The VK2001D is the second Tier IV German medium tank, having been introduced with the redevelopment of the German medium tanks and proper formation of the second medium line. It is probably impossible not to compare this to the far better known Panzer III. I know I went into playing this tank expecting something somewhat weaker, and I must say that is very much what I have experienced. It is not that it is a bad tank – indeed its top armament is identical to the Panzer III – but the entire combination just feels somewhat worse.
Talking of the armament, there are two options. The derp option is provided by 7,5cm KwK 37 L/24, whereas an AP alternative is the 5cm KwK 39 L/60. The 7,5cm is not the world’s most impressive derp gun, with average damage and penetration of 175 and 38 respectively. What this means is that it will penetrate and do full damage to most Tier III and some Tier IV vehicles – but in most cases will not one-shot them. Against most Tier V and VI vehicles the damage will generally be poor, and even against a good target it can take several shots to secure a kill. Thankfully the rate of fire is pretty good for a derp – with a full crew and rammer over 14 rounds/second – but it feels longer. I used to use this gun a lot on the Panzer III, but recent game changes appear to have made it less efficacious.
The 5cm has its own problems – principally penetration. With a standard average penetration of 67 this will sometimes struggle against the best armoured tanks in Tier such as the Matilda, let alone the Tier Vs and VIs it will encounter. The damage is also distinctly average at just 70. Again, the rate of fire is good at 24 rounds/minute with a 100% crew, but the accuracy is a somewhat unappetising 0.4. Premium APCR ammunition has a very substantial upgrade in penetration – almost doubling the average to 130mm. If you face up to Tier VI tanks, this is what you need, but the low alpha will make it feel like one is nibbling at a Tier VI tank more than damaging – at least to begin with.
One comparative advantage the VK2001D does have is better gun depression – a generous 10 degrees. However it can struggle at times taking advantage of this facility by probably the greatest weakness of the tank which is starkly obvious when you compare it to the Panzer III: its mobility.
The Panzer III has a top speed of over 60km/h. This allows it to roam around the battlefield acting as something of a force multiplier when played well (not that I always manage to do that). The VK2001D however has a top speed of just 50km/h, and it feels much more sluggish about getting there. With the way I have my tanks equipped the VK weighs 23 tons to the Panzer III’s 21 tons, but with a 400hp engine has forty less horsepower. The Panzer III also have better track traverse – 45 to 42 – and those extra three degrees really can make themselves felt when trying to turn a tight corner to escape a higher tier vehicle.
Of course, 42 degrees of track traverse and 50km/h speed are not bad precisely, but they are very much average, and given the firepower of the VK2001D is limited it does translate somewhat to a weakness.
The other primary difference between the two vehicles is the armour. The turret armour is essentially the same for both tanks (indeed the upgraded turret for the VK2001D is actually a Panzer III-variant). The difference is in the hull, where the VK2001D has a basic armour scheme of 50/40/30. In a Tier IV battle 50mm of frontal armour can actually be pretty useful – especially with some angling – and the side armour allows some sidescraping at Tier as well. However once one starts to come up against Tier V tanks this armour pretty much fades into irrelevance – and it will not create problems for the Tier III and IV tank destroyers it encounters too. In comparison the Panzer III has a scheme of 70/30/50. That much larger frontal armour is just far more effective all around, and the rear armour provides some greater protection when retreating. This offers far more utility than the extra 10mm of side armour the VK2001D can offer.
Of course, against the high Tier tanks the Panzer III’s armour is also insufficient. In such situations where a tank is under-armoured it must rely on either speed or firepower – and as we have seen the VK2001D excels at neither whereas the Panzer III can at least take heart from its mobility.
So what do we have? We have a medium tank that doesn’t quite work. Not a bad tank by any means, but neither is it a very good one. In a Tier IV battle you essentially take the role of a primary tank, and should look to dominate lower tier opposition. However one must be careful of not taking on too much – those 350 hit points will not last long against opposition and one really does not have the dpm to go head-to-head with most foes. In higher tier battles one falls into the role of support, trying to flank, to pester, and to spot. It can do some useful spotting, but again the comparative lack of mobility makes the Panzer III a better choice. All in all I am not surprised that relatively few VK2001Ds are met on the battlefield.
My own record so far been so-so. I have played 21 matches with a 47.6% win rate and 19 enemy kills. I have managed, with my friend, to get my second Brothers in Arms medal, and my 1st Class award, but so far nothing else. I do not intend to keep on with this tank. I may play a few more battles trying for the mastery, but I fully intend to sell up and acquire the VK3001D (the Panzer III/IV having already been played back before the line re-organisation) in the relatively near future.