So, in the seventh issue of the magazine “Bulletin of armored vehicles” for 1991, the article by A. Yagodkin “Analysis of tank layouts with removed armament” was published, in which several variants of armored vehicles with different layouts of units and volumes inside the hull were considered. Until recently, this curious research material was available only to a narrow circle of specialists, but recently a well-known expert in the field of armored vehicles, A. Tarasenko, published some of its fragments.
As can be seen from the existing schemes proposed by A. Yagodkin, the main purpose of creating all the considered layouts was to increase the level of protection of the crew and the entire machine as a whole. For this, it was proposed to place the workplaces of all tankers inside the corps, thanks to which it was possible to strengthen the booking of habitable compartments. This feature of the layouts entailed the use of several other ideas that are not characteristic of modern tank design. First of all, it is necessary to note the placement of the instrument. Due to the lack of a “classic” combat compartment, all the proposed tank schemes have a cannon placed on the roof of the hull and mounted on special devices. This separation of the crew and gun, in turn, required to consider several options for the automatic loader, because the crew will not be able to prepare the gun for the shot. Also, all the considered layouts, for greater security, imply the location of the ammunition set inside the armored hull, and not in the turret.
Tanks with crew accommodation in the general compartment
Consider the proposed tank layout by A. Yagodkin, depicted in Figure 1. As noted on the signature to them, a common feature of these four layouts is the placement of the entire crew of three in a single volume in the middle part of the armored hull.
In option "a" we see a combat vehicle, the habitable volume of which is noticeably shifted back. The engine compartment is traditionally located in the rear part. The forehead of such a tank can be quite thick and effective armor. Directly behind the frontal armor there is a relatively small amount that can be given, for example, under the fuel tank. Immediately behind him is a compartment for ammunition. It is easy to see that this placement of the stacking of ammunition requires special devices for feeding projectiles and sleeves to the breech of the gun. To solve this problem, the author of the article “Analysis of tank layouts with rendered armament” suggested placing a “mobile ring conveyor” at the bottom of a rotary gun turret. Thus, the tank automatics transfers shots from laying to the conveyor, from where they are fed to the discharging mechanisms.
The most noticeable disadvantage of such a solution to the problem of the safety of tank crews is the need to create a rather complex system for supplying ammunition to a gun. It is worth noting that this “sin” and other proposed layouts, but in this case the problem is aggravated by the specific mutual arrangement of the compartment for the projectiles and the cannon. It is necessary to carry out the design of the ring conveyor so that the projectiles can be fed from the stack and removed for discharging into the gun at any position of the turret. Another drawback of the “a” layout, as well as other layouts in the 1 pattern, is the need to create some kind of new aiming system. Because the gunner is no longer near the cannon and does not move with it, its aiming devices must have a new architecture. For example, it is possible to use television systems. Approximately the same applies to the commander and his observation devices. To monitor the environment, he also needs some new devices, including those based on television cameras and monitors.
Option “b” shown in fig. 1, less complicated compared to the previous one. In this layout, the front part of the armored hull is completely dedicated to the fuel tanks, and immediately after them is the habitable volume. Behind the crew’s armored capsule are the ammunition and the engine compartment. At first glance, this arrangement is the most convenient. However, it has one big drawback, which does not allow it to become the basis for a real armored vehicle. Apart from the difficulties with sighting and observation instruments, the “b” layout has big problems with the rate of fire. Due to the lack of a mobile conveyor or the like devices such a tank after each shot will be forced to return the gun in the longitudinal body position for reloading. This will adversely affect both the rate of fire and the other equally important characteristics of the combat vehicle. For example, a tank made according to this scheme between shots will not be able to save even an approximate tip in the horizontal plane.
The only advantage of this layout is the relative ease of design and manufacture. The entire complex mechanics of the automatic loading of such a tank is located in the immediate vicinity of the laying of ammunition, which can significantly simplify it. But this plus still can not fully compensate for all the existing disadvantages. The gain in the cost and complexity of manufacturing a few dozen parts in the event of war can result in large losses for armored vehicles, and this is too much of a pay for production gains.
A kind of attempt to get rid of the shortcomings of option "b" is the layout "c", based on it. The internal volumes of such a tank, proposed by A. Yagodkin, are distributed in the same way as in the previous version, but there are some slight differences. So, the so-called mobile container for the instrument. Before shooting in this container it is supposed to load several projectiles from stacking in the aft part of the hull. After that, for a certain number of shots, the turret with the gun can be rotated at any angle in the horizontal plane without the need to constantly return to its original position. At the same time, the tower will have to be rotated to its original position after the exhaustion of the stock of shells in the container after the cannon. It is also able to somewhat degrade the fighting qualities of the tank, but not as much as with the “b” layout.
