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Old 09-09-2011, 12:05 PM   #1 
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AMX-50 68t – a very dangerous “cardboard” tank

AMX-50 68t – a very dangerous “cardboard” tank

Historical reference

Right after the liberation in 1944, the French governors decided to
demonstrate their involvement in the anti-Hitler coalition. As the equivalents of Pz.VI Ausf.B Tiger-II were not present in the ranks of the allies (western allies, as it should be mentioned), a machine like that was decided to be engineered. Development of new tanks was being continued even in occupied France and continued with renewed force after the liberation. Many innovations were taken from the Char B1 heavy tank, which sped up the development, but was hardly a good choice from a technical standpoint. Granted the codename of ARL 44, the new machine looked like a grotesque hybrid of the WW1 tank and German Tiger-B – the distinctive tires going over the main massive body, together with monolith angled forehead armor. The long barreled 90mm gun with the starting shell velocity of 1000 m/s (created by the Schneider company, based off a marine anti-aircraft gun) completed the exterior. This is despite, the original tank lacking weaponry, and it was supposed to be equipped with either the British 17-pound gun or American 76mm M1A1 – and the first prototype was made with the 76mm gun in 1946. The changes in the arsenal of armaments led to 40 tank casings produced by FAMH company to be stored and only being installed with 90mm guns in 1949. Additionally, 20 more tanks were produced by Renault.
The tank has a classic structure, the power engine consisted of
a German gas engine, the Maybach HL230 575 HP, and an electric transmission was located in the rear. Inside the middle part of the body located the combat compartment and in the front – the driver’s compartment. The 120mm front hull armor with a 45 degree angle made ARL 44 the most heavily armored tank for a long time to come. Becoming standard issue in 1950, these tanks had already started to get already replaced by the American M47 in 1953. During such a short period, the tanks were able to take part in a parade (in 1951) once, which was the only spectacular event in their career. In combat use, the tanks left much to be desired, which is expected, considering the rushed construction. The next attempt at creating a heavy tank France made was during March of 1945, solving all of ARL 44’s shortcomings perfectly. The AMX company had introduced project №141, according to them, two prototypes were ordered and given the index “M 4”. Originally, the machine was classified as a medium tank, and was clearly inspired by German tanks, Panther and Tiger-B in particular. The body was similar (if not identical) but smaller. The distinctive running gear with large wheels was located in chess order, nice for each board, was easily recognizable as well. The previously accepted 30mm armor was then declared absolutely intolerable and was upgraded in the final variant. At the same time, the more traditional turret was replaced by a recently produced swinging tower, made by FAHM. The main body of the first prototype made in 1949, was named AMX50 and received a new 100mm in the winter, made by Arsenal de Tarbes. Soon after the second prototype was finished and was also equipped with the 100mm gun, but in a slightly modified turret. The mass of these prototypes was already 53,7 tonnes, but the developer kept considering them “mediums”. The problem was to find an appropriate engine, as, according to the requirements, the tank would have to be faster than all existing medium tanks. The German carburetor Maybach HL 295 and Saurer diesel engine were tested. However, both of them failed to accelerate the tank over 51 km/h (which was quite an accomplishment for a machine of this size).
The next step of evolution started in 1951, after the preliminary testing of the prototypes. As an answer to Soviet IS-3 heavy tanks, it was decided to increase the firepower, installing 120mm guns, while increasing armour yet again. A huge conventionalturret was constructed to contain all of the new equipment, but was reworked into an oscillating one later. As a result of the changes, the mass of the tank, which was now officially classified as heavy, increased to 59 ton. The first of the ten ordered prototypes was introduced by DEFA (Direction des Études et Fabrications d'Armement, the state weapon design bureau) in 1953.
After that, another decision to increase armor had followed and the more armored version had the
mantlet made in similar to the IS-3, once again increasing the weight, now up to 64 ton. The testing of the last prototype revealed multiple problems, lead by the suspension that needed to be reinforced.
In the end, it was decided to completely overhaul the project to create a “shortened” version, designing the new shorter cast
hull and a different turret (“Tourelle D” – fourth turret model).
The work came to fruition and the final prototype, appeared in 1958, weighted only 57,8 ton. However, the problems with the engine were not solved and the supposed speed of 65 km/h
could not be demonstrated.
As only five prototypes of AMX50 were ever released, it’s useless to talk in great detail about their composition and technical data – they were all different. All in all, they all possessed the classic structure, with the
driver’s compartment in the front, combat compartment in the middle and engine compartment in the rear (which was different from German “Panther” and “Tiger-B”, that had engines in the front). In addition to the main gun and the 7,5mm machinegun, the tank was planned to be installed with a variety of weapons – on or two 7,5mm machineguns on the turret, doublet of 7,5mm machinegun and 20mm MG-151/20 cannon and another machinegun above the reloader’s hatch. The example of the last AMX 50 variant with the cast body and 120mm gun is currently at the exposition in the tank museum of Saumur, France.

