Hey everyone! Many people assume the Chinese TDs are completely fake, and that "FT" stands for "fake tank", but it might surprise you to learn that there are some historical vehicles in this line after all. In addition to discussing those, I'll mention a couple of real tanks that could have been used in the line at various points.
Information on this subject is very limited, with arguments for many vehicles solely existing as renders for them of unknown origin. I'll try to properly quantify how much we know of each vehicle.
First, a quick aside. "FT" is short for 反坦克炮 fantankepao, which roughly translates to "anti-tank gun". It does not mean "fake tank", nor is it a carryover from the Renault FT (with that vehicle, "FT" was a meaningless codename).
As always, a summary will be at the bottom.
Tier 1: NC-31
REAL TANK, 10 produced
This is one of the intermediate prototype designations of the Char D1.
After WWI, France had an enormous number of Renault FTs in their possession, and even after selling all they could, they still had over 2,600 vehicles left. Rather than scrap them as the British had done with their own leftover tanks, the French kept them in service, maintaining an organic tank strength of over 1,200 tanks. In these peacetime conditions, certain flaws became clear, namely their poor top speed, which necessitated having a separate vehicle tow it to where it needs to go. Therefore, France considered a few solutions, such as upgrading them with a half-track suspension. In 1923, Renault was given the green light to pursue their own solution, the Renault NC.
They began by building two separate prototypes. This upgrade was primarily meant to improve the suspension and engine on the Renault FT, with the early NC2 model having both tracks and a pair of steel wheels on the nose of the tank. The NC1 had a more standard vertical volute spring suspension system (VVSS), which allowed a top speed of 18.5 km/h. A few NC1s were sold abroad, notably to Sweden, Japan, Poland (maybe), and Greece. In 1929, France decided it needed a brand new infantry support tank, rather than simply an upgrade program for their existing FTs, and Renault proposed their NC1 tank. This was accepted and the vehicle was improved until a final pre-production series of 10 vehicles was ordered in 1931 – factory designation NC31.
The problem is, I can't find any records of China ever getting their hands on any version of the Char D1. The NC31 was very much a real tank, a thoroughly documented one at that, but there's no evidence that China ever acquired any.
It is a bit surprising that Wargaming opted to use this as the Chinese tier 1 – perhaps it was to avoid it being identical to the French Renault FT, instead of just very similar.
Tier 2: T-26G FT
NO EVIDENCE OF EXISTENCE
The Chinese did use T-26s, and they definitely saw combat, but there is no evidence that China ever tried converting it to a casemate TD.
The curious thing is that they had a more interesting, potentially historical candidate for tier 2:
Tier 2 Alternative: UE-37
In 1936, China ordered 10 UE tanks from France equipped with a 7.7mm machine gun. Due to political pressure from Japan, they only arrived in 1940, at which point China ordered 200 more, modified with an external mount for the machine gun. At least 20 of these modified versions were received and saw combat in the war.
This modified version (
image) looks visually similar to the T-26G FT, and was clearly used as an inspiration.
The argument is that China could've equipped a 37mm gun on top of the modified UE, thus making a UE-37. In the late 1930s they purchased hundreds of German 3.7cm Pak 35/36s, and in 1940 they began building their own copies. This exact conversion was actually performed by the Germans with the UE-57s they captured, so it is certainly possible. At the very least, it would be as historical as the tier 1.
Tier 3: M3G FT
This is one of the most loosely sourced tanks here. According to FTR:
"SerB posted a picture of such a thing long time ago – so this one is legit, can’t find it for some reason"
The Chinese did have plenty of M3 Stuarts that could have been adapted. It appears that this vehicle's model is inspired by the Russian
Tier 4: SU-76G FT
REAL TANK (sort of)
This surprised me, but there is exactly one source for it: an old grainy photograph in the Chinese Tank Museum in Beijing (
image). This is visually different from what we have in-game, particularly the superstructure's sides, but the gun mantlet is kinda close and the modified frontal armor is correct. The details of this tank's existence are not known, and likely never will be, but the Chinese did in fact modify the SU-76.
5>) It is quite likely that this was used as a training vehicle, and that other modifications exist.
Tier 5: 60G FT
NO EVIDENCE OF EXISTENCE
This is supposed to be a TD based on the Russian AT-T tractor, which has the T-54's suspension. However, there is no evidence that China acquired these vehicles or ever considered making such a modification. The AT-T was mass-produced eight years before the Type 59, which was China's domestically produced version of that suspension, but it's hard to argue why this sort of tank would exist.
Once again, there is a more historically accurate option:
Tier 5 Alternative: LVT-4 Water Buffalo
This is an amphibious APC built by the Americans in 1943 and given to the Chinese via the lend-lease program. In its default configuration, it is very ill-suited for tier 5 as it is large, very lightly armored (6-14mm all around), slow (top speed of 28 km/h), and only armed with machine guns. However, the Chinese modified these to equip 57mm and 76mm guns, which would put it well within the capabilities of lower tier TDs. It would likely require some unhistorical modifications, such as the addition of an 85mm gun, but it could work at tier 5. 6>)
Tier 6: WZ-131G FT
NO EVIDENCE OF EXISTENCE
Again, no evidence for this vehicle exists. The Type 62, which this is based on, was built in 1963, many years after casemate TDs had fallen out of favor.
Interestingly, Bangladesh converted 22 Type 62s into 105mm SPGs, which could've potentially been used for this tank. 8>)
Tier 7: T-34-2G FT
Tier 8: WZ-111-1G FT
Tier 9: WZ-111G FT
Tier 10: WZ-113G FT
NO EVIDENCE OF EXISTENCE
Here I thought I'd just abbreviate the rest of the line. Everything else here appears to be completely fictional. Sketches for some of these tanks exist (link), but they are very likely artist renditions.
This line is not very historical, with large swaths of vehicles of dubious accuracy. Past tier 4, there is no evidence of a single one of these vehicles existing.
Even if tank destroyers based on these platforms were required, it's very unlikely they would be anything like they appear in-game. These are clearly inspired by the Soviet casemate TDs, but those were primarily designed in the 40s and early 50s. China's domestic tank production didn't really take off until the late 50s, by which point casemate TDs were completely out of date.
To the credit of the artists who designed these, they are very convincing-looking tanks and do present a natural progression. In some alternate reality where casemate TDs remained popular, we could've seen vehicles that looked a lot like these.
Can you make a historical Chinese TD line? Yes, but you have to stretch the definition of TD a bit. This excellent article by "genfunk" details exactly what a line would look like: a variety of APCs, AA vehicles, and Cold-War era TDs cobbled together into a turreted TD line. I really recommend taking a look at their proposal – although some significant liberties have to be taken with their guns, this is far from uncommon in World of Tanks, and they would fit into the game pretty nicely. If you'd like, I can make a second post about this. I could definitely see Wargaming adding these as a second turreted TD line, after they get around to adding a Russian turreted TD line.
Source: Original link
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