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Mar 7, 2013

German T7 light tank alternatives

I think that a lot of people (if not most) will agree that the choice of the Aufklärungspanzer Panther for the tier 7 light tank in its supertest incarnation was not a good one. Let's quickly sum up the (potential) bad sides:

- the Panther hull is too big
- the vehicle is bulky, hard to hide (eg. no passive scouting)
- the vehicle is potentially undergunned (50mm L/60 as stock, tier 5 105mm howitzer and the gold-requiring konisch gun)
- the vehicle is potentially underpowered (850hp will most likely not cut it, the 1150hp turbine would perhaps help)
- considering its speed and its size, its armor is probably insufficient
- potantially bad depression (long hull, low turret)
- completely unhistorical with the VK2801 turret

Of course this design has one big advantage for Wargaming: pretty much no new modelling work is needed, as the hull and turret models are already there (Panther hull, Leopard and VK2801 turret). The costs of creating such a vehicle are kept to a minimum. By the way, a friend told me that he believes at this moment Wargaming is in the cost-cutting phase, eg. making new patches (including vehicles) as cheaply as possible. Let's recap 8.4 then - 2x Panzer I, Panzer II (remodelled existing Panzer II), Valentine AT (Valentine hull already existed), Churchill GC (well, Churchill hull model was also already there), the whole AT series with vehicles looking similiar - less modelling work, then there's the AT-15 model used for AT-15A and (modified) for Tortoise. Oh yes, and the second FV215b with a remodelled turret. Looks like Wargaming has gone eco friendly and is into recycling right now :) When you look at the 8.5 patch - what will we get: a recycled Panther, RU251 (new, granted), 2 Leopards, 1 recycled VK3002DB(v1) and the (new, granted) Indienpanzer.

But this is not what this article is about. It is about the possible alternatives to the T7 Aufklärungspanzer Panther. There are several in fact. We are looking at 1944+ vehicles to keep at least some historical continuity (T6 VK2801 is a late 1943 project while T7 scout Panther was concieved in early 1942). We have basically three options (with a few more bit obscure ones).

Panzer 38(t) mit Panzer IV-Turm

This is a concept project by Krupp. In November 1944, Krupp sent a batch of projects to the Inspector-general of the tank force (Panzertruppen), proposing to re-arm existing tank designs. The basic idea was to use the best weapon available with the least amount of armor, so weight is saved and the vehicle is maneuverable. Krupp believed that the vehicle should have enough armor to actually protect itself from its own weapon. In January 1945, the Inspector-general passed the proposals to the Waffenprüfamt 6, who in turn threw most of them out, because so many new designs were unrealistic to produce. For Germany it was too late anyway, but some of these proposals were technically very interesting.
One of the proposals was to put a Panzer IV turret on the redesigned Panzer 38t hull and re-arm it with the L/48 75mm KwK 40 cannon (lower picture). It was deemed technically possible to mount the turret at the cost of reduction of the hull angle and armor, but the weight would stress the roadwheels immensely. The vehicle (projected to weight 16 tons) would thus have little mobility advantage, compared to the Hetzer hull. The armor would be roughly comparable to the Hetzer (60mm front, cca 20mm sides).
Now, three things could make it viable for scouting:
a) more powerful engine (originally, Tatra T103 was intended, but 220hp doesn't really cut it for 16 tons)
b) the Panzer IV turret can hold a 105mm howitzer (eg. firepower comparable to the Aufklärungspanzer Panther)
c) the PAW 600.
PAW600 (as shown on the upper picture) was historically considered (as it was very light), but for World of Tanks it has one main disadvantage: it's a smoothbore weapon. Wargaming would probably deny it on that basis only. There are other options however (the same that could apply for the Aufklärungspanzer Panther) - 50mm autocannons for example.

