Saturday, January 30, 2010

Multi-turreted tanks


Multi turreted tanks were all the range in the mid war period and several countries built them in various numbers, none more so than the Soviet Union. Like all early tanks, multi turret designs were heavily influenced by the concept of the land ironclad, which was essentially a battleship on wheels, made popular by HG Wells in a short story. As you can see from the image above, the original dream appears to have been for massive unstoppable vehicles which could roll right over a conventional army or town and destroy everything in their path.

A turret is a distinct design feature on a tank and should not be confused with a sponson. Turrets revolve to bring weaponry to bear on a target where as sponsons are static and weapons housed in a sponson move independentely of the structure. Both are usually armoured.

Below is a list of the various tank and armoured car designs which featured multiple turrets. The first two images are of very early concept tanks.

Compton landship design

Pedrail landship design

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Vickers 6ton Type A.
UK. 1928.
This was a private design job undertaken by Vickers (who seemed to specialise in strange concept tanks in the 1920's and 30's) and never commissioned by the British Government. The design was adopted by the Soviets and the Poles. The Type A had two turrets.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Light Tank A3E1.
UK. 1925.
Built by the Royal Ordance Factory as a 'cheap tank', the A3E1 was later designated as a machine gun carrier, and thats about all I know about it. I assume it never went into production. The A3E1 had two turrets.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Medium D; Tropical Tank.
UK. 1921.
Designed for use in the colonies. The Medium D never made it past the prototype phase. Only one variant, 'the Tropical Tank' had multiple turrets, of which it had two.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Vickers A1E1 Independent.

UK. 1924.
The A1E1 was a prototype built by Vickers and is often regarded as the first of the muti turreted tanks, though it was not. The British did not adopt the tank, but it is supposed to have inspired several subsequent designs, in Britain as well as abroad, most particularly the Soviet T35. The A1E1 had five turrets.

Copplestone Castings make a 1/55 scale model of this tank. I have one (only half built as yet) and the quality is good.

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Vickers Medium Mk III.
UK. 1926.
Designed to replace the Medium MK II tank, this multi turreted design never made it to production. Only three prototypes had been made before budget cuts killed it. The Mk III had three turrets.

Copplestone Castings make a 1/55 scale model of this tank. I have one (only half built as yet) and the quality is good.

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Cruiser Mk I.
UK. 1936.
Designated as a cruiser tank, this design was suppposed to operate behind enemy lines and as such it had extra machine gun turrets to protect itself. Similar to the Medium Mk III, though lighter, Cruiser tanks were the only multi turret designs to be produced in any numbers by the UK. The image above shows a BEF Mk I knocked out by German forces in Calais in 1940. The Mk I had three turrets.

BEF Miniatures make a 1/56 scale model of this tank.

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Cruiser Tank Mark A14E1, A16E1.
UK. 1937.
For some reason, the British army was so impressed by the Soviet T28's, a copy of the out dated Vickers Medium Mk III, that they ordered a new British design along the same lines. The project was halted in 1939 due to constantly changing requirements (some common sense probably paid a part also when the British saw what was happening in France). Two variants were made and each had two turrets.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Cruiser Mk IV 'Crusader'.
UK. 1939.
The most common British multi turret tank, and the only one put into serious mass production, the auxiliary turret of the Crusader was as often as not removed in the field as it was awkward to use and ineffective. Nonetheless, the Crusader had two turrets and thus qualifies.

Tamiya makes this tank as a 1/48 model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Char 2C.
France. 1917.
A monster of a tank, the Char 2c was developed but never used by the French during the First World War. It was produced in few numbers and never saw any real action. The French were rather proud of these great big things and when they realised the Germans were victorious, they destroyed them rather than see them captured (the Germans managed to grab one of them). The Char 2C had two turrets, the second being mounted to the rear of the tank and not visible on the image above.

There is a rumour that the last Char 2C, which was captured by the Germans but then went missing, still exists, hidden away some where in Russia.

