Perhaps some of you heard, but there are some unsubstantiated rumors that in late 2021 or early 2022 we might see a Vickers and/or Chieftain branch of tanks added to the game (finally). But what might this theoretical branch look like? Do we really need another generic line of cold war mediums alongside the Centurion, Patton, and AMX 30B? As for the Chieftain, if I recall WG has said the tank itself is less of an issue so much as finding preceding vehicles in a potential branch. I disagree with this notion, but whatever.
So how might these vehicles be implemented into the game, then? Remember this is only a rumor. It might just be wishful thinking. But I believe it’s absolutely possible to add these vehicles to the game, and we might be able to improve the British tech tree as a whole while we’re at it.
Part 1: Fellowship Of The Comet
The biggest of my proposed changes is down-tiering the Centurion tanks. We’ll get into that later, but for now this leaves us the issue of the Comet. It’s a fun tank and a historically significant one. I would hate to see it removed from the tree and made into a collector’s vehicle to make way for a Tier VII Centurion.
Instead, let’s split the medium tank branch. The Centurions will have their own branch, and we can extend the Comet branch to Tier X. But what are these vehicles? How will they play?
In essence, they will be comparable to the Swedish heavy tanks. Except they trade turret armor for mobility, and instead of autoloaders they have auto-reloaders. But let’s go into some more detail.
Guns: 20pdr Type A, 20pdr Type B (auto-reloaders)
This was an experimental vehicle built in 1968 by Fighting Vehicle Research, Development and Establishment (FVRDE). This particular vehicle was designed to demonstrate the capabilities of an externally mounted main weapon and attached autoloading mechanism. The advantage of a small silhouette and high depression angles was offset by the limited size of the autoloader, and how easily the structure and ammunition could be damaged.
The chassis is a Comet, so the Comet’s mobility and engine modules can carry over from Tier VII. In exchange the vehicle gets a small if fragile turret, high depression angles (an unmodified Comet already gets -12), and of course the auto-reloader. This vehicle might be compared to the Progetto M46, except being, y’know, not a premium. Therefore it can be better balanced. The 20pdr would naturally deal less damage (84mm vs 90mm) but it can receive some penetration advantages instead.
Guns: 20pdr Type B, Experimental 105mm Gun X15, Royal Ordnance 105mm L7 (auto-reloaders)
This was an experimental design in 1950 by FVRDE for a cleft turret mounted to a Centurion chassis. To my knowledge this design never left the drawing board.
A cleft turret removes the gun from the fighting compartment of the turret, removing the roof as an obstacle in gun depression. As the gun is outside of the turret, the turret itself can also be reduced in size and weight. But like with oscillating turrets, the issue then becomes gun elevation and not depression. The crew is also separated, making loading and communication difficult. For such a design, an external autoloader becomes essential, although strictly speaking such a design doesn’t outright need one. The “48 ton” additive is simply the estimated weight of the vehicle.
This vehicle would play more similarly to the current Centurion 7/1 and basically use the same weapons and modules. However, I’ve added the X15, which is the prototype of the L7. The L7 itself hadn’t been fielded by the time this design by FVRDE was made. The main difference is that this tank has an auto-reloader and increased gun depression. While the turret is heavily slanted, I would expect it to be relatively unarmored, and only provide effective protection when the gun is at maximum depression.
Guns: 120mm L11 (auto-reloaders)
The cleft turret design had dropped off in the early 1950s but was picked back up again during the development of the L7 and L11 tank guns. The idea was that a new gun would require a new turret, although not as a replacement for conventional turrets but rather as a mere improvement. As part of the cleft turret explorations made by FVRDE, they made several designs for where and how to best mount the turret on the chassis, particularly relative to the engine. A Chieftain chassis was considered ideal for prototyping, although this didn’t materialize.
The Cleft FV4201 is much the same as the previous FVRDE 48 t, except scaled up. I imagine this vehicle statistically like the Italian Carro 45 t, but with worse mobility, and better gun handling and depression. I have it classified as a medium tank, but it’s really more of an unarmored heavy tank in that regard. I would expect it to play more like a fragile Kranvagn, as the AMX 50B plays like a more fragile T57 Heavy.
Part 2: Return Of The Centurion
Now for the Centurion branch. The biggest change is that they all lose armor and mobility (a nerf), reducing them to historical levels like how they were when they were first introduced. But in exchange they also get dropped a tier and keep all their guns relatively unchanged, except for maybe the DPM. As a result, tier-for-tier they have the best guns and gun handling of their peers, but exist on rather mediocre platforms.
They don’t necessarily become glass cannons, but they definitely become more fragile than they already are. The biggest change will be seen with the Centurion AX, which loses its mobility and sees a strong nerf to its turret. I renamed the vehicle to the Centurion 10, thinking it would use the AX turret as a stock option and a new Centurion Mk. 10 turret for the top option, although this should by no means be considered concrete.
The new Centurion 10 will also get the Experimental 110mm gun, which I imagine might behave similar to the gun of the current Centurion AX but with a straight alpha buff. In addition to a stock 105mm L7A1, there is also the Rh-105-40 which the actual Centurion Mk. 10 uses, and may simply be a renaming of the present Centurion AX’s gun.
