Different requirements were imposed on the prospective main tank, including the accuracy of the fire. By the beginning of the sixties, single- and two-plane gun stabilizers had already been created, which made it possible to increase the probability of hitting the target. However, another characteristic problem persisted. In some cases, the tool could be tilted relative to its longitudinal axis, which significantly worsened the accuracy rates. To get rid of this problem, it was necessary to take some measures in the form of creating an appropriate fire control system capable of making the necessary corrections, or using the original construction of the tower.
It was decided to check the original proposal in the framework of the project with the complex, but completely revealing the essence of the name Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm - “Experienced carrier tower with three-plane stabilization”. As is clear from this name, the German experts decided to add an additional channel of stabilization to the armament of the prospective tank. Now the automatics had to maintain the required position of the gun with the established angles of vertical and horizontal guidance, and also to compensate the roll of the turret with the gun.
Tank Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm in the museum. Photo Strangernn.livejournal.com
To stabilize the gun along the longitudinal axis, it was necessary to use some mechanisms whose task would be to keep the barrel in the desired position. A preliminary analysis of the possibilities allowed to form a general approach to the creation of a new stabilizer. It turned out that it would be very difficult or even impossible to enter the required stabilization system in a tower of acceptable size. For this reason, it was decided to abandon the stabilization of only the guns, installing the entire tower on the respective drives. This required the development of a new combat compartment with a number of characteristic features, but at the same time it was possible to simplify its design to a certain extent in comparison with other equipment.
The newly developed tank Leopard 1 was taken as the basis for the “Prototype carrier”. This car was supposed to share with the new prototype chassis and some other units. At the same time, it was planned to modernize the existing products in order to improve the basic characteristics and ensure compatibility with the new equipment being created as part of a pilot project. Thus, the finished experimental machine had a certain similarity with the existing equipment, but at the same time differed from it by a number of features.
The new units were proposed to be mounted on an upgraded chassis of the main tank “Leopard-1”. This car had a body of homogeneous armor, designed with the existing developments to improve the level of protection. The front part of the body consisted of several inclined sheets with a thickness of up to 70 mm. Boards were made of 35 and 45 mm thick sheets, and were additionally covered with a 20-mm fencer shelf. The stern was shelled from sheets with a thickness of 30-35 mm. The roof and the bottom had a thickness of 25 and 35 mm, respectively.
The German-designed tank had a classic layout with a front-mounted control compartment, a central combat compartment, as well as a stern compartment to accommodate all the units of the power plant and transmission. In the basic configuration, the machine was controlled by a crew of four, located in the control compartment and in the combat compartment.
Initially, the Leopard 1 tank was equipped with a hp 830 diesel engine. To enhance the performance of the “Prototype Carrier”, it was decided to use a more powerful power plant. In the engine compartment, a new 1000 hp engine was installed. Since the base tank was equipped with a power unit that united the engine and transmission, the new project had to use some innovations. In particular, it required the processing of hydromechanical transmissions.
On each side of the hull was attached seven support rollers with individual torsion bar suspension. In addition, all pairs of rollers, with the exception of the fourth and fifth, were equipped with additional telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers. In the aft of the hull were placed the driving wheels, in the front - guides. Above the road wheels there were several supporting rollers on board. A caterpillar with a rubberized treadmill was used.
The biggest changes in the course of the new project Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm were to undergo the fighting compartment of the base tank. The existing fighting compartment architecture turned out to be incompatible with original ideas. Because of this, the central part of the base tank had to be seriously reworked. From it removed all the extra parts, components and assemblies that could prevent the installation of a new tower. In addition, there was a need to install a number of new devices necessary for the full operation of a promising tower.
The authors of the project proposed to stabilize the gun without using its own aiming drives. Instead, devices should be used to move the entire turret with the gun. As a result, it was necessary to develop the original design of the tower and the system of its movement in three planes. The result of this was the appearance of a combat module of an unusual form and non-standard configuration.
The tower of the new design was to be assembled from several main parts of different shapes. So, its lower half was a ball segment. In front of the tower was a sloping frontal sheet with a rectangular block for mounting the gun. Above the lower ball segment there were details of a similar shape, truncated from above. In the roof of the tower were provided hatches and viewing devices. On the sides and the stern of the tower there were additional niches and boxes of rectangular shape.
Experienced tank at the site. Photo Forum.worldoftanks.com
The combat detachment of a non-standard form was to be installed on the modified corps shoulder strap, which allowed horizontal guidance and also ensured the rotation of the tower in vertical planes parallel and perpendicular to the axis of the barrel. Inside the case were placed the drive control tower, built, according to various sources, on the basis of electromechanical or hydraulic units. Their task was to preserve the desired position of the gun, regardless of the maneuvers of the tank and the characteristics of the landscape.