In this arrangement, there is a problem with complex sights and observational devices, and there is also one controversial point. In fact, it turns out that during the battle some of the shells will always be above the level of the roof of the armored hull. In this context, we can recall the numerous discussions on the feasibility of placing ammunition on most modern foreign tanks. These combat vehicles carry shells in the rear of the turret, which sometimes raises certain questions and doubts. Thus, the layout “c” from the 1 picture has ambiguous prospects from the point of view of protecting the ammunition set ready for submission to the gun.
Perhaps the most original version of the tank with a single crew capsule, proposed by A. Yagodkin, is depicted in the scheme "g". In such a loader tank system, the guns to some extent resemble a mobile container behind an instrument from variant “in”, but work differently. In this case, there is only one projectile outside the piling inside the hull. From the compartment for ammunition shot is fed to the so-called. tray with a carriage that delivers it to the breech of the gun. Through the use of such systems, the risk of damage to the ammunition supply system, covered by less powerful armor compared to the hull, is reduced. In addition, with the right approach to the design of a “tray with a carriage”, a sufficiently high rate of fire is provided regardless of the angle of horizontal pickup.
However, a system with a tray and a carriage has several drawbacks. Firstly, it is technically difficult. It is necessary to simultaneously provide fast and accurate movement of the tray to the desired position, protection from bullets and shrapnel, and also to make all the units of the system strong enough to withstand the powerful impact of the tool, being in any position relative to it. And yet, the complexity of manufacturing is compensated by sufficiently high combat qualities in comparison with other layouts, in which the crew is located in the same volume under the swiveling gun turret.
Tanks with a dedicated control compartment
The next few proposed layouts of the tank prospect imply a different crew accommodation, somewhat resembling that currently used. The 3 illustration for the article “Analysis of tank layouts with removed weaponry” shows three variants of the combat vehicle layout, in which the driver is located in the front of the hull, and the commander and gunner are in the middle. At the same time, only a tower with an instrument rotates around its axis, while crew jobs located under it remain stationary.
The variant “a” of such an arrangement is in some nuances similar to one of those already considered. In front of the hull there is a fuel tank (on the right) and a reserved compartment for the driver (on the left side). Behind them is the fighting compartment, coupled with the volume of the driver. Behind the rear wall of the habitable volume is the laying of ammunition and the engine compartment. To feed the shells from stacking to the gun again it is proposed to use a circular conveyor. Such a system will allow you to charge a weapon in any of its position. Aiming and observing the surrounding space, as in other variants, it is proposed to conduct with the help of television systems.
Using a mobile ring conveyor in a tank with such an arrangement will lead to the repetition of the problems of another scheme described above. The main snag in this case will be ensuring the operability of the conveyor and the ammunition lifting system from the conveyor to the discharging line. At the same time, a workable conveyor and related systems will provide a fairly high rate of fire.
Option "b" with fig. 3 has a different layout of internal volumes, and also uses a different system for supplying ammunition from stacking to a gun. The reserved management compartment with the driver’s workplace in such a tank is located on the longitudinal axis between two separate fuel tanks. In view of the use of a different system for lifting shells to the cannon, the layout of the combat compartment, in which the gunner and the commander are located, was changed. When loading a projectile from the bottom of the ammunition compartment is fed forward into the habitable volume. Further, through a special mine, it rises to the top and is transferred to the automatic unloading.
Such a layout of the tank and the method of supplying ammunition to the gun looks interesting, but also not without flaws. The most notable of them is the high altitude of the combat vehicle in comparison with tanks of other schemes. Due to the placement of part of the loading system units under the floor of the crew compartment and the work places of the commander and gunner, the height of the hull increases, and also there is a need to use a rotating tower of a rather complex shape. In addition, such an arrangement of tankers' jobs under certain circumstances may contradict the very idea of taking people as far as possible into the corps.
The third version of the layout of the tank (scheme "in"), captured in Fig. 3, implies the abandonment of the allocated volume for ammunition. In this scheme, crew jobs are located in the same way as in the previous one, but are separated by ammunition. Shells in the carousel styling are placed around the commander and the gunner, in the same armored capsule with them. Before the shot, the laying mechanisms put the projectile of the desired type under the automatic loader, after which it is fed to the gun. The most interesting feature of this layout is the ability to provide the maximum level of protection for the combat compartment, in which both the crew and ammunition are located. This means that with the same weight as in other cases, the crew and shells of such a tank will be protected much better.
The main disadvantage of the proposal "in", in turn, is the proximity of the crew and ammunition. As an example, the location of the cells of the automatic loader on Russian tanks of the last few models, which has long been the object of criticism, since the detonation of the ammunition set is guaranteed to lead to the death of tank crews and the destruction of the combat vehicle. Probably, the use of expelling panels and any partitions can increase the crew’s chances of survival, but despite these measures, the options with the ammunition in a separate armored compartment look much more comfortable and safe for the crew.
