today, we are going to have a look at the fake vehicles in World of Tanks. Please note that by a “fake vehicle”, I don’t necesserily mean various unhistorical configurations (there are TONS of those), but I will mention them too briefly.
The problem with World of Tanks is that it is the victim of its own success in a way. There can be no doubt that it was World of Tanks, that revived the interest in armor in general audience, not just the usual armchair generals, historians, tank enthusiasts etc. Suddenly, tanks are mainstream and with that comes the fact that given how World of Tanks was advertised as a “historical” and “realistic” game (just look at the flashback trailer from this year, you know, the one with unhistorical FV215b), players take the game also as an “encyclopedia” of sorts and take the vehicles in it as real.
In this sense, Wargaming sends a mixed message – some vehicles are practically ultra-historical, down to the precise armor angles and thicknesses (IS-3 is very historical), others are complete fakes, but since WG advertised the game as “realistic”, a lot of people believe these vehicles were real and that is possibly the thing I find I find most annoying about Wargaming: promoting fakes.
Possibly the most historical and realistic in the game is the Soviet tree (obviously, given the fact Yuri Pasholok has access to Russian archives), followed by the Japanese tree and possibly (?) Chinese tree. French tree is also fine, but the British tree is seriously screwed up, followed by the American tree and the German tree having it worst. Let’s have a look at them.
Well… as far as I can tell, there are no blatantly fake tanks in the Soviet tree. This is (apart from the abovementioned reason of having Yuri Pasholok on board) also apparently influenced by the fact that the “home playerbase” (closest to the developers) is – obviously – Russian. There were a lot of tank (and warfare) fans in Russia in general even before WoT (unlike in Europe) and Soviet fakes would be probably the hardest to get away with.
One of the least historical tanks is the LTP, which was basically created after the drawings of Lt.Provornov (the name means “Legkij tank Provornova” – Provornov’s Light Tank), who however was not a tank designer, he was an amateur. In 1942, he submitted his drawings to the Soviet inventions committee, who refused the project, but stored the drawings in their archive and when they were discovered by Yuri Pasholok, it was decided to actually implement the tank, since the drawings were very detailed – a fitting tribute to the effort of various amateur inventors like Lt.Provornov, submitting their designs to the Red Army for evaluation, hoping to contribute to the war effort.
Some Soviet tanks have their historical parameters somewhat changed (IS-7 had much higher rate of fire and mobility in real life for example), but overall, Soviet branch doesn’t have made-up vehicles as far as I can tell.
Japanese tree is probably as historical as it gets. The reason for that was the extensive involvement of people, who actually speak Japanese (other non-Russian tree research relied a lot on western literature), the tree setup was consulted with them and overall, it came out nicely. No fakes there.
The obvious problem with China is that – well, it’s China. Without reading Chinese, you won’t get far and even then, the Chinese tanks are very obscure. We know that the lowtier tanks are historical (there are photos from the Chinese civil war), we know that the Taiwanese Type 64 is also historical, we know that the high tiers are historical (Type 62, Type 59), but as for the tier 10 heavy and medium, the entire stages of WZ-111 research, the light tanks and the T-34-1, T-34-2 and T-34-3? Or the 112? Hell if I know. There is no western literature on these vehicles as far as I can tell. Wargaming claims they were modelled after “plans provided by the Chinese partners”, but apart from Wargaming staff noone has ever seen those plans, so it’s completely possible these tanks might be Wargaming inventions or even fake stuff fabricated by their Chinese partner. Whether that is the case or not, we will probably never know.
To be completely honest, I am not sure here. Apart from some unhistorical setups (why is there a German LeFH in French tree? Or the Marder I?), I don’t think that any French tanks are complete Wargaming fakes, but I could be wrong. Yes, as far as we know, even Foch 155 is a historical project, but it was more like a “napkin tank” with one drawing or a single mention in existence, something like “it would be really cool to put a 155mm gun on Foch”. There was some confusion with the BatChat and the BatChat artillery, but I am really not sure how much of it is true or not. Sorry.