As the main weapons Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm tank received an 105-mm rifled L7 gun, previously used as part of the Leopard 1 armament weapon system. A gun with a barrel of 56 caliber length, equipped with an ejector, was mounted in the central part of the turret and received recoil devices. Interestingly, the new tower received a tough gun mount. No guidance systems were envisaged. Targeting guns horizontally, as in other tanks, it was proposed to carry out by turning the entire tower. Vertical guidance, in contrast to other armored vehicles, also had to be performed using the tower drives. The lack of vertical guidance systems inside the tank allowed us to optimize the layout of the crew compartment, saving a certain amount of space.
A characteristic feature of the original combat compartment was a relatively small internal volume, imposing various restrictions. In particular, there could be problems with the transport of ammunition of sufficient size. For this reason, the tank received additional weapons to combat targets with weak protection. To save ammunition of the main gun and firing relevant targets, it was proposed to use a twin 30-mm cannon. The lack of internal volumes led to the fact that a large and long small-caliber gun had to be placed outside the tower. It was installed on a special support on the right top of the L7. There was also a box with ammunition.
“An experienced carrier of a tower with three-plane stabilization” received a sufficiently developed for its time fire control system. On the roof of the tower there were relatively large sights, equipped with a rangefinder and other equipment. In addition, the tank had a hardware that determined the deviation of the tower from the desired position and issued a command to the stabilization drives. Keeping the turret and gun in the desired position was the task of automation. The crew could carry out only the most basic operations to hover weapons.
The first and last prototype of the Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm tank was built in the 1966 year. One of the available tanks, Leopard 1, was removed from equipment that was no longer needed, instead of which they installed a specially manufactured turret, a new engine, etc. After reworking, an experienced tank retained its basic dimensions, although its combat mass increased to 45 tons. The 1000-strong engine was supposed to provide acceptable mobility.
The sea trials of the “Experimental carrier” made it possible to establish the preservation of the main characteristics of mobility at the level of the base tank. The maximum speed on the highway exceeded 60-62 km / h, the power reserve reached 600 km. Thus, the new machine had the opportunity to move over rough terrain and work in the same battle formations with existing tanks of the latest models.
According to reports, during the tests it was found that the original system of three-plane stabilization of the gun really allows to achieve the required accuracy characteristics. Automatics correctly compensated for all movements of the chassis and the turret mounted on it, while maintaining the necessary position of the weapon. The achieved characteristics allowed to continue the development of the project with a view to subsequent implementation, but this did not happen.
Tests have shown that the authors of the project were able to successfully solve the main design problem, but the solution was achieved too high a price. The proposed design of a promising tank had a number of characteristic flaws, in fact, blocking its path to use in the armed forces. The fighting machine turned out to be too expensive, and also unacceptably difficult to produce and operate. In addition, there were significant technical flaws that prevented the improvement of some characteristics.
Thus, the tower of an unusual shape had insufficient internal volume, which negatively affected the convenience of the crew, and also did not allow to bring the volume of ammunition to acceptable values. The thickness of the tower’s booking was also insufficient, which did not allow to protect the car from the existing threats. At the same time, there was no real opportunity to increase the reserve volume and thereby improve the remaining parameters. To increase the tower required to develop a chase larger diameter, which required processing of the upper part of the hull. Such changes were impossible, and in its present form the tower could not suit the customer.
Upon completion of the tests, it was decided that the Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm prototype, as well as the original ideas used in its development, has no real future. Therefore, the original machine as unnecessary sent for storage, and design work continued in more promising areas that could be of interest to the customer. The “Prototype carrier” project turned out to be the first and last attempt to create a three-plane system for stabilizing a tank gun, which reached the assembly of the prototype and its subsequent tests.
The main result of the German project Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm was the understanding that the stabilization of tools in the third plane with the help of mechanical means does not make sense. The use of a swinging turret complicates the entire structure of the combat vehicle too much, and the use of similar gun mounts in a standard turret leads to an incorrect distribution of the combat compartment volumes. Thus, to compensate for the transverse deviations of the trunk, some new methods and means were required.
Soon after the completion of the “Prototype carrier” project, a way was found to solve the existing problem. It was proposed to abandon the separate mechanisms, and assign the required functions to the specially developed fire control systems. The deviation of the instrument from the required position should be determined with the help of sensors, after which the SLA had to calculate the projectile flight path and make the appropriate corrections. At the same time, a two-plane stabilizer can be used without any problems. Similar algorithms for the operation of fire control systems were soon developed and implemented in new projects.
Tests of an experienced tank Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm ended half a century ago. Since then, a large number of tanks of various types and their modifications have been created. All modern tanks are equipped with a two-plane stabilizers, compensating for the deviation of the gun horizontally and vertically. Compensation for other deviations is assigned to the automation, which is responsible for calculating the amendments. The original idea concerning the use of the third stabilization plane and the unusual design of the fighting compartment did not receive any distribution. Only one tank was built with a tower swinging in all directions, which was sent to storage after the tests were completed. Currently, according to various sources, the machine Erprobungsträger mit 3-achs-stabilisiertem Turm is stored in one of the German museums of armored vehicles.
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