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Early Confederate Barrel Mark 1 on the Roanoke Front, 1916

The U. S. Barrel Mk. 1

A Barrel is an armored fighting machine first developed by the United States during the Great War in 1916. It was used at first to support infantry, until General George Armstrong Custer and Lt. Colonel Irving Morrell realized the value of the barrel to actually lead an offensive action. The so-called Barrel Roll Offensive helped to give the U.S. victory over the Confederate States.

The United States led the way in barrel development during the Great War. The British and Confederates both developed barrel designs, although they used the alternate codename "tank" for them (this designation fell out of favor postwar). British barrels mostly fought in Europe, but some were shipped across the Atlantic where they bolstered Anglo-Canadian troops on the Canadian Front. Confederate barrels saw considerable action, but Confederate industry was simply not up to the task of producing them in the numbers that the US could, and they never played a decisive role in Confederate tactics or strategy.

Following the Confederate defeat in the Great War, barrels were one of the weapons forbidden to the Confederates, along with submersibles, airplanes, and poison gas. After the War, the US established a barrel research and development facility: the Barrel Works in Leavenworth, Kansas, under the command of Colonel Irving Morrell. However, the Works were closed in 1923 under the Sinclair Administration.

The Confederacy did not openly begin to develop barrels until the Featherston Administration. However, Confederate volunteers with the Mexican Imperial forces gained operational experience using barrels in the Mexican Civil War.

In the interwar period, however, the U.S. allowed itself fall behind other countries in further developing and perfecting the weapon it had created. Only with general renewal of interest in rearmament after the Pacific War did the U.S. return its attention to the barrel. In the meantime, the C.S. had developed sophisticated barrel technology of its own.

The US barrels of the Second Great War were the first to sport sloping armor. The Confederate Mark 3 barrel's heavier 50 mm gun was sufficient to destroy the US Custer barrel, however, despite its sloping armor. The Confederates used sloping armor in their new Mark 4 barrel, along with a heavy 76 mm cannon, which made it vastly more powerful than the US Mark 2 and Mark 2.5.

The US Mark II upgrade was an attempt to hold back superior Confederate barrel formations while a new, more powerful, barrel could be built. The upgraded Mark II barrel was equipped with a new, hydraulically-traversed turret, and a 57mm cannon. While both sides used different caliber rounds for their small arms, both sides' barrels had .50 caliber heavy machine guns, usually on their turrets for antipersonnel and antiaircraft work. In 1943, the Confederate States developed the "Barrel Busters" as a response to the large U.S. Army barrel formations. While lacking a turret, the Barrel Buster was equipped with a larger-caliber gun than a barrel, making it far deadlier in certain conditions. As one of these conditions included defensive operations, the barrel buster made a formidable addition to the arsenal of the Confederate States. The US finally came out with a truly effective barrel design of its own in the Mark 3, which was even more heavily armed and armored than the Confederates' Mark 4, and produced it in sufficient numbers to overwhelm Confederate armored forces. The Confederates' late-war development of the highly advanced Mark 5 "superbarrel" did not help them.

Barrel Class[]

Confederate States Models

  • Mark 1 (Great War) - Rhomboid barrel; 10 man crew; two 50mm guns, 3 machine guns.
  • Mark 2 (Between the Wars) - More familiar shape, with rotating turret. Crew of 5-6; Estimated 37mm gun, 3 machine guns. Design loaned to the Empire of Mexico during the Mexican Civil War.
  • Mark 3 (Second Great War) - Upgraded version of Mk2. Crew of 5; 50mm gun, at least 2 machine guns.
  • Mark 4 (Second Great War) - It held a crew of 5; mounted a 75mm cannon, and had 2 machine guns.
  • Mark 5 (Second Great War) - The latest Confederate model, it sported a low hull, superbly sloped and thick armor that increased crew survival rates, and a high-velocity long-range 4.5 or 5-inch gun. While superior to all US barrels, there were too few to stem the tide.

United States Models

  • Mark I (Great War) - 18 man crew; one 50mm gun, 6 machine guns.
  • Mark II (Between the Wars) - Nicknamed the 'Custer.' The ‘Custer’ was advanced for its time. It carried a crew of 5; mounted a 37mm gun, and carried at least 2 machine guns. The prototype Custer carried a 50mm gun.
  • Mark II.V (Second Great War) - This barrel was developed to be deployed as quickly as possible to meet the challenge of the Confederate Mark 4. It consisted of a Custer barrel body with an upgraded turret. It carried a crew of 5; and mounted 60mm gun, at least 2 machine guns.
  • Mark III (Second Great War) - The American response to the Confederate Mark 4. It was powerful, heavily armored with "perfectly" sloped armor, and carried a mounted 90mm cannon along with three machine guns. Deployed shortly before the invasion of Kentucky and Tennessee. While inferior to the Confederate Mk.V it was deployed in overwhelming numbers to great effect.

Trivia[]

  • Many of the various Barrel models are seemingly inspired by various OTL models.
    • The Confederate Mark 1 resembles the British Mark I tank. It carried two 57mm guns and three machine guns, very similar to the armament of the Mark 1. It also shares a Rhomboid design.
    • The Confederate Mark 2 and the United States Mark II "Custer" somewhat resemble the Panzer III. All three models feature a turret design, a 37mm gun, and a crew of 5. However, the Custer's sloped armor is reminiscent of the Soviet T-34.
    • The Confederate Mark 4 has similarities to the German Panzer IV, including a crew of 5 and similar armaments.
    • The Confederate Mark 5 resembles the various heavy and super-heavy German designs that were developed later in World War II. Its 4.5 to 5 inch gun was similar in size to that of the Panzer VIII Maus, which never saw widespread use in OTL.
    • The United States Mark I resembles OTL's German A7V design. Both tanks had a relatively latge crew of 18 and a single large gun. Note that this gun was a 50mm gun on the Mark I and a 57mm gun on the A7V.
    • The United States Mark II.V is analogous to the upgraded versions of the Panzer III, which also carried 50mm guns.
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