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"WW2 American Prototype Tank" - Anyone Familiar With This?

Madoc

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Hey all!

Just saw this item up on eBay and I'm wondering if anyone here has any familiarity with the design.

It's clearly a "heavy" tank design. The main gun is mounted in an odd way. I'm not sure how to describe it, actually. The gun can traverse through what looks to be about 270 degrees but that's it. The space within the turret therefore looks quite limited. Hence, I guess, the size of the fighting compartment behind it. Also, the mounting of two smaller gun turrets behind and outboard of the main gun looks unique. I'm gathering that the engine would be up front.

I'm hoping the experts here might have some more info on this as it looks quite striking. The info available in the eBay auction item is pretty limited.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230886668992?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649
 

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Abraham Gubler

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Madoc said:
The main gun is mounted in an odd way. I'm not sure how to describe it, actually. The gun can traverse through what looks to be about 270 degrees but that's it. The space within the turret therefore looks quite limited. Hence, I guess, the size of the fighting compartment behind it.
Its called a casemate. And because there is no actual turret there can be quite a lot of space behind the weapon for recoil and loading.
 

Madoc

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Abraham,

I was thinking "casemate" but the ones I've seen were all fixed traverse. On those, there was some minor degree to move the barrel side to side but it pivoted from one fixed point and its traverse was but a few minor degrees.

In this case, there is an actual turret as the gun can be traversed what looks to be about 270 degrees in total.

So, I was wondering if "casemate" was the right description for such a mounting.

Plus, noting the degree of travel of the gun, that means that there had to be an armor "ring" to accommodate that. Which is to say, there had to be enough of the turret cylinder such that even when the gun was traversed to its maximum rearward degree that the interior of the fighting compartment was not exposed with a resulting opening on the other side.

That would mean there was less than a ninety degree opening directly behind the gun in that turret cylinder.

That really doesn't leave much room on the inside of the turret cylinder for much else aside from the gun breech and recoil mechanism. Hence the size of the fighting compartment behind it. I think that's why there was three "couplas" depicted in its configuration. Commander, driver and gunner - if I'm guessing right.

Thus, I'd really like to see if anyone recognizes the thing.

Madoc
 

Abraham Gubler

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Madoc said:
I was thinking "casemate" but the ones I've seen were all fixed traverse. On those, there was some minor degree to move the barrel side to side but it pivoted from one fixed point and its traverse was but a few minor degrees.
Casemates can be both. Many casemates are fixed emplacements over the top of a pedestal mounted gun (the fixed pivot you mention) other casemates have the gun mounted on a partial ring or even a revolving platform (the later appears to be the case here, a much larger and better placed version of the 75mm gun casemate on the M3 Grant/Lee tanks.

Madoc said:
In this case, there is an actual turret as the gun can be traversed what looks to be about 270 degrees in total.
A turret is another word for a tower. To be a turret you need to be a separate, free standing structure. The etymology of these words come from old castle terms. It doesn’t matter as to what type of rotation the weapon mounted inside has but as to the type of structure. There are all sorts of different versions apart from the most well known mainstays. But as is clear in this case the weapon is mounted in a casemate. It has a very wide field of fire for a casemate but still is one.
 

Madoc

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Abraham,

Excellent. "Casemate" might then help in finding more about this design as it does narrow things down.

As to it being a T-28 competitor, I don't think so. As I understand it, the T-28 was designed as an anti-fortification weapon. The casemate mount on it had a mere ten degrees traverse to either side. So, you moved the entire tank to aim the gun. And its tremendously thick armor made it so painfully slow that it would've been a death sentence to put it up against anything that could move faster than a man could walk.

Blowing apart well entrenched and fortified enemy bunkers however, was just perfect for it.

Hence the lack of need for traverse on the weapon - those bunkers weren't gonna be moving around much.

This concept, with its 270 degree main gun traverse, is clearly intended for something more mobile than knocking out fixed emplacements. I'm also thinking that the two smaller gun turrets on its sides denote a more wide ranging role. The T-28 had but a .50 Cal mounted atop it. So, it was clearly intended to be operated amidst plenty of supporting elements that'd handle enemy armor, infantry and air.

This concept tank's turreted guns look intended for anti-personnel and anti-air. So, if I had to continue speculating, I'd say it was intended as a breakthrough weapon. Heavy enough to punch through anything it might encounter and deal with what lesser threats until its supporting infantry and conventional armor units caught up to it.

I could be way off base but that's what it seems like to me.
 

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It's not in Hunnicutt's heavy tank volume. I would have remembered that one.
 

Madoc

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You know, the more I look at it, the more I see that the casemate has to be a full turret. When that gun is traversed full over to either side it would have to be a full turret or else the interior of the fighting compartment would be exposed. That means there has to be a continuous ring and that really would cramp things right behind the breech of that gun.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Madoc said:
You know, the more I look at it, the more I see that the casemate has to be a full turret. When that gun is traversed full over to either side it would have to be a full turret or else the interior of the fighting compartment would be exposed. That means there has to be a continuous ring and that really would cramp things right behind the breech of that gun.
If it has that arrangement it is still a casemate. Plus similar types of wide field of fire casemates often have layered covers to protect the exposed area like some sliding doors.

While it may be cramped behind the gun when facing to either side (or the rearwards arcs) the casemate tank only needs enough space behind the breech to recoil. The loader and even gunner may not be located inside the rotating section of the casemate but behind it. The gunner could aim through an offset sight and the loader reload when the gun is rotated to face fowards. They are not ideal solutions but sill enable a large field of fire with all the weight savings of a casemate.
 

Madoc

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Well, the auction wound out. And the winner walked away with the model for a mere $271.67USD.

I asked the seller if he would inquire of his bidders what they knew of the model.

One had already messaged the seller, elvis100, who then replied to me with the message:

Dear madocpope,

Below is what one of the bidders sent me about the tank today.

Dear elvis100,Glad you didn't lose your shirt on this one! Some knowledgeable people advised me that this is a early prototype model for the American T28/T95 Tank destroyer, supposedly from 1943. T28 prototype was a suspicion of mine for a while, but someone finally confirmed it. I'm a little disappointed that I wasn't able to get it, but if someone was willing to pay that much then they must have a healthy appreciation for it.

- elvis100
I wouldn't have figured that as the T95 was not meant for tank destroying but rather fortification destroying. Perhaps the initial designs included to tank vs tank capability but then were discarded as the mission changed.

Interesting stuff and I'd really like to know more about this whole thing!

Madoc
 
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