Categories
Cold War American Other Vehicles

90mm Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun M56 Scorpion

U.S.A. (1959)
Self-Propelled Anti-Tank – 325 built

Introduction

The M56 began life in the heads of an Anti-Tank Panel in Fort Monroe, 1948. They soon developed the idea of a self-propelled, high-velocity small caliber anti-tank vehicle that could be air transportable and deployable.
This idea was put forward to the Army Airborne Panel later the same year, who in turn forwarded the idea to the Ordnance Department. The department didn’t develop the project, under the designation of T101, until 1950. Cadillac was given a contract to build 2 prototypes.
The T101 project ran for 6 years, finally culminating with the 4-crew SPAT (Self-Propelled Anti-Tank) M56 Scorpion.

Development

As the T101/M56 was in development, so was the SSM-A23 Dart Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). The Continental Army Command did not want to spend the time and money on two projects that effectively fulfilled the same role. This postponed the original 1957 delivery date of the vehicles to troops. A case was argued that the Dart would not be serviceable for another 2 years. Because of this, it was finally agreed that Scorpion would go into production. It finally started being delivered to troops in 1959.
Built by Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors for use by US airborne forces, The M56 was designed to be airdropped by heavy assault gliders and cargo aircraft. In later years, it was able to be dropped via helicopter.
m56recoil
This photo of the M56 demonstrates the effect of the recoil. Source: – live.warthunder.com

Design

Due to it being lightweight, it was an extremely maneuverable vehicle on every ground type. It was powered by a Continental AOI-402-5 high-octane gasoline engine. This sent 200 hp through the Allison CD-150-4 transmission to the forward mounted drive wheels, powering the vehicle cross country at a respectable 28 mph (45 km/h). The M56 featured a unique track and suspension. The track was lightweight and rubber connected with metal grousers. It had a torsion bar suspension, connected to all 6 wheels, including the drive wheel and idler to assist with recoil stresses. The road wheels were pneumatic with 7.5×12 tires that could be run even if punctured. Pneumatic road wheels were chosen because they are much lighter compared with the standard solid-steel.
The airborne deployment and weight restrictions associated with it demanded sacrifices, one of which was that the Scorpion was a completely open vehicle. It had nothing that could be considered armor whatsoever, bar a 5 mm gun shield, and reinforcing brush protection bars on the front of the tank. Indeed, the only protection the crew had was the 5 mm gun shield, this only covered the driver and gunner’s positions. Other than that they were completely open to the elements or any fragmenting explosives.
Though the crew probably would’ve enjoyed a bit of armor, the lack thereof wasn’t too much of a downside. The Scorpion, like it’s namesake, was an ambush predator. It was able to fire and scuttle back to cover extremely quickly or engage targets at ranges up to 1000 m. The sting in this Scorpion’s tail was the M54 90 mm gun, which was specially designed for the vehicle. It was originally going to be mounted with the T119 90mm cannon, but it wouldn’t fit onto the tank. Its standard ammo was the M3-18 Armor Piercing round. It could punch through 190 mm of armor at 1000 m. It could also fire the entire range of 90 mm ammunition of the day, including HVAP and APCR-T. Ammunition was stored in a rack at the rear of the vehicle. It carried 29 rounds, in 3 stacked rows, 2 rows of 10, one of 9.
The gun, though it operated and performed as designed, was also somewhat of a problem. The force of the recoil was amplified on the vehicle because it was so light, to the extent that it would lift the vehicle almost 3 feet off the ground. Firing with the gun straight forward was not a problem, bar the intense recoil. However, should the tank need to engage a target to the extreme left or right of the gun’s traverse, it ran the risk of severely injuring either the driver, commander or the gunner himself. Indeed, if the commander stayed in his seat with the gun aimed to the right, he would receive a recoiling breech block to the face. As such, it was recommended by a manual that all unnecessary crew abandon the vehicle when the gun is fired in this way.