Now we are getting to the “good” stuff. British tree is arguably the most broken tree out there. Tier 10 heavy tank FV215b is a complete fake, there never was a project to import the 120mm gun on the FV215b chassis. We can only guess what led Wargaming to make this tank up, but I personally think it was the combination of two factors: recycling and laziness. You see, creating an entirely new historical model costs money – and not just chump change. Someone has to fly somewhere, dig through the archives (in this case, probably Bovington), measure the stuff, research the stuff, model the stuff, test it etc etc etc. It’s way cheaper to actually take a modelled chassis you have, tweak the armor a bit, change the appearance a little and voila, new tank, much cheaper to create than – say – modelling a Chieftain. Chieftain generally has other issues (it might be OP), but I think this is what led to the fake FV215b. There might have also been the factor of time – you can’t take as long as you want to research tanks and you can simply run out of time – and when there’s no time, the only thing you can do is simply skip the entire research part and produce a fake.
Another problematic thing is the FV4202, which (in its current setup) is also a fake. In real life, the armor was much thinner, the vehicle was never supposed to carry the L7 (just a 20pdr) and is generally screwed up in all sorts of ways. This was caused by the fact that (and this is actually not a speculation, Challenger told me this a few months back) in order to save travel money and whatnot, noone bothered to measure the vehicle in real life, Wargaming just took the “paper” values from some manual or publication, that wildly differ from the real thing. The thing is, even then, the armor is somewhat different from these paper values (it needed a buff for tier 10 I guess) and so the end result (although reached by “historical” means) is something completely messed up.
Other than that, the Matilda Black Prince was screwed up too (dimensions) – they fixed that though a few months back, the artillery line is also problematic (tier 10, IF it ever existed, almost certainly has an unhistorical gun, based on some pre-war howitzer). Listy would be able to elaborate on this more than me, I personally think that it’s completely possible tier 10 British SPG is a Wargaming fake, but this is not really something I know a lot about.
American tree also has some unhistorical stuff. Priory_of_Sion made a longer post about it and I don’t want to copypaste it here, but basically, Priory points out that:
- T25 should be called T23 tank destroyer (according to Hunnicutt it was using the T23 medium tank hull)
- T25/2 (the turretted version) is a complete Wargaming fake
- T28 Prototype is a 95 percent fake, Wargaming simply took this early concept drawing and decided to run with it:
A mockup of the early T28 was also found:
- T28 as it is in game is a fake too: it was in fact simply the T95 without second set of tracks. Furthermore, the model was changed to distinguish it more from T95 and a frontal part was added – that is unhistorical
- T110E4 (real life) in the game is called T110E3. There were almost no differences between real life T110E3 and T110E4 projects and there was no turret. The only turretted T110 version was the T110E5 heavy tank. Ingame T110E4 is a Wargaming fake and ingame T110E3 is wrongly named (should be T110E4)
Well, that’s what Priory_of_Sion wrote. We also know that for example the T71 Light Tank is a Wargaming screwup – two projects existed and basically, Wargaming combined the hull of one project with the turret from another one. There are other issues too, such as the T30 never being a tank destroyer, T18 “tank destroyer” in game was in real life an artillery vehicle and – on the contrary – the T57 artillery was a tank destroyer. I am sure there is more stuff, but I will leave detailed analysis to Priory and others.