Aufklärungspanzer 38d

The history of this project is quite interesting. The first "incarnation" of the Aufklärungspanzer 38 was built on the 38t chassis and armed with a 20mm Flak 38 gun at BMM in Prague in early 1944. This is how it looked:

50 were made. They served from 1944 till the end of the war But the 20mm firepower was not enough. It was decided to arm the 38t chassis with a 75mm L/24 gun. Two projects were made in Prague. In September 1944 - one was concieved under under the designation of Gerät 564. It was basically a Bergepanzer 38t hull with the short 75 mounted on the top of it. On 29.9.1944, it was tested in Kummersdorf. Some sources state the prototype was tested also in early 1945 in Denmark. The second project was done by BMM - it was notably higher:

Both projects had different powerplants, giving them around 150hp. But this was only the beginning. The 38t chassis had one major issue (in Germans' eyes at least). Due to different techniques used in Czechoslovakia, it was very hard, expensive and impractical to manufacture the hull in Germany. And so it was that in September 1944, the OKH announced they want a new 38t - based tank destroyer and a scouting vehicle (the TD would be produced by Alkett in 1000 pieces per month, the scout vehicle would be produced by Miag in 300 pieces per month). In fact, the 38t chassis was so successful that in October 1944, the Panzerkomission declared that the only vehicles to be produced from now on would be based on Tiger, Panther and 38t chassis.
For the aforementioned reasons (and because by the end of the war, Škoda fell behind with 38t chassis production - partly due to war damage, partly due to sabotage, partly simply because it lacked materials), it was decided to rework the 38t chassis into what would become the 38d. The new re-worked chassis was 60mm wider, it had stronger springs and sturdier construction. The main reason for it was of course the Jagdpanzer 38d, but the scouting development was not neglected. The Aufklärungspanzer variant of 38d chassis was projected to be fitted with a (Czech) 220hp Tatra T103 engine, giving it the speed of 52 km/h. In January 1945, on the meeting of the Panzer development commission it was decided that the Aufklärungspanzer 38d would be produced in 2 variants: with a turretted 20mm (using the Hängelafette mount) and the non-turretted 75mm AKF L/48. Both versions were to be produced simultaneously using 1:1 ratio. The vehicle was projected to weight 14 tons, with the frontal armor being cca 30mm thick (sloped at 50 degrees), the sides were cca 20mm thick. The 75mm gun was a re-worked PaK 40 with different mount and construction - it was lighter, allowing for better handling and aiming and it could be traversed 20 degrees to each side. The official designation of the AKF was "AK 7 B84" - its development was finished in April 1945 and only 4 were made.
Originally, this vehicle was scheduled for production from January 1945, but bureaucratic delays killed it. By March 1945 the production order was still not given and by then, it was all over. In late March 1945, an order was given to redirect all the 250 scheduled 38d chassis for emeregency Jagdpanzer 38d production. In two months, the war was over.

In World of Tanks, this vehicle could server as a sort of slower T7 AMX ELC. It's rather low silhouette could provide excellent camo bonus to compensate for its relatively lower speed and thin armor. The weaponry choice is potentially also very wide: there's the 20mm (obviously for stock version), then there's the 38t's 75mm L/24, the main option would be the 75mm AKF, and... to save the best for last: one Bergepanzer 38t (a lot similiar to the Aufklärungspanzer 38t chassis) was converted in December 1944 by BMM Prague to carry a 150mm s.I.G.33/2 howitzer. That could be give it a great derp option. Here's how it looked:

I think such a gun could be mounted on the 38d chassis too.

Spähpanzer SP I.C.
(thanks for bringing this design up, Okinoshima)

This is obviously a post-war prototype design, based on the Schützenpanzer Kurz (Hotchkiss), which was built from 1959 to 1967 by Magirus-Deutz in Mainz. It was concieved in 1956 during the slow building of the new German army - the Bundeswehr. The intent was to follow the footsteps of the popular and successful wartime Puma armored car - a very lightly armored vehicle with a massive weapon for its size. The project was being worked on from 1956 to 1962 (the prototype was built in 1961) - after that it was cancelled, because the vehicle was deemed too light for modern battlefield needs.

 The added weight of the gun and turret required some changes to the hull, engine and drivetrain. The rifled 90mm Mercar gun had only a short recoil, allowing it to be mounted in such a small turret. The vehicle weighted 6,5 tons, the armor was 8-15mm thick and it was powered by a 200hp Hotchkiss-Brandt engine (giving it a whopping 30hp/t), the maximum speed was projected at 58 km/h. The gun was the mentioned 90mm Mercar, firing impressive HEAT rounds. It was projected for the crew of 3.
Historically, it would be a good predecessor to the RU251, most likely very nimble and light, with a killer gun.

There are exotic options. The Porsche Typ 245-010, or for example the Aufklärunspanzer Porsche Typ 245-011.

Honestly, I doubt Wargaming will remove the Aufklärungspanzer Panther at this point - the 0.8.5 is too close (relatively). But perhaps this example shows that recycling old models is not exactly the best solution.


