Girls und Panzer – Introducing the Tanks

I tried to refrain from making this post as I would imagine most people reading this stuff aren’t very interested in armored vehicles. But I got some questions on IRC, and happened to remember that I’m still the one paying the bills here while you’re just sticking along for the ride. So like it or not, let me do a somewhat quick introduction on the tanks that have appeared on the show thus far. I’m not a hardcore tankfag, so those from this particular demographic may feel free to correct me if I happen to make any embarrassing factual mistakes.

Ooarai Girls’ Academy

Panzer IV Ausf. D

One of the most famous tanks in the Second World War, the Panzer IV was originally designed to be an infantry-support tank using a short-barreled, low-velocity 75mm gun. The gun was designed to fire high-explosive rounds to destroy smaller fortifications, obstacles, light vehicles, and infantry – in anti-tank role its performance was anything but stellar, but in the original German doctrine the anti-armor role was to be handled by the Panzer III. Panzer IV was produced in numerous variants throughout the war, being constantly upgraded with additional armor and new weapons. It eventually ended up swapping places with PzIII, taking the role of battling other tanks instead of infantry support. This was due to the appearance of the Soviet T-34, one of the most successful tanks of its time, and Panzer IV was deemed a better platform for upgrades in armored warfare than its lighter brother. The variant starring on the show is Ausf. D, which is apparent from the external gun mantlet and the commander’s cupola located at the back of the turret.

As such, Miho and the gang have the pleasure to drive one of the older models that features the original low-velocity gun – although the Ausf. D was the first version of Panzer IV that was tested in the armored warfare role, equipped with a 50mm AT gun. The reason for this was exactly what happened in the fourth episode of the show – the short 75mm gun was found to have great difficulties penetrating heavily armored British tanks. Hopefully the girls’ tank soon gets a gun upgrade it definitely needs, especially if the show is going to feature a Soviet team in the tournament.

Panzer 38(t) Ausf. B/C

Originally a Czech tank designed in the 30’s, the 38(t) ended up serving the German army after Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Axis. Being a pre-war design, it was found obsolete after three years of service, and since it was only produced as a platform for a variety of specialty vehicles, such as the Marder III and Hetzer tank destroyers. It was armed with a 37mm high-velocity gun, which quickly fell behind the development of the tanks it would end up facing in the front – T-34 completely outclassed its capabilities, and the 38(t)’s turret was too small to accommodate sufficiently powerful weapons. 38(t) was notably reliable and easy to maintain. Later in the war it was often used in a recon role, which is probably where it would do best on the show as well.

Type 89 I-Go

Perhaps the less known of the bunch to us Westerners, Type 89 was a medium tank fielded in number by the Imperial Japanese Army in conflicts with China and the Soviet Union, and in the Pacific Theater of the WWII. It was designed by the 20’s medium tank specs as an infantry support tank, and was armed with a 57mm gun intended to destroy fortifications – it proved quite effective against the Chinese in this role. However, it was quickly dwarfed by the development of the Allied armored vehicles and was largely obsolete by the 40’s, performing poorly against the American M4 Sherman tanks in the Pacific. The tank featured on the show is rather unfortunate, with even the 38(t) having more armor and more potent armament – as demonstrated during its encounter with the heavily armored British Matilda II.

StuG III Ausf. F

Of the ragtag Ooarai crew the StuG is the only real anti-tank powerhouse. Based on the Panzer III chassis, the StuG isn’t strictly speaking a tank at all, but an assault gun. It was originally intended as a mobile, armored gun for infantry support that could keep up with the advancing infantry and destroy obstacles such as pillboxes with direct fire from its 75mm low-velocity gun. As an assault gun, the StuG lacks any sort of turret – the gun is mounted on the hull with mounting allowing a 25° field of traverse for minor corrections. It was one of the most produced armored vehicles in the WWII, being highly cost effective and particularly successful in defensive roles. Like the PzIV, it soon deviated from its original purpose of infantry support and was upgunned to become a tank destroyer – a role where its low profile proved very beneficial, making it easy to hide and difficult to hit. Overall, though less notorious than the Panther and the Tiger tanks, the StuG assault guns racked up an impressive toll of kills over the course of the war, and contributed greatly to Germany’s armored power.

The StuG featured on the show is an F-variant, the first line of StuGs that were upgunned for anti-tank roles. Its 75mm anti-tank gun has considerably more penetration than anything else in the Ooarai girls’ arsenal – over twice that of the PzIV’s short 75. Of course, the girls had to go and screw up the StuG’s greatest advantage and fit it with tall flags that made it stand out even more than the freakin’ pink M3.

