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Apr 3, 2013

T-39 Soviet Super-heavy Breakthrough Tank

Author: EnsignExpendable

The T-39 tank was designed to be a breakthrough tank. With a rather ridiculous 4 turrets, and up to 90 mm of armour, the tank was even more powerful than the KV-1 and KV-2 that would follow it 6 years later. A number of options were presented. Two options were deemed the most viable, and made it as far as wooden models.

In real life, the T-39 was exceptionally unrealistic, and all work on it stopped in favour of the (also pretty useless) T-35 tank. However, World of Tanks is just the place to go to see how well ill-conceived prototypes would perform! Let's take a look. 

90 tons, 12 man crew, 4 107 mm guns (two per turret), 2 45 mm guns (in the front turrets). 24 kph with a 970 hp engine or 33 kph with 1150-1300 hp engine.

The powerful 107 mm guns don't show up until tier 6, with the KV-2 and T-150. The T-150 has a comparable amount of armour, so you'd think that a T-39 would fit in the same tier. However, four 107 mm guns would mean four times the rate of fire, and 300 damage from each gun (or 1200 in total) would melt any tank of that tier, as well as most tier 7 vehicles. Even if the 45 mm turrets are completely vestigial (like the machine gun turrets on the T-28), this tank would be massively OP at tier 6. 

The "gentle giant" KV-5 has a 107 mm gun at tier 8. However, it has much more armour, even with the vulnerable turret. With a mere 90 mm at its thickest, the T-39 would be horrible at tier 8. 

Perhaps, at tier 7, the T-39 could find a reasonable home. The turret placement requires it to show its side before it can use all 4 of its guns, and even if it doesn't, that driver's box in the front is an excellent weak spot. It could be like a TOG: huge and slow, with no armour, but lots of hit points. It would probably have to be restricted to its initial engine configuration, and travel at 24 kph, at most.

90 tons, 12 man crew, 152 mm howitzer in the main turret, 3 secondary 45 mm guns in smaller turrets, 4 7.62 mm machine guns, flamethrower. 24 kph with a 970 hp engine or 33 kph with 1150-1300 hp engine.

This one is a lot more reasonable. Instead of two main turrets, there is only one. Plus, due to the 45 mm turret, it can't point backwards. The gun is more like the 152 mm gun on the SU-152, longer, faster, and more accurate, than the KV-2's gun. A slower KV-2 that can't shoot backwards would settle in nicely at tier 6 or 7 as a premium. At this tier, there is no use for the 45 mm guns either.

Despite powerful armament, this tank does not have very much armour. The sloped 90 mm plate in the front doesn't do very much to compensate for its sides (20-50 mm thick) or its lower glacis (45 mm thick). There is also a glaring weak spot that the driver sits in, inviting any opponent to make your slow tank even slower. 

While the 152 mm gun option is more likely (it doesn't even need multiple turrets), both would be excellent crew trainers. 12 crewmen means you can train as many as 3 Soviet heavy crews at once!

Read more about tank history at my blog.


  1. Personally I hope that WG will stay away from multi-turreted tanks until they'll make them usable, but thanks a lot for the interesting article, I'm a huge Soviet fanboy.

  2. damn... that's when someone "gets" an idea that tank should have it all.. a flame thrower, fire power of 4 tanks at once.. moar people.. moar guns.. moar tons!MOARRR!! xD

    1. Patton: "MOAR MACHINEGUNS!!!!" :)

    2. One gets the impression the Soviet engineers took one look at what the spooks had to tell about the British "land battleship" idea and concluded the running dog capitalists just weren't thinking big *enough*... :D

      I suspect the death knell of the project came, if not before, when someone crunched the numbers and gave the folks in charge some production estimates.

    3. Production estimates were 3 million rubles a pop. For comparison, a T-34 cost 172 thousand. The entire development process of the Object 212, including a prototype and salaries, was 2 million. The T-39 was, indeed, a land battleship more than a tank.

    4. yeah.. a land battleship but then.. you take a single granade and blow it's tracks. Then it's just a huge
      " " "fortificaton" " "

      ps: you mentioned USSR 212, could we get any history on that one.. or any other their SPG? [:

    5. I have an article on it. I'll put it up once I'm done Aberdeen Week.

  3. 107mm gun is not same as ZiS-6, those were based on M1910/30 field guns with smaller barrel length (L/40 vs L/50), which can be seen on drawings.
    Also there are loads of Soviet blueprints from 1941-42-43 for superheavy tanks, including one with 152mm Br-2 gun as main armament (that is 152mm BL-10 from ISU/704!), if someone really wanted you could easily make 2-3 heavy trees of those projects.

    1. Damage tends to be the same for the same calibers, but I guess they could make a very low penetration, low accuracy 107 mm Model 1910/30 for this, if it's even in game.

      As for the heavy 152 mm guns, I have a bunch of material on heavy Soviet SPGs. They will certainly receive an article sooner or later.

    2. Yeah, penetration was my point, IIRC 110-120mm at short range.

  4. Replies
    1. There is a much more KV-VI-ish vehicle that was proposed. That one was basically parts of different tanks stuck together into one ridiculously looking whole...except someone made blueprints for it. Obviously it was never produced.

  5. What's the deal with the fully covered tracks running along the whole hull? It's not the first time I see this. Wouldn't that cause all sorts of problems with maintenance?

    1. Not just maintenance. The Churchill tracks (since I think this is the kind of track you are referring to) had a tendency to collect snow, ice, and mud, bulge out, and prevent the turret from rotating. Also, they would slip off if the tank is tilted too much.

  6. Well, the second version has even more advantages over the first as far as game terms go:

    It can be implemented as the game is at present. The 107mm Land Battleship version requires multiturret logic to be implemented, but the 152mm version only has the 45mm guns, and without gold ammo they'd be worthless at Tier 6/7 anyway besides being annoying and detracking enemies. It could very easily be like the M3 Lee and the Char B1 where only one weapon is actually implemented, and the rest are just for show.

  7. i hope they put some tanks in game who have 2 working turrets

    1. T-35 is planned, but not soon. The NbFz is also planned. They will also activate the B1's hull howitzer and M3 Lee's top turret.

  8. Hammerschlag wrote:

    That was a great article man.
    i read about some polish / russian sources about an even larger project. im not sure but i guess it was called T-42, do you have any info about that?

    For the ingame model:
    T6 tank.

    The model with one big turret as basis.
    Starts with the huge gun with an extremely bad reload time (2,0)

    upgradable with a turret with a twin, short 107mm gun.
    both guns are fireable with 135 pene and 250 damage each. reload: 2,5 for each gun.
    Guns can be fired seperatly. or at the same time for massive alpha. Perfectly balanceable :)

  9. looks pretty badass :)


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