BEF Miniatures make a 1/56 scale model of this tank (I've ordered one but it hasn't arrived yet).

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FCM F1.
France. 1940.
Meant to replace the Char 2C, this 140 ton design never got beyond the wishful thinking stage as France was engulfed by Germany before even a prototype could be built. The image above shows a wodden mock up. The FCM F1 would have had two turrets.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Orion Wagon III Prototype
Germany. 1919.
One of Germany's earliest tank designs was the Orion Wagon. An early prototype was built and demonstrated at the same time as the A7V, but failed to win approval from the largely indifferent German High Command. Nonetheless fifty were ordered and sixteen Orion Wagons entered army service, though twenty nine vehicles were produced in total.

The type III prototype was never built. It was designed to carry a 20mm main gun in the forward turret and a maxim gun in the rear turret.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Daimler Benz. Grosstraktor I
Germany. 1929.
Germany wasn't supposed to build tanks in the early 1930's, but they did anyway, and the Grosstraktor was a prototype tank disguised as an agricultural vehicle. The Grosstraktor had two turrets, one fore and one aft.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.
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Neubaufahrzeug.
Germany. 1933.
The Neubaufahrzeug was the end product of Germany's disinterested foray into multiple turret designs. Slow and sluggish they didn't fit with the whole 'Blitzkrieg' idea and although they saw some action in Norway, the few operational Neubaufahrzeug where quickly decommisioned and cannibalised. The Neubaufahrzeug had three turrets.

Die Waffenkammer have a model of a PzKpFw. NbFz.VI Neubaufahrzeug. (I'm in the process of ordering one)

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Landkreuzer P1000 'Ratte'.
Germany. 1942.
Never actually built, the P1000 is the penultimate super heavy tank design (the p1500 would have been bigger) and it represents the closest any one has ever come to a serious attempt to build an HG Wells style land ironclad. Designed by Krupp it never got beyond the Fuhrer-wet-dream stage.

Depending on which image you look at, the P1000 was designed to have at least three turrets. All of them big.

As far as I know, no one makes any model tanks this big for 28mm wargaming.

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T2E2/T5 'Combat Car'.
USA. 1935.
An early variant of the M2 light tank, the T2 was designed for infantry support. Since the cavalry were officially forbidden tanks, their version was known as the T5 'combat car'. The T2/T5 had two turrets.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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T24.
USSR. 1931.
The T24 was a rather unsuccessful medium tank design which was produced in small numbers. It featured a small machine gun turret mounted on top of the tanks main turret.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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T26 twin turret variant.
USSR. 1931.
The T26 was the most produced Soviet tank of the mid war period and some were built with two small turrets bearing machine guns. The T26 bears the usual uncanny resemblance to a Vickers design, in this case the 6 ton Type A.

Army Group North sell this model in 1/56 scale which is widely regarded as suitable for 28mm wargaming.. You can also find it in 1/48 scale, with a single turret at Gasoline.

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T100.
USSR. 1939.
A soviet heavy tank design, the T100 was a multi turret prototype that was scrapped in favour of the KV1 heavy tank. It saw limited trial service in Finland during the Winter War.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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SMK.
USSR. 1939.
Another soviet heavy multi turret tank design, the SMK was also scrapped in favour of the KV1 heavy tank after limited trials in the Winter War against Finland.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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T28.
USSR. 1931.
Similar in design and layout to the Vickers Medium Mk III, the T28 was brought into service and produced in large numbers as a front line medium tank. The T28 had three turrets.

As far as I know, only Army Group North sell this model, in 1/56 scale which is widely regarded as suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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T35.
USSR. 1930.
Probably the most awesome of those multi turret tanks that actually saw service, the T35 is very similar in design and layout to the Vickers A1E1 Independent and though bigger is almost certainly a copy of it. Unlike the British, the Soviets mass produced their five turret heavy tank and though old and out dated by the time Germany attacked Russia, the T35's saw extensive action. Most were lost due to technical and mechanical failure rather than combat.