M56 Scorpion SPAT
Tank Encyclopedia’s own rendition of the M56 Scorpion SPAT by David Bocquelet.m56 in service
Scorpions operating in Vietnam. Source: – bemil.chosun.com (Korean)

Service life

The M56 saw limited combat service. During the Vietnam War, it was deployed by the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the only brigade to do so. They used it mostly in a supportive role.
The M56 was not popular with the USMC who favored the Recoilless-Rifle equipped M50 Ontos, which was used in the same role but had an armored fighting compartment. The vehicle was effectively replaced in the field by the better armed and armored M551 Sheridan in 1970.
The M56 was exported to The Republic of Korea, Spain and Morocco. Morocco was the only other nation to use the vehicle in anger. It served in combat against Sahrawi rebels during the Western Sahara War.

An article by Mark Nash

M56 Scorpion Gallery

M56preparing for air-drop.m56trainingEarly Prototype.M56 in Vietnam

M56 Scorpion Specifications

Dimensions 4.55 m x 2.57 m x 2 m (14’11” x 8’5” x 6’7”)
Total weight 7.1 tons
Crew 4 (driver, gunner, loader, commander)
Propulsion 200 hp, 6 cylinder, AOI (Air cooled Opposed Cylinder Fuel Injection) 402-5
Suspension torsion bar
Speed (road) 45 km/h (28 mph)
Armament M54 90 mm cannon
Armor 5 mm gun shield
Total production 325

Links & Resources

Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #153: M551 Sheridan, US Airmobile Tanks 1941-2001
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #240: M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion 1956–70, US Tank Destroyers of the Vietnam War
The M56 on tanknutdave.com
The M56 on Wikipedia
The M56 on militaryfactory.com

Categories
WW2 Soviet Prototypes

Matilda II Mk.IV with ZiS-5 76mm

USSR (1941)
Infantry Tank – 1 Prototype Built

In the early stages of WWII, Great Britain started a lend-lease relationship with the Soviet Union. Along with the Churchill III, Tetrarch, Valentine and Universal Carrier, the famous Queen of the Desert Matilda II soon found itself in the USSR.

Between 1941 and 1943, some 1084 Matildas were shipped to the Soviet Union. Only 918 were ever received by the Red Army, however. It is suggested that the others never made it to the end of the famous Arctic Convoys. This is one-third of the entire 2987 vehicle production run of the Matilda.

The Matilda equipped with the 76mm ZiS-5 gun . Photo: pinterest

Fighting Under the Red Flag

The Matilda IIs that found their way to the USSR were mostly Mk.IIIs and Mk.IVs, with Leyland diesel engines. Diesel being the preferred fuel of the Soviets. The Soviets identified the Matilda as the “British Mk.2”. The 170th and 171st Tank Battalions of the South-Western and Kalininsk fronts were the first units to receive the tank. At the time of the Battle of Moscow, their first action under the Soviet flag, only 145 Matildas had been received. Along with the Valentine, the Matildas only made up 2 percent of all Soviet armor used. The 170th only had 13 of them at the time.

Matilda’s tanks of the Soviet 5th Mechanized Corps, 68th Army. Photo: Osprey Publishing

Soviet crews fell in love with the Matilda, however, and up until 1942 they deemed it “the toughest tank on the western front”. To the Soviets, of course, the German front was the “Western” front. The only thing they didn’t like were the tracks, that were ill-suited to icy conditions. The tank fought on several fronts under Soviet use, mostly on Western Front, but also at North Caucasian Front and Bryansk Front until at least early 1944. In December 1943, the 5th Mechanized Corps of the 68th Army, fighting on the Western front, still had 79 fully operational Matildas.

Soviet Modification

The Red Army soon realized that the standard 40mm 2 pounder cannon of the Matilda was becoming less and less effective against German armor. As such, in December 1941 at design office number 92, Vasiliy Grabin, the famous designer of the ZiS-3 gun, made plans to mount the Soviet’s own 76mm tank gun M1941 ZiS-5 (76-мм танковая пушка обр. 1941 г. ЗиС-5), on the Matilda.

