I’m Károly Németh, a.k.a. Karika, a Hungarian military historian and in this article I would like to share something interesting with you, WoT community members. Today, we will take a look at the Straussler Main Battle Tank, a never before published armored fighting vehicle concept from the Cold War.
Recently I did an in-depth study of its designer, Nicholas Straussler, a Hungarian born British inventor, automotive and military vehicle designer. During this research I have found this rather interesting concept of a tank lying forgotten in the archives of the Bovington Tank Museum.
TL;DR: Here’s tank concept with outstanding mobility, an autoloading 120mm gun and probably paper armor which could be a tier 10 Hungarian TD in World of Tanks.
Disclaimer: I cannot publish the original, not too detailed blueprint for copyright reasons, so I created this basic, low polygon 3D model to give you an idea how this tank supposed to look like. This is just my artistic impression of the Straussler MBT, and it is not 100% correct, mostly because of the lack of details at some parts of the blueprints. I used this model to calculate some of the missing characteristics that are not mentioned in the description.
At first, let’s say a few words about its designer.
Nicholas Peter Sorrel Straussler (1891-1966) was born as Straussler Miklós in Isaszeg, a small town not far from Budapest, in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. As an adolescent he was sent to England to study and after college, he settled in London as a self-employed consultant engineer and inventor. In the 1920’s, he patented at least 20 inventions, and soon after, he founded his own company, which constructed collapsible boats and pontoon bridges – for example for the British Army.
In 1933 he got the British citizenship and in the same year, he purchased a small workshop and started to build the prototypes of his first vehicles. Through the 1930’s, he designed and prototyped many prime movers, artillery tractors, trucks/lorries alongside with a few armored cars and tank designs with moderate commercial success. For mass productions, he usually teamed up with larger factories, such as Alvis Ltd. (a British car and aero engine manufacturer) or the Weiss Manfréd Rt. (the largest Hungarian industrial firm at the time) to name a few.
Back in 1932, he laid out the first ever purpose designed armored car of the world, the Straussler AC-1, as every other armored car before that were converted from regular cars or trucks. Most British and foreign armored car designs followed his 4×4, independent suspension with rear engine configuration later on. In the second half of the 1930’s, further developed versions of this armored car design were used by the Royal Air Force in Aden and Mandatory Palestine (Alvis-Straussler Type A), by the Dutch East-Indies Armies and the Portuguese Army (AC-3D) and by the Royal Hungarian Army (39M Csaba) before and during the Second World War.
The Straussler AC-1 (top), the Dutch AC-3D (middle) and the Hungarian 39M Csaba (bottom)
In the mid 1930’s his own, quite unorthodox wheel-cum tank design was prototyped as well. Different variants of this tank were tested by the British Army, the Soviet Red Army, the Dutch, the Polish Armies, and one was even sent to Japan. At the end, none of these countries accepted Straussler’s tank, mostly due to mechanical unreliability and some design flaws.
Straussler’s Light Tank on trials in the USSR (top) and a later prototype produced for Poland (bottom).
A variant of his tank design was built by the Weiss Manfréd for the Hungarian Army too under the name of V-3. This, and its further development, the V-4 were the first Hungarian made tanks, and the V-4 was the first tank on the European continent which performed a river crossing by itself with the help of attachable pontoons, designed by Straussler of course. However, in 1938 the V-4 fall behind the Swedish L-60 light tank (the predecessor of the later Toldi light tank family) during their comparative trials and the V-4 never entered service in Hungary.
During WWII, Straussler ceased to design vehicles – apart from one exception – and focused his genius to solve an important problem: how to make an easily useable amphibious equipment for existing tanks?
He presented his solution, the Duplex Drive or DD equipment for the British Army in late 1940. His idea was to create a canvas screen around a regular tank, held in place by inflatable tubes and metal bracing which enabled the tank to float. This was supplemented with a propeller powered by the engine of the tank to drive it in water.
This was one of the most well-known inventions of Straussler, which became famous during the Normandy landings where a number of Sherman DD tanks swam ashore on D-Day by themselves.
After the war, Straussler continued to improve his DD equipment and in the 1950’s, he patented the Lypsoid tire, which had extremely good off-road capabilities. He also designed a large number of various light, air portable vehicle designs for airborne units. Only one of these designs entered service, which became the FN AS 24 collapsible paratroop trike in the Belgian Army.
Vehicles with Straussler’s Lypsoid tire: the AS 24 (top), a West German FAUN Kraftkarren (Kraka) military quad (middle) and an experimental Straussler-made truck chassis (bottom) with Nicholas Straussler himself on the left.
He also designed a large number of other transport and armored fighting vehicles at this time, but as he was more occupied with the DD and Lypsoid related designs, and because he could not find a sponsor for these projects, none of these left the drawing board. One of these paper designs was the Straussler Main Battle Tank or Straussler MBT, which was designed sometime between 1959-1961. This idea of „the ideal tank” was presented to the leaders of the British Army in 1961, but they were not interested in this rather unconventional and unproven design, and insisted on continuing the existing next generation tank project, which later became the Chieftain main battle tank.
The Straussler Main Battle Tank
If you take a look at the appearance of the Straussler MBT, it’s visible that this ambitious, turretless tank was certainly influenced by the Swedish Strv. 103, but carried over some parts of Straussler’s former works, e.g. the upgraded, duplicated, hydraulic version of the unique Straussler-type wheel-cum suspension from the 1930’s.