  1. After last purchases (the Big World, the Gas Powered Games)... I bet they have to count every penny...

  2. WoT cost cutting?
    What the hell are they spending all those millions on? (a World of WarPlanes game maybe?-I've had a look at it and I'm no impressed and don't get me started on World of Battleships or whatever it is going to be called; just imagine a World of Long Range Artillery on a curved map.....sound like fun?)
    Perhaps they should just spend the money on improving the models they already have. Bringing in those ridiculous Chinese tanks should have netted them millions in China alone (doesn't SerB always sya that the Chinese love pay-to-win? (hence the Gold Type 59)
    WoT is rapidly leaving its loyal fans behind I think with terrible management on the community-I mean THIS blog gives more, accurate and better information than the official game new channel FFS.

    1. Every project no matter how successful reaches a phase where the profits will go down and it's time to cut the costs.

    2. i think you should work for wg and you should be the one to deem the tanks worthy for this game

  3. I agree Pz38t mit Paz4 turm is a better choice by far.

  4. I must say the Panzer 38(t) looks very sexy... man WG should employ you lol, instead of the morons they got who keep telling them to add stewwwwwwwwpid stuff like the fail-lowe.

  5. minor nitpick: the gun for the spaehpanzer SP I.C. is the Mecar, not the Mercar.

    the aufklaerungspanzer typ245-011 would be awesome if only for the 55mm autocannon :D

  6. My feeling is that WG is "cost saving" in order to get out a few things by the end of 2013. Remember, they promised new vehicles every patch (1.5 months), and this will take a lot of resources, especially with the Japanese archives. I figure we'll get the second German TD line by fall and the start of the Japanese tanks in winter.

  7. SS, I am afraid you promote to much only the czech designs. This happens because you are czech yourself or because you do not have access to informations about other countries tank projects?

    1. 38d suspension was German design, based on Czech 38t suspension, that was so good it actually lasted the whole war. That's not my opinion, that was written by H. Doyle. If you know of better scout tanks, you can post about them too - but the decision for the 38d suspension to be the basis for light vehicles was a fact.

    2. even if he did ONLY promote Czech designs which is patently not the case I would say so what?
      If he chose to he could; its perfectly reasonable to take an interest ion your own national technical history and obviously is easier to conduct research when one speaks the native language and has access to archives at hand than remotely.

    3. Maybe because the Czech light were better than the german counterparts since the beguining, 35t and 38t were better than the PII and PI. Speaking of heavies, german have better desings, but 38t was a light chassis to improve amd make it through the whole war.

      German chasis became always too heavies, not a bad thing, but for light tree, they dont fit (ie. scout panther...) =)

  8. This was a thoroughly fantastic post, personally I got a bit upset about the negativity in your first Aufklärungspanzer Panther post but this is the kind of content that makes me wish you worked for wargaming.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  9. edit: I am weary of the first two designs as they might be useful to implement on the czech tree. We wouldn't want to rob them of possible high tier lights ; ), the last one is awesome,

    1. Czech tree has enough light tank designs for for T7-8 actually. These vehicles were protectorate-produced, ordered by Germans and built under their supervision. Unlike the Hetzer, they weren't produced in post-war Czechoslovakia either so they have no place in Czechoslovak branch

    2. straight layin down some knowledge, thanks for the reply

  10. I don't understand why they are cost-cutting if they are making c. 10m Euros a month.

    1. Well, I suspect the tank modelling is rather expensive.

    2. You are right graphic designers are quite expensive. Esp since you need a lot of them.

  11. Thank







    Blog !

  12. Good work mate, but then again: When exactly did wargaming go for the better option last time? (in the eyes of its customers)
    Anyhow, sometimes you personally get upset, may I suggest that you write your post in a draft for the time being and review and post it, when you're less upset. Because I really like the work you do, and since still can't get a sufficient community support up and running (for the european community that is)I'd rather wish you'd keep around and provide us with viable information as long as possible. Just my 2cents, and I'm still standing to my opinion, I posted on that blog a couple of times, they should pay you money instead of witch hunting you.
    Anyways, cheers mate.

  13. I gotta say using the Panzer 38(t) mit Panzer IV-Turm would a far better route to go.
    They look really good as well and follow the designed aesthetics of the VK2801 a bit more and follows the ideals of post war scout tanks more.