The ZiS-5/F-96 gun used on the Matilda. Photo: warspot.ru

This was the same gun found on early war KV-1s. It was re-designated as F-96 for the project. The weapon was a substantial improvement over the 40mm/2-pounder. The 76mm shell could penetrate up to 61mm of armor at 1,000 meters and could fire numerous types of ammunition including HE-F (High Explosive – Fragmentation), APCR (Armor Piercing Composite Rigid) and APHE (Armor Piercing High Explosive). The gun could elevate to roughly 20 degrees, but could only depress 2 degrees. 120 guns were originally put-by for the project, however this was later cut down to only 40.

Cramped

Just one Matilda, still having its British War Department (W.D) numeral markings, was experimented on. Extensive modifications of the turret were implemented to allow the larger gun to fit, requiring a complete redesign of the mantlet. The new mantlet was based on the KV-1’s, and to grant a little extra room inside the turret, a gasket roughly an inch thick was placed in-between the mantlet and turret face.

The turret of the Matilda was cramped to begin with, so one can only imagine how much more uncomfortable it would’ve been with the 76mm inserted. It is unknown as to whether this Matilda would’ve kept the same amount of crew as the stanard tank. If so, the loading and general operating of the gun would likely have been an awkward task.

Another view from the front shows how disproportionate the mantlet looks to the rest of the Vehicle. Phot: ftr.wot-news.com

Fate

In January of 1942, the modified tank was sent to Moscow for testing. Come March 1943, the Commissar for Tank Industry, V. Malysheva and Commissar for weapons D. Ustinovu contacted the design team in a letter basically telling them the project was canceled as the guns were needed for the USSR’s own tanks, which were rolling off the assembly line by the battalion load. Because of this, the project was canceled with just the one prototype built. The prototype was likely scrapped soon after. It is possible that the component parts were put back into circulation. The guns may have been re-installed on their respective vehicles with the F-96 going back to a KV, and the 2-Pounder going back onto the Matilda hull.

There is, however, and unverified German intelligence report that the 36th and 37th Tank Brigade were equipped with 76mm armed Matildas. There is no concrete evidence to back this up though. It may be that the tanks were mistaken for Matilda CS versions, of which there was 130 sent to the Soviets.

This image shows the gun at maximum elevation. Photo: warspot.ru

The Soviets were not the first to attempt an up-gunning of the vehicle. As well as the experiments on using the Littlejohn adapter for the 2-pounder, the British army attempted mounting the QF 6 pounder gun in a new turret taken from the A27 Cromwell. Like the Russian concept, this too was scrapped with one prototype built.



The ZiS-5 armed Matilda. This illustration was produced by Tank Encyclopedia’s own by David Bocquelet.

Specifications

Dimensions 15.11 x 8.6 x 8.3 ft (5.99 x 2.60 x 2.50 m)
Total weight 25 tons
Crew 3-4 (driver, gunner, commander, possibly loader)
Propulsion 2 diesel 6-cyl AEC/Leyland 94/95 hp
Speed (road) 16/9 mph (26/14 km/h)
Armament 76mm ZiS-5 Gun
Armor From 20 to 78 mm (0.79-3.07 in)
Total production 1 Prototype
For information about abbreviations check the Lexical Index

Sources

Soviet Matildas on FTR
Matilda Mk.IV on Panzernet.net (Czech)
A live journal entry on the Matilda IV (Russian).
An article by Yuri Pasholok on Warspot.ru.
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #8: Matilda Infantry Tank 1938-45
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #247: Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II


