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Tanks in Fullmetal Alchemist

Amestris (1914-1915)
Tank – Fictional

In Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist, the fictional country of Amestris, based on early 20th-century European countries, with Prussia and the German Empire being the most noticeable influences, is beset by enemies from almost all sides. Amestris is in constant and intentional war with neighbouring countries. To be able to fight these wars, Amestris is developing new technologies and war machines. One of these war machines is the tank.

As the Fullmetal Alchemist story has been adapted in three different series, these tanks and their origins differ as well. In the Manga and the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Anime, the tanks were developed to help defend the country against its northern rival, where every technological edge is of vital importance to Amestris. These tanks are still prototypes and produced in very small numbers, but their first combat experience has shown promising results. The design of the tanks of these two adaptations are quite different: where the Manga tank resembles a fusion of the British WWI Tank Mark 1 and the Ferdinand, the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood tank resembles a fusion of a Panzer IV, Tiger 1, and VK 30.01 (H).

The third adaptation is from the Fullmetal Alchemist Anime. The origin of this tank is unknown, but it is likely to be a technological culmination resulting from decades of war. These tanks seem to be more common than the tanks of the previously mentioned adaptations, as it is suggested in the Anime that Amestris has experience in tank warfare. The tank from this Anime adaptation resembles a Renault FT tank.

The Amestrian need for tanks is clear, and their first steps in designing tanks seem to be very promising, albeit unrealistic in technology, the time frame of the setting, experience, and potential specifications. By using real tanks, the illustrators managed to come up with some viable tank designs for Amestris.

The Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood tank.
https://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lir3zaNl4n1qccm57o1_500.gif

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist is a manga series written and illustrated by Mangaka Hiromu Arakawa (the male pseudonym of Hiromi Arakawa), of which two animated adaptations were made by studio Bones. The story of Fullmetal Alchemist, abbreviated to FMA, takes place in the fictional country of Amestris. Amestris is in a state of constant and total war with almost all of its neighbouring countries. In the north, the mighty Drachma (similar to Russia) always threatens Amestris, waiting for its opportunity to break its shaky non-aggression pact with Amestris by besieging the fortress of Briggs and invading. In the east, the Amestrians are embroiled in centuries-long and multiple very bloody border conflicts with Creta, a highly diverse federation consisting of various tribes which were unified by the leader of the most influential tribe around the year 900. The Principality of Aerugo (similar to Italy) lies on the south side of Amestris. Aerugo and Amestris are, like Amestris and Creta, entrenched in a bloody border conflict after Amestris invaded Aerugo by taking the town of Fotset and some territory as well. A desert on the east side of Amestris splits Amestris apart from Xing (similar to China, with some Japanese inspirations as well), with the countries having had no conflicts.

A map of Amestris and its neighboring countries.
Source: https://ginnodangan.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/fullmetal-alchemist-brotherhood-episode-15/

The reason why Amestris can fight these three countries and still remain in a status quo (the status quo is intentional from the Amestrian side) is because of the highly militaristic and authoritarian regime of Amestris. The State Military of Amestris effectively controls the entire state of Amestris under the command of Führer King Bradley (Generalissimo King Bradley if translated directly from Japanese).

The series mostly takes place between 1911 and 1915 and the technology available to Amestris is comparable to that of the European powers during World War 1, albeit with some stark differences. Weapons shown in the series seem to be based on real-world weapons, such as the Mauser C96, Mosin-Nagant rifle and the 7.5 cm Pak 40. Another comparison that can be made is the development of the first tank in the region and possibly the entire FMA world at that time. An important difference between the technology of our world in between 1911 and 1915 compared to that of FMA is that Amestris does not seem to have any airfaring capabilities at its disposal. Another difference is the widespread use of so-called automails, short for automotive armored prostheses. These highly advanced prostheses are linked to the nervous system and function almost identically as a human limb.

An automail prosthetic.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

In this universe, Alchemy is one of the most important sciences of the country. Alchemy uses transmutation circles with which an alchemist can create an object or change the structure of an object by presenting a material of equal value according to the Law of Equivalent Exchange. Skilled Alchemists can undergo an examination to become State Alchemists. When an Alchemist becomes a State Alchemist, he or she is employed by the Amestrian State Military and can be called upon to fight as human weapons in times of war. A State Alchemist is also employed to do research in Alchemy for the Amestrian Army for various purposes or perform other tasks involving state matters.

A very basic transmutation circle
Source: https://fma.fandom.com/wiki/Alchemy

Amestris is a parliamentary republic, although the parliament is a facade of a stratocracy which rules Amestris. It is led by Führer King Bradley together with an advisory staff consisting of the highest-ranking officials in the country. The government is almost completely centralized by the military and the military is present in all forms of public life. From regional governors to mine owners and from scientists to detectives, the State Military of Amestris holds a relatively strong grip on its country and inhabitants, except for some more or less intended conflicts and civil wars.

Amestris put down a very bloody revolt between 1901 and 1908 in the province of Ishval, in the Eastern sector of the country. The revolt eventually spread across the Eastern sector, but was violently crushed in 1908 when the State Military called upon the State Alchemists. The Ishvallan people were massacred and the area was devastated. Border conflicts with Aerugo and Creta intensified after the Ishval Civil War. In 1914, the State military crushed a religious revolt in Liore and defeated a large Drachman Army, which attempted to breach the Northern Fortress of Briggs. It is important to note that these conflicts were all intentionally caused by forces within the upper echelons of the Amestrian State Military in order to provide enough bloodshed for their masterplan. All these years of warfare eventually led to the first tank of the Amestrian Army.

Designation of the Tanks

There are three different takes on the tank in the FMA universe. These can be divided into FMA manga, FMA Anime (2003), and FMA: Brotherhood Anime (2009). The FMA: Brotherhood anime adaptation follows the story of the manga as faithfully as possible, while the FMA anime adaptation follows the first seven volumes of the manga, but on the request of Hiromu Arakawa, the 2003 adaptation would have its own original ending.

