In a previous article, I explored potential hull upgrades for Soviet light tanks. Today, I will go one weight class up, and do the same for medium tanks.
The first medium tank encountered in the Soviet tech tree is the T-28, at tier 4. Tanks produced before 1938 had riveted cemented armour, tanks produced after had homogeneous welded armour. However, the game does not distinguish between the two, and the changes would be largely cosmetic. A much more noticeable change would be brought by, once again, applying armour screens.
Addition of 20-30 mm armoured plates increases front armour to 60 mm, but also increases the tank’s mass to 32 tons, which would definitely result in a performance hit. For those of you looking for photographs of these up-armoured tanks, go no further than here, as this website contains photos of 60 out of 111 vehicles that received additional armour.
Next is the T-34. Despite very impressive armour for its time, it was up-armoured to 60 mm of front armour with the addition of 15 mm armour plates, based on intelligence that new long 50 mm cannons can penetrate the front with APCR ammunition. Such ammunition proved rare in practice, and the up-armouring was discontinued, but not before a few hundred such vehicles left the factories.
The up-armouring was tried again in 1943, but then was abandoned once again, as it didn’t have the desired effect.
Going up a tier, we get to the T-34-85. The only new threat to this tank that the T-34 didn’t face was the large amount of man-portable anti-tank HEAT weapons encountered during city fighting. Various anti-HEAT armour screens, most pretty silly looking, are described here. Even though SerB has mentioned the possibility of having the same +15 mm armour screen on the T-34-85 as on the T-34, I am not aware of any T-34-85s that received this upgrade. A T-34-85 with “borrowed” skirt armour is also possible, if unlikely.
At tier 6, there is finally an alternative medium, the A-43. Picking out another hull for this tank is quite easy. Two modifications of this tank were developed: A (45 mm of front armour, 60.5 kph top speed) and B (60 mm front armour, 55 kph top speed). The tank available in the game is B, so we can expect to see faster and lighter A-43s running around with the new hulls. Interestingly enough, the suspensions are already named “type A” and “type B”. It’s quite likely that this tank will receive a stock type A hull and upgraded type B hull.
One tier up, and we get to the T-43. The T-43 was developed in two modifications, but they both had identical armour. The largest difference is that the second modification returned the full sized driver’s hatch, which was drastically reduced in the first modification. The second modification hull would present a larger weak spot, so it could be used as a stock hull, but 75 mm of armour isn’t particularly good at tier 7, so it doesn’t really matter. It is unlikely that this tank will receive a second hull option.
Panning across tier 7, we reach the A-44, a much more interesting topic than the T-43. In addition to its unconventional design, it had not one, not two, but three hull options designed for it. The first option had 120 mm of front armour, and 100 mm of side armour, with a maximum speed of 53 kph. The second option had 90 mm of front armour and 75 mm of side armour, and a maximum speed of 59 kph. The third had 75 mm of front armour, 60 mm of side armour, and a maximum speed of 65 kph.
Looking at the armour model and mass of the in-game tank, it is the lightest option: 75 mm of armour in the front (aside from the completely vertical plates), and 60 mm on the sides. Its max speed is limited to that of the medium armoured option, not the light one. Since a tier 7 medium tank with 120 mm of front armour sloped at 60 degrees would be massively overpowered (tier 8 premium, perhaps?), the other hulls make reasonable choices for a stock and upgraded hull.
At tier 7, we also have the KV-13. The KV-13 was also developed with two hull options. Unfortunately, both had the same amount of armour. If this tank gets an upgrade, it will be entirely cosmetic.
Going up to tier 8, we get the T-44. The T-44 had several steps in its development, each receiving more and more armour. The first had 75 mm on the upper front plate, and 30 mm on the lower. The second increased the lower plate to 45 mm. The T-44A came with even more armour, 90 mm on the top and 75 on the bottom. You’d think that the lighter armoured hull would make the tank go faster, but nope, the fastest T-44 was the T-44A, with 60.5 kph top speed (compare to the in-game T-44, with 51 kph top speed). A variant of the T-44-100 with side armour screens was also made, giving the option for a visually distinctive hull upgrade.
The other tier 8 medium, Object 416, was an experimental prototype only, and I am not aware of any alternative hulls available for it.
The T-54 stands alone as the USSR’s only tier 9 medium. Right now, it’s a “best of both worlds” setup, with the 120 mm of front armour from early T-54 prototypes, but speed from late versions. As SerB said, odds are that when the hull patch hits, you will have to choose: armour (with speed reduced to 42.5 kph) or speed (with armour reduced to 100 mm).
Since tier 10s are supposed to be elite by default (with a few exceptions), it is unlikely that either the T-62A or Object 140 will receive upgradable hulls.
That is it for Soviet medium tanks. In the next article, I will explore the options for Soviet heavy tanks.