Tanks with a single combat compartment
Finally, the article “Analysis of tank layouts with removed armament” considered three options for deploying units and crew workplaces in which tankers are otherwise separated: the commander and the driver are in front of the hull, and only the gunner is left under the rotating turret and gun. These schemes are shown in Fig. 4.
The first version of this layout (scheme "a") is interesting, first of all, the location of the ammunition. Most of the hull is given under a single habitable volume in which all three tank crews are located. Behind them - the fuel tank and the engine compartment. Shells in this case are placed in the conical armored compartment directly under the roof of the crew compartment. As is clear from the diagram, this fan-shaped stowage rotates with the turret and the gun, which ensures loading at any angles of horizontal laying. Also, the advantage of this arrangement is the ability to make the gunner's workplace turnable with the turret and the gun, which will simplify the sighting system.
Despite the original appearance, fan-shaped ammunition has a number of drawbacks. Due to its use, the overall height of the tank increases markedly. In addition, a similar method of transporting shells limits the vehicle’s ammunition, and also deprives the crew of the ability to quickly and effortlessly replenish the automatic loader with additional ammunition shells. Finally, in recent years, anti-tank weapons have been actively developed, affecting the combat vehicle in the roof of the hull and turret. Thus, the entire ammunition immediately comes under attack, and this can have the most terrible consequences both for the tank itself and for its crew.
Option "b" with a separate arrangement of the crew involves the creation of a tank with two separate armored manned volumes. The first of these, with the jobs of the commander and driver, is located in front of the hull, just behind the fuel tank. The second - in the middle part, closer to the stern. In this volume is the place of the gunner. The main features of option "b" from Fig. 4 is the location of the ammunition. In the tank of this scheme, the shells are arranged vertically in the mechanized installation, and the volume itself for the ammunition load surrounds the gunner’s capsule. When using the combat compartment with the turret, this arrangement facilitates aiming, and also makes it easier to feed the shells to the gun. In addition, it is possible to further protect the crew from detonating ammunition.
However, in this case, the proximity of the person and the shells raises relevant questions regarding safety and survivability. At the same time, it should be noted that the location of the crew in two armored compartments increases the chances of escaping only injuries. But still, with the defeat of ammunition, the tank will be seriously damaged or completely destroyed.
The “c” layout option is a further development of the previous idea. Such a tank also has a mechanized stacking with a vertical arrangement of ammunition, but it is located differently. The gunner's capsule and styling are under the pivot tower, but on opposite sides of the longitudinal axis of the machine. Thus, the gunner is in an armored semi-cylinder at the left side (as shown in the diagram, but in practice another placement is possible), and the shells are on the side of it. In comparison with the layout "b" with fig. 4 this option looks more convenient due to the possible increase in the level of protection of the gunner. To do this, it is enough to strengthen the armor plate that separates it from the mechanized styling.
The use of an asymmetric layout of the middle part of the armored hull may have one specific consequence — different survivability depending on the attack angle. In other words, the tank depicted on Yagodkin’s scheme will, at maximum, remain without a gunner when a shell or rocket hits the port side. A similar attack on the right can result in a detonation of ammunition with much more serious consequences for the armored vehicle.
As we see, all ten variants of the tank layout with the crew position inside the armored hull and the gun placed on the roof, given in A. Yagodkin’s article “Analysis of tank layouts with removed weaponry” have both advantages and disadvantages. However, they have several common features that can be considered useful. First of all, this is the absence of the need for a massive and well-protected turret for the crew, guns, sights, etc. equipment. Due to this, it is possible to place the breech of the gun in a relatively small armored unit, which has sufficient or even higher protection indicators in comparison with traditional towers. Thus, it is possible to significantly save in the mass of the finished tank. This savings can be used to enhance the booking of the hull, including the creation of an armored capsule or crew capsules.
In addition, the advantage in weight can be used to increase mobility by installing existing engines, or immediately achieve growth and the level of protection and mobility of the combat vehicle. Thus, having certain drawbacks, any of the arrangements proposed by A. Yagodkin — naturally, with the right incarnation — can significantly raise the potential of tank forces. However, in practice, such "non-standard" tanks are not widespread. First of all, the reason for this is the complexity of a technical nature. Each of the above arrangements involves the creation of a fairly complex automatic loader. Also, do not forget that the new promising tanks for some time will serve along with the old ones, and this will complicate the supply and maintenance.
Thus, even two decades after the publication of the article “Analysis of tank layouts with removed weapons,” the schemes of promising tanks described in it remain on paper. The use of such ideas could indeed have a positive effect on the state of the entire tank industry and the corresponding kind of troops, but they remain unclaimed. On the other hand, designers-tank builders have additional time to study the pros and cons of a particular layout, to determine its prospects, as well as to create new ideas. Anyway, all the tank layout presented above have one common positive feature: analyzing them, we can draw conclusions about the suitability of a particular technical solution for use and use only those ideas in the promising projects that can lead to the expected results.
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