As such, the FMA manga and the FMA: Brotherhood vehicles are, by place of origin, the same. The Tank never got an official designation in either the manga or its Brotherhood anime adaptation. For this reason, the tank will be designated after the location it was designed and built, and receive the designation Briggs Tank. Additionally, this designation is the most widely known and accepted designation for the vehicle other than Tank by the FMA community.

The designation and development location of the tank from the 2003 FMA anime are both unknown. In the Fullmetal Alchemist Collectible Card Game, in the Seven Deadly Sins set, the tank is designated as Battle Tank. This also seems to be the designation used by some members in the FMA community, although it is good to mention that the Battle Tank from the 2003 anime is more obscure than its Briggs Tank counterpart.

Briggs Tank FMA Manga

The first appearance of tanks in the FMA Manga is in Chapter 65, which shows the construction facility, including a few tanks under construction. The first encounter and usage of the Briggs tank is in Chapter 66.

Development

The development of the Briggs tank started at an unknown date at the research and development level of Fort Briggs. Fort Briggs is a military base situated at the Northern border, between Amestris and Drachma. The base is a massive wall that closes off the supposedly only passageway through the mountains. Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong, the commander of Fort Briggs, wanted as many techniques in her arsenal as possible to combat Drachma, possibly the only bordering country which can rival the military power of Amestris. As such, Major General Armstrong has a great interest in the development of the tank.

Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

Additionally, because Fort Briggs is located in the most northern part of Amestris, the researchers and engineers are probably some of the most knowledgeable experts in Amestris, likely second to only the State Alchemists, when it comes to mechanics of materials. In order to keep automails running and to prevent their users from dying from frostbite, the materials used for the automails had to comply with various specifications. Through trial and error, the engineers at Briggs have managed to create a material consisting of duralumin, carbon fiber, and nickel-copper alloys. It can be expected that the engineers at Briggs have developed various materials which could be used for tanks in their effort to find usable materials for automails. It can also be expected that the specifications of the Briggs tanks demand for a vehicle which can be used in extremely cold and snowy mountain environments. The soldiers of Fort Briggs use special oil for their automails and they also have a special composite fuel at their disposal.

Fort Briggs.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

The Briggs Tank in Detail

The actual specifications of the Briggs Tank are unknown. The following specifications are based on estimations, speculations, and assumptions. By comparing the Briggs Tanks’ dimensions to those of characters, the Briggs Tank is about 5 meters (16.4 Feet) long, 4 meters (13.1 feet) wide, and 2 meters (6.6 feet) tall. The tank is operated by 4 or 5 crew members, consisting of the Commander (left turret rear), Gunner (in front of the commander in the turret), Loader (right of the gunner in the turret), Driver (left front hull) and Co-driver/Hull Machinegunner (right front hull). The Briggs tank has been operated without a commander in one instance, where the gunner acted as the commander, but this was most likely a single occurrence. The tank has a rear turret configuration.

Hull

The hull of the Briggs Tank seems to be inspired from the British World War 1 Mark I to Mark IV tanks. Interestingly, the rear part of the suspension is shaped differently from the Mark I. The Briggs tank’s suspension has a trapezoidal shape as seen from the side, as opposed to the iconic rhomboid shape of World War I British heavy tanks. The sides of the hull, which cover the suspension, are riveted in a very similar way to the Mark I tanks. Additionally, the driver’s sight and hull machine gun port are also riveted to the hull. The upper hull is loosely based on the Ferdinand’s upper hull.

The Manga Briggs Tank, in combat with King Bradley.
Source: FMA Manga

How the armor plates of the front hull are connected to each other is unclear, as there is no sign of welding or riveting. Rivets can be seen on the top hull plate parallel to the upper front hull plate and the side hull plates. Most likely, the frontal hull plates are welded together. The upper front plate would then be riveted to the top plate of the hull. Drawings from the inside of the front hull support this theory, as the top hull plate seems to rest on an additional bend in the upper front hull armor, but no rivets are shown to connect this supposed connection plate to the upper hull. The side armor is likely to be riveted in the same way as the front hull. A single drawing shows that the rear armor plate might also be a single plate that was welded or riveted to form an upper and flat rear armor plate. The flat rear plate shows a hatch, but it is unknown where the hatch leads.

The bottom of the flat rear armor plate seems to be riveted to a connecting profile, which connects the rear hull plate to the floor hull plate. Since there is no similar type of connection profile between the lower front plate and the floor hull plate, it can be suggested that the floor plate is welded to the front plate.

The rear of the Briggs Tank
Source: FMA Manga

The armor angling and armor values of the Briggs tank are unknown but based on drawing, the armor does not seem to be exceptionally thick, but not very thin either. Based on the usage of the tank during Colonel Roy Mustangs’ coup d’etat and the subsequent defense of the captured Central Command, it can be expected that the tank is at least impervious to small arms fire from the front.

The Briggs tank has a bow-mounted machine gun operated by the co-driver. The way the machine gun is mounted might severely limit the angles at which it can fire. Additionally, the co-driver seems to have no means of vision of his own. The driver has access to a direct sight vision port. The vision port is made of glass which can be covered by a metal plate. If this plate can be opened or closed from the inside, is not clear. The Tank has a towing hook on the front and provides space for pioneering tools on the fenders. On the left fender, the Briggs tank has a box. If this box is meant for storage or served another purpose is unclear. Interestingly, the Briggs tank has some sort of exhausts on the front top plate of the hull, but no engine is shown and it is not positioned in between the driver’s compartment and the turret, as the drawings show both the driver and the turret basket behind him.

