So, it took a bit longer than I had hoped, mainly because I had a willow tree in my yard come down, and the past few days were quite nice, so I was busy cleaning that up and doing some other yardwork as well. Now that it’s all cleaned up, I’ve finally managed to finish the Nószimål tanks. If I ever get my recording software running, I’ll explain exactly why this shouldn’t have taken so long, given the methods I used to render each variant of the JN-2 specifically. ANYWAY, enough of that, time for the story!
The Jenůfa Nószimål gun was the brain-child of Kveta Vamaruchenko, one of the most prominent arms manufacturers for the Alexandrian Empire. Vamaruchenko had connections in high places, such as her brother, Admiral Pavel Vamaruchenko, one of the leading commanders of the Imperial Airship Fleet. Kveta was best-known for her flying triremes, but prior to developing those, she had built guns: BIG guns, ranging from 75mm field artillery to 305mm naval cannons. Vamaruchenko was a brilliant inventor and shrewd businesswoman, and ended up working closely with Lord Admiral Stanislav Karamazov to modernise the Alexandrian military. While Karamazov worked on designing dreadnoughts to bring the navy up to date, Vamaruchenko pitched the idea of self-propelled artillery, citing the photographs smuggled out of recently-conquered Taressimian territory via Turro, a city on Sondor’s eastern border that Taressim had just seized. The newspapers in Turro circulated millions of copies of photographs depicting the terrifying trench tanks throughout Sondor before the city fell. Armoured vehicles were nothing new, of course, as the Bulmutians had the Dwarven Battlewagon and the Karadenians had the more impressive Iron Turtle, but Taressim was the first Rossberan power to use armoured vehicles in war.
Rumour had it that a few small countries that Taressim recently gobbled up had used armoured cars in their resistence efforts, but no actual tank vs. tank battles had taken place, at least not for another few months. As terrifying as they seemed, no armoured vehicle at the time mounted a gun bigger than 75mm, and tank guns that big were typically howitzers, not cannons. “Pop guns,” Vamaruchenko sneered, “if a vehicle can be made to tow heavy artillery, then one can be made that mounts it.” The Arcadians had already done it, but their 305mm self-propelled howitzer had no armour to speak of, and therefore it had the same disadvantage as traditional artillery. Vamaruchenko’s solution was this:
The vehicle was produced as Object 109-KV, as Vamaruchenko had a policy within her factories that new projects be labelled in the order that they were drawn up, followed by the initials of the designer. Given it’s function, however, the vehicle was called the SAU (samokhodnaja artillerijskaja ustanovka – self-propelled artillery gun) after about five minutes. The decision to add the Rhûnnish Grand Marshal’s name took considerably longer, and Vamaruchenko didn’t actually think of it until the demonstration to Tsarina Belëna Karamazova, when the latter asked what the vehicle’s name was. No-one had the slightest reason to object, so the name stuck.
The JN-SAU was armed with a 155mm howitzer, which was an unusual calibre for the Alexandrian Imperial Army, but it also meant that the specialised shells had to come from Vamaruchenko’s own factories, and no-one else’s. The vehicle had a 30mm thick steel hull, with a turret of varying thickness. The steel was 100mm thick in the front, then gradually tapered to 50mm at the sides, which remained constant around the back, including the doors. This made the JN-SAU one of the most heavily-armoured vehicles on the continent, second only to the Iron Turtle. Though Stanislav Karamazov was somewhat concerned, Vamaruchenko told him that he had nothing to worry about, as the Iron Turtle would not have had cross-country performance half as good as the JN-SAU, given its design. Stanislav was sceptical, at least until the Battle of Shiamazdu in the Karadenian borderlands.
The Battle of Shiamazdu proved Vamaruchenko’s point about the Iron Turtle, and no-one ever doubted the effectiveness of all-around tracks ever again. However, there were far more important lessons to take away from that battle than simple tank design. Vamaruchenko, therefore, hastily finished designing another vehicle before devoting all of her time to working on airships. This vehicle became known as the JN-2, while the JN-SAU was retroactively named JN-1. There were two basic designs, the JN-2 SAB and JN-2 TO. SAB stands for samokhodnaja artillerijskaja batareja, or self-propelled artillery battery, and TO stands for transpórt oruzhija, or weapons transport. In my most recent Steemit post, I explain exactly how they are used. Essentially, while the JN-1 was designed as a breakthrough tank, similar to the Taressimian trench tank but with much greater firepower, the JN-2 was designed to stay a bit further back and provide heavy supporting fire. Granted, the JN-2 could get much closer to the front line than traditional artillery, and Vamaruchenko made the case that an artillery battery that could do this would be much more valuable, since it could help to push back enemy forces much more quickly than long-range bombardment.
Below is the JN-2 SAB, followed by the JN-2 TO. They were produced under industrial designations 110-KV and 111-KV, respectively.
