THIS IS THE REAL TANK BEHIND GTA3'S RHINO
A question that has troubled gamers for 20 years has finally been answered.
Who doesn't know the Rhino? This weird-looking, boxy, nearly indestructible "tank" has become an icon and a legend in the world of gaming since its first appearance in the videogame which we all know and love.
Ever since GTA3 was released in 2001, gamers and military enthusiasts alike contemplated the question of Rhino's origin. A wide range of theories emerged, with some stating that the Rhino was Rockstar's original design and others going so far as to say that it was based on the tank from Warhammer 40K.
There are two websites which have most influence on this topic. A website called www.grandtheftwiki.com states that the Rhino is actually based on a WW2 era German tank - Panzer IV H. This is incorrect, as the Rhino really looks nothing like a that Panzer.
Do they look similar? I don't know... Credit: gta.wikia.com / cyberplasticmodeler.blogspot.com
A second source, gta.fandom.com, claims that the Rhino "does not appear to be directly based on any real life military vehicle". Nothing could be further from truth. There was a very real prototype armoured fighting vehicle built in the 1990s that served as the basis for Rhino's design. And it was American, not German. Ladies and gentlemen, gamers and military enthusiasts, let me introduce the...
Does that look like a real-life Rhino or what? Credit: man.fas.org
WHAT WAS THIS VEHICLE ALL ABOUT?
CAV-ATD stands for Composite Armour Vehicle - Advanced Technology Demonstrator. This vehicle was essentially a test bed to evaluate the cabalitities of composite armour.
Originally, armour was made of hardened steel. This was the go-to material for tanks in WW1, WW2 and all the way up to the 1980s, when experiments with various other materials began taking place. Advancements in the field of polymers allowed for creation of lighter and more efficient materials to protect tanks.
This particular experiment began in 1992. CAV-ATD started as an M3 Bradley, but it was modified by adding blocks of composites onto it. A second ATD was built, which had stealth capabilities. This was achieved by coating the vehicle in rubber sheets.
The only notable difference between this and the Rhino is taht this the Rhino has a more tank-like turret. Credit: tanks-encyclopedia.com
Altough these vehicles never reached production, the experience acquired was applied to new armoured vehicle designs, such as modifications for the Abrams tank.
And while literally nobody knows about these prototypes, Rockstar decided to base their in-game tank on them. Why? Because it fits their strategy perfectly. They take some really obscure vehicle, adjust it to their game and call it their own design. That's how it's always been in GTA.
On this day, we celebrate 20 years since the release of GTA3. I sincerely hope that you can find time to play some and perhaps even check out the Rhino now that you know it was real.