Interior of the Briggs tank, showing the Driver’s position, in combat with King Bradley.
Source: FMA Manga

Two doors have been placed on both sides of the hull. The purpose of these doors is unclear. Since the location of the engine is unclear, the doors could function as access points to the engine. The doors could also be used as entrances and escape hatches for the driver and co-driver, as they do not have any other hatches near their seats. The doors could also serve as a way to reach and close off side sponsons which could be mounted on the side of the tank, like the Mark I tanks (although this is quite unlikely and far-fetched, it is still good to mention the possibility). The side sponson system on the Briggs tank would then bear some similarity in function with the TOG 2. The doors could be remnants of an early stage of the Briggs Tank which might not have had a turret and used side sponsons instead. The turret might later have been added and the side sponsons removed. The engineers would then probably have closed the holes in the armor with these doors, as to not have to build entirely new hulls, but still keep the option for mounting side sponsons.

A door on the side hull.
Source: FMA Manga

The driver uses two traditional tiller bars to steer the vehicle and most likely a gear stick on the driver’s right side. The driver is shown to have two pedals, which can be assumed to either be an accelerator and brake pedal combination, or brake and clutch pedal combination. The latter would be the most logical. This suggests that the speed of the tank is controlled by the tiller bars. The clutch is released with one of the pedals, the tank is halted with the other pedal, and the possible gear stick on the right side of the driver for shifting gears.

Driver controls.
Source: FMA Manga

Mobility

The engine of the Briggs Tank is unknown and its location within the vehicle is also unknown. The problem with the Briggs Tank is that its layout and interior do not line up with a realistic engine placement. A rear-turreted vehicle normally has the engine either at the front of the vehicle, possibly at either the right or left front of the vehicle, or between the driver’s compartment and the turret fighting compartment. The Briggs Tank has neither of these possibilities. The Briggs Tank has both a driver and a co-driver/machine-gunner. This configuration makes the front engine placement impossible. Additionally, drawings showing the inside of the vehicle depict a compartment where nothing is in between the driver and the turret.

A possibility is that the engine is located under the turret. The turret has a turret basket which is suspended into the hull up to the heads of the driver. This means that there is about 0.8 m (2.6 feet) of height left for an engine. This is quite small, as a Ford GAA engine, used in the M4 Sherman, is about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall. A boxer or flat engine could be used instead to solve this problem. The location of the door on the rear would support a possible engine in the rear of the vehicle, as it could be used for maintenance of the engine. The doors on the sides of the vehicle could provide an easy way to maintain the engine as well.

The Briggs Tank uses a running gear similar to that of the Mark I tank. The Mark 1 running gear had a drive sprocket in the lower rear and an idler wheel at the upper front. The lower rear drive sprocket on the Mark 1 was a complicated drive system. The driveshaft had a sprocket which drove a larger sprocket with a chain, which was connected to the central pivoting axle. The larger sprocket would turn the central pivoting axle, which would drive another sprocket connected to the central pivoting axle, inside the rhomboid-shaped suspension. This sprocket would, in turn, drive a lantern pinion through a chain, and the lantern pinion drove the drive sprocket of the tracks. The advantage of this complicated chain system is that the chains would not transfer external shocks to the differential components.

Mark 1 running gear.
Source: https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/lincoln-no-1-machine/

The top part has no wheels whatsoever and the lower part consists of unsprung rollers. The Briggs Tank has an estimated 16 rollers on each side of the vehicle. This is quite a bit less compared to the Mark I, which had 26 rollers on each side. This can be explained through the shape of the suspensions. The Mark I has a rhomboid-shaped suspension, while the Briggs Tanks’ suspension is shaped like a trapezium. This effectively means that the Briggs Tank misses 8 rollers. If a Mark I tank would have a similar shape as the Briggs Tank, it would have had 18 rollers. Like the Mark I, the Briggs Tank has a track tension adjuster at the front of the suspension, located at the idler wheel.

A drawing of the Briggs tank Suspension.
Source: FMA Manga

The Briggs Tank has proven itself to be able to drive up quite a steep slope, but the angle of the slope is unknown. It is estimated between 30 and 45 degrees although it varies per drawing. Based on the preferred design angle of stairs in the real world, the slope is estimated between 30 and 37 degrees.

Turret

The turret of the Briggs Tank is very heavily inspired by the casemate of the Ferdinand tank destroyer. Although the front and the upper parts of the turret armor are either rounded or angled, the hatches and their locations are identical. Also identical is the gunner’s periscopic sight and its semicircular slot in the top of the turret. On the Ferdinand, this allowed the sight to follow the gun as it traversed in the superstructure. It is useless on the turreted Briggs tank.

The turret top of the Briggs Tank.
Source: FMA Manga

The gunner is located on the front left of the turret and has access to his own hatch. The gunners’ hatch is the same as on the Ferdinand, a sliding hatch for the aiming telescope, combined with an escape hatch. The loader is located on the front right of the turret and has his own escape hatch. The commander is located on the bottom left, as demonstrated by Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong. Interestingly, these positions are swapped when compared to the Ferdinand. On the Ferdinand, the commander is located on the front right, while the gunner is located on the left rear. The two small hatches on both sides of the rear turret are periscopes for the loader. It could be argued that these would still be loader periscopes on the Briggs Tank, but during its usage, the left rear position is clearly used by the tank commander.

The rear hatch is both an escape hatch and used to eject shell cases. It consists of a large hatch and a smaller hatch in the middle. The middle hatch is used to eject shell cases during, for example, combat conditions. As the turret is based on the Ferdinand, it can be suggested that the ammunition of the vehicle is stored in the back and the middle of the turret.

Armament

The armament of the Briggs Tank is unknown. In the drawings, the armament seems to be of a very high calibre. Two types of armaments can be suggested based on the equipment of the Amestrian State Military and the inspiration of the Briggs Tank. The first armament is the artillery gun used to defend Fort Briggs. It seems to have a caliber that could be high enough for the Briggs Tank. Additionally, the gun is used in Fort Briggs, and thus is a proven and familiar weapon to the engineers of Fort Briggs.
The only reason why this gun could be used in the Briggs Tank is because of the similarity in the turret design between the Ferdinand and the Briggs Tank.

