Friday, April 10, 2015

VK30.02(DB) - Panzerkampfwagen V

On 25 November 1941, the Waffenamt ordered Daimler-Benz and MAN to develop the tank that subsequently became known as the Panther. During 1942, the MAN design was accepted for production, but in the meantime, Daimler-Benz had partially completed their VK30.02 (DB) prototype. This vehicle closely followed the layout of the Russian T-34, with its turret far forward. Daimler again offered one of their own engines, the MB507 diesel. Drive was to the rear sprocket. Suspension was leaf-spring operating on paired bogie wheels, but other forms of suspension were considered.

In contrast to the MAN designs Daimler-Benz produced their VK 30.02 (DB) prototype with a diesel engine, rear drive and leaf springs instead of torsion bars. One advantage of this design however was the fact that the installation of the MB 507 diesel engine considerably reduced the danger of fire and, because of its higher torque and a more satisfactory torque curve in the lower speed range, a higher tractive power was available. By fitting the transmission at the rear of the vehicle and in the smallest possible space, there was a larger area available for the installation of the gun, which allowed for a choice of calibres. The external leaf springs were easily accessible and permitted a larger internal height or a lower overall height. Before building began and in order to study the problem of rear-sprocket drive, the VK 30.01 (DB), which was of course already running, had superimposed steering gears fitted and steering controls modified to test the ideas evolved for the VK 30.02 (DB). With hydraulic steering action remote control was possible and the driver could even be accommodated in the turret cage.

Total weight of the VK 30.02 (DB) was 34 tons and it had a maximum speed of 54 kph. A constant-mesh Maybach Olvar eight-speed gearbox was fitted, controlled by multi-clutch plates worked by oil pressure. The clutch was of the hydraulically operated multi-disc type. The same system was adopted for the clutch steering. For spot turns the inner track was fully locked and the machine turned on its track. The bogies (bogies and return rollers were planned) were similar to those of the Russian T-34 and, because of the shortage of materials at that time, the wheels were without rubber tyres. Each pair of bogies was secured by a leaf spring. Prototypes of these vehicles were actually built and tested with the Daimler-Benz MB 507 diesel engine installed, but the contract which had been given to Daimler-Benz for 200 VK 30.02 (DB) type vehicles was actually withdrawn.

On 18th July 1941 Rheinmetall-Borsig received a contract to develop a tank gun which could penetrate 140 mm of armour at a range of 1000 metres. This firm was authorised at the same time to design an armoured turret for the VK 30.02 which was able to take this main armament. At the beginning of 1942 a test barrel L/60 was fired, whose performance nearly came up to the specification. Then a barrel length of L/70 was chosen and a delivery date in June 1942 was promised. This armament was intended for use in the VK 30.02 as well as in the VK 45.01 (Henschel) and VK 36.02 designs. The first version of the weapon had a spherical, single baffle muzzle brake which was later replaced by a double baffle brake.

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