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Skink: The Bird-eating Lizard

The Skink is an experimental Canadian self-propelled anti-aircraft unit, developed on the basis of the Grizzly medium tank. Designed with the sole purpose of shielding Allied units from hostile air attack, the highly anticipated Skink is finally making its way to the game, arriving as part of the next major War Thunder update!

Briefly: A late-war prototype Canadian SPAAG, based on the Grizzly I medium tank and fitted with a quadruple 20 mm turret.

Skink, SPAAG, Britain, Rank IV

Features:

  • Quadruple 20 mm turret
  • High fire density
  • Excellent gun handling
  • Adequate protection
  • Average mobility
  • High profile
History

In March 1943, Canadian engineers began work on a new mobile SPAA unit on request of the Canadian Army. From the onset, the project saw the modification of a Grizzly tank with a fully enclosed quadruple 20 mm turret. Design work on the project was then conducted by the Army Engineering Design Branch while the Waterloo Manufacturing Co. was tasked with building the first wooden mockup of the new turret. Keeping in line with the nomenclature of other Canadian fighting vehicles, the project subsequently received the designation ‘Skink’.

By September 1943, a wooden mockup of the turret had been assembled while the first welded turret was completed in December. In the following month, the turret was fitted to a Grizzly for the first time and extensively tested. However, it was soon determined that a welded turret was far too complex to manufacture and the order to develop a cast version was soon issued. Furthermore, as the Canadian Army standardized its weapons, the Skink had to be requipped with 20 mm Polsten cannons, replacing the original Hispano-Suiza aircraft cannons. As a result, a redesign of the turret was necessary, thus delaying the project by several months.

Although originally it was planned to build 130 Skinks for the Canadian and another 135 units for the British Army, these plans were soon drastically scaled back in early 1944 and eventually completely given up on as the German Luftwaffe no longer represented a threat in Western Europe. As a result, the Skink project was soon afterward canceled and all further work was discontinued in April 1944.

However, a total of three prototypes of the Skink were produced for the duration of the project’s existence, aside from a pilot unit and 8 conversion kits produced for Grizzly tanks. In fact, the second prototype even underwent field trials in early 1945 in northwestern Europe, receiving commendations from the troops in the field despite its exclusive use against ground targets and lack of aerial opponents. The remaining two prototypes were put away in long-term storage and were eventually scrapped.

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In War Thunder, the Skink will be a new SPAA unit joining the ranks of the British ground forces tree at rank IV, following the release of the next major update. Being a long-awaited addition for many tankers, the Skink will substantially bolster the anti-aircraft capabilities of the British ground forces tree at the mid ranks. Let’s get into some more details then, shall we?

At a first glance, the Skink may strongly resemble the formidable German Wirbelwind - an SPAA unit that should be familiar to many veteran War Thunder tankers. The resemblance should primarily come from the vehicles’ identical weapon arsenal. Namely, much like the Wirbelwind, the Skink features a quadruple 20 mm turret with an astonishing rate of fire. Coupled with an excellent hydraulic turret drive, the Skink can respond to an air attack in mere moments and subsequently fill the skies with hot lead.

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The Skink is based on the Grizzly I medium tank, which in turn represents the Canadian license-produced version of the American M4A1 Sherman tank. Therefore, the Skink inherits the characteristic Sherman mediocre protection: it’s able to deflect the occasional medium-caliber anti-tank round but it remains vulnerable to high-powered anti-tank cannons such as the German PaK 40, even at longer engagement distances. Yet the Skink offers one crucial advantage over the Wirbelwind that all of its aspiring commanders will appreciate: an enclosed turret. Unlike the open-topped Wirbelwind, the Skink is immune to strafing aircraft, in turn making it even more dangerous to pilots since it can’t be destroyed as easily!

The Skink is soon arriving to War Thunder ground battles as a new rank IV British SPAAG and will become available to all players upon the release of the next major update. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to the news to catch all the latest developments surrounding the upcoming update. Until then, happy hunting tankers!

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