The first possibility is most likely the gun which was used on the Briggs Tank, although, most likely, converted into a tank gun. The gun of the Briggs Tank is a rifled gun and an estimated 3 to 4 meters (9.8 to 13.1 feet) long from the outside of the turret, the barrel length would be larger in total, as a decent part of the barrel would be located in the turret itself. Based on the drawing of the artillery piece stationed on the Briggs wall, the total barrel length is estimated to be in between 5 to 6 meters (16.4 to 19.7 feet), of which 1 to 2 meters would be located in the turret. The diameter of the gun is very hard to give a reasonable estimation to, as the size differs in every drawing and as such, no reliable estimation can be made.

Artillery piece stationed on the Briggs Wall.
Source: FMA Manga

The Briggs Tank has two to three different types of ammunition at its disposal. It has a solid shot armor-piercing round, which was used during its first test drive. When the ammunition was fired, the projectile did not detonate on impact, meaning it was not an armor-piercing high explosive round. The rounds used during the first test drive could also have been training rounds, but with the situation surrounding the first test run, this seems highly unlikely. The second or third round is a high explosive round, which was used during Colonel Mustangs’ coup d’etat of central command. The projectile was fired at the wall of central command.

In addition to the main gun, the tank uses a machine gun as secondary armament, located at the hull’s front.

The Briggs Tank firing at Central Command.
Source: FMA Manga

Service

The Briggs Tank was first used and tested during the winter of 1914 when the homunculus named Sloth accidentally breached Fort Briggs from the underground. The soldiers had never encountered a homunculus before and had no idea what a homunculus even was. Sloth is sometimes referred to as the unknown intruder. The homunculus was thought to be a spy from the neighbouring country of Drachma.

Homunculi are artificial humans made with the help of philosopher stones, in essence they can not be classified as humans, as their life is bound to their philosopher stone. When a homunculus ‘dies’ enough times, the energy of the stone will be depleted and the homunculus will die indefinitely. Because the homunculi’s life is bound to their philosopher’s stone, they are essentially superhumans which can have special abilities like shape-shifting or superhuman strength. In addition, the stone will regenerate damaged body parts of the homunculus until the stone is depleted of energy. Sloth was a massive homunculus, with near-impenetrable skin, extreme strength and could be extremely fast.

The homunculus Sloth.
Source: FMA Manga

When Sloth breached Fort Briggs, he was almost immediately shot by soldiers of Fort Briggs. The soldiers quickly discovered that their weapons could not penetrate the skin of the homunculus. The alarm was raised and the military base was put on high alert. The Homunculus accidentally activated an elevator which brought him to the production floor of the Briggs Tank. Upon his arrival, the homunculus was shot by Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong with a large caliber recoilless rifle, but this had no effect. Major General Armstrong took command and the defenders of Briggs decided to use their newly built tanks to defeat the homunculus as fast as possible, in an attempt to not alert the army of Drachma of their situation.

Briggs Tanks during their first usage, in combat against the Homunculus Sloth.
Source: FMA Manga

The Major General assumed command of one of the three available tanks. These vehicles were not yet tested and the encounter with the homunculus was their first test run. The guns were loaded and promptly fired at the homunculus. They managed to hit the homunculus and wound him, but the homunculus simply healed his wound with the help of his philosopher stone. In response, the Briggs defenders continuously fired rounds at the homunculus to no avail. Thinking quickly, the Major General decided that they could not defeat the creature with firepower and decided to defeat the homunculus by freezing him. She used her tank to ram the homunculus into an elevator. One tank was not enough and she ordered the other two Briggs Tanks to help push the homunculus in the elevator. Once in the elevator, the homunculus was sent to one of the openings in the wall. Major General Armstrongs’ tank soon entered the elevator as well and upon arriving at the same floor, they shot the homunculus with the main gun over the edge of the wall. The homunculus, doused with fuel, froze almost immediately in a blizzard.

Briggs Tanks pushing Sloth in an elevator.
Source: FMA Manga

The first test run can be hailed as a success. Even though the Briggs Tank was not able to reliably penetrate the thick skin of the homunculus, the tank did not break down and managed to perform its mission by defeating the unknown intruder.

The second usage is during Colonel Mustang’s coup d’etat during the spring of 1915 in Central City, the capital of Amestris. The soldiers of Briggs and the soldiers of the Eastern sector of Amestris supported Colonel Roy Mustang in his endeavor to take control of the country and overthrow Führer King Bradley. The armies of the Northern and Eastern Sector were conducting joint exercises on the day of the coup, overseen by King Bradley himself. King Bradley was convinced by his general staff to return to Central, due to suspicions of a potential coup by the Eastern sector led by their commander, General Grumman. The train carriage that took King Bradley to Central was bombed by soldiers of the Eastern Sector.

Colonel Mustang started his coup around the same time in central itself, with the aid of the Briggs soldiers and their tank.

The tank was transported in pieces to the large family estate of Major General Armstrong. The tank was assembled on the estate and then used to spearhead the advance to Central Command, the headquarters of the Central Army of Amestris and the seat of Führer King Bradley. The Central Command did know about the existence of the Briggs Tank, as did the Central Commandos tasked with stopping the Briggs advance on Central Command, but they did not expect the Briggs Soldier to have a tank at their disposal during the coup. As such, the central soldiers, already taken by surprise by the Briggsian revolt, were now also taken by surprise by the appearance of the Briggs Tank. The Tank reached Central Command and fired an HE projectile on its walls. Not long after, the Briggsian soldiers took over Central Command.

