Attempts to determine the ideal appearance of a combat vehicle have always been undertaken not only by amateurs of military equipment, but also by the press. So, your version of the ideal tank, combining all the best features of existing machines, at one time offered Life International magazine. At the beginning of the fall of 1950, this publication turned around for a note entitled Combining Heavy Fire-Power with Speed and Maneuverability: A Drawing of a Composite Tank Incorporating the Best Features of American and Russian Designs. maneuverability: a drawing of a combined tank combining the best drawings of American and Russian projects ”). The material turned out to be so interesting that it was soon reprinted by other publications.
Most of the two pages were given under the scheme of the proposed tank, and the accompanying text was placed in the "basement". The latter was necessary to explain the current situation and describe the prerequisites for the "development" of the original combat vehicle.
Starting the article, its author Rolf Clap recalled that the military is only to see the perfect tank. Such a machine does not exist yet, because designers have to find a compromise between conflicting demands on speed, durability of protection, firepower and mass of the structure. It was emphasized that exactly the same problems faced the developers of warships. Also, the typical tasks in the creation of tanks were reducing the size and ensuring high maneuverability in all landscapes.
R. Clap called the Soviet T-34 the best tank of the Second World War. Moreover, this machine showed itself well even in the early stages of the Korean War, where it had to face the tanks of the United States. Only the arrival of the first Patton family tanks helped the American troops rectify the situation.
The author wrote that the T-34 weighs 33 tons and carries a gun with a caliber 86 mm (exactly). At the same time, it is faster than the American tank M4 Sherman. At the same time, the Soviet machine had less powerful reservations, which was partially offset by a low silhouette. The Patton tank, in turn, had a combat mass at the level of 48 t and was equipped with an 90-mm gun. Air cooled engine with power 810 HP allowed it to accelerate the highway to 35 miles per hour (56 km / h). The height of such a tank was 9 feet 1 inch (2,5 m).
The author noted the interesting features of the two projects reviewed. Thus, the design of the T-34 and Patton tanks clearly showed that the Soviet and American tank builders agreed with each other on two issues. First of all, they believed that the tank should literally be built around the cannon. In addition, two tanks differed in speed and maneuverability, which should have been achieved, including at the cost of weakening protection.
Taking into account the main ideas of well-known projects of different countries, R. Clap formed the approximate look of a “combined” tank. It included all the most relevant decisions of one kind or another, characteristic of the projects of the USA and the USSR. The author assumed that such an architecture of a combat vehicle would provide the maximum possible characteristics and combat capabilities. In addition, it was possible to reduce the negative effects of compromises between armor, maneuverability and firepower.
Consider the picture attached to the note. The foreign author suggested not to use any overly bold or complex ideas, and therefore to build an “ideal” tank based on well-known technical solutions. Thus, it was planned to build a classic-style armored vehicle with a homogeneous armor and a tracked undercarriage. At the same time, it was proposed to introduce some new devices that would improve the basic characteristics in comparison with the existing equipment.
R. Clap believed that the tank of the future should have a homogeneous reservation, built using rational angles of inclination. To obtain the desired protection, the machine had to be equipped with an 5-inch (127 mm) inclined frontal part. Sloping sides and feeds should have an 3 inch thickness (76,2 mm). The lower part of the protected hull should have rectangular lines, while the upper part resembled a truncated pyramid with an elongated base.
It is curious that the proposed tank received a characteristic driver's hatch, located in the opening of the front sheet. A similar device was used on the Soviet T-34, but was a reason for criticism, because the extra hatch weakened the frontal projection protection. The author of a note in Life International, for some reason, considered such a hatch suitable for use on the tank of the future.
To enhance the protection of the side projection, the author suggested using removable side screens. They were to consist of several polygonal armor plates. The screen assembly, mounted on the fender niche of the hull, covered the lower part of the side and some elements of the chassis.
The “project” proposed the use of a large tower of complex shapes that is large enough to install the required weapons. The turret was supposed to have armor as thick as 5 inches in the frontal part. In addition, she needed a large forage niche.
In the aft engine compartment it was proposed to install the engine and transmission. As the basis of the power plant, an air-cooled gasoline engine was considered, which develops the power of the HP 900. Numerous grids were provided for the supply of cooling air in the stern roof. With the engine connected transmission, transmitting power to the stern drive wheels.
The chassis R. Clap proposed to build on the basis of six support rollers of average diameter on each side. Rubber rollers should have been mounted on an individual suspension. In this case, as the illustration shows, the odd rollers were located in front of the suspension nodes of their own balancers, and even - behind them. There were guide wheels in the front of the hull, and in the stern - leading wheels with bolt-on gear. It was suggested to use a track on the basis of rubber and metal parts.