Opinions of experienced players

GoHa.Ru: Why would the developers rearrange the high-tier French tanks even before their implementation? Do you think that more changes are coming?

Kauzer [RED_A]: I think the changes were made with taking the future balance in mind and, in a way, to buff the branch. In my opinion, AMX 50 120mm wouldn’t be a good HT10. I will elaborate…
The first weakness would be the very long reload. A crew of four, in theory, would be reloading the 120mm barrel for way too long and that’s even with the radio operator not doing his own job.
Second weakness is cast armor and not angled sheets. Even the thickest armor can be penetrated by HEAT rounds, and speed and maneuverability will be reduced because of the tank’s weight.
Third weakness is it’s huge tower. It would be difficult to dodge enemy fire on some maps.

Tukdim [TD42]: I think the experience is showing up. And
it’s good that mistakes are corrected during the early stages, preventing them to appear in the game. As far as changes are concerned, I think there will be some movement in that regard (balancing of certain tanks).

GoHa.Ru: The French method of armoring tanks is quite strange. 120mm front hull, 85mm,front turret and 30mm hull– no comments. Do you think an HT10 with such measly armor can be viable?

Kauzer [RED_A]: Certainly. Despite
the “cardboard” armor, this tank should have good maneuverability and, of course, be able to deal huge DPS in the right moment of combat. I see them being used at the second line of attack. For example, imagine a situation: a “mouse” is arriving from around the corner, right in front of the defending tank party and takes shots. After the enemy is out of shots, 3-4 or of Frenchmen come out and destroy several enemy tanks with their hail of fire…

Tukdim [TD42]: It’s really easy. If there were historical examples, then it will be viable. Basing on my experience I can tell that if one tank isn’t good in one area, it’s superior in another, and quite proportionally. It’s balance, you know.
GoHa.Ru: If not with the armor, the tank has great armaments. It was equipped with 120mm S4 46 gun. 120mm is not amazing, but it’s rate of fire is quite interesting. A weapon of such caliber should be able to shoot very fast (let’s remember 120mm AT gun T53 on T95 with the rate of fire of 7,89) and taking auto reload into account, the speed should be just incredible. Looking back at former interviews, where it was mentioned that auto reloading will increase the rate of fire by two times minimum, it’s safe to assume that the rate of fire will equal 10-14 shots per minute. What do you think about such a curious solution? Low alpha damage, but simply amazing rate of fire.

Kauzer [RED_A]: These tanks will serve as “nuke-machines” working together with other types of vehicles that can be used as a shield (Germans, most likely, but shooting over the top of
an IS while having the body covered is also possible). Nowadays, head to head combat happens quite often. In such a situation, the winner is who can focus fire better and deal more DPS. The French will make it possible to win a tackle like that while having a fewer number of vehicles in the area. Of course, it’s a theory, and needs to be proved in practise. But in any case, these tanks will, without a doubt, bring in new tactics in combat, especially, as I think, on urban maps.

Tukdim [TD42]: I suppose, this will become the distinctive feature of the Frenchmen and exactly this, together with high mobility, will compensate for low armor. If we are to count the alpha damage of the whole first cassette and not a single shot, then it (the alpha damage) will be enormous. I think that it’s the Frenchmen that will become the main rival of T30 in burst damage tactics in “narrow spaces” (the alpha damage itself).

GoHa.Ru: At the very least, AMX-50 68t will not be slower than the IS-7, and is likely to even beat it. Do you think if such high speed can save this low armored tank?

Kauzer [RED_A]: It’s not like that. The speed, of course, won’t save it, only an experienced player that knows the map well and is aware of the enemy’s possibilities might make it happen. Almost any tank has it’s own unique strength, all that’s left is using it properly in combat. This tank’s strengths will be speed and damage, making it useful on almost any map.

Tukdim [TD42]: Yes, I think. If you’re faster, you choose where and how to engage the enemy. So, high speed and maneuverability is a plus, no questions asked.
GoHa.Ru: There’s a popular joke, saying that, during clanwars, there are only IS-7 medium tanks, MAUS/E-100 heavy tanks and AT-SAU T30. Do you think the situation will change with the implementation of the Frenchmen? And the joke will have an addition of fireflies AMX-50 68t? Or maybe it will have a different role?

Kauzer [RED_A]: It’s hard to say right now, but maybe these tanks will be used for quick taking of strategic point on the map. In support to medium tanks, so to speak.

Tukdim [TD42]: It’s difficult to make predictions, with the exception of that the Frenchmen won’t become breaching tanks, like MAUS or E100. I said about one of the possible means earlier. I might add that if these tanks have high acceleration rate, they might force t54 out of the “absolute division”.