The Briggs Tank was positioned on top of the stairway to the Central Command main gate, in order to hold back the Central Soldiers who might try to recapture Central Command. Not long after the Briggsian soldiers celebrated the success of their coup, they were abruptly interrupted by Führer King Bradley over the radio, announcing his survival of the bombing and his return to Central to personally assume command and to squash the coup. King Bradley arrived at the main gate of Central Command stating:

‘Why should I enter my own palace from the back entrance’.

King Bradley charging the Briggs soldiers and the Briggs tank.
Source: FMA Manga

King Bradley was the homunculus Wrath, an extremely skilled leader and a one-man army, raised from birth to lead the country. Realising the danger of King Bradley, Captain Buccaneer ordered his tank squad to pull back, but King Bradley, being a very powerful homunculus, charged immediately at the tank squad on his own.

The Briggs Tank tried to gun down King Bradley on his approach, but missed all their machine gun fire. One main gun round was fired but missed as well. At this point, King Bradley reached the tank, and stabbed the driver by breaking the glass of the vision port with his sword. The Co-driver tried to run King Bradley over, but King Bradley cut the tracks apart and subsequently, threw a grenade through the broken vision port of the driver. The grenade detonated and the Briggs Tank was taken out by the homunculus.

No further usage is known of the Briggs Tank.

Briggs Tank destroyed by a grenade.
Source: FMA Manga

Realism

The Briggs Tank is, for the time period it was developed and used (around 1914), not a realistic vehicle. The hull stays true to its era and is based on the British Mark I tank. The turret is mostly based on a Ferdinand casemate, a vehicle that was built almost 30 years later. Its turret and armament are too large and heavy for its time, especially when considering this is seemingly the very first tank of the Amestrian State Army and possibly the world. At the same time, Amestris was a very advanced country technology and productionwise. It would not be impossible for them to actually pull this design off. So compared to the development of tanks in our timeline, it would be unrealistic, considering the potential of Amestris, it might be possible.

The Briggs Tank of the FMA Manga might be unrealistic when considering the era it was built in, but, overall, it is not a bad design for a fantasy tank. By basing it on actual vehicles, the author managed to draw a reasonable design. The main issues with the tank are the gun, and the bow machine gun. The gun seems to be a very high calibre when looking at the drawing, but the actual calibre is unknown. Lastly, the bow machine gun can easily be fixed by not mounting it in a tube but by using a ball mount for example.

Other Tanks

In the FMA manga, another drawing is seen when the protagonists get a tour around Fort Briggs. The drawing is a bit confusing, as it suggests that the casemate is mounted more towards the front of the hull. But considering the size of the humans, compared with the suspension in the front of the drawing, the casemate/turret and the hull are presumed to be separated.

An illustration of a suspension located in Fort Briggs.
Source: FMA Manga
Minenräumpanzer 3.
Source: https://en.topwar.ru/93911-minnyy-tralschik-minenrumpanzer-iii-germaniya.html

The hull and suspension at the front of the drawing are identical to the German Minenräumpanzer 3. The hull in the manga is nearly identical to the actual vehicle, except for a few very minor details at the front hull.

Maus Turret.
Source: https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/nazi_germany/panzer_maus.php

The casemate/turret has a very Maus-like gunshield, but the rest of the turret bears more resemblance to the Maus II turret. The Maus II turret came into existence after concerns about the curved Maus turret, which might deflect projectiles into the hull top. As such, the frontal turret would be an angled plate instead of a curved plate, and the gun mount was altered as well among other things. The FMA Manga turret seems to have incorporated the main features of the Maus II turret regarding the armor profile and the gun mount. The gun shield seems to have more resemblance to the original Maus turret.

Maus II Turret.
Source: https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/maus-ii/

Briggs Tank FMA: Brotherhood (2009)

The first appearance of the Briggs Tank in the FMA: Brotherhood anime is in episode 34, which shows the construction facility, including a few Briggs tanks under construction. No other type of tank is shown in the anime.

The development of the Briggs Tank in FMA: Brotherhood is the same as the development of the Briggs Tank in the Manga.

The Briggs Tank in Detail

Like the manga, the actual specifications of the Briggs Tank are unknown, and are analysed in the same way. The Briggs Tank is about 7 meters (23 feet) long, 4 meters (13.1 feet) wide, and 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) tall. As the Briggs tank is very reminiscent of the Panzer IV, it is estimated to weigh in between 18 to 25 tonnes (18.8 to 27.5 US-tons) combat-ready. The tank is operated by 5 crew members, consisting of the Commander (left turret rear), Gunner (in front of the commander in the turret), Loader (right of the gunner in the turret), Driver (left front hull), Co-driver/Hull Machinegunner (right front hull).

Hull

The hull of the Briggs Tank seems to have multiple inspirations. The most obvious inspiration is the Panzer IV, but the VK 30.01 (H) might also have been an inspiration. For the hull, the Panzer IV seems to be more likely, as the frontal hull angling, the driver’s vision slit and the hull machine gun, the engine bay, and the vision slits on the side of the hull for the co-driver and driver correspond to it. The KV-1 is also recognised in the Briggs tank, mainly because of the frontal armor profile. The exhausts on the rear sides of the hull are somewhat reminiscent of the exhaust on the Centurion. The sides of the hull are protected with side skirts, just like the Panzer IV.

The Briggs Tank in the FMA: Brotherhood Anime.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

The armor is most likely, just like the Panzer IV, welded together from multiple large steel plates. No riveting is shown at all, which supports this theory. As with the Manga Briggs tank, the armor and the exact angling are unknown. Since this is the first armored vehicle of Amestris, the armor values might be close to the very first Panzer IV version, the Panzer IV Ausf. A. This would mean that the Briggs Tank has a frontal hull armor of 10 to 14.5 mm (0.4 to 0.57 inch), 10 to 14.5 mm (0.4 to 0.57 inch) on the sides, 14.5 mm (0.57 inch) on the rear, and 8 to 10 mm (0.3 to 0.4 inch) armor on the top and bottom of the hull. The frontal armor thickness is somewhat supported by a shot close up on the hull machine gun. In this close-up, the armor does not look too thick. By measuring the length of the hull machine gun of the Panzer 4 and the Briggs Tank, and through the use of ratios, the frontal hull thickness is very roughly estimated to be around 20 mm (0.8 inch) thick.

