From the Vault: The Patents of General Barnes

For those with an interest in the history of US Armor, the name General Gladeon Barnes may be a familiar one.  Barnes served as the head of the Technical Division of the Ordnance Department during World War 2.  In his book “Armored Thunderbolt”, Steven Zaloga refers to Barnes as “the single most influential U.S. Army officer in the development of wartime tank designs.”  During World War 2, Barnes and the Ordnance Dept. often butted heads with Army Ground Forces and the Armored force.  in particular, Barnes and the ordnance dept. were known for their advocacy of a heavy tank for the US Army and for the development of the T20 series of vehicles to replace the M4 Sherman.

Barnes started his career with the U.S. Army in 1910 as a lieutenant of Coast Artillery.  He transferred to the Ordnance Department and spent World War 1 designing heavy artillery. According to the book “Faint Praise” by Charles Baily, Barnes’ post war assignments gave him experience in both production and design, and he owned some thirty-four patents.  We thought it might be interesting to do a search for some of these patents and see what they looked like.  A quick search in Google patents revealed four pages of results (click here to view them.)  Most of the results are for various gun designs or vehicle components.  However, there are two rather unusual patents from 1942 and 1944 simply described as “tank.”  Both patents seem to describe the same vehicle.  Let’s take a look.

Patent text (any spelling errors are due to OCR errors found in the Google patent page) :

The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes, without the payment to me of any royalty thereon.

This invention relates to an armored vehicle especially adapted for military purposes.

With the development of effective anti-tank weapons and armor-piercing projectiles the race between armor and projectile has resulted in the creation of ponderous vehicles whose tactical mobility and military efficiency have been seriously impaired. A study of the employment of tanks in warfare with a consideration of the defenses evolved to combat them discloses the need for a tank in which heavy armor plate of great thickness must be provided to afford invulnerahility to large calibre and high velocity cannon while limiting the total weight and the height of such concomitant elements of the movable gun platform as the power plant, transmission, suspension and tracks.

The provision of a heavily armored tank of restricted weight which will meet these conflicting requirements involves a departure from conventional design and arrangement, and a careful analysis of space considerations. The vehicle of this invention is characterized by a construction in which the hull is made only of sufiicient size to enclose and conform to the outline of a compactly arranged power plant and transmission while being only of a length adequate to the mounting of the suspension. The turret which comprises the major portion of the roof .of the hull overlies the tracks and is formed of armor plate of varying thickness. The floor of the turret has an opening to permit recoil movement of a cannon of large calibre.

The invention also contemplates a novel provision for relatively angularly displacing an operator’s seat with respect to the turret so that the operator will face to the front throughout 360 rotation of the turret.

It is therefore among the objects of the invention to provide an armored automobile vehicle which shall be lighter in weight, more heavily armored, of smaller profile, more compact, speedier and more easily maneuverable than those heretofore employed, to provide’such a vehicle with a novel arrangement of gun and crew, to provide such a gun carriage with a hull portion and a turret portion, the automotive components being in the body portion and the .gun and crew in the turret portion, to produce a track-laying armored vehicle having .a hull portion between the tracks and a turret portion wider than the March 3, 1883, as 370 0. G. 757) hull portion and overlying the tracks, and to provide a novel arrangement for rotating the turret while maintaining a component thereof in constant azimuth.

The specific nature of the invention as well as other objects and advantages thereof will clearly appear from a. description of a preferred embodiment as shown in the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a View in side elevation shown partly in section according to the line l! of Figure 2 to show the interior.

Figure 2 is a top plan View below section line 22 of Figure 1.

Figure 3 is a section taken on Figure 1.

Figure 4 is a section taken on the line 6- of Figure 3, and

Figure 5 is an enlarged sectional view taken on the line 5 5 of Figure 3.

Fig. 6 is a perspective View of the hull or body portion of the tank.