Categories
WW2 German prototypes

Kugelpanzer

Nazi germany Nazi Germany (Year of construction unknown)
Prototype – 1 built

Introduction

After the First World War, unique concepts to deal with the No Man’s Land issue came by the bucketload. One of more unique ideas being the rolling or ball tank. The Germans were the first to try a working prototype with the Treffas-Wagen in 1917. Another concept came in 1936 with the “Tumbleweed tank”, designed by the Texan inventor A.J. Richardson. It never left the drawing board.
Listed as Item #37 in the Kubinka tank museum, the Kugelpanzer, or Rollzeug (literally meaning “ball tank” and ”rolling vehicle”), is visually similar to its Treffas-Wagen predecessor. It is the only known built example of one of these ball-tanks still in existence. It is a rarity among military vehicles.
The vehicle was captured by the Red Army. The most commonly believed theory is that at some point in the 1940s it was sent to Japan as part of Germany’s technology sharing scheme, and was captured in 1945 in Manchuria. However, another report states that it was captured at the Kummersdorf proving grounds along with the infamous Maus.
kugel-front
A front view of the Kugelpanzer as it sits in Kubinka. Source: – geektimes.ru

Design

The vehicle, manufactured by the famous Krupp company, is believed to be a one man scouting vehicle. It is definitely not an offensive AFV, as the armor is only 5 mm at its thickest. The only armament it would’ve carried may have been an MG 34 or 42, or in the case of Japanese service, possibly a Type 96 LMG mounted a few inches below the vision slit. The port is now welded over.
The tank consists of a centre cylindrical compartment with a single direct vision slit at head height, and a large ingress/exit hatch at the rear. The vehicle moved via two rotating hemispheres that make up the sides of the vehicle. These hemispheres were powered by a single cylinder two-stroke engine, which powered the vehicle to a meagre 8 km/h. It’s believed that it used the smaller wheel on the rear of the tank to steer, and keep it stable.

Fate

The tank’s secrets are closely guarded by the Russians. For many years it sat in the Kubinka Tank Museum hidden behind a Tiger I. Its original olive green paint was covered in a gloss-grey, the same paint that covered the Sturer Emil. Its internal components, including the engine, were completely stripped, and taking metallurgical samples is completely forbidden. After almost 80 years, no one knows what it is even made of. The tank will likely remain one of the larger mysteries in tank design for quite some time.
Early in 2017, the Kugelpanzer was repainted in a darker ‘German Grey’ and saw the addition of Balkenkreuz on the hub of each wheel. It has also been moved into a new exhibit. See the video below.

Video by Yuri Pasholok.

kugelblitz
Tanks Encyclopedia’s own rendition of the Kugelpnzer
kugel-side
A side shot of the Kugelpanzer displaying its supporting tail. Source: – www.britmodeller.com

Theories

Over the years there has been much conjecture about what the Kugelpanzer was designed for. The most common beliefs are that it meant to be a cable layer, artillery spotter, or scout vehicle. No one even knows whether it’s a pre/early war design, or a late war design.
It is this author’s theory, however, that it is a pre-war design for an infantry support weapon, that could traverse a no-man’s land kind of environment. The “Tumble-weed tank” design of the same era, was also of the same purpose. An armored vehicle, not as heavy or cumbersome as a tank, that would move at the same speed as the infantry while giving fire support. In the Kugelpanzer’s case, this fire support would’ve been given by a single machine gun. Its armor would’ve stood against small arms fire, but anything larger that an anti-tank rifle would go straight through. If the vehicle was used by the Japanese, it is possible that, after the outbreak of WWII, with its fast moving battlefields, the Germans realized the futility of the design and shipped it to the Japanese.
However, there are no sources to back any of these speculations. Until documents about the vehicle will emerge from the Russian archives, little else can be done to ascertain the Kugelpanzer’s origin and purpose.
An article by Mark Nash

Kugelpanzer

Dimensions Height (diameter) 4.9 ft (1.5m), Length 5.5 ft (1.7m)
Crew 1 (driver)
Propulsion Single Cylinder 2-stroke.
Speed (road) 4.9 mph (8 km/h)
Armament Belived to be 1 7.62 mm machine gun
Armor 5 mm (0.1 in) all round
Total production 1