Hull machine gun.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

The Briggs tank has a bow machine gun on the front right of the vehicle, fired by the co-driver. The driver is located on the front left side of the vehicle. The Briggs tank has towing hooks on the front side of the vehicle and two headlights.

The engine is located in the rear of the hull and two exhausts are located on both sides of the rear hull. Interestingly, another muffler is located on the rear of the vehicle, very much reminiscent of the Panzer IV muffler.

Rear view of the Briggs Tank.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

Mobility

The engine of the Briggs Tank is unknown, but since the vehicle seems to be based on the Panzer IV, an estimation can be made on the specifications. The Panzer IV Ausf. A had a Maybach HL 108TR 230 hp engine, while the Panzer IV Ausf. J had a Maybach HL 120 TRM 320 hp engine. It is more likely for the Briggs Tank to have an engine of around 230 hp, as this is Amestris’ first tank but it potentially has an engine with around 230 to 320 hp. The engine is mounted in the rear of the vehicle, and the transmission is located in the front of the vehicle.

The suspension of the Briggs Tank does not bear resemblance to either the Panzer IV’s suspension or the interleaved roadwheel suspension found on other German tanks. It seems to resemble a torsion bar suspension instead. The road wheels do seem to bear some overal resemblance with KV-1 road wheels. It has 5 road wheels on each side and the drive sprocket is located in the front of the vehicle.

The vehicle is shown to be very mobile, being able to climb a slope of in between 30 and 37 degrees at high speeds.

Turret

The turret of the Briggs tank seems to share multiple inspirations. Its main inspiration seems to be the VK 30.01(H) and Panzer IV turrets. This is mainly because of the general shape of the turret, and the vision ports located on the sides of the vehicle. The vision ports of the VK30.01 (H) seem to be integrated with the side turret hatches of the Panzer IV. Its turret hatch configuration resembles the layout of a Tiger 1. The commander’s cupola looks more or less like a generic cupola, but with the Tiger 1 layout, could be identified as a late Tiger 1 cupola. Another hatch is located on the rear of the turret, which might be used to load and eject shells.

Top view of the Briggs Tank Turret, while in combat with Sloth.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime
The Briggs Tank during Colonel Mustang’s coup d’etat.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

Armament

Like the rest of the specific components, the armament of the Briggs Tank is unknown, but a reasonable origin of the Briggs Tank’s main gun can be found in the anime. The 7.5 cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun is shown at multiple points throughout the series. They are used during the Ishvalan War of Extermination, but also in the defence of Fort Briggs. As such, it can be speculated that the armament of the Briggs Tank is a 7.5 cm which was converted from the 7.5 cm Pak 40, just like the Panzer IV’s main gun. The gun is about 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) long excluding the barrel length in the turret, which is about the same length as the Panzer IV’s 7.5 cm KwK 40 L/48 gun.

7.5 cm Pak 40 located on top of Fort Briggs.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

The available ammunition of the cannon is unclear. In a scene, the commander of Fort Briggs orders her soldiers to remove the fuses from the shells. This could suggest that the only type of ammunition is APHE, as the explosions during the coup détat of Colonel Mustang are relatively small.

The hull machine gun is most likely an M1919 Browning HMG. This is because the soldiers of Fort Briggs are shown to use this type of machine gun during the coup d’état. It would be logical for the Briggs Tank to use this machine gun as well.

Service

The service of the FMA: Brotherhood Briggs Tank is nearly identical to the service of the Manga Briggs Tank. The only real difference is how the events occur during the battle between King Bradley and the Briggs Tank. While the Briggs Tank is on top of a large staircase in the manga, the Briggs tank in the anime is stationed right in front of the stairs and the lift to the top of Central Headquarters.

King Bradley right before his assault on the Briggs position.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

When King Bradley engages the tank in battle, he manages to cut a tank shell in half with his sword after it was fired upon him (an obviously impossible feat in the real world) and proceeds to advance on the tank, while deflecting hull machine gun fire with his sword. As a panic reaction, the crew of the tank starts reversing at high speed to the staircase, nearly driving over two fellow Briggs soldiers. Still reversing on the ramp to Central Headquarters, King Bradley still manages to evade the tank fire upon him. By using the blast of a shell, King Bradley launches himself to the tank and stabs the driver through the driver’s vision port. While the co-driver is ordered to take over, King Bradley cuts through both tracks of the Briggs tank. The tank slides to the side as a result, smashing the main gun into a wall. The commander of the tank opens his hatch in an attempt to shoot King Bradley with his pistol but is killed in the attempt by King Bradley. King Bradley subsequently throws a grenade in the tank and destroys it.

Briggs Tank reversing on the staircase, trying to distance itself from King Bradley.
Source: FMA: Brotherhood Anime

Realism

As with the manga Briggs Tank, this version is also unrealistic for its time period, around 1914. The vehicle is almost completely based on a tank developed in 1935, and some specific features, like the main gun and side skirts, appeared a lot later as well. Considering this is seemingly the first tank of Amestris, and possibly the world, the advancements in this tank are too great. From utilising a torsion bar suspension, its weight, its main gun, and side skirts, the Briggs Tank in the anime is overal too modern. But this is when one compares the tank to our time and development. Amestris in the Brotherhood anime is shown to have technologies like panzershrecks and 7.5 cm Pak 40 guns, eventhough their enemies don’t seem to own any tanks. At the same time, some of the manufacturing processes which would have been used for the guns of Amestris are well into 1940s to 1950s technology. Overal, when one takes the technology of Amestris into account, it would definately be possible, allthough some design steps maybe a bit too much for a first attempt. Compared to the progression of tank development in our timeline, it would not be realistic.

