with the upcoming changes to VK3001H, a question has arisen: can we expect the VK3001P to be “rebalanced” this way too – and pushed back to tier 5?
Well, the answer is… probably not, but definitely not because it’s historical. It’s a bit more complicated with this vehicle, as I will try to explain. But first, a bit of history:
The VK3001P “Leopard” (yes, it was called as such) was born as a part of the same program as VK3001H: to create a 25-30 ton heavy modern vehicle. As usually, professor Porsche went his own way, using his (in)famous dieselelectric system in it.
First initial drawings of the tank were ready in December 1939 (other sources, such as the infamous Achtungpanzer site, claim that it was in September – that’s not true, by September, Ferdinand Porsche became the head of the Panzerkomission), the author was Karl Rabe (Porsche chief designer). The initial assessments (March 1940) also included some preliminary calculations and subcontractor offers (Siements electrical components, Steyr engines, Škoda tracks and suspension parts).
Krupp was tasked with manufacturing three hulls and also offered professor Porsche in February 1941 to develop a turret, that would carry the 88mm L/56 gun. The design works were supposed to be ready by April 1941. Essentially, two guns were considered: the 88mm L/56 (two versions) and an unspecified 105mm gun (here, it’s unclear, what the barrel length would be, Doyle states it was some sort of L/47, Achtungpanzer states also L/52, but that is highly unlikely).
In the end, the 88mm was selected and Krupp was to manufacture six turrets, three hulls and a full-scale wooden mockup. However, by that time, Porsche development leaned more and more towards the Porsche Tiger (VK4501P) and the program was gradually stopped. No turrets were ever built, and one one prototype hull was made (Spielberger states two). Apparently, this vehicle was first used to test the dieselelectric system and Tiger P components (from 10/1941, possibly until 1942) and then it was converted into an engineering vehicle, that served on the proving ground probably until the end of the war.
Well, so much for history. Let’s compare then, how the ingame vehicle would have to be changed to resemble the real life prototype.
The real life vehicle was to weight 30 tons, the ingame is heavier – 35+ tons. Why? Because it’s also overarmored. The real life hull frontal armor was 50mm thick (75 in game), sides were 40mm thick (60 in game) and the back was 30mm thick (40mm in game). The (stock) turret armor is somewhat historical (80mm front, 60mm sides). So, what we esentially have here is a 50mm hull (which would somewhat fit tier 5), 80mm turret (also, doable for tier 5, it’s also possible to tune this by adding a new stock turret and making the 80mm one the second one, viable for tier 5). Summary: armor-wise, it’s a tier 5 vehicle.
What about the engine? Only the stock one is historical (420hp is not bad for a 30 ton vehicle). Doable.
Guns? 88mm at tier 5? Lol. That would be seriously OP. I am not even talking about the 105mm gun, that doesn’t appear even in the game at tier 6. On the other hand, the KwK 40 L/48 is completely unhistorical (this weapon version came to be only in 1942 and by then the development of VK3001P was long over) and so is the 105mm L/28 (AFAIK that was never considered) or the KwK 40 L/43 (same thing).
So, esentially, what we have here is a tier 5 armor tank with tier 6/7 historical weapons. The way it was historically, it was impossible to balance (for tier 6 it was seriously underarmored, the 105mm gun would be OP even at tier 6 and for tier 5 it was ridiculous overpowered gun-wise). The developers had two options: either to buff the armor, the mobility a bit, lose the 105mm, add a 2nd (unhistorical) turret and make it tier 6, or keep the armor, add some stock (unhistorical) turret, drop the historical weaponry completely and keep it at tier 5. It probably wasn’t an easy choice, but they chose the first way.
Of course, the third option would be to ignore the vehicle completely, but that also would not practically be possible. First, it was an existing prototype, not any less historical than the VK3001H. Second, if the Tiger P was to be kept at tier 7, there was nothing from Porsche to put anything on tier 6. In other words, it was simply too good to pass up.
In the end, I do believe that the developers did what they had to do. Must have been an annoying choice (some unhistorical elements will always be there – either guns, or armor) and I don’t think they’d want to revisit that again. So, in the end, I do believe this vehicle will stay as it is.