Straussler’s vision of an “extremely simple” and “well-sprung” suspension…
The basic idea behind this tank was the mount the strongest available AT gun of the time cooperated with an automatic loading mechanism in the smallest and lightest vehicle possible. With this, it would have been a relatively cheaper alternative for the existing Centurion and Conqueror tanks, which however would still be able to knock out Soviet armor if a conflict broke out.
Additionally – following Straussler’s rather obsolete ideal – it would have been able to travel both on tracks, and if it’s necessary for greater distances, on its wheels as well. To achieve this, the central 4 rollers would have been hydraulically lifted, so the tank could travel onwards without its tracks on its outer 4 driven roadwheels. This would also mean that the MBT would have been able to move even if the tracks were damaged.
Straussler MBT in tracked and trackless travel modes
With the addition of Straussler’s patented Duplex Drive equipment, the Straussler MBT would also have been amphibious. Whereas this equipment blocked the view for all of the vision ports, the crew could probably only use the common periscope for lookout.
Hull length: 4550 mm (calculated)
Length with gun: 6850 mm (calculated)
Width: 3150 mm
Height: 1700 mm
Track width: 600 mm
Crew: 2, Commander/Gunner and Driver.
- 120mm L1 with autoloader
- 6 round magazines
- 31 rounds of ammunition. 5 complete magazines and one round already loaded. According to the description, there’s room for more ammo inside the tank if necessary.
Gun depression, elevation: -6°-+10° (calculated)
Horizontal gun arc: 10-10° (calculated)
- 4 heavy or light machine guns in two remote controlled mini-turrets on the mudguards. (Not visible on the blueprints, so I had to use my imagination on the model).
- Additional anti-tank guided missile system can be mounted on the top of the vehicle.
Weight: 25 tons (26 t with the Duplex Drive apparatus)
Engine: Unspecified 700 to 800 HP multifuel or Wankel type engine. Another option was two smaller engines with similar power output.
Power to weight: 28-32 HP/t
- 65 km/h on tracks
- 80 km/h on wheels
Armor: no data
Implementation into World of Tanks
Even though its designation says ‘Main Battle Tank’, if the Straussler MBT would be implemented into the game, it would definitely be a tank destroyer, because another turretless main battle tank, the Strv. 103 is already that on the top of the Swedish TD line.
Also, some could argue that this is a British tank; therefore it should be placed in the British tree in the game as well. This is absolutely correct. The Straussler MBT was designed by a British citizen for the British Army.
However, in my opinion the Straussler MBT has an extremely limited chance to become a British tank destroyer in World of Tanks, since there are a number of other, also not that well known but maybe better suited, more interesting British paper designs for the same role. Moreover, the chances to get yet another, third UK TD branch in the foreseeable future are next to minimal.
Therefore I suggest this tank to be the tier 10 candidate of the (otherwise impossible) Hungarian tech tree, which would possibly look like this:
The reason for this is because:
- a) The Straussler MBT had a very loose connection to it through its creator, who was born in Hungary, and maintained close connections to his fatherland throughout his whole life. He would also be represented in the Hungarian branch anyway, with the bottom tier V-3 and/or V-4 light tanks.
- b) The number of remaining tech tree content for WoT is extremely limited, especially the full, tier 1-10 lines. With the Straussler MBT on top, the Hungarian tech tree would become a “new” viable option for the future. Without it, the Hungarian tanks will probably never make it into the game, or maybe only as premium tanks.
- c) The theoretical Hungarian tree desperately needs top tier vehicles. The pre-war and WWII content for the Hungarian tree is suitable to make a full light-medium tank line and a partial tank destroyer line from tier 1 up to tier 7. But Hungary has nothing to offer for the top 8-9-10 tiers other than a yet another T-54/T-55 clone, which would still be the same as the one in WoT already anyway. With the addition of the Straussler MBT, the Hungarian tree still lacks a proper tier 8 and 9 candidate, but least it would have an interesting vehicle on top.
- d) It would made the possibility of implementation more likely, which might open an opportunity for further research in this topic.
In World of Tanks
Let’s see how the abovementioned raw data would translate into WoT.
Dimensions: The Straussler MBT would have been a rather small vehicle. To put those numbers in a perspective, it roughly had the same height as the AMX ELC bis, but the MBT would have been much wider and longer than that. The closest thing for it in game is probably the size of the hull of the Bat.-Châtillon 25 t (without its turret).
The size of the Straussler MBT compared to the 170 cm (5,6 ft) tall Mr. Pink.
Firepower: The Straussler MBT’s main armament is quite similar to the 120mm guns on the British tier 9 and 10 heavy tanks, the Conqueror and the FV215b or on the tier 9 turreted TD, the FV4004 Conway. In the game, the MBT would basically get that 120mm gun with a 3 round autoloader, because the tanks in WoT usually get the halved magazine sizes of their real life counterparts. It would certainly make this rapid, small and probably very stealthy vehicle a serious threat in WoT.
The additional ATGM can be neglected, as it was just an optional supplement.
Mobility: With those stats, this tank would be as mobile as a light tank.
Protection: Unfortunately, Straussler did not bother to write anything about the protection values of his creation in its description… But considering the low weight of the project, in my opinion its armor probably would be as thin as on a light tank.
Conclusion: In WoT the Straussler MBT would be a very small, stealthy, and rather nimble tier 10 tank destroyer, which could still deliver quite a punch with its 120mm, three shot autoloader, which means decent penetration and 1200 average damage per magazine with the current values. However, to balance this, it probably offers little to no protection against incoming enemy fire.