The main weapon of the "combined" tank was to be a rifled gun caliber 90 mm, characterized by a high initial velocity of the projectile. The gun should be mounted in the front embrasure of the turret and equipped with pickups, connected to the gyroscopic stabilizer. The cannon drawn by R. Clapp had a developed muzzle brake. The gun mount was supposed to have mechanized drives, but it was proposed to load the loader manually.
On one machine with a gun, a twin rifle-caliber machine gun was to be mounted. The use of a large-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun was also suggested. For the latter, the author proposed a simple pivot installation mounted at the stern of the tower.
The main-caliber ammunition could consist of 80-90 unitary shots with high-explosive and armor-piercing shells. The ammunition was planned to be placed in the fighting compartment, both on the spinning basket and beyond. In addition, racks for ammunition of machine guns were provided at the right side of the compartment.
The “Project” by R. Clap proposed the use of modern fire observation and control systems. Thus, the crew would have had their own optical instruments, including periscopes and sights. In order to increase the accuracy of firing, a radar rangefinder, the antenna of which was placed on the roof of the tower, should be connected to the fire control equipment. Interestingly, the small lattice rangefinder antenna in the presented figure has no protection.
An armored vehicle could carry a developed complex of internal and external communications. The crew had to communicate through a wired intercom. Liaise with other tanks, supporting command aviation etc. would be provided by a radio station located in the stern of the tower. Means of communication with the accompanying infantry were also provided. For this purpose, the author placed a loudspeaker with a wired connection with the tankers on the aft sheet of the hull.
To manage the tank of the future was a crew of four. In front of the case fit the driver. He had his own front door hatch. The hatch cover was equipped with viewing instruments for driving in a combat situation. Three other tankers were supposed to work in the tower. In front of the left there was a gunner's seat, immediately behind him was the loader standing. Commander post was at the starboard. Above the commander and loader in the roof of the tower had their own hatches.
For driving or conducting combat operations in the dark, headlights were placed on the front hull sheet and the front wings of the tracks, covered with light protective frames. On the sides of the hull it was proposed to transport the entrenching tool, towing cable and other necessary devices. Inclined aft hull sheet had attachments for transporting spare track tracks.
The author did not specify the dimensions, combat weight and driving characteristics of the proposed machine. Nevertheless, the known information allows us to present some of these characteristics. The presence of the engine power 900 hp allowed to get an acceptable power density (15-20 hp per ton) with a combat weight from 45 to 60 t. Obviously, the weight of the tank with frontal armor 5 inches thick and 3-inch sides should be closer to this range . At the same time, with the required characteristics of the transmission and running gear, it could show good mobility parameters for its time.
For obvious reasons, the “ideal” combo tank, authored by Rolf Clap, was not intended for use by any army. He did not have a single chance not only to get into the troops, but even to go to the test. An article in Life International considered the hypothetical look of a promising combat vehicle, reflecting the latest developments in the field of tank construction. According to its author, the best tank with the highest performance and the most extensive capabilities as at 1950 year should look exactly like that.
Recalling the development of tanks in the fifties, it is possible to draw conclusions as to what R.Klap was right and what was wrong. It is easy to see that his tank of the future to some extent resembles some medium and heavy tanks of that time. At the same time, certain features of a hypothetical machine were not widely used in new projects of real combat vehicles.
Taking into account the known tendencies, the author correctly determined the further growth of the caliber of the guns, as well as the addition of guns with several machine guns for different purposes. He was also able to predict the subsequent improvement of fire control systems, supplemented by high-precision equipment for measuring the distance to the target. In general, the correct thoughts were expressed on how to enhance the protection of the onboard projection.
Simultaneously, R. Clap did not guess some of the features of the new tanks. For example, the post-war tanks were no longer equipped with driver hatches of the type used on the T-34, since they posed a certain danger to the car. In addition, over time, a combined frontal projection armor appeared and became widespread. She allowed to abandon the further increase in the thickness of armor plates and reduce the weight of the hull, without losing the level of protection. Over time, tank builders also abandoned air-cooled engines, which were poorly suited to work in the confined space of the engine compartment. The machine gun turret, located on the stern of the turret, was also eventually rejected in favor of installations on the crew hatches.
The publication of Life International in 1950 offered its own version of the most successful and perfect tank, combining the main features of modern designs from several countries. The result was of some interest, but had no real prospects. Like other hypothetical samples offered in various contexts, the tank for the authorship of R. Clap remained on paper, and on the pages of the press, but not on unrealized drawings.
After many years, you can again review the old publication of a foreign publication and compare the main ideas expressed in it with known information about the projects of military vehicles of that period. In addition, using the experience now available, certain conclusions can be drawn. In this case, the main conclusion will be simple and understandable - not all proposals should be implemented, but in the future many of them may represent at least historical interest.