Referring to the drawings by characters of reference, there is shown a vehicle having a hull .l compactly housing automotive components shown generally as an engine 2, a transmission component .3, and a gas tank 4. A track 5 is carried by .a wheel system consisting of a rear drive sprocket 6, front and rear pairs of bogie wheels I carried by a shock-absorbing unit 8 attached to the side of the hull I and which also carry small top idler wheels 9 to counteract sag in the upper :portion of the track. Front idler wheels in .are carried on a shaft ll mounted forward of the hull I by means of truss members I2.

The hull is of generally rectangular shape in transverse section and comprises a front portion A of reduced width and a rear portion B which determines the spacing of the tracks and the width of the vehicle. The front portion A terminates abruptly in a flat vertical face it located somewhat rearwardly of the front idler wheel It. The rear, wider portion B has a downwardly sloping upper face I6, and, forwardly thereof and extending to the vicinity of the front, narrow portion A, a circular opening i5 is provided in the upper edge of the hull to receive the revolving turret D (see Figures 4 and 6) and is of such size as to result in arcuate extensions C in the top edge of the hull and overlying the tracks. A cover IQ for the transmission compartment is seated on a cleat 20 fastened to the inside of the hull.

The rim of the circular opening as at 22 the line 3-3 of .i 5 is rabbeted to .form the bearing track for the turret D and a horizontal flange 23 on the inner face of the opening I5 is toothed to form an integral ring gear for rotating the turret. The turret D comprises a flat rear fact, top and sides, but has a front I8 with a rounded section and a sloping vertical profile for deflecting missiles. Likewise, the front [8 of the turret as well as the front face M- of the hull are made thicker than other faces since hostile fire of the high calibres will, in general, be encountered in frontal attacks, rather than in enfilade from the rear, or from the air.

An opening is provided in thefront face to accommodate a gun 24 which is mounted in the said opening by means of trunnions 25 which provide for elevation only of the gun, traverse being provided by rotation of the turret as a whole.

A floor 25 is attached to the bottom of the turret ner and a stand 28 on which is rotatably seated as by ball bearings 29, a seat so for the driver. The drivers seat is designed to face forward with respect to the hull and tracks regardless of the orientation of the turret and this is accomplished by gear mechanism as follows: A motor 3! in the turret has a shaft 32 extending through the floor of the turret which carries a pinion 33 engaging the ring gear on the hull flange 23 and a smaller pinion 33 which through an auxiliary gear 35 rotates a pinion 36 carried on a shaft 31 fixed to the seat 39. The lower ends of shafts 32 and 3′! are journaled in a stabilizing bracket 33 attached to the turret floor 26. Referring to pitch diameters, the pinion 33 bears the same ratio to the hull ring gear as the small gear 34 bears to the pinion 36. Gear 35 functions as a reversing device. The motor 3|, through appropriate reduction gearing rotates the shaft 32 which imparts rotation to the turret throughspinion 33 acting on the hull ring gear and shaft 32 acting on the floor 26 of the turret, and rotation in the reverse sense to the pinion 35 through small gear 34 and reversing gear 35. Due to the diametral proportions specified above, pinion 33 will travel one circumference of the turret ring gear while gear 34 (through gear 35) negotiates one circumference stant alignment of the drivers seat with respect to the tank body while the turret rotates. The controls for the motor 3! (not shown) will, in general, be operated by the gunner, and so will be located conveniently to his hand. A cupola 52 attached over an opening in the top of the turret receives the drivers head in a minimum of space and is provided with a series of slits 39 to provide for the universal vision necessary on rotation ofthe turret. A cover Ml is hinged on the cupola as at 4| to permit relaxation for .the driver and readier vision when not engaged in actual combat. e

