The Barracuda tank (Dutch: Gepantserd voertuig Barracuda) is a Doraltic post-Imperial War main battle tank (MBT), designed and manufactured for the Second Stiuraian Republic by Eagle Industries. It was developed in the 1950s as the first Main Battle Tank to use a turbine engine and one among the only tanks since the Imperial War to dispense with a turret (the other being the 'Weasgaich' (Weasel) Mk.V/TD). It's unconventional gun laying process involving the use of neutral steering of the tracks and elevated by adjusting the hull suspension via a gas-hydraulic hydropneumatic system, the first of its kind. The result is a tank with a very low profile that emphasized crew survivability and weight reduction, as the Second Stiuraian Republic was unable to mass produce heavily armored tanks under the provisions of the Vellemoz Accords and the general reduction in scale and scope of Stiura's industrial capacity. While other turretless tanks would be classed as armored guns or tank destroyers, the Barracuda maintains its classification as an MBT due to its specific design function to combat equivalent Noronnican tanks such as the Stickleback.
The Barracuda formed a major arm of the Stiuraian Armed forces, especially throughout the Dormill-Stiura War from 1960 through 1967, after which the tank saw service in both the Kapolder Defense Forces and the Powelish Defense Forces, seeing action during De strijd. It remains partially in service with the United Republics Army today, with 12 units serving in two battalions as part of the 6th Rapid Response Division, being the only MBTs capable of airborne deployment.
Immediately following the conclusion of the War for the Future of the Revolution, the now established Republican Union (to soon be restyled as the Second Stiuraian Republic) sought to develop a new type of main battle tank, specifically to address the issue of crew survivability found during both the preceding war and the much more significant Imperial War. After conducting a study on crew and vehicle casualties from data collected during the Imperial War, the Stiuraian government judged that the most significant contributing factor in whether or not a vehicle or its crew would be knocked out in combat was the height of the vehicle. Aware of this fact, the Stiuraian government directed the Military Technology Development Office (BMTW) to investigate designs that would mitigate these issues for their upcoming tank.
Simultaneously, the BMTW found that Stiura's military industry did not entirely have the capacity to produce the designs they sought, a result of both the Vellemoz Accords and the general reduction of industrial capacity in the aftermath of extended conflict. Aware of these limitations, the BMTW sought to reduce cost and complexity where it was possible, settling on prototypes that would be the basis for the Barracuda by 1956. In 1957, the Union Assembly signed legislation that would set out the government's final requirements for any new tank that would enter service. These design requirements forced the designers at the BMTW to combine several ideas from their past prototypes or be faced with competing foreign designs. This ended in a consortium effort led by Eagle Industries and Kapolder Electric Works to design Project 109, a vehicle with a rifled 105mm autoloading main gun from Eagle and a dual diesel engine and gas turbine powerplant from Kapolder Electric Works. Other design partners provided the hydropneumatic suspension while BMTW through its civilian organization, Zwolle Defense Systems, worked on the gunner/driver system that saw the controls between the gunner and commander (and eventually the third crewman) be exact copies to increase vehicle redundancy.
The Stiuraian Army began its adoption program in 1958, with the Project 109 tank competing against other designs that sought to lead the new army into the future of tank design. The Project 109 was the only tank in the program to completely remove the turret, where the other designs minimized its size as much as possible. During testing, Project 109's ability to have any crew member operate the vehicle, alongside the other primary features of the design, made it stand out as the most capable tank in the program. This early nod from the Stiuraian Army led to Eagle Industries to begin producing full production models of the tank in 1959, with some modifications from the original Project 109 prototypes to address teething issues found with the use of both a diesel engine and a gas turbine engine alongside failures of the hydropneumatic suspension system.
When the Project 109 production models were adopted into the Stiuraian Army in 1961 as the Barracuda 10.1, the design consortium had already switched production to the A1 variant, which included the upgrades found necessary in 1959. At the same time, the A2 variant, a heavier version fitted with a new powerplant and a dozer blade for engineering, also began production.
During the Dormill-Stiura War, the tank performed admirably against the Noronnican Stickleback, but struggled with fuel issues that limited its range and cases where the armor failed to hold up against the significantly larger 120mm rounds of the "Heavy" Stickleback (what would then become the Weasgaich). However, regardless of these issues, the tank still accomplished all the design tasks the Stiuraian Army set out for in 1953, and in the interim used the production of the Barracuda to reinforce the whole extent of its industry, making the state capable of producing much heavier and more advanced tanks, which Eagle Industries answered with the A3 variant, fitted with reactive plates and new sights, this variant saw limited combat against equal opponents but was the most widely exported variant, seeing extensive use in De strijd and abroad.
Seeking to address the issue of fighting heavy Noronnican tanks again leading into the First Arvannan War, Eagle Industries attempted to produce a 120mm variant of the Barracuda, seeing extremely limited production and adoption into the Stiuraian military as the 20.1A1. The failure of the 20.1A1 and the prospect of Doraltic reunification ended the Barracuda's nominal service, with a large portion of the existing fleet being sold internationally to allow for the incoming Lévesque to replace them. However, this would not be the end of the Barracuda's service life, as the young United Republics Army maintained what remained of the existing fleet as reserve units, and creating two battalions to be attached to the 6th Rapid Response Division to address the lack of air-deployable heavy armor. Of the original 206 produced, only 12 remain in active service, with another 87 in active reserve, and 8 in museums both across the United Republics and the Isles.
Barracuda 10.1A2 with top mounted turret removed