Designer's Notes: GURPS WWII: Motor Pool
By Hans-Christian Vortisch
I have been a certified vehicle design geek ever since my little brother first brought Car Wars to our home. Almost 20 years later, I have "built" hundreds of vehicles, from bicycles to the Millennium Falcon, employing -- not necessarily in this order -- Lego, plastic model kits, and GURPS Vehicles.
In 2001, Gene Seabolt, the former line editor of GURPS WWII, approached me after having read some of my articles in Pyramid, and had me design most of the weapons of the Modular Vehicle Design System (MVDS). I also counseled him on other hardware aspects. Gene noticed my passion for detail, and while he often found my approach a bit too detailed and too complicated for the basic book, he apparently figured exactly this attitude would serve me well for the book on "Non-Standard Equipment," as it was then still called. We quickly established that only vehicles and the necessary new MVDS modules would go into it, requiring a new title: GURPS WWII: Motor Pool.
I fiddled over a year with the outline, selecting the vehicles I needed or wanted to include. Due to discussion with Gene and the other authors in the line, I knew which vehicles would go into the other books, often leaving me with the less famous or less important designs, which nevertheless allowed me to delve into a lot of obscure detail. I also wanted to include many "odd" designs: one-offs, design freaks, obsolete vehicles, failed experiments. Finally, I wanted to cover a few generic things like a horse cart or a fishing boat, vehicles that are always handy to have and often overlooked. So the outline slowly evolved. I added, discarded, and added vehicle after vehicle. Many had to be dropped as I realized just how much space a decent write-up with variants and notes required, and others had to be cut down to half page-size. In the end, I managed to cram in almost as many write-ups as the book has pages . . .
During writing, I was struck by minor and major disasters including a half-year move to Brussels, Belgium (away from my personal library and the excellent public ones in Berlin), and a burglary and the fiendish theft of my laptop and latest backups with the manuscript and many notes and spreadsheets. Using older backups, handwritten notes, and bits and pieces I had sent around to friends for comments, I was able to reassemble most of the lost stuff, but not all; the whole affair cost me several months.
However, Brussels turned out to help me quite a bit in the end, as my day-job office was only a five minute stroll away from the Royal Belgian Army Museum with its excellent library (and a number of interesting displays). Field trips to Berlin's Luftwaffe Museum, the German Defense Technology Collection in Koblenz, London's Imperial War Museum, and the Royal Dutch Army Museum in Delft further unearthed invaluable information.
I am indebted to several people who volunteered to submit vehicle designs, despite knowing that I am difficult to satisfy and would end up meddling with their designs (being "anal-retentive," to quote Gene, and a "bullhead," to quote a playtester). These hardy souls included Michele Armellini, Enrico Negro, Kenneth Peters, and especially the untiring Brandon Cope. Vehicles guru Onno Meyer provided invaluable construction advice.
Time and again during writing, I would rely on the Hellions (an international and eclectic group of GURPS grognards) for comments, language or style edits, counsel, retrieval of lost files, or plain shoulders to lean on in times of problems. Thanks guys, I couldn't have done it without you.
The Pyramid playtest helped to plug some holes and lots of faulty calculations, and I have to thank veteran lead playtester John Freiler, who made sure everything went smoothly during the test.
Finally, I owe a lot to my editor and the man responsible for this whole show: Gene "I think you're suffering from too much information" Seabolt. The sheer breadth of his knowledge of the topic and his down-to-earth approach to both historical and game-specific issues is remarkable. And despite minor arguments over details (which accompanied our relationship from day one, and led to playful fights of sorts . . .), his input and guidance was invaluable. Together, we pulled it through.
But now for the goodies. In the spirit of "non-standard," I present you a couple of real oddballs:
DL 43 Nahuel
While externally resembling the M-4 Sherman (p. W102) and obviously being inspired by it, the Argentine medium tank DL 43 Nahuel (tiger in Araucano, a native Argentine language) was actually quite different. Entirely made in Argentina, it was designed by the Dirección General de Fabricaciones Militare starting in 1943.
Its designation DL 43 stems from U.S. derisions that Argentina was a "lion without teeth." When ten tanks made their first appearance in a parade in July 1944, planes dropped leaflets stating that these were Argentina's Dientes de Léon (lion teeth). The DL 43 entered service in the summer of 1944. However, only 16 were built as the U.S. eventually delivered M-4s to Argentina. They never saw combat in WWII, but might have in an alternate history -- perhaps with Argentina joining the Axis (as per p. W:WW15)?
The DL 43's engine is a modified Argentine copy of a French Lorraine-Dietrich aircraft engine. The main gun was originally planned to be a Swedish 75mm Bofors Mod 35, but there were not enough of these available, so the tank received a modified German 75mm Krupp Mod 09 field gun (compare p. W:GL30). A .50-caliber Colt-Browning Mod 38 machine gun (M-2HB, p. W97) is mounted coaxially. Two linked Danish 7.65mm DRRS-Madsen Mod 27 machine guns (RoF 8) with 32-round magazines are mounted fixed in the hull, fired by the driver, and another one installed in a flexible mount is fired by the hull gunner.