Links & Resources

Kugelpanzer on strangevehicles.greyfalcon.us
Kugelpanzer on argunners.com
Kugelpanzer on www.keptelenseg.hu (Hungarian)
Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2

Categories
German Improvized AFVs

Infanterie PzKpfw MK II 748(e) “Oswald”

Nazi germany Nazi Germany (1942)
Training vehicle – 1 built

Introduction

During the early stages of World War II, the rampaging Wehrmacht began running into some hardened British steel among the softer skinned Crusaders and Vickers Lights. This was of course, the famous Queen of the Desert, Infantry Tank Matilda Mk.II, and nothing short of an 88 mm cannon would stop one.
Witnessing this excellent, unyielding armor first hand, the Wehrmacht were more than happy to capture any operational Matildas for themselves.
In fighting in France and North Africa, some of the captured Matildas were turned on their original operators. A tank under the name of “Dreadnought” is one such vehicle frequently seen in photographs from the time.
A few of the vehicles were sent back to Germany for analysis. This practice of sending captured equipment back to HQ was the norm in all armies. The tanks were mostly used for training purposes in their standard configuration, but one vehicle, previously identified as No. 111, was converted into the 5cm KwK 38 L/42 auf Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen MK II 748(e).
The letters Kwk were an abbreviation for the German word Kampfwagenkanone (Combat vehicle gun – Tank gun) It was nicknamed “Oswald” by its operators.
V2iJvy1
Here “Oswald” can be seen taking part in training exercises, note the name “Oswald” on the fender. Source: – beutepanzer.ru

Oswald

The conversion of the “Oswald” was caused by the Hochsee-Lehrkommando (High Seas Instructional Command). For a time, it was trained on in it’s original form. It later underwent some modifications. The tank’s hull and power plant remained the same as the standard Matilda II.
The major modification was the removal of the 2 pounder main armament and the turret, being replaced with the 5cm KwK 38 anti-tank gun. The gun is thought to have come from an irreparable Panzer III. It was pivot-mounted, protected by a specially hand-made shield which went over the weapon’s standard gun shield. Two 7.92 mm MG 15s were mounted atop this.
Infanterie PzKpfw MK II 748(e) Oswald transporting troops during a training exercise
Infanterie PzKpfw MK II 748(e) Oswald transporting troops during a training exercise
Quite why the turret was changed out is unknown, it is quite possible that the supply of 2-Pounder ammunition ran out and, for obvious reasons, it was easier to resupply with 5 cm shells. Also, the extremely tight turret of the Matilda would’ve made it ill-suited to training purposes. The open space the modification granted would’ve made training, and guidance of the training, a lot easier.
The only other modifications were cosmetic. It was repainted in German camouflage and markings. The name “Oswald” was stenciled onto the track guard above the front left idler-wheel.

Infanterie_PzKpfw_MK-II-748(e)_Oswald
Rendition of the Oswald
Matilda_KwK_38
Oswald on the back of a PiLaBo.41, No. 504, during training exercises. Source: – beutepanzer.ru

Training in the Wehrmacht

This particular Matilda is believed to have served under the British Army in North Africa before its capture, and bore the serial number “111”. The vehicle does, however, have raised suspension, a feature not continued after the debacle in France 1940, so it may well have been captured from the BEF.
Almost untouched, the tank came into German possession at some point in 1942. It was transported back to occupied Holland. Here, it was handed over to the Hochsee-Lehrkommando in Terneuzen where it underwent its modifications. It was then used to train loaders and take part in combat training. It took part in Operation Sea Lion invasion training.