The result of this change to the Centurion branch is that they become more historically authentic while remaining well-balanced for their new tiers. We can also bring in the Firefly from the collector’s vehicles and make it part of the tech tree again.
But this does mean we need a new Tier X…
Gun: 120mm L11A5 / Crew: 4
Also known as the Aluminum Chieftain, the FV4211 was an experimental Chieftain Mk. 5 built out of aluminum instead of steel. Additional aluminum plates were added around the vehicle in a sort of “cage” to contain new composite chobham armor.
However, without the composite armor, these aluminum plates are basically just spaced armor, which is how I would like to see it in the game.
But this isn’t ordinary spaced armor. While it would have to be very thin on account of the aluminum, the plates would be extremely separated. The turret side armor modules, for example, would be around 14 inches (355mm) from the turret itself in some places. Imagine a paper-thin Chieftain with a bunch of empty lunch boxes bolted over it. So while both the turret and the spaced armor would be extremely thin, given how the game calculates spaced armor this would provide some temperamental protection.
In practice, HEAT would have a hard time penetrating except where the gaps in the armor are the thinnest and it would basically be immune to HE. AP and APCR would likely have little problem and easily penetrate the hull. A FV4211 would suffer from the same issues as the new Centurions as being a rather mediocre platform, but now it has some troll armor. In exchange it gets perhaps one of the best guns in the game. I imagine its handling would be comparable to the Leopard 1’s, except it’s a 120mm instead of a 105mm, and it gets all the benefits that entails.
Part 3: The Replacements
But let’s say you don’t want the Centurions to change. Maybe you like them as they already are. Okay, sure. So that’s where the Vickers branch comes in. In their historical configurations, they are essentially the current Centurion branch in terms of guns, mobility, and armor. In fact they might be a little faster in some cases. Let’s see what we got here.
To begin with, the Covenantor and Crusader both drop a tier. They were originally at Tier IV and Tier V respectively, before the addition of the Manticore and the rest of the high-tier british lights. So we should be able to push them down a tier with no problem.
Guns: 75mm Gun Mk. V, 75mm Vickers HV, OQF 77mm Gun Mk. 1 / Crew: 3
As I understand it, the FV301 was a redesign of the A46 light tank to fit with changing norms regarding British tank development. Otherwise I can’t say I’ve been able to find out much about it. The two tanks are rather similar, except the FV301 is a little more mobile. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this vehicle. I would think it would be easily comparable to the T37.
In any case, the FV301 is a logical starting point for the Vickers branch of medium tanks, as its design would be a direct influence on every vehicle in the branch.
Guns: OQF 77mm Gun Mk. 1, OQF 77mm Gun Mk. V, OQF 17pdr Mk. VII / Crew: 3
Although commonly mistaken for the FV301, the Medium Cruiser was nonetheless a further development of the FV301. The vehicle was designed for export although it would never go anywhere beyond the mockup stage. It was also estimated to weigh only 33 tons.
In practice, the tank is a slightly worse Comet. It should see a 17pdr as a better weapon than the 77mm gun, but it is slower and worse armored. More of a fat light tank than a medium tank, but it could be either class really. The tank is a bit of a dud in all honesty, but it’s a necessary stepping stone to the real interesting parts of the line.
Guns: OQF 17pdr Mk. VII, OQF 20pdr Type A, OQF 20pdr Type B / Crew: 4
This 24-ton tank was technically designed as a light tank, being a simplified Centurion with minimal armor and intended for export. However, with the introduction of the 105mm L7, the tank was deemed to be too underpowered for the combat role and too large for reconnaissance. This design would be reworked into the Vickers MBT.
This tank can be thought of as a “Centurion Lightweight”. It’s basically the same thing as the current Centurion, just a bit smaller. There is also a version of this tank with the 105mm L7A1, which could make for a decent Tier X light tank.
Guns: OQF 20pdr Type B, Royal Ordnance 105mm L7A1 / Crew: 4
As the 24-ton tank was being redesigned into the Vickers MBT, India became interested in purchasing a new tank (the Indien-Pz. was dropped in favor of the Vickers design). The previous tank would be redesigned with consideration for India, resulting in several different prototypes. The end product would be a cheaper and arguably better Centurion.
In-game, there’s a lot of models for WG to choose from. There are several pre-production prototypes, the Mk. 1, and the Mk. 2. This vehicle may be a combination of all of them. On paper it’s basically a 1-for-1 copy of the current Centurion 7/1. All that would really change is the vehicle’s model.
Gun: Royal Ordnance 105mm L7A2 / Crew: 4
The final Vickers MBT variant before composite armor would be introduced with the Mk. 4 variant. This vehicle took proposals from the Mk. 2 and is a direct improvement over the Mk. 1, including a new turret and increased ammunition capacity.
As with the other tanks in this branch, this is largely just a remodel of the current Centurions. Some stats might change a little bit, but in practice these are direct replacements with no practical differences between them.
Mind, this is all speculation. I’ve at least outlined a possibility for how WG is to add a Vickers and/or Chieftain branch into the game, if they are indeed seriously considering it. But this way, you get two Chieftains instead of just one! Additionally the tanks become more historically authentic in how they’re represented, which is always a plus.