Historians and amateurs alike were always fascinated by nazi Germany. A lot of that fascination comes from the fact that very few regimes in history were as twisted and generally evil as the Third Reich – evil fascinates people. Then there was the general technical advancement of the German project – it was them to first unleash the jet fighters upon the enemy, it was the Germans who built the heaviest tank of WW2 – the Maus. This megalomania also fascinates people and throughout the years, a number of fakes emerged. Unfortunately, Wargaming contributes with its share to this, adding fake German tanks to the game. Let’s see:
- light tanks: Aufklärungspanzer Panther never had the second turret considered, that was made up by Wargaming
- Panzer V/IV turret was bolted on, it didn’t rotate
- Panther II is also pretty broken (unhistorical turret and guns)
- E-50 is borderline historical (there was such a project, but the armor and turret design are Wargaming invention, let alone the gun choices)
- E-50M the way it is presented is a fake. It was created by Wargaming as a rear transmission variant of the E-50 project. It’s not ENTIRELY unhistorical (there was a rear-transmission proposal for the E series, some of you might remember the Weserhütte Tiger), but the guns, armor and general look are almost completely made up
- VK450X vehicles are completely screwed up with unhistorical armor and guns, in real life they had much thinner armor. This was caused mostly by the lack of hightier candidates for German heavies, since WG “wasted” the Lowe as a premium vehicle. Strangely enough, the Lowe in game is practically completely historical.
- E-75 is a fake, in real life the project existed, but it was more like a simplified version of Tiger II in order to streamline production, its armor is not even mentioned in historical sources and it’s unlikely it would be thicker than the one of Tiger II (weight constraints). Furthermore, the 128mm gun could definitely not fit the turret.
- StuG has an unhistorical L/70, that couldn’t fit in it in real life, there was a L/70 StuG project, but it had a different casemate
- Jagdpanther 105mm is fake, this gun was never even proposed for it
- Ferdinand 128mm is fake, the gun was too big to fit in
- Jagdpanther II is a fake, a mashup of two projects: first, there was a mere mention of a possible tank destroyer built on Jagdpanther II chassis. There was also a 1945 project to re-arm the regular Jagdpanther with a 128mm gun (by 1945 the Jagdpanther II project was long dead), that looked like the ingame Jagdpanther II and that’s where Wargaming took the model from
- Waffenträger auf E-100 is a complete fake and Wargaming invention (Jagdpanzer E-100 however is historical and so is Waffenträger auf Panzer IV)
- Jagdtiger with 128mm L/61 gun was never a real project IIRC, there was a L/66 project as far as I know with rear casemate (my mistake for screwing this up)
- GW Tiger P is almost certainly a fake, I think we covered a lot of that topic earlier
- GW E-100 is a complete Wargaming fake
- the VK7201 120 ton fake, we covered that extensively
Let’s ask our resident expert, senator Vreenak:
That’s right. World of Tanks does have fake tanks. It’s a bit odd really, because in some cases, there WERE historical candidates to replace the fake vehicles with (GW Tiger P with for example another Panther Sfl project – there were several, GW E-100 with the (again, historical) project to arm the GW Tiger with 305mm mortar – or even 420mm). However, Wargaming decided to go the other way and we can only argue as to why – maybe it was the “cool factor” (I mean, GW E-100 definitely does look cooler than a copy of GW Tiger with a bigger gun), but it certainly was not ignorance (contrary to popular belief, WG developers are VERY good at what they do in their respective fields and that goes for historical research too).
What bothers me most is however one thing: passing the fake tanks for historical. Let’s have a look at the GW E-100 description:
Development of this heavy SPG on the E-100 chassis started at the end of 1943, but it was never completed. No prototypes were ever manufactured and the vehicle did not undergo any trials.
No. It didn’t. That is a blatant lie, there never was such a development, there is no source on that, this vehicle is pure Wargaming invention. This is the type of crap that actually introduces fake tanks into people’s minds as real. I wouldn’t be surprised if some shady historical sites and forums took this information as real and started spreading around.
It’s easy. Change a few words in the description. Instead of the abovementioned GW E-100 description, write simply
This vehicle is an artist’s impression of how a superheavy self-propelled gun, based on E-100 chassis, could have looked like. Development of this project never started.
There you have it. Vehicle stays, but is clearly marked as “artist’s impression”. Noone can blame anyone for that – I mean, Wargaming people are artists. They create games, they don’t write history. Or at least they shouldn’t.