12 September 2018
T54E1: The Gunslinger
The T54E1 is a prototype design of an improved version of the M48 Patton, incorporating an oscillating turret and improved firepower. This highly requested piece of American experimental tech will be joining the ranks of the U.S. ground forces tree with the release of the upcoming update 1.81 “The Valkyries”!
Briefly: An experimental upgraded version of the M48 Patton, equipped with an oscillating turret, a modified 105mm gun and an autoloading mechanism.
No sooner than the M48 Patton began being issued to armored units, American engineers already started working on potential improvements to its design. In particular, engineers focused on upgrading the vehicle’s firepower. This in turn, lead to the creation of the T54, a new vehicle based on the M48’s chassis.
Initially, two versions of prototypes were planned, but a lighter and cheaper third one was proposed in 1952. All three versions of the T54 were armed with a modified version of the T5 105mm gun, but featured different turrets and gun loading methods. The T54E1 was the second prototype, equipped with an oscillating turret similar to the ones found on contemporary French tanks, and a drum-fed autoloading mechanism with a capacity of 9 rounds.
By 1957, all three prototype versions had undergone comprehensive testing at Fort Knox and the Aberdeen proving grounds. However, as the interest of the Army shifted towards the more promising T95 project, the decision was made to cancel the T54 project in 1957. A total of less than a dozen T54s were constructed, of which two were T54E1s.
In War Thunder, the T54E1 will be a new premium vehicle available to American tank commanders upon release of the upcoming update 1.81 “The Valkyries”. Unlike all other vehicles, the T54E1 offers a truly unique experience within the American ground forces tree, combining some familiar features with exotic new ones.
The most striking new feature of the T54E1 is undoubtedly its oscillating turret. Although something French tankers are more than familiar with, this should come as a true novelty to their American colleagues. As a matter of fact, the T54E1 will be the first American tank in the game to feature a turret configuration of this type.
Unlike some French counterparts however, the T54E1 has a lot tougher frontal turret armor. Going up to a thickness of 127mm sloped back at an angle of 60 degrees, the T54E1 can easily withstand hit after hit if positioned correctly.
Arguably more important is, what tankers will find underneath all that tough armor plating. In the case of the T54E1, this will be a 105mm cannon backed up by a 9-round autoloading mechanism, replacing a human loader. The cannon itself, although it may not be apparent at first, should be somewhat familiar to veteran American tankers. It’s a derivative version of the T5 cannon found on tanks like the T29 and T95, modified to fire single-piece ammunition. This was primarily done to keep the autoloading mechanism relatively simple and allow for a fast rate of fire.
Besides the high rate of fire, the modified cannon also has a much more flexible selection of ammunition types for tankers to choose from. Ranging from conventional AP rounds over sub-caliber shot to chemical warheads, the T54E1 will always have the appropriate ammo at hand for any given situation. In addition to the main gun, the T54E1 is also equipped with the standard American machine gun duo consisting of a single 7.62mm mounted coaxially and a 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun mounted on the commander’s cupola.
Although the T54E1 is based on the M48’s chassis, the much more heavier turret, gun and autoloading mechanism led to a significant weight increase of over 8 tons compared to base model. As the original 810 horsepower petrol engine is still used on the T54E1, future commanders of this machine should expect a negative effect on mobility as a result of the increased weight.
The T54E1 will become available with the release of update 1.81 “The Valkyries” as a rank V premium vehicle, purchasable in-game with golden eagles. Until then, stay tuned to the news for more information regarding War Thunder’s next major update. Happy hunting, commanders!