The World Of Tanks 2015 Grand Finals kick off in Poland tonight where the world's deadliest teams will battle it out for a cool $300,000 in prize money. To mark the occasion, Wagaming.net borrowed an authentic Sherman tank from the Polish Army Museum. But first they had to move it. This proved to be a fiendishly complex process that would make a good strategy game in its own right.
Transporting a Sherman tank across a few kilometres of highway is trickier than one might think. Despite its official "Medium Tank" moniker, the M4 Sherman is still a monstrous piece of machinery. Weighing in at over 30 tonnes with a propulsion system that treats asphalt like sand, it's not the type of vehicle you can just drive down the road when nobody's looking. Instead, special transportation equipment is required, along with a few primitive tricks from the era.
Initially, the organisers considered using the museum's IS-2 but they couldn't find a carrier service capable of handling the load. The smaller Sherman still required a heavy-duty truck with a reinforced flatbed boasting twenty wheels.
The strips of rubber in the foreground help to protect the pavement from the tank's formidable tracks. The linked steel plates are capable of doing serious damage to paved roads; especially while turning.
The offloading process is not too different to that used during World War II: the extra-thick ramps are supported by columns of rubber and thick planks of wood. This prevents the ramps from buckling under the tank's weight. Careful maneuvering is required to drive the caterpillar track directly onto the strips of rubber.
Here's a video of the tenuous final step:
And the finished result!
All told, the procedure took around four hours despite only five or ten minutes of travel time. Transporting tanks is hard. The World Of Tanks 2015 Grand Finals will continue throughout the night and into the next day. Stay tuned for more coverage in the coming days.
Kotaku attended the World Of Tanks Grand Finals as a guest of Wargaming.net