Gasoline make this tank as a 1/48 scale model and Army Group North sell it in 1/56 scale which is widely regarded as suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Tank Grotte
USSR & Germany. Early 1930's

I don't know much about this tank at all, except that it was designed by a German engineer named Erich Grotte as a light tank bearing heavy weapons. The project appears to have been a joint Soviet and German project, possibly as a means of circumventing the restrictions placed upon Germany after the First World War. I'm actually not even sure if this tank qualifies as a multi turret as I can't tell if the lower turret is a real turret or just a part of the hull that looks like a turret, but never mind, its sufficiently obscure to be worth a mention.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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'Bolshevik Tank'
USSR. 1932.
This is said to be another prototype by Erich Grotte and as you can see from the picture, it was a monster 'landship', weighing over a thousand tonnes, with six turrets, and having a crew of sixty.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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Type 95.
Japan. 1934.
The Japanese weren't really into large tanks, so its no surprise that their only serious multi turret design never got past the prototype stage. The Type 95 had three turrets.

As far as I know, no one makes this tank as a model suitable for 28mm wargaming.

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O-I Tank
Japan. 1945.
I know almost nothing about this tank except that it probably didn't get past the early concept stage, though there is a story that one was built and shipped off to Manchuria. I've seen a few poor sketches of the design mostly on Japanese sites where I can't understand the language (even after Google has translated it) and its supposed to weigh over 100 tons.
The O-I appears to have had either two, three or four turrets depending on the source.

The image shown is of a model sold by World at Arms

Gallery of multi turreted armoured cars

Peerless (UK)


Lanzia IZ.1 (Italy)

Austin Putilov half track (UK & USSR)

Austin Type 3 (UK & USSR)

Sloppy Jalopy make a 1/48 scale Austin Type 3 suitable for 28mm wargaming.

White AEF 4x2 Armored Car (USA)


This post was edited on 20th Feb, 2010 to add the Japanese O-I heavy tank and the Daimler Benz Grosstraktor 1.

This post was edited a second time on 20th Sept, 2011 to update which manufaturers sell which models.

This post was edited a third time on 5th April 2012 to add the Orion Wagon III prototype.

8 comments:

Grimsby Mariner said...

Surly one of the flaws of many multi-turret tanks is the number of crew required to fit in a small space. Tanks are often cramped as it is but needing a crewman for each turret makes life almost impossible on service.
A friend does have a T35 rumbling across the tabletop - 20mm but cannot remember the maker.

Oleg said...

Early heavy tanks had huge crews anyway, but I suspect that this was yet another factor.

By a strange coincidence, I'm briefly very near Newcastle...

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Excellent post - the Neubaufahrzeug is interesting - for 1935 it looked remarkably big when you consider the size of the tanks Germany entered the war with only 4 years later... that looks like a Pz 1 or 2 turret in front of the main turret?? and the main turret reminds me of the Pz IV with the short 75mm - makes you wonder if they were using this as a test bed for other tanks, or whether it just worked out that way... :o)

moif said...

I bet the Germans followed the trend, realised small simpler designs were better and gave up on big complex multi turreted tanks because two guns on two different tanks works better than two guns on one tank.

brando said...

That Wells pic is great. I guess that's what the orc gargants are copies of.

Isak Rousk said...

Im 14 and really interested in ww2. Has any of u guys got some advice about sites (exept wikipedia)

moif said...

Hi Isak

Which aspect of the war do you have in mind? If you are thinking of tanks prior to 1946, then this is one of my favourite sites;

http://mailer.fsu.edu/~akirk/tanks/

Anonymous said...

Bravo for this excellent article!
I did not know there had been much ...

One note: you forgot the Canadian RAM, the first versions were also multi-turret.

Vautour2B