Apart from its era, the anime Briggs tank is a realistic vehicle. This is not surprising since it is practically a redesigned copy of a Panzer IV, but integrates various other German tank features. The Anime Briggs Tank is a good fantasy tank, maybe not very original, but also not residing in the realms of absurdity. The artists can be commended for their research and integration of German vehicles, which helps to further strengthen the link between Amestris and Nazi Germany, which is a much more important theme in the Anime than in the original Manga.

Battle Tank FMA (2003)

The first appearance of the Battle Tank in the FMA anime is in episode 39. In a brief moment, a crew is seen performing maintenance on a Battle Tank. No other type of tank is shown in the anime.

Nothing is known about the development of the Battle Tank.

The Battle Tank in Detail

The specifications of the battle Tank are unknown and are analyzed in the same manner as the previous vehicles. The Battle Tank is around 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) long, 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) wide, and 2.5 (8.2 feet) meters tall. The Battle Tank is almost identical to the Renault FT, as such, it is estimated to weigh 6.7 tonnes (7.4 US-tons) combat-ready. The tank is most likely crewed by 2 crew members, like the Renault FT, consisting of a Commander/Gunner (turret) and Driver (front hull).

The Battle Tank in the FMA 2003 Anime.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

Hull

The hull of the Battle Tank is pretty much a copy of the Renault FT. For this reason, it is estimated to have the same armor as the Renault FT. As such, it is estimated to have 16 mm (0.6 inch) on the front, sides, and rear of the hull, and between 6 to 8 mm (0.2 to 0.3 inch) on the top and bottom of the hull. The armor is most likely riveted together, like on the Renault FT. Some scenes show a few rivets on several places on the hull to support this theory.

Front shot of the Battle Tank.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

The driver is located in the front of the vehicle. In contrast to the Renault FT, it looks like the driver cannot enter the vehicle through a front hull hatch, but only through the turret. An exhaust is located on both sides of the tank, and the engine is located in the rear of the vehicle.

Side shot of the Battle Tank.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

Mobility

The engine of the Battle Tank is unknown, but based on the Renault FT, it probably has a 4 cylinder 35 hp engine. In the Anime, the vehicle is seen to move roughly at the same pace as infantry, but if this is its maximum speed is unclear.

The suspension is similar to the Renault FT’s coil and leaf spring combination suspension. The tank uses multiple road wheels on the bottom.

Suspension of the Battle Tank.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

Turret

The turret is, together with the armament, the only part that differs more from the Renault FT. The turret is quite tall, an estimated 1 meter tall, but retains the overall shape of the Renault. It seems to have a small hatch on the rear, potentially for ejecting shell cases. It has a single pericope in some depictions, located at the front of the commander’s cupola. The Battle Tank’s turret also seems to have a plate on the side of the turret in some depictions. Its purpose is unknown. The armor is estimated, based on the Renault FT, to be 22 mm (0.9 inch) all-round, and 8 mm (0.3 inch) on the top of the turret.

Turret of the Battle Tank.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

Armament

The armament of the Battle tank is unknown. Based on different measurements and ratios, it seems to mount a 100 mm cannon. This cannon would probably be a howitzer-type cannon. The ammunition could potentially consist of HE and Canister rounds.

Alternatively, it could be armed with the Puteaux 37 mm cannon of the Renault FT. This would be a more realistic gun. The Battle Tank could then have APHE, HE, and Canister rounds at its disposal.

No other armaments are shown in the anime to give any leads on possible sources for the Battle Tank’s gun.

Service

As the Battle Tank is available in reasonable numbers and the Amestrian Army operates it as a separate division, it can be concluded that the Battle Tank is already in service for an extended period of time and that the Amestrian Army has gained some experience in using tanks. Furthermore, the Battle Tank is shown to be used with motorized infantry support, which suggests that at least early steps are taken in combined arms warfare.

In the Anime, the Battle Tank is first shown in the preparations to assault the city of Lior (Liore in the FMA: Brotherhood Mange, originally Reole). The assault had multiple reasons. The Amestrian Army had gained intelligence that a large transmutation circle was being made, and they sent the State Alchemist, and protagonist, Edward Elric to investigate the circle.

In addition, a murderer named Scar (because of a cross-shaped scar on his forehead) was sighted in the city. Scar was a serial killer who specifically murdered State Alchemists to exact revenge for his deceased brother and near-exterminated race called the Ishbalans (Ishval in FMA: Brotherhood), and was one of the most wanted criminals in Amestris.

A third reason was a brief conflict incited by Lior under control of a theocratic government ruled by Father Cornello. It was a brief but bloody civil war which resulted in the defeat of Lior and its rebelling allies. There was still unrest in Lior as the civil war ended quite recently, and as a result, the commander of the assault, Colonel Frank Archer, was planning to invade Lior with the hope of Lior retaliation, so that he had a justification to exterminate the Lior people and race.

Around 7000 troops were gathered near Lior, which were supported by at least 18 Battle Tanks. At the arrival of Lior, the Amestrian Army spots Scar, and Colonel Archer subsequently orders his Battle Tank Division to surround Lior, and his troops to enter the city. This could mean that the Amestrian Army has experience with tanks in urban warfare, and have concluded that their Battle Tanks are not suited to fight in urban terrain.

Battle Tanks and Amestrian Soldiers gathered near Lior.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

Not long after the assault of Lior has begun, State Alchemist Edward Elric reaches the Amestrian Army near Lior and has a brief argument with Colonel Archer about not accepting Lior’s surrender. Edward Elric identified the large transmutation circle to be one to create a philosopher’s stone. The activation of such a transmutation circle would result in the death of all persons within the circle and the creation of a philosopher’s stone consisting of human souls. This stone is an all-powerful Alchemy enhancing stone, giving the Alchemist the ability to ‘’circumvent’’ the laws of Alchemy and giving him immense power.