Fate

It is unknown what happened to the “Oswald”, it is possible that it was used against the allies as Holland was liberated. Destroyed in this action, or scrapped, it didn’t see much action during the rest of the war and does not survive today.
An article by Mark Nash

5cm KwK 38 L/42 auf Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen MK II 748(e)”Oswald”

Dimensions 15’11” x 8’6″ x 8’3″ ft.in (5.99 x 2.60 x 2.50 m)
Crew 3-4 (driver, commander, loader, gunner)
Propulsion 2 diesel 6-cyl AEC/Leyland 94/95 hp
Speed (road) 16/9 mph (26/14 km/h)
Armament 5cm KwK 38 L/42
2 x MG 15 7.92 mm machine gun
Armor 78 mm (3.07 in) hull, approximately 10 mm (0.39 in) for the gun shield
Total production 1 Trainer

Links & Resources

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.: Captured American & British Tanks Under the German Flag
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #8, Matilda Infantry Tank 1938-45
Oswald on en.valka.cz (Slovak)
Oswald on world-war-2.wikia.com
Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2

Categories
Cold War Soviet Other Vehicles

IT-1

USSR (1964)
Rocket tank destroyer – 220 built

Introduction

During the Cold War, the Soviets began work on two designs for ATGM Raketniy tanks, literally meaning “Rocket Tanks”. One of the vehicles was the IT-1, based on the chassis of the T-62. Its designation was short for ‘Istrebitel Tankov’ (Истребитель Танков), literally ‘Tank Destroyer’, it was also known as the Object 150. Its competition was the Taifun 9M15, or Typhoon, also known as Object 287, based on the T-64.
Both of the vehicles took part in tests in 1964. The Taifun performed badly, its development being subsequently canceled. This cleared the way for the IT-I.
IT-1 promotional photograph - Source: Alternate Wars
IT-1 promotional photograph – Source: Alternate Wars

Design

The hull and engine were taken straight from the T-62, without modification. 220 IT-1 vehicles were built. 60 of these were manufactured by multiple firms. 20 of these were built by the Uralvagonzavod factory in 1970.
The IT-1’s 3-man crew consisted of a driver, a gunner and a commander. The vehicle saw a very limited service between 1968 and 1970 in two battalions of the Carpathian and Belarusian military districts. The IT-1 featured a very unique, “Flattened-dome” turret, which housed its main armament, and a 7.62 mm PKT machine gun with a 2000 round supply.

The Drakon

The 3M7 Drakon missile - Source: RMTE.info
The IT-1’s main armament consisted of a 2KA ATGM launcher firing the PTUR 3M7 “Drakon” missile. The missile was radio-command guided, via the SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command to Line-Of-Sight) guidance system. It could penetrate 250 mm (9.8 in) of rolled-homogeneous armor, angled at 60 degrees, at ranges up to 3300m.
The T2-PD and UPN-S night-vision equipment theoretically allowed night operation of the missiles. However, the missile’s effective range was substantially reduced in this situation. Day range was 300 to 3300m, night range, however, was a meager 400 to 600m
The firing sequence was thus: A small hatch would open in the roof of the turret. The rail, with the attached missile, would swing forwards. Once locked in position, the folding wings would open, at the same time shedding its protective casing. The missile was launched slightly upward, at an angle, in order to reduce the effect of any wind interference during the early stages of unguided flight. A tracer allowed the guidance system to track and transmit radio commands.
When fired, the guidance system used one of seven frequencies and two codes to prevent other IT-1 unit’s guidance systems interfering with each other’s missiles. There was a slight “dead-zone” around the vehicle, meaning that the missile traveled unguided for a few meters before receiving it’s radio commands.
The vehicle carried fifteen 3M7 Drakon missiles, twelve of which in an automatic loader, three more rounds were placed in an unarmoured container found on the rear of the turret.
The IT-1 in Patriot Park, Kubinka - Credits: Vitally V. Kuzzmin
The IT-1 in profile at Patriot Park, Kubinka. Photo: Vitally V. Kuzzmin