  14. i like the Spähpanzer SP I.C. alot, i think that one in particular is onto a winner, the 38 offspring are nice too but i suspect in WoT they would have to be balanced in a way that would make them epic in skilled hands and unplayable in others (if it was tier 7 that is.. there is also the theoretical option of moving VK2801 to tier 7 and fiddling with it's stats again..) but yeah, that Spähpanzer SP I.C. is definitely my favourate one here..
    I suspect part of the problem with selecting which vehicles to develop and implement is researching them, i guess alot of that resource is being taken up with japanese tanks maybe and they just didn't do enough research earlier about german light tanks..

    For my part.. I do hope they swap out the crap tanks for the more interesting ones like these but in the short term i want my Leopard 1 so bad :P lol

  15. The PAW600 shouldn't be a problem as it's a high/low pressure gun like the 90 mm on the ELC AMX (which also fiered HEAT only IRL)

    1. The problem is it's a smoothbore gun, unlike the ELC one.

    2. I thought the issue was high pressure smoothbore guns not low pressure guns.

      Thank you for your amazing work! Imho you are allowed to propose Czech designs, we should all be proud of our heritage. Last but not least you are entirely correct, the German "small" platforms were all abandoned in favor for 38 (t) which was later replaced by 38 (d).

    3. No advanced aim&stabilisation features? Give it a WoT compatible cannon and problem solved?

    4. Well, as far as I know, no smoothbores is an unbreakable rule, no matter how little advanced they are. Early American and Soviet smoothbores (US 90mm T208 comes to mind) were pretty terrible and inaccurate, but they were denied too.

    5. I understand that. This is just me wondering does it have any other features that are incompatible with WoT.
      If not then that is just WG being stuck-up asses again.
      They have no qualms about inventing E-50 but they get all gun-shy about any tank that had a smooth-bore cannon.
      Just give it some a Wot compatible cannon instead.
      IMHO anyone who thinks this game is historically accurate has no clue about history... so sticking to historic instead of game balance and game-play diversity is kinda silly to me. BTW Speaking of silly, I'm grinding toward AT2... poor Tiger H.

    6. Frank, you're incorrect about the 90 mm D 914: It was actually smoothbore.

    7. No, I don't, we doublechecked with Okinoshima, he asked some French tanks buff. It was a rifled gun.

    8. Yeah sorry, I thought the the D 914 was smoothbore but Souroy told me that it was a low pressure rifled gun


  16. Ofc they are cutting the expenses when there is less and less people spending money on WoT. Why? Bcs they're bunch of cunts who can't treat their players(customers right) and constantly trolling them and ofc there is now obvious anti-german bias....i hope all players would stop paying them until they start treat us like players and not like cattle..

  17. Spähpanzer and Panzer 38(t) mit PzIV-Turm looks cool - the 38d variants seems rather "fast TD" for me, because of the lack of turret. The SPz could be a tricky one - maybe WG wants to implement its french variant (Hotchkiss SP1A) as a french vehicle

  18. They might release another light tank branch for the Germans eventually. Than it would make sense why they picked the AP over those other tanks.


  19. Some of the VK2001's should be an option.
    Also there is the Porsche Type 245 with automatic 55mm.
    I honestly think the devs should stop screwing around and put the 8H63 and 10H64 in. They already have tanks with multiple versions of the same shell (some with two HESH or HE rounds). Why not make both of those in game with standard and premium HEAT rounds.
    8H63 would pen about 130mm with standard HEAT and let's say, 170mm with gold.
    10H64 would pen around 180-210mm with standard HEAT and 250mm with gold.
    You could fit the 8H63 I bet on the Leopard, if you can it would easily be a tier 6 (depending on if they get rid of the nonsensical tier 6 light "standard" matchmaking).
    Then you could fit the 10H64 on the VK2801 and make it a solid tier 7 after rolling back accuracy and mobility nerfs.
    Then, with HEAT shells as standard you can actually balance those vehicles around it.
    Is the only thing preventing these guns that they were smoothbore? They are from WW2, the 8H63 was actually in mass production and considered for mounting into future light tanks (The 38t with PzIV style turret being one I've seen listed). This would honestly fix a lot the holes in German light tank guns as the L70 is admittedly too big.
    My God all of the solutions are right in front of their face. I guess considering the MatildaBP debacle it isn't a surprise though.


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