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VK 30.02 (M): The Cub Roars

The VK 30.02 (M) is the prototype design of what would eventually become the legendary PzKpfw V ‘Panther’ tank. In the next major War Thunder update, fans of German military vehicles will have the chance to add the earliest iteration of the Panther tank to their collection and take this prototype out into actual battle!

Briefly: The experimental version of the renown German Panther tank, featuring improved mobility over production models at the expense of thinner armor.

VK 30.02 (M), medium tank, Germany, rank III

Features:

  • Hard-hitting 75mm cannon
  • Superb mobility
  • Less well-protected compared to later production models
  • Low turret traverse speed
  • Slow reverse speed
History

By the beginning of 1942, German engineers began work on developing a new medium tank to succeed the existing Panzer III and IV tanks. While specifications were set out by the German military, the MAN and Daimler-Benz companies competed against each other to come up with a suitable design to fulfill the set specifications.

While Daimler-Benz’s project received the designation VK 30.02 (D) and resembled the design and layout of a Soviet T-34, MAN’s VK 30.02 (M) took the more traditional approach to German tank design, thus also managing to better fulfill the requirements laid out by the military. As a result of this, MAN was declared the winner of the competition in May resulting in two test chassis being manufactured in September and October respectively.

While the first chassis didn’t receive a turret, the second platform did and thus resembled more the design approved initially in May. Almost immediately after construction of the second chassis had successfully concluded, in November, engineers handed over the prototype for testing.

During comparative tests, MAN’s design justified the formerly received confidence of the German military as it outperformed Daimler-Benz’s prototype in many key aspects. Although it quickly became clear that MAN’s design would be the one to enter production, it was also evident that the design required improvements in some areas, such as protection. With the test results in mind, MAN modified the design further and eventually launched the vehicle’s production in January 1943 with the first variant - the PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. D.

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In War Thunder, the VK 30.02 (M) will be a new addition complementing the impressive array of German experimental vehicles found in the game. Representing the early design stage of the already familiar Panther, the VK 30.02 (M) completes the famous medium tank’s design history in the game by joining the ranks of the German ground forces tree as part of the next major update!

Despite sharing many similarities with the subsequent first production model - the venerable Panther Ausf. D - the VK 30.02 (M) does possess several notable differences which make it stand out from later production variants of the Panther. For instance, while the vehicle’s firepower, overall design and layout would be carried over to production versions virtually unchanged, its protection and consequently its mobility too were subjected to some changes.

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Namely, the original design of the Panther tank received 60mm thick armor plates on the front of the hull while the turret’s front armor goes up to 80mm. As this was marked as a deficiency during testing, later production models received 80mm and 100m mm thick plating, respectively. For prospective commanders of the VK 30.02 (M) however, this means that their vehicle is somewhat less well protected against incoming enemy anti-tank fire. On the other hand, the armor’s sloping still improves its protective capabilities, thus remaining highly effective against smaller caliber weapons, for example.

As a result of the VK 30.02 (M)’s lighter protection, it should come to no surprise to tankers that the vehicle’s mass is also much lower in comparison to later production variants. Therefore, tankers will be able to quickly get up to top speed and traverse more demanding terrain types with greater ease. Just remember: the vehicle’s reverse gear remains unchanged from production models, resulting in a poor reverse speed of just 5 km/h!

Be sure to add the unique VK 30.02 (M) to your in-game collection once it arrives in War Thunder as part of the next major update. In the meantime, make sure to stay tuned and follow the news as we continue unveiling more of what the upcoming update has in store for you. Until then, happy hunting tankers!

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