The breech appendages of the gun 24, including magazine and recoil mechanism, are shown in general outline at 42. As noted above, space in the tank has been carefully allocated in two main divisions, the hull portion containing the automotive equipment and the turret carrying gun, gunner, driver and driving controls. The gun is of a heavy type, designed to throw projectiles at great ranges and will require relatively high elevation and depression and an appreciable distance for recoil at the breech. ‘The consideration of depressions as well as others, such as ease of serving, low profile at all elevations and low center of gravity require that the gun be slung low on the turret. The turret, as noted Hi and fixed to the floor is a seat 2! for the ‘guncomplicated by the limitation on depression imposed by the roof of the turret. The lower limit ‘of the firing height would thus appear to be that at which the breech end of the gun would strike the floor in recoiling. Contrary to this apparent fact, the subject matter of the present invention comprises a gun so mounted that its firing height is of the pinion 36. The effect is to maintain a conbelow that it which in its greatest firing elevation the breech in recoiling would just strike the floor of the turret. In other words, the gun barrel is supported on its mount with the axis of its bore when in horizontal position at a height above the turret fioor less than the’vertical distance below said horizontal position of the axis reached by the breech in recoiling when fired at an extreme angle of elevation. Means are thus provided in the form of opening 43 in the fioor 26 of the turret permitting the breech to recoil beyond the floor which is, in effect, the plane on which the gun is mounted, so that a gun, while permitted full length of recoil and even depression in a limited space is mounted so much lower on its carriage than has heretofore been practicable that better protection and facility for serving the gun, increased efiiciency and stability and reduction in weight of the mount are secured. This clipping of the gun breech into the tank ‘hull proper is also accounted for in the novel concept of turret drive whereby all gearing is carried by the turret and is sufficiently compact to be containedin a small region to one side of the turret. V

Ammunition 44 is stored in racks 45 on the turret wall and a convenient shelf Q6 results from the transition in the turret body from circular to the profile seen in section in Figure 2.

The driver operates the vehicle-propelling mechanism through controls A! and other conventional appendages (not shown). A cross cyl inder 48 at the trunnion serves as a shield for the gun port and a slot 49 in the cylinder 68 serves as a sighting means; Any conventional sighting means including telescopic devices may be employed at the slot 49 together with appropriate optical systems.

Hinged doors 50 may be provided in the sides of the turret for regular and emergency ingress and egress. A protective screen of armor 5! is provided over the front suspension means 12.

I claim:

1. An armored vehicle comprising a body portion, track-laying means on each side of said body portion and extending substantially beyond one end of said body portion, power means, transmission means and fuel supply in said body portion, an opening in the top of said body portion, a turret rotatably seated in said opening, a fioor in said turret substantially on the level with the top of the front body portion, a drivers seat and control means on the turret partly above and partly below said floor coacting to rotate the turret and to maintain the said seat and control means in constant alignment with respect to the body during rotation of the turret. V

2. In an armored vehicle, a body portion, a turret rotatably mounted on said body portion, an object in said turret portion and means to rotate said turret with respect to said body portion while maintaining said object in fixed alignment with said body portion comprising an internal ring gear on said body portion, a first shaft carried by said turret, means to rotate said first shaft, a second shaft fixed to said object, a first pinion on said first shaft meshing with said ring gear, a second pinion on said first shaft, a pinion on said second shaft, and a reversing gear between said second pinion on said first shaft and said pinion on said second shaft, said first pinion on said first shaft bearing the same pitch diameter ratio to said ring gear as said second pinion on said first shaft bears to said pinion on said second shaft.

3. Mechanical movement comprising a body portion, a member rotatably mounted thereon, an object in the said member, and means for rotating the member with respect to the body while maintaining the said object in fixed alignment with said body comprising an internal ring gear on said body portion, a first shaft carried by said member, means to rotate said first shaft, a second shaft fixed to said object,a first pinion on said first shaft meshing with said ring gear, a second pinion on said first shaft, a pinion on said second shaft, and a reversing gear between said second pinion on said first shaft and said pinion on said second shaft, said first pinion on said first shaft bearing the same pitch diameter ratio to said ring gear as said second pinion on said first shaft bears to said pinion on said second shaft.

4. An armored vehicle comprising a body portion, a turret rotatably mounted on said body portion and having a floor rotatable with the turret, a seat rotatably mounted on said turret fioor, means on the turret and on the body portion coacting to rotate the turret, and mechanical means coupled to the turret rotating means and to the seat to automatically maintain the seat in constant predetermined alignment with the body portion.


  1. I remember Barnes from Hunnicutt.


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