The IT-1 in Patriot Park, Kubinka - Credits: Vitally V. Kuzzmin
The IT-1 at Patriot Park, Kubinka, from the front, displaying its low profile. Photo: Vitally V. Kuzzmin
The IT-1 in Patriot Park, Kubinka - Credits: Vitally V. Kuzzmin
Rear of the IT-1 showing off the famous “Log” at Patriot Park, Kubinka. Photo: Vitally V. Kuzzmin

Fate

The 520 kg of guidance equipment required for the missile proved extremely impractical. This, coupled with the limited amount of ammunition carried, made it unpopular with its users.
The vehicle was soon withdrawn from service and the two units using them were disbanded. The IT-1 didn’t go straight to the scrap yard however, the vehicles eventually ended up being converted into the IT-1T partial ARV tractors. The only modifications were the fixed positioning of the turret, and the addition of recovery gear once the ATGM launcher had been removed. They were then converted again into the BTS-4V recovery vehicle.
For a time the vehicle sat in the Kubinka tank museum. It now sits in the Patriot Park at Kubinka.
An article by Mark Nash

IT-1 specifications

Dimensions 6.63 oa x 3.30 x 2.8 m (21’9” x 10’9” x 9’1”)
Total weight, battle ready 35.4 tons
Crew 3 (driver, gunner, commander)
Propulsion V-55A Diesel (580 hp)
Suspension torsion bar
Speed (road) 55 km/h (34.1 mph)
Armament 2K4 ATGM System firing 3M7 “Dragon” ATGM
7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun
Armor Hull: 102/79/46 mm (4.01/3.11/1.81 in)
Turret: 206 mm (8.1 in) at the front, 100 mm (3.93 in) sides and roof
Total production 220

Sources

Specifications of Russian missile tanks on the Big Book of Warfare
Information on a preserved IT-1
Missile Tanks on survincity.com

Soviet Propaganda video showing the IT-1 in testing

IT-1
Tank Encyclopedia’s own Illustration of the IT-1 by David Bocquelet.

Categories
Cold War Soviet Prototypes

Object 416 (SU-100M)

USSR (1950)
Light tank/SPG – 1 prototype built

Introduction

Object 416 was born in the famous city of Kharkov. It was designed by The Construction Bureau of Plant No. 75. In 1944, the same design bureau had designed the A-44, a rear-turreted medium tank. The A-44 never saw development as a consequence of the ensuing Russo-German hostilities.
In 1950, the team started with a fresh blueprint, taking inspiration from their older design. The design was for a light tank with a low silhouette that would be well armored, but not overly heavy.

