Saturday, December 28, 2013

Steel Beasts ProPE 3.0 - Tanks Get Cooler Over the Years

Besides their shooting, a big indicator of a tank crew's readiness is their ability to detect enemy targets. As you know, modern tanks have target acquisition devices that can rely on thermal imaging. These thermal imaging devices reveal the difference in temperature between the environment and the metal of the steel beasts which are heated by moving parts' friction (tracks, rounds moving through the main gun) and the combustion of the engines. Around the late 1980s, tank gunnery training documents required that targets should be 5 degrees Fahrenheit (5F) hotter than the environment. I suspect that 5F figure went down quite a bit in the following years, because Soviet/Russian engineers put a considerable effort on getting their tanks cooler and cooler.

The old and new. Changes included not only bigger guns but also reduced thermal signatures.
Are these differences in thermal signatures taken into account in Steel Beasts ProPE 3.0? In this blog entry, several Soviet/Russian tanks as seen from the thermal sights of an American M1A1.



The line up: several Soviet/Russian tanks to be imaged in clear terrain, noon time with an environment temperature of 20C. From front to back: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55.

Flank "shot", at a low magnification from a distance of 480 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55.
Flank "shot", at a high magnification from a distance of 470 meters. From left to right: T-64B, T-62 and T-55. Note the particularly hot hulls and turrets of the T-62 and T-55, in comparison to the much cooler T-64B. 
Flank "shot", at a high magnification from a distance of 470 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U and T-72M4. Note the considerably cooler turret and front skirts of the T-90U.
Flank "shot", at a low magnification from a distance of 2030 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55. The older tanks are more visible from the distance.

Flank "shot", at a high magnification from a distance of 2030 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55. At this distance and magnification, the telltale for  the newer tanks is mainly their tracks and main guns.
That is, gentlemen, for the lucky who get a chance of a flank shot at the enemy. Let's see now how the thermal images look from a frontal aspect.

Frontal "shot", at a low magnification from a distance of 480 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55.

Frontal "shot", at a high magnification from a distance of 450 meters. From left to right: T-64B, T-62 and T-55. Again, the hulls and turrets of the T-62 and T-55 are hotter than the ones of the T-64B.
Frontal "shot", at a high magnification from a distance of 470 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U and T-72M4. The T-90U appears to have a cooler turret.

Frontal "shot", at a low magnification from a distance of 2050 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55. At this distance and magnification and distance, most of times I see the tracks of all tanks.

Frontal "shot", at a high magnification from a distance of 2050 meters. From left to right: T-90U, T-80U, T-72M4, T-64B, T-62 and T-55. At this distance and magnification, the telltales for  all of the tanks are the main gun and tracks. On a closer look, you can see the frontal parts of the hull and turret of the T-62 and T-55 as being hotter than in other tanks.
It should not come as a surprise to you that a tank combat simulator used by many Armies around the world includes nuances such as different thermal signatures for each tank. Armor simulation can't get more hardcore than this!

Now, as for the utility of this blog post in the virtual battlefield, I don't intend this entry to be a recognition guide or an aid of any type. Just a reflection on how cool is this simulator and maybe a wake up call for those of us who forget that sometimes a dug-in tank is difficult to spot. One thing that struck me in one scenario I played is how well a T-72 hid his two hot tracks behind a small berm and portions of his hull and turret behind some trees. I spotted the bastard only after he shot at us, his angle being perfect for hiding but his gunnery poor enough to give us a second chance. I almost forgot about that incident until this afternoon's patrol, just before we faced some T-90s. They say you can't shoot what you can't see. They forgot to mention that you will never actually see if you don't know what you are looking at.

Cheers,


6 comments:

Jožo Kundlák said...

What can I say? Just COOL! :)

Anonymous said...

i have pro pe 2.0 and its very good, does pro pe 3.0 have new scenarios for SP or just updates the existing ones ?

JC said...

LOL, Jožo. Well played!

Anonymous: I really can't tell. I see a lot of repetition, scenario-wise. Do not purchase 3.0 for just canned scenario content, I would say.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

Great comparison. It is the best modern armor simulator out there hands down.

Gibsonm said...

Hop in a M1A2 SEP and dial up the GPS (Gunner's Primary Sight) zoom.

The view will get a lot, lot clearer than a M1A1 or M1A1 (HA).

Happy New Year!

Yours in Armour,

Mark Gibson

NW said...

I'm going to check out the Danish Leo 2A5A2 and see if that netting is doing anything for it. I imagine that, some years from now, SB Pro PE will probably include "Nakidka" matting (a Russian IR and RADAR signature reduction effort) and thermal camouflage nets.