Medium Tank M3 “Lee”

The pink hunka junk may look like a joke, but as it stands the M3 is the girls’ second in line in terms of anti-tank power. As an early 40’s medium tank, the M3 had a reasonably effective 75mm anti-tank gun and was well armored, but suffered from poor structural design. The main gun was mounted on the left side of the hull, with a small 37mm mounted in a turret on top. This resulted in a high silhouette that the tank was forced to expose to bring the main gun to bear. Its flaws were well understood at the time, but the European theatre was in desperate need for a platform for the 75mm AT gun, and the M3 was an interim solution until M4 production could be cranked up. Soviet tank crews notably hated the lend-leased M3, and it was nicknamed “collective grave for six” in the Red Army service. Later in the war M3’s were modified to fill special roles, such as the potent M7 Priest self-propelled artillery gun.

Unfortunately, the girls on the show apparently haven’t figured to use the actual main gun of the tank, and were only shooting the weaker 37mm’er. And then they abandoned their tank and ran like a bunch of World of Tanks weekend pubbies. Looks like the M3 gets to be the comic relief tank of the show. But let me tell you, grinding through this bastard was no comedy in WoT, its in-game nickname being “The Garbage Truck” for a very good reason.

Performance comparison of Ooarai Team’s tanks

Saint Gloriana Academy

Infantry Tank Mk IV, Churchill VII (A22F)

Named after Winston Churchill, this big boy is the first heavy tank to have been featured on the show. Churchill was one of the heaviest vehicles in the Allied arsenal in the Second World War. It was designed with the battlefield conditions of the First World War in mind, thus featuring a notably long chassis and heavy armor with a comparatively small, fast firing gun for infantry support. As a result it was quite slow, and as its engines were never upgraded together with the various armor and weapon upgrades the design was blessed with over the course of the war, its later variants could only muster a lumbering speed of 20km/h. While it eventually received a 75mm AT gun, the Churchill was somewhat undergunned and unable to fight back effectively when engaged by late war German tanks. However, its upgraded 152mm frontal armor was still respectable, exceeding that of the Tiger I. Churchills were potent in specialty roles – the flamethrower-equipped Crocodile variant was terrifyingly effective at clearing out dug in positions, often prompting bunkers to surrender right off.

The Churchill on the show is a Mark VII, a major upgrade to the earlier models featuring the respectable 152mm frontal plating and often simply called the Heavy Churchill. These variants saw their first action in the invasion of Normandy. On the show its superiority to the Ooarai team was unquestionable, having much heavier armor than any of their tanks save for the StuG could hope to reliably penetrate. Its 75mm’er could easily penetrate both the PzIV and the M3, which is pretty much what indeed happened. However, the scene of the Churchill giving a hot chase was testing the suspension of disbelief given its lumbering speed.

Infantry Tank Mark II.A.* Matilda II Mk III (A12)

As a heavily armored infantry tank, Matilda II was much like the Churchill’s smaller cousin. Intended to support infantry attacks, its top speed was measly 26km/h but the heavy frontal armor made the tank nigh impervious to most AT-guns used by the Germans in the early 40’s – at the time of the North African campaign it was nicknamed the “Queen of the Desert” in honor of its extremely strong turret. The variant on the show appears to be a MkIII – the official site says III/IV, but the IV variant has no turret lamp that is present on the tanks featured. As with Churchill, it’s very unlikely Matildas could have been able to give a chase to the Ooarai team’s PzIV and StuG, as the tank’s slow speed was one of its most memorable features.

Whoa crap, this was supposed to be a quick introduction, but would you look at that. What can I say, I love sperging. Next week’s tournament battle seems to be featuring Americans, judging from all the Shermans on the preview. Maybe I’ll puke out another post then.

PS. Every time you lose a round in WoT, cute girls will have to do the Anglerfish dance.

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  1. Posted November 1, 2012 at 06:13 | Permalink

    I’m sure that every liberty is going to be taken by the writing team to drive the results in desirable way, including major butt-kicking of superior force. Type-89 was decimated by BT-7s and T-26s for crying out loud.

    • NovaJinx
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 08:23 | Permalink

      Likely yes, though that’s one reason I’m looking forward to it – it’s going to take quite a bit of creativity to write this team to victory. A single KV could wipe the floor with them, not to mention T-34.

  2. Lime
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 19:46 | Permalink

    I never thought tank battles could be so fun. Either that, or the studio is doing an excelent job with the anime. All I know is that this is probably one of my favourites this season.

    Also, wow. Type 89 is the weakest of the bunch in every possible way. I wonder how it’ll be useful for the team.

One Trackback

  • […] for more information about the tanks we’ve seen in the show, Jinx has put together a nice primer on their capabilities, shortcomings, and strengths. I found it a good read, and more information is fun for the show, […]

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