When the troops entered Lior, the Lior inhabitants had already fled the city as part of Scar’s plan. Not long after, Scar activates the transmutation circle, and, as a result, it is suggested that almost all of the 7000 soldiers participating in the assault were killed and turned into a philosopher’s stone. If any tank crews were killed in the assault is unknown, but highly unlikely, as they were ordered to surround the city, and thus were not within the transmutation circle.

Later, in the Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa movie, set immediately after the events of the Anime, tanks are used in the defence of Central City from Thule forces.

The FMA Thule Society is based on the real-life Thule Society, which operated during and after World War 1 until around the late 1920’s. They were a society who supported the DAP (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, German Workers’ Party), which would later become the Nazi party.

In the 2003 FMA universe, our reality is a counter reality to the FMA reality. Where our main science is physics, FMA’s main science is Alchemy. Due to certain events in the Anime, the story starts to overlap both realities. The Thule Society, led by Dietliende Eckhart, wanted to return power to Germany after the defeat of World War 1. They hoped to conquer the FMA reality and, as a result, gain valuable resources and heighten the political power of Germany.

Dietlinde Eckhart invaded the FMA Reality and wreaked havoc on the Amestrian soldiers stationed in Central City. With the help of her airship and her soldiers, they try to take Central Command. The Thule forces are met by soldiers under command of Colonel Mustang, and they manage to defeat the Thule Forces. In a very brief scene, 5 Battle Tanks are seen firing at the Thule Soldiers.

Not long after, Edward Elric, Alphonse Elric, and Colonel Mustang defeat Dietline Eckhart and her soldiers with the help of the Amestrian soldiers guarding Central Command.

No further usage of the Battle Tank is known.

Battle Tanks firing at Thule soldiers.
Source: FMA 2003 Anime

Realism

The Battle Tank is the most realistic vehicle of the three adaptations. It is more or less identical to the Renault FT, and as such, is realistic in the setting of FMA. The only questionable components are the tall turret, and its potentially high caliber gun. Apart from those two somewhat minor issues, the Battle Tank is a realistic vehicle that fits the time and the setting of the FMA Universe.

Although not particularly original, the artists made a good decision by using the Renault FT as a base template for the vehicle. For the viewers who know more about tanks, and as a result recognise the Renault FT design, it added more immersion to the overall FMA setting. In this aspect, it is a very well done tank in an Anime. Where the Briggs Tank of the FMA: Brotherhood Anime strengthens the linkage between Germany and Amestris, the Battle tank strengthens the linkage with the setting.

Conclusion

Of the three adaptations, the FMA Anime 2003 is the most realistic. By using a more or less identical Renault FT, the artists of the Anime have used a realistic tank that fits in the setting of FMA, and for the tank enthusiasts, adds to the overall immersion.

The FMA: Brotherhood Briggs Tank is the next most realistic tank in terms of practicality. Certain design aspects would be unrealistic, since it is suggested to be the first tank of the FMA: Brotherhood universe. By combining multiple aspects of German tanks and staying with these designs, the artists have managed to design a tank that looks realistic and serves to intensify the connection between Amestris and Germany.

The Manga tank is the least realistic, with its huge cannon, turret, and questionable lay-out. Aside from its realism, Hiromu Arakawa, the artist and writer of the manga, did a good job in incorporating real designs into a tank.

Overall, all the adaptations artists can be commended for their usage of design aspects of real vehicles. This shows that they put thought in how a tank is supposed to look, instead of just drawing something that resembles a tank, but is completely ridiculous. The attention in something like a tank for the adaptations adds to the quality of the series. It adds to the immersion, and in the instances of the animes, it helps strengthen certain aspects of the overall setting. As such, the tanks have a real contribution to the adaptations, albeit only for tank enthusiasts.

Illustrations

The Fullmetal Alchemist Manga Briggs Tank. Illustration done by Cut_22.
The FMA: Brotherhood Briggs tank. Illustration by Cut_22.
The Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 Battle Tank. Illustration done by Cut_22.

Sources

Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 Anime
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist Manga
https://fma.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page

References for the comparisons:
Operation Priority: The Data by Jaycee Davis
Ferdinand Elefant Vol. 1 and 2 by Tadeusz Melleman
http://catainium.blogspot.com/2016/04/vk-3001-hpanzer-vi-h-heavy-tank.html
https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/nazi_germany/panzer_iv.php
https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/nazi_germany/panzer-vi_tiger.php
https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/germany/AT-guns/7-5-cm-pak-40
https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/lincoln-no-1-machine/
https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/nazi_germany/panzer_maus.php
https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/maus-ii/

12 replies on “Tanks in Fullmetal Alchemist”

The 105 mm gun of the Battle Tank, while perhaps too large for the turret, was actually available in 1918, as this was to be the main armament of the Char 1A, the prototype of which was tested that year. (It could have been in production by the end of 1918 year but for the opposition of General Estienne.) Also, a 75 mm gun was fitted some FTs in 1919, and one such vehicle was sent with the French expeditionary forces to Russia, where it was left behind and used by the Reds.

I like this article, a mix of fictional ww1 mixed with ww2, Battle Tank based on FT17 is quite realistic actually.
You should do an article on “Valkyria Chronicles” tanks also.

lol, so much japanese art hate in the comment section.
If you don’t want to see the article, please don’t ever click the link just for hate comment. The author can write articles as they want.
Y’all are welcome with other fictional tank articles, and this is a fictional too. So why not?

I like the idea of this site having a “fictional” category in addiction to the historical ones, some of the tanks that appear in media are very well designed.

While not an anime fan myself, I find the lore fascinating, and the fact that an anime designed a tank that actually looks somewhat realistic fascinates me, I was unaware of this, and I appreciate the research. Thanks TE!

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