Originally I wasn't planning to draw these - recent Heavy Tank Challenge prompted me merely to experiment with drawing rear drive wheel together with track around it, as I noticed in the past on some Artists drawings', that it's sometimes quite challenging to draw neatly. After I had the rear wheel, I just drew rest of the suspension and then... thought I could equally well fill it to completion.
Work below is expanded version of my entry to 'Endgame' Heavy Tank Challenge ( viewtopic.php?p=196671#p196671
Cold War-related tensions and increased threat from Red Ruthenian Union prompted in late 1940s Faroffistan to invest in replacement of various categories of combat equipment of World War 2 vintage. Among these needing replacement were WB-12 heavy tanks, that although introduced in 1942, were based basically on outdated pre-war technologies and were no match to the newest Ruthenian JZ-3 heavy tanks armed with 122 mm guns. After a somewhat prolonged development period, WB-16 (Wóz Bojowy
- Combat Vehicle or Combat Car) was finally introduced in 1957. Like most other contemporary heavy tanks, they suffered from heavily taxed engine, small range and limited amount of ammunition carried, but were considered an adequate response to Ruthenian tanks, including the newest JZ-6. In service, WD-16 equipped 4 armoured divisions (1st, 5th, 11th and 16th - each with single Heavy Tank Battalion of 31 tanks in 3 companies) and 2 'breakthrough tank' regiments (4th and 6th - essentialy oversized battalions with 5 tank companies and 1 assault gun company, plus support units - 51 tanks per regiment), with some more being used by Armoured Forces School and few dozen being purchased as reserve. In early 1960s tanks were upgraded to WB-16M standard with - besides few minor equipment changes - better engine of slightly greater power and fuel efficiency and a large searchlight above the gun barrel. In late 1960s concept of heavy tank was clearly outdated and existing designs weren't really offering any significant advantage over new main battle tanks, so first both separate regiments were disbanded, while in divisions WB-16M's lingered until early-to-mid 1970s when they were placed in reserve, earmarked for 'mob.' division (created only during wartime), where they remained until early 1990s. It must be noted, that WB-16 achieved quite substantial export success, with nearly 70 being sold to Herzoslovakia and 120 'brand new' to Ramat, followed by 70 more 'second hand'(both purchases accompanied by number of derivative specialized variants).
Introduction of WB-16 created a substantial problem for maintenance services, since it was heavier than armoured recovery vehicles used at that time could cope. Therefore, a WZT-4 (Wóz Zabezpieczenia Technicznego
- Technical Support Vehicle) was built on WB-16 chassis. 2 such vehicles were attached to each tank battalion, 1 to each heavy assault guns battalion, 3 to each divisional maintenance battalion (total of 6 per division), and 3 to each breakthrough tank regiment, while few more were used for training and as reserves.
Early on the new chassis was considered as potentially good basis for heavy assault gun, utilizing powerful 150 mm gun-howitzer. Named DS-3 (Działo Szturmowe
- Assault Cannon), each armoured division received a battalion of these (16 guns in each, split between 3 companies and commander's vehicle) and each breakthrough regiment had single company of 5 guns (and of course some more were used for training etc.)
While not originally intended to be used as such, the spacious 'superstructure' of DS-3 was quickly noticed as being possible convenient accomodation for command detail, together with communications equipment. Little over a dozen extra DS-like hulls was ordered and were converted into command vehicles (WD-2 - Wóz Dowodzenia
- command vehicle) - 1 each for every heavy tank and heavy assault gun battalion and 2 for each separate regiment.