – Rheinmetall Neubaufahrzeug The (notoriously known) Neubaufahrzeug was further development of the medium tank concept (sometimes, it is incorrectly designated as a “heavy tank”, it was however never intended to be one). If you are wondering, what the hell is it doing in a branch, when it’s supposed to be a premium tank – you can calm down, there were two Neubaufahrzeugs – one from Rheinmetall and one proposed by Krupp, they can be distinguished by the guns (Rheinmetall vehicle has two guns above one another, the Krupp doesn’t have that)- the Krupp one can be the premium vehicle. Alternatively, the premium version can be scrapped altogether, because the Krupp turret can be used as a perfect upgrade. Also note that while everything about the NbFz screams “heavy”, it was really designed as a medium tank, so there is some compatibility. Further development of a medium tank “Grosstractor” concept by Rheinmetall was started in October 1932 and continued in 1933. In October 1933, the vehicle was redesignated to “Neubaufahrzeug” and in 1934, two Rheinmetall Continue reading →

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