let us take a trip way, way back to the history of World of Tanks, when one particular vehicle (under the TG designation) was considered for a premium tank position.
This was the mid-2012 or so and, as you can imagine, the tree concept looked quite different back then. In any case, a model of this vehicle was made, but unfortunately, the tank was never released – and if I tell you the vehicle in real life had two main guns, I am sure you can figure out why. That’s right, multiturret support (or, rather, lack of it). Nevertheless, let’s have a look at this interesting machine.
In the early 30′s, the Soviets felt the need to improve their armored forces to incorporate modern vehicles. Attempts were made to design and build such a vehicle at home, but unfortunately, the lack of experience in such an endeavour proved to be a critical. In order to succeed, it was felt that foreign experts had to be involved and so, Soviet Union to Germany.
In March 1930, a group of German experts was invited to the Soviet Union – they were led by a designer/engineer by the name of Edward Grote. The group was asked to create designs of armored vehicles for the future of the Red Army. In April, technical requirements were presented to the group for a tank, weighing 18-20 tons. It was supposed to have 20mm thick armor and it was supposed to go as fast as 35-40 km/h. Its armament was to consist of one 76,2mm gun, one 37mm gun and 4-5 machineguns. All the other parameters were to be decided by the developer group. In order to design this vehicle and build it, a new design bureau, designated ABO-5, was created in the “Bolshevik” factory in Leningrad. Apart from the Germans, the bureau staff consisted of various Soviet engineers, who would later on become famous Soviet armor designers, such as V.M.Barykov, who was later involved in the development of T-28, T-35, T-46, T-50 and T-100 tanks.
The medium tank recieved the “Tank Grote” (TG) designation. Its development was kept strictly secret, the work was observed by the members of Revolutionary Military Council (supreme military authority until 1934) and the Soviet government, for example between 17.11. and 18.11.1930, the plant was visited by Kliment Voroshilov. Officially, the reason for the commissar’s visit was the inspection of mass tank production, but his main interest was in the newly developed Grote prototype. In his report, he informed Stalin that the work is proceeding well despite the fact that Grote himself was ill at that time. Voroshilov expected the prototype to be completed by December 1930, but due to various technical issues, the completion was delayed until April 1931 – the tests started shortly after that. It was expected that should the tests end well, the prototype would be then mass-produced under the designation of TG-1, with an initial batch of 50-75 tanks being released in 1931 and by 1932, the Red Army was supposed to recieve as many as 2000 of these new tanks.
The prototype was rather massive. In the end, it weighed 25 tons, was 7,5 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2,84 meters tall. It had a clearane of 34 centimeters. The hull of the tank was completely welded (allegedly the first tank in the world to have such a feature), with following armor schematics:
Hull: 44/20-24/24 (bottom and roof 8mm)
Turret: 44/30/30 (the miniturret had the same armor setup, roof of the turret was 10mm thick).
The armament of the tank was very powerful for its time, consisting of one 76,2mm A-19 semi-automatic gun, one 37mm PS-1 gun and five 7,62mm machine guns (two DT’s and three Maxims). The 76,2mm gun was developed by P.N.Syachintov based on the 76,2mm AA gun Model 1914/1915 (also known as the Lender gun). The gun had to be reworked significantly to fit the required dimensions – for example by moving the recoil compensator and recuperator from the top and bottom of the gun to its sides and by adding a special newly-designed muzzle brake. The reload mechanism was semi-automatic and the gun could fire the shells as fast as 10-12 rounds per minute. The muzzle velocity of the shells was 588 m/s (very good for its time). The semi-automatic mechanism was however unreliable, which led to the need to reload the gun often by hand. The tank carried 50 rounds for the gun.
The 37mm gun PS-1 was also developed by Syachintov. It was located in the hemispherical miniturret on the top of the turret itself and could traverse 360 degrees. The interesting thing about it was that it could serve both as an AA and anti-ground gun. The long barrel gave it good muzzle velocity (707 m/s). The combination of these guns and machineguns gave the tank the option of leading very effective fire in all directions.
The vehicle was to be originally powered by the original Grote V8 engine, producing 250 horsepower, designed specifically for this tank. The development of the engine however proved to be problematic (as it sometimes happens with completely new designs) and so, the vehicle had to be equipped instead with a 300 hp V12 M-6 aircraft engine. This engine was somewhat larger than the original Grote engine and thus, the design of the tank had to be slightly reworked. In particular, this resulted in the engine being installed in the tank without engine cover (it was sticking out) – this however was considered to be a temporary measure and the engine was to be replaced by the Grote design as soon as it was ready. The 300 hp engine would give the tank the power-to-weight ratio of 12 hp/t and the maximum speed was 34 km/h. The handling of the vehicle was very easy thanks to the combination of the suspension and the steering system. The vehicle had a crew of five and also carried a German-type radio.
The prototype was tested between 27.6. and 1.10.1931 – the vehicle demonstrated relatively good maximum speed (34 km/h) and good maneuverability and terrain passability. The pneumatic gear shifting proved to be very easy to use as well and the entire transmission was judged as quite robust, but there was a problem with the pneumatic feeds (air hoses), that kept breaking due to poor material (rubber) being used. However, the testing committee noted many design flaws.
One of the nastiest flaws was the fact that although it was completely possible to fire the 76,2mm gun comfortably, firing even one machinegun at the same time proved to be practically impossible. The vehicle friction brakes were hard to access and their position led to overheating when the vehicle moved. The brakes itself were unsatisfactory and so was the track performance on soft surfaces. On 4.10.1931, a special committee was created to evaluate the test of the vehicle and to assess, whether the tank should be mass-produced or not. After analyzing all the test results of the vehicle, the committee recommended the tank not to be produced, but to be used as an experimental vehicle for testing new and progressive technologies, that could be used in other vehicles later on.
After the vehicle was repaired and the flaws fixed, further work on the tank ceased. The ABO-5 bureau was disbanded and in August 1933, the German engineers along with Grote returned back to Germany. In second half of 1931 and in early 1932, a series of designs (called “TA tanks”) was created based on the TG design (but simplified and cheaper).
The final fate of the TG prototype is unknown. After the work on it ceased, the prototype was moved to Kubinka for storage. From there, it was moved to the J.V. Stalin Academy of the WPRA Mechanization and Motorization Program, where it apparently stayed until the German invasion of Russia. After that, it was likely scrapped and melted down for steel. As a design, the vehicle was quite ahead of its time, but – as it happened with other such advanced projects not only in Russia – the cost for advanced features was the reliability of the vehicle, as well as the fact it would be quite complicated and expensive to produce. However, it proved to be an invaluable lesson for the future Soviet tank designers and the features, developed for the Grote tank, were later on used in other Soviet armored vehicles, especially in the T-35.
Russian “TG” wiki entry