The Soviet light tanks are being reshuffled from patch 8.6 to patch 8.7, as many of you already know. The ahistoric T-50-2 is going away, being replaced by the long-awaited MT-25. The T-50 is also being nerfed. Let’s look at how all of these adjustments fit into the pages of history.
The T-50 was meant to replace the T-26 as the RKKA’s infantry support tank. The task of designing it and building two prototypes was given to two factories: factory #174 and the Kirov factory. The results were somewhat different. Let’s look at what the two factories ended up producing.
Factory #174 followed the order more closely than its competitor. Its design was 13.5 tons in mass, was fitted with either a 300 hp or 250 hp engine (later upgraded to 350 hp), and had a maximum theoretical speed of 50 kph (trials showed a maximum speed of 52 kph). Two prototypes were built to these specifications, indexed T-50-1 and T-50-2. Later, the requirements for the tank were increased. The mass went up to 14.5 tons, and front armour was increased to 50 mm, both on the hull and turret. A subsequent order increased that requirement to 55 mm all around.
Riding on the success of the KV series, Kirov factory’s project bureau was a bit of a prima donna. Its design deviated from the project specification, which #174′s engineers took issue with. The result was a tank that weighed 13.8 tons, and was capable of reaching 65 kph on the same 300 hp engine as the #174 prototype. Kirov’s prototypes were not accepted into service, but fought to defend the factory during the Siege of Leningrad.
Kotin did not give up on his design, and proposed a new one: a 25.5 ton tank equipped with 60 mm of sloped armour, a 76 mm gun, with a maximum speed of 40 kph. Since this was basically a T-34 on torsion bars (and factory #183 could make a better T-34 on torsion bars), the project was rejected.
The MT-25 has nothing to do with any of these projects (as is correctly indicated by its research path). The tank was intended to take advantage of breaches in the enemy’s defense. Like the T-34, it was meant to tear through, and cause as much chaos in the rear as possible. In order to achieve this, it was planned with very high speed, maneuverability, and resilience (damage to half of the road wheels did not immobilize the vehicle). The maximum speed of this tank was 100 kph. The tank’s armament was a “47 mm gun and 3 machine guns”. It is unclear what 47 mm gun the designers had in mind. The schematics show a cannon highly reminiscent of the L-11 gun, the same as was mounted on early T-34s.
Now, let’s see where the in-game vehicles fit in. Let’s start with the obvious one, the MT-25. Its speed is drastically reduced from historical. I don’t have data on its armour layout, but the armament seems feasible. Anything carrying an L-11 could carry an F-34 or ZiS-4.
The T-50s become a bit more problematic. There are several historical designs, and several in-game ones. Let’s mix and match.
The pre-patch T-50 has a maximum speed of 60 kph, with engines ranging from 300-550 hp. The tank weighs 13 tons. The armour of the tank maxes out at 37 mm. This appears to be the initial factory #174 vehicle, before any of the upgrades, but with a fancy new engine. It is plausible that, with such an engine, it would reach 60 kph.
The post-patch T-50 has a maximum speed of 52 kph, with the same armour. The engines have been scaled back. Not only is the prototype engine gone, so is the “top” historical 350 hp one. Wargaming rounds up the tank’s mass to 13.5 tons.
The T-50-2 is interesting. Obviously, it’s quite a bit faster than any of the T-50s (even the Kirov factory one!). Then again, it gets that fancy 550 hp engine. The historical blurb seems to suggest that the T-50-2 is Kirov’s prototype, so perhaps doubling the horsepower squeezed an extra 7 kph out of the design. As with the #174 design, none of the armour upgrades have been added.
Where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us with the two best T-50s missing: Kirov’s (with its 65 kph speed limit) and #174′s (with its 55 mm of armour at the same 52 kph speed limit). Maybe Wargaming is saving them for the moment where upgradeable hulls are implemented. Or, perhaps, an entire new Soviet light tree! With a little extra shuffling and finagling, it would be very possible to shove the upgraded #174 design into a tier 5 light slot (with medium matchmaking, like the Crusader), the Kirov T-50 into the tier 6 slot, and continue with crazy Soviet light tank projects from there.