today we are going to have a look at one tank that appears on the WoT forums in regular intervals (quite correctly) as a candidate for a tier 5 premium tank - the Nahuel. When I wrote about the Patagon tank some time ago, I wrote that the Nahuel is basically a Sherman knock-off. This caused some amount of disagreement - and rightfully so, because I was wrong. But let's have a look at this interesting vehicle.
The full name of the vehicle is "Carro de Combate Medio Nahuel D.L.43" and it is one of the first Argentinian armored vehicle attempts. Pre-WW2 Argentina generally wasn't exactly the most industrially developed country in the world, therefore it was capable of producing only generally very simple designs and constructions. It's no wonder that the army was - by the time WW2 broke out - equipped only with foreign made vehicles. By that time, the army sought to purchase the French, British or even Czech vehicles to arm itself, but as the war came closer, no tanks were available to buy, since all the armies tried to arm themselves at all costs. Some serious negotiations took place between Argentina and Czechoslovakia over the purchase of the LT-38 light tanks, but before any agreement could be reached, Czechoslovakia was already occupied and produced tanks exclusively for the Germans.
Other attempts to acquire modern technology were practically thwarted by Americans, who suspected Argentina of nazi sympathies and were not interested in strengtening the Axis forces any further - that's why they basically blocked any Argentinian attempts to buy armor abroad.
This import quasiban led to the Argentinian decision to actually develop their own medium tank. The decision took place in 1942 (a committee to ovesee the development was estabilished) and in 1943, the actual project was accepted. Lt.Col. Baisi was charged with its proper development. This man would later become celebrated as the "father of the Argentinian armored corps" and handled the development well.
The project itself was definitely inspired by the M4 Sherman design, but the similiarity was only superficial - the "guts" of the vehicle were completely different. The design work went really fast, even for 40's standards: a wooden mockup was ready in 45 days and the first prototype saw the light of day in only 2 months. The project was named "Nahuel". Apparently, it's supposed to mean "Tiger" in the language of Argentinian natives (Indians), but after looking for a while, I discovered that there can be an alternative translation as "Jaguar". Indeed, some sources translate it as "Jaguar", but that's not really important.
The hull of the Nahuel was welded from armored plates. The turret was cast - a technology which did cause the Argentinians some trouble, but in the end, they managed to make it. The armament was a 75mm Krupp howitzer.
The first prototype trials - at first the hull was tested without the turret attached - ended well, the vehicle performed admirably. The vehicle was presented to public during a 1943 coup anniversary military parade on 4.6.1944 in Buenos Aires - first 10 Nahuels were ready by then. In the end, a total of 16 vehicles were produced in the Arsenal Esteban de Luca in Buenos Aires between 1943 and 1944. By 1944 however, Argentina officially "switched sides" and became an ally of the USA. As a result, American surplus Shermans were imported en-masse and there was no need to produce more Nahuels (especially since the late model Shermans were superior in most respects).
In the end, the Nahuel served until 1962, when the last one was decommissioned. Most were scrapped, some served as training targets and sadly not a single vehicle survived until now.
Weight: 35 tons
Engine: 500hp Lorraine Dietrich 12E.B.
Maximum speed: 40 km/h
Armor: 25 to 80mm
Armament: Krupp model 1909 field gun (75mm L/30) with the ROF of 10 shots per minute, according to some sources these guns were replaced after the war by Bofors 75mm L/40 guns, 1x 50cal MG, 3x7.62mm MG's
In World of Tanks
Since the probability of introduction of some South American tree is very, very low, this vehicle would make a nice tier 5 American premium medium tank. Its mobility is decent and while the gun is inferior to the Sherman, it could still work. Plus, I think I recall correctly that some developer said at some point that Nahuel might appear. In any case, it's a nice piece of South-American engineering and it shouldn't be forgotten.