Design

In 1951 the requirements for the project were altered. Due to its general characteristics, the vehicle was redesigned as a self-propelled/assault gun. Technical problems with the turret meant a working prototype was not ready until 1952. By 1953, the design had developed a little bit more, and had a properly functioning turret.
The Object 416 prototype in Kubinka. The low height of the vehicle can be observed. - Source: list-games.ru
The Object 416 prototype in Kubinka. The low height of the vehicle can be observed. – Source: list-games.ru
What came out of this was the Object 416, a lightweight vehicle with an extremely low profile and a rear mounted turret. The vehicle weighed just 24 tons, and was only 182.3 cm (5’2”) high. It was moderately armored with hull armor of only 75 mm (2.95 in) and frontal turret and mantlet armor of 110 mm (4.3 in).
The turret, though designed solely for this vehicle, shared a lot of features with the T-54’s, but was greatly expanded. It was abnormally large for a vehicle of its class and size, but for good reason. All 4 of the crew, including the driver, were positioned in the rear mounted turret. The driver sat at the front right. An ingenious system was developed, meant to allow the driver to remain facing towards the front of the vehicle regardless of where the turret was pointed. On paper, the turret was capable of a full 360 degrees of traverse, however, the driver’s seat would only rotate so far. This meant that the arc was reduced to 70 degrees left and right while the vehicle was on the move. The was also responsible for loading the 7.62 coaxial machine gun to his left.
The main armament of the 416 was the 100 mm (3.94 in) M63 cannon, a derivative of the D-10T gun found on the famous T-55. Its ballistic characteristics would have probably been much the same. For reference, the T-55’s Armor-Piercing rounds could penetrate 97 mm (3.82 in) at 3000 m (3300 yds), with its Armor-Piercing Ballistic-Cap penetrating 108 mm (4.25 in) at the same distance. These values relate to D-10T, as ballistic reports on the M63 are sparse to say the least. To reduce the effect of the heavy recoil on what was essentially a light tank, the gun was tipped with an elaborate Quad-Baffle muzzle brake. The gun was also equipped with a bore evacuator to assist in venting fumes from the cannon after firing.
Illustration made by the user Tin53 on the WoT EU forum
The gun could elevate to 36 degrees, in theory meaning it could take extremely effective hull down positions (as seen to the left). But the rear mounted turret meant the gun only depressed to -5 degrees.
An innovative feature of the gun was its chain drive loading system. The loader would drop the shell onto the tray, and the chain system would then ram the shell into the breach, saving him the arduous task of loading what is quite a large shell in a cramped fighting compartment. Of course, in the event of the chain-drive failing, the shells could be loaded manually. After loading, the chain drive would be folded out of the way to avoid being struck by the recoiling gun breech. The tank carried 18 ready rounds of 100 mm ammunition (AP: Armor-Piercing, APBC: Armor-Piercing Ballistic-Cap, APHE: Armor-Piercing High-Explosive) in the rear of the turret. There was more ammunition storage in the rear of the hull.
Under the almost bare forward hull, laid the tank’s power-plant, a 400 hp, V12 Engine. This allowed the tank to reach a top speed of 45-50 km/h. The tank’s torsion bar suspension system and track were designed specifically for it. Unusually for Soviet tanks of the time, the sprocket wheels were at the front of the vehicle. The tracks use external guide horns, rather than the more traditional center guides used on most Soviet tanks of the era.

Top-rear view of the Object 416. The size of the turret compared to the rest of the hull can be observed - Source: Topwar.ru
Top-rear view of the Object 416. The size of the turret compared to the rest of the hull can be observed – Source: Topwar.ru
The Object 416 during Testing
The Object 416 at Patriot Park in April 2016 - Credits: Vitaly Kuzmin
The Object 416 at Patriot Park in April 2016 – Credits: Vitaly Kuzmin

Fate

As development continued, problems arose that would affect its intended role as a light tank. Problems with steering, and firing on the move hindered the development. As such, the vehicle became more of a Tank Destroyer, and as such was re-designated as the SU-100M. One source suggests that this was the only way the project would continue to be funded.
The vehicle itself never saw service or production, losing out in tests to the SU-100P. Ironically this vehicle also ended up as a canceled project. The two vehicles sat for a long while side by side at the Kubinka Tank Museum. The Object 416 is now at the Patriot Park in Kubinka.

An article by Mark Nash

Object 416 specifications

Dimensions 6.35 oa x 3.24 x 1.83 m (20’9” x 10’8” x 6′)
Total weight, battle ready 24 tons
Crew 4 (driver, gunner, loader, commander)
Propulsion 12 cylinder Boxer diesel, 400 hp
Suspension Unsupported torsion bar
Speed (road) 45 km/h (28 mph)
Armament 100 mm (3.94 in) L/58 M-63
7.62 mm (0.3 in) coaxial machine-gun
Armor Hull: 60/45/45 mm (2.36/1.77/1.77 in)
Turret: front 110 mm, +110 mm mantlet (4.33, +4.33 in)
Total production 1 prototype

Links & Resources

Object 416 on FTR
The Object 416 on Dogs of War (Russian)
The Object 416 described by Mihalchuk-1974 (Russian)

Object-416
Tank Encyclopedia’s own illustration of the Obj. 416 by David Bocquelet.