GoHa.Ru: Do you think if this tank is going to be popular in random or company battles?

Kauzer [RED_A]: Without a doubt. As with all new vehicles, the Frenchman will have great success right after the update’s release. Even if later on the trend slows down, I think that this machine will find it’s fans and will be widely represented in both randoms and companies.

Tukdim [TD42]:
GoHa.Ru: And the usual question about the looks, what do you think?

Kauzer [RED_A]: To be honest, I’m not a fan of this IS-3 and KT hybrid. I’m fond of German practicality and strictness.

Tukdim [TD42]: Quite extravagant.

The cut on the tower really does look like a smile

Developer Q&A

GoHa.Ru: Could you tell us why have you chosen AMX-50 68t to be the next French HT10? What’s so special about this exact model and it is possible that the French branch is in for more changes?

Tiger: We’ve picked the late modification of AMX 50 tank and tried to choose one with the most fitting 10-th Tier characteristic for further balancing.
We keep searching for archived materials on French tanks and it’s too early to say we know all there is to know, taking into account the continuous release of archived info.

GoHa.Ru: If I’m not mistaken, AMX-50 was the most armored model amongst it’s “countrymen”, but it’s not really remarkable when compared to tanks of other nations. 120mm average front hull armor, 30mm hull and front turret 85mm – even T30 looks like a real MAUS in comparison. Will you really make such a weakly armored HT10 and the “cardboard” glory will pass from Americans to French?

Tiger: Yes, the armor of the most post-war French tanks wasn’t the thickest, so you’ll have to be very careful while playing. Partially, though, the low armor is compensated for by high mobility, weapon rate of fire, automatic reload and well made form of forehead armor.

GoHa.Ru: One of the interesting things about French heavy tanks is the mixture of German and Soviet schools of tank engineering. Pike noses of Soviet tanks and chess-form suspension and engines of Germans. What’s peculiar is the French ability to improve on the borrowed designs. For example, they’ve avoided the mistakes of Soviets during the production of the pike-nose and casted it, instead of welding, getting rid of the weld weak points. Will this feature be represented in the game and the French pike-nose will not be able to be penetrated into welds, like it is on the Soviet tanks?

Tiger: I think that sheet joints will not be such a vulnerable place like on the Soviet tanks with the “pike-nose”.

GoHa.Ru: Considering the weakness of armor, this tanks armament must be something incredible. It was equipped with 120mm S4 46 gun – 120mm is, of course, hardly staggering, but it’s rate of fire is very interesting indeed. A weapon of such caliber should be able to shoot very fast (let’s remember 120mm AT gun T53 on T95 with the rate of fire of 7,89) and taking auto reload into account, the speed should be just incredible. Can it be assumed that the rate of fire will equal 16-24 shots per minute, without counting the cylinder reload time? I’m remembering the previous interviews, when it was said that auto reload will double or triple the firing speed.

Tiger: Yes, the rate of fire will be very high (up until the cylinder depletion, which holds 6 shots). After that, it will be needed to wait until the reload is done, but 6 shells of such caliber, hitting the target, will render it unable to pursue the tank, left for reloading.
The final numbers on rate of fire and reloading speed will be determined after the testing.

GoHa.Ru: Besides the upgrade of the “Soviet part” of their tanks, the French have done a good job with the “trophy” Maybach HL295. And with the help of Maybach junior himself, taken out of Germany as a fascist accomplice, they managed to squeeze out 1000 HP from the engine, and, later, even 1200 HP. This made it possible to accelerate a relatively heavy AMX-50 68t to 51-55 km/h (the data is different from test to test), even though it was less than it’s intended speed of 65 km/h. How fast a maneuverable will it be?

Tiger: Likely, the speed and maneuverability will be the main features on the French HT10, at least, the high average power should help with that.

GoHa.Ru: There’s a popular joke, saying that, during clanwars, there are only IS-7 medium tanks, MAUS/E-100 heavy tanks and Tank Destroyers T30. Do you think the situation will change with the implementation of the Frenchmen? And the joke will have an addition of fireflies AMX-50 68t?

Tiger: As of now, it’s difficult to say what role will the French top tanks have during clanwars, but some of the “firefly” functions they will be able to accomplish well. As an example, they’re likely to be good at taking and defending crucial points, destroying the enemy medium tanks and holding position until main forces arrive. Besides, only testing will show how effective can be a determined massive attack of the French heavy tanks, waging on high spike damage during the first minute of combat (while the first load of the cylinder is not emptied).

GoHa.Ru: And the usual question about the looks, what do you think?
Tiger: The conjunction of the French ideas and findings, Soviet and German school of tank making gave birth to quite interesting and unique looking pieces that are sure to find their fans.

Last edited by Garro; 09-09-2011 at 12:08 PM.

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