The text, in case you’re wondering, is Rhûnnish. It is not a one-to-one analogue of Cyrillic, and I might explain how it works in a later post.
Unlike the JN-1, the JN-2 had the driver in the middle on an elevated platform. The engine was also in the middle, connected to a three-speed reversing gearbox, meaning that it had three speeds in both directions. Though the drive sprocket was officially at the rear, since the driver could spin around and have access to a second set of controls exactly opposite the first, what one calls the front and rear of this vehicle is quite academic, really. The only mechanical element that truly mattered was the torsion bar suspension, though this wasn’t the case for long.
The JN-2 was not ready for the invasion of Drachania, but it was deployed all the way to Druck’s wall on the northern border of Taressim after Drachania fell. The war was going well, it seemed (for as well as war can ever go, truly), until Sondor started to crumble from the top down. The child emperor, Qors Azul, was poisoned at a victory banquet while delivering a speech in thanks to his generals for retaking the city of Turro and dealing a heavy blow to Taressimian forces. He also reminded his guests that he had friends in high places, and should any of them have him assassinated, then Prince Linnus Rodilos of Arcadia, who was present at the banquet, would take his place. Naturally, this led his mother, the Empress Regent, to blame Prince Linnus for her son’s death, and she had him executed, effectively declaring war on Arcadia. Sondor had previously been the unstable lynch-pin holding the peace, since the Empress Regent had already sold glossarion levitator technology to Bulmut, gaining an alliance at the cost of her freedom (she was convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to house arrest). With the Arcadian alliance shattered, but the Bulmutian alliance still intact, the war briefly changed from east vs. west to north vs. south. Then the Alexandrian Empire suddenly found itself consumed by a brutal civil war known as the Karamazov Conflict, which saw the Bulmutians allied first with the exiled Grand Duchess Rubina Karamazova, and later the renegade Lord Admiral Stanislav Karamazov. Since Alexandrian metallurgy was not the most advanced, Kveta Vamaruchenko had been getting the alloys for the torsion bars in her vehicles from Bulmut. She left Dmitri Zradnyev in charge of vehicle and gun production while she was busy with other things, having gotten herself wrapped up in Alexandrian politics (and dealing with difficult politicians very efficiently).
Zradnyev decided that the easiest solution to this problem was to put a different suspension on the vehicles, replacing the torsion bars with double-bogies. Since the JN-2 was designed with nine pairs of road wheels, and there simply wasn’t enough room for five bogies, the new versions of the SAB and TO, Objects 112-DZ and 113-DZ, respectively, had only eight pairs of road wheels each. No-one was particularly happy about this, since the large double bogies made it impossible to get in and out of the side hatches, see below:
Vamaruchenko was understandably annoyed when she heard about this, but there wasn’t a whole lot she could do as long as Alexandria and Bulmut were at war. As soon as she could, however, she stocked up on as much of the proper alloys as she possibly could. Zradnyev simply couldn’t understand why, even though Vamaruchenko told him “torsion bars are the best. Give it time, everyone will be using them.”
After the Karamazov Conflict ended, Vamaruchenko casually gave orders to produce two new experimental vehicles, the JN-3 and JN-4. Both were based on the JN-1, but with an additional pair of road wheels, a bigger engine, better transmission, and thicker armour. JN-3 kept the same turret, while JN-4 mounted a lower and wider turret to house two smaller guns. Since she had specified a new requirement of 75mm frontal armour and 70mm side armour for the new hull, that “better transmission” part took a very long time. Meanwhile, preliminary tests with a JN-4 turret on a JN-1 hull showed that it was simply too cramped to operate a pair of 75mm guns, much less anything bigger. Therefore, the JN-4 was never actually built.
The only tank of the series to actually see combat against other armoured vehicles was the JN-1. This was during the Karamazov Conflict, when it saw action against Dwarven Battlewagons. The latter were slightly faster, and given that they frequently acted as artillery tractors, towing 150mm field guns, one could argue that they could deliver the exact same firepower to the battlefield. On their own, however, the two vehicles were not suited to fighting each other. The 155mm howitzer, while certainly powerful enough to destroy a battlewagon even without scoring a direct hit, was slow to load and aim. Meanwhile, the battlewagon could conceivably knock out a JN-1 with a hit to the side from the 75mm hull howitzer, but it had to be close. The best they ever actually did was damage the running gear, pinning the JN-1 down long enough for other guns to take it out, such as Tuhur’s Trumpet, a 420mm howitzer that defended the bridge-fortress of Bront Mehan. Only 2 JN-1s were lost during the border fighting before Stanislav Karamazov outflanked the loyalist forces, capturing General Boris Uborov and ending the border fighting.
Much like the Dwarven Battlewagon, the JN-1 (and, to a lesser extent, the JN-2) remained competitive until very late in the Great Rossberan War, when far more advanced armoured vehicles appeared.