today, we're going to have a look at the upcoming Waffenträger E-100 tier 10 vehicle. First and foremost, unlike the Jagdpanzer E-100, we do know this vehicle is completely unhistorical. There never was a Waffenträger project based on the E-100 hull, just as there was no GW Typ E vehicle. The heaviest self-propelled artillery vehicle projected (apart from the railway guns, the ultraheavy artillery such as Karl-Gerät and the navy coastal defense guns) was the Grille 17/21, implemented into the game under the name GW Tiger.
What is a Waffenträger?
Waffenträger - german for "weapons carrier" is roughly equivalent to the term "Selbstfahrlafette" (self-propelled gun carriage), with both terms being somewhat interchangeable. Basically, it's a (usually serially-produced, but sometimes custom made or even captured vehicle) hull with a gun mounted on top of it - a gun, that usually has a wide horizontal arc and very light (if any at all) armor protection (usually just a gun shield, or a very thin turret/casemate).
Essentially, it's supposed to be means to produce as many self-propelled heavy guns as possible. In order to clarify the division mentioned earlier: Selbstfahrlafette usually refers to ANY gun carrier project (including artillery gun carriers and anti-aircraft gun carriers), while the term Waffenträger is generally used for anti-tank (or direct fire howitzer) projects.
The original weapons carriers were various captured tank hulls or improvised constructions, made from real tanks, that got knocked out in battle. Of course, it's not that simple, but the original Waffenträger history I already mentioned in this article, feel free to check it out.
The basic idea
So, as mentioned, the basic idea behind a WT is a (preferably cheap and simple) hull, used for nothing else than to carry an anti-tank gun around. These things were meant to be massproduced cheaper Jagdpanzers, essentially just moving anti-tank guns, nothing else. As you can see, putting a HUGE gun (we are now talking about something bigger than the Jagdpanzer E-100 gun) on an E-100 chassis just makes no sense whatsoever.
In other words: we will be getting an E-100 hull, with a big gun, but (apart from the hull itself) very thin armor. For armor model, think about the Valentine AT we have in game: it has a tough hull, but the gun part (specifically the gun shield) is thin as paper and with the crew models hidden "behind" the gun shield, we can expect crew deaths often. Something like that. The vehicle will no doubt have:
- very limited mobility
- thin turret/casemate armor
- a big gun
Now, there are basically four combinations as to how the vehicle can look. It can either have a thin superstructure (with a limited horizonatal arc), or a fully traverseable turret. It can also have a less-destructive but more quick-firing and accurate gun (basically, a rapid-fire sniper), or some slow-firing gun monster (if the developers will go this way, we might see possibly the most powerful non-artillery gun in the game on such a vehicle).
Another possible look is for example here:
Please note that the line has not been confirmed to be completely open-topped, so it's fairly possible the vehicle will recieve a thin, but closed superstructure. I believe this to be quite likely, as on such a slow vehicle, artillery hits would be absolutely devastating.
This is another approach (perhaps even more realistic one) to a Waffenträger. Basically, the weapon is mounted on a rotating mount and either uncovered completely (as seen on this picture) with only a crew-protecting gun shield, or enclosed in a thinly armored turret. The advantage is obvious: no casemate means possibly even a bigger gun. This approach raises even bigger questions however.
For one, the whole concept of E-100 hull and uncovered rotating gun is simply ridiculous, but even if we apply suspension of disbelief, the question is: could the gun fire when rotated away from the main axis of the vehicle without ripping the mount out of the hull or tipping the vehicle over? Don't laugh, this actually happened with some superheavy guns (even with lighter ones). There is a reason FV215b (183) planned for limited traverse.
Second - perhaps even more important - question would be: "how the hell do you balance THAT?". I can't simply see this working. The gun might be insane (and believe me, there are some pretty insane choices in that respect), but the vehicle could be knocked out by one artillery shot. Gunner dead, loaders dead (yes, it's safe to assume that unless the top gun has an autoloader, the vehicle will have 2 loaders), gun destroyed, bye bye. Plus, no matter how you twist it, E-100 hull is huge as hell, you won't hide this beast and if you do, its first shot will demask it so badly even a half-blind grandma will spot it across the whole map.
As I mentioned, I think the casemate option is more likely. We'll have to see.
What will it be armed with?
Well, this is the big question we have been waiting for, isn't it? There are several options, which can be - as mentioned - divided into the "biggest boom possible" and "rapid-fire sniper" categories. We have to assume that since the vehicle will certainly lack armor in comparison with Jagdpanzer E-100, it will have more punch (or rather, more DPM).
Now, we'll look at the options we have.
The basic choices are the historical guns, intended for the Sturmgeschütz E-100 and Sturmgeschütz auf Fahrgestell Maus, which are the 150mm L/63 and the 170mm L/53 (which is the ingame Jagdpanzer E-100) guns. Possible? I doubt that. The 170mm is more powerful, but I doubt Wargaming will want to introduce the SAME gun for the other tier 10 tank destroyer, with tweaked performance. What would be the point? To play the same vehicle (albeit with a buffed gun parameters, such as rate of fire)? Of course, we do have a precedent (T110 tank destroyers), but I doubt Wargaming will want to repeat that approach.
The 150mm L/63 is not a bad weapon either, but... no. It's going to be something else I think.
Now we are getting to the good stuff:
The 150mm KwK 44 L/67 was a historical weapon, considered for the Sturmgeschütz E-100. Compared to the 170mm, it was probably more accurate and the rate of fire was better. My estimates on its statistics:
DAM - 750, PEN - 300 (400 gold), ACC - 0.34, ROF - 3,8.
I think this gun is the most likely candidate on the vehicle armament. Can we get better though? Yes we can. You see, the Germans actually developed an autoloader for their 150mm guns. Originally it was intended for Flak cannons, but I assume (well, I have no proof for that, but let's go with that) it could actually be mounted on the L/67 - there you have it, an accurate and rapid-fire weapon (4 shot autoloader for balance should suffice).
Can it get better? Sure. In 1940-late 1942, an experimental anti-aircraft 150mm gun (well, 149mm really, but all the German guns were marked this way) was developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig. It was designated as Gerät 65 and it was an autoloaded 150mm L/102,5 cannon, capable of shooting nine 42kg rounds per minute at 950 m/s. You can surely understand how nasty such a thing would be (with a - say - 4 round autoloader). The gun weigheted 26 tons, so we are still in the vehicle limits I believe.
Can it get even MORE ridiculous? Yes. There was a 1942-1943 project for an autoloaded 240mm gun (!!!), called Gerät 85. This 38 ton (weight of the gun itself) monster was basically a naval Flak cannon capable of firing seven 180kg shells per minute. Can this appear in WoT? No (mounted fortress version weighted 450 tons), but it's here to demonstrate, how crazy hardcore some of the German projects were.
Back to "reality":
I think that the Waffenträger E-100 will have either a rapid-fire (relatively) long 150mm (I doubt the autoloader will be implemented, but theoretically it might appear), or some sort of 210mm howitzer/mortar with properties comparable to the current artillery vehicles. I sincerely hope for the first option, as vehicles under 2 RPM are not exactly fun to play.
Either way, I fear this vehicle will end up as a massive fail. Heavy hull and thin superstructure, I don't see that working. But maybe I am wrong. I sincerely hope I am.