The Tanks of Girls und Panzer
January 8, 2013
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I’ll show you that a superior tank has its limits when it goes up against a superior crew!
- Might as well show off some of the artwork surrounding this series. Despite my only being four episodes in, I contend that Girls und Panzer is perhaps the top anime of the Fall 2012 season. While I initially set out to watch this as a means of trolling Strike Witches haters, the series proved itself to exceed all expectations in terms of story and character development.
I’m currently finished the fourth episode of Girls und Panzer, which sees Ooarai’s tank squadron put up a surprisingly good fight against St. Gloriana Girls’ Academy’s unit in spite of the latter’s superior armour and firepower by virtue of Miho’s ingenious strategies, which prove sufficient to dispatch most of St. Gloriana’s armour. This episode has doubtlessly left several readers wondering about the capabilities of the tanks seen thus far, and given that we know the name of the tanks in question, it’s a simple matter of putting together a chart that visualises everything. Whereas other parties have supplied the Japanese charts, I imagine many more people would be interested in an English-language chart in Table I.
- Table I: A comparison between all the tanks seen up to and including episode 4. A higher bar indicates a stronger statistic. In order from left to right, the tanks are operated by the St. Gloria leaders, the standard St. Gloria teams, the History club (four-person crew), the freshmen (six-person crew), the Student Council (three-person crew), Miho’s company (five-person crew) and the former Volleyball team (four-person crew). Clicking on the image will bring up a full-resolution copy of the graph.
These statistics account for how Miho’s company is able to triumph in their first battle, as well as the difficulties Ooarai encounter in trying to engage the St. Gloriana tanks. These statistics reflect on the amount of detail that went into the development of the anime, as the series brings military historians into the game to ensure the details are reasonably accurate. It is clear that the girls from Ooarai have unique tanks compared to the more unified formations from other schools, and this element is said to be for aesthetics as well as for the sake of driving the story forward: opponents in later episodes are expected to deliver more firepower and have heavier armour.
- Girls und Panzer has no fanservice, a welcome departure from the trends that are seen and only welcome in Strike Witches, instead, featuring plenty of discussion about military hardware and strategy to satisfy military enthusiasts such as myself (even if I am more of an Air Force, Naval and Special Forces person).
Consider that the Abrams M1A2, the current generation of the M1 line, has Chobham armour, a composite ceramic armour that offers superior resistance against a shaped charge jet and they shatter kinetic energy penetrators. All in all, M1A2s have the equivalent of up to 600 mm of armour against kinetic energy penetrators and 800mm of armour against high-explosive anti-tank warheads. Armour is heavier around the turret (780 mm of armour equivalent against APFSDS rounds and 1060 mm of armour equivalent against HEAT rounds). The M1A2 is equipped with a 120 mm L44 M256 smoothbore cannon: while its performance is a military secret, it is estimated that the gun has a penetration depth of up to 800 mm of armour equivalent at 2000 metres, as it was designed to combat Soviet main battle tanks. With a road top speed of 56 km/h and an off-road top speed of 40 km/h, the M1A2 clearly illustrates some 40 years of progress in armour technology: modern armour makes the tanks used in Girls und Panzer appear as child’s play unsurprisingly, are banned from tank competitions. The considerable differences emphasises that tank martial arts is decidedly more safe than modern anti-armour combat 🙂