It burns 16.8 gallons of gasoline per hour at routine usage. Fuel and ammo cost $955.
Tanque DL 43 Nahuel
Subassemblies: Large Tank chassis with Mild slope +4; full-rotation Medium AFV turret with Mild slope [Body:T] +2; tracks +3.
Powertrain: 373-kW turbocharged gas engine with 373-kW tracked transmission and 175-gallon standard tanks; 16,000-kWs batteries.
Occ: 2 CS Body, 3 CS Tur Cargo: 1.8 Body, 0.9 Tur
Ground LMG/Mod 27 [Body:F] (1,920 rounds).
2×Ground LMG/Mod 27 [Body:F] (1,920 rounds each).*
75mm Short Tank Gun/Mod 09 [Tur:F] (80 rounds).**
Very Long Ground HMG/Mod 38 [Tur:F] (600 rounds).**
Body: Fire extinguisher.
Payload: 2 tons
Lwt: 38.5 tons
Maint.: 42 hours
HT: 10. HP: 1,800 Body, 600 each Track, 200 Tur.
gSpeed: 25 gAccel: 2 gDecel: 20 gMR: 0.25 gSR: 6
Ground Pressure Moderate. 1/2 Off-road Speed.
Designed with 174-gallon tanks and 6,000×7.65mm rounds. Gunner and loader are half in turret, half in body. Lwt was increased by 25%, gSpeed was reduced by 20% to the historical figures.
Switzerland remained strictly neutral during WWII. In order to protect this neutrality, it maintained a comparatively large and fairly well-equipped military. Its air force was busy during the war, intercepting and escorting Allied and German bombers and other aircraft that had lost their way into Swiss air space to the ground. This was a fairly common occurrence.
The Swiss air force had five main combat aircraft available for these operations: the K+W C-35 fighter (a Fokker copy), the K+W D-3800 fighter (a license-made version of the Morane-Saulnier MS.406-C1, p. W:RH42), the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 and G-6 fighters (p. W111), and the locally designed K+W C-3603. The latter differed from the four other patterns in being a multi-purpose aircraft optimized for reconnaissance and ground attack, but it was nevertheless used for many of the same tasks as the air superiority fighters.
The C-3606 had been designed by the Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte (K+W) at Thun from 1936, and finally entered service in 1942. It was the first aircraft entirely developed in Switzerland, earlier patterns generally having been foreign designs. Over 150 were built. They saw service until 1952.
The pilot fires the 20mm W+F-Furrer FM-K 38 autocannon (RoF 7) in the motor hub and the 7.5mm W+F-Furrer FlMg 29 machine guns (RoF 21) in the wings. He also releases any bombs carried. The gunner/observer fires the flexible twin FlMg 29 machine guns in the back. For ground attack, the C-3606 typically carried either 2×440-lb. bombs, 8×110-lb. bombs, or a mix of 16×26.4-lb. bombs and 40×6.6-lb. bombs. Alternatively, 2×62-gallon auxiliary tanks could be carried.
The C-3606 burns 33.6 gallons of aviation gas per hour at routine usage. Fuel and ammo (without bombs) cost $75.
Mehrzweckflugzeug K+W C-3603
Subassemblies: Medium Fighter chassis +3; Light Fighter-Bomber wings +3; 3×retractable wheels +0.
Powertrain: 746-kW aerial turbocharged gas engine with 746-kW props [Body] and 135-gallon standard tanks [Wings]; 2,000-kWs batteries.
Occ: 2 CS Body Cargo: 2.2 Wings
20mm Long Aircraft AC/FM-K 38 [Body:F] (118 rounds).*
2×Aircraft LMG/FlMg 29 [Body:B] (480 rounds each).**
2×Aircraft LMG/FlMg 29 [Wings:F] (480 rounds each).*
Body: Autopilot; 265-lb. hardpoint [Body:U]; navigation instruments; medium radio receiver and transmitter. Wings: 440-lb. hardpoint each [Wings:U].
Size: 34'×45'×11' Payload: 1.3 tons Lwt: 3.8 tons
Volume: 200 Maint.: 51 hours Cost: $15,465
HT: 8. HP: 120 Body, 120 each Wing, 12 each Wheel.
aSpeed: 295 aAccel: 6 aDecel: 22 aMR: 5.5 aSR: 2
Stall Speed 68. -3 aSpeed per loaded hardpoint.
gSpeed: 204 gAccel: 10 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2
Ground Pressure Very High. 1/8 Off-road Speed.
Designed with 135×20mm and 2,000×7.5mm rounds. The historical 309-sf wing area was used for performance calculations. aSpeed was increased by 10% to the historical figure.
Article publication date: May 14, 2004
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