From the Editor: Weird and wonderful old timey AFV patents

Here at Tank and AFV News, we like to dig through old patents to see what sort of odd and unusual ideas people have come up with in regards to tanks and AFV design.  Today we present a few of the more unusual patents we have found from the early days of tank and AFV design.  These were found by browsing Google patents (any typos in the patent descriptions are due to errors made by the OCR when these patents were digitized.)

1. We’ll start with a patent from 1911 by Anthony Mcf Mcsweeny for a “Skirmish-machine.”  This is essentially an armored car and is probably the most sensible of the designs we present in this article.  That said, it earns a place on this list by nature of it’s rather unusual name of “skirmish-machine.”

The inventor describes his invention as:

The present invention provides an engine of warfare which is self-propelling and armored so as to amply protect the `vital parts and the complement of men manning the same. The machine besides being self propelling, so as to move from place to place by its own power, is adapted for use as a traction engine for drawing ordnance, wagons,” or vehicles containing supplies or munitions of war.

2. The next patent we have is from 1918.  This is an “armored car” designed by Leo M Moser.  It would appear that Mr. Moser was inspired by Leonard Da Vinci who proposed a cone shaped vehicle way back in 1487. Oddly enough, while the inventor calls his invention an armored car, it runs on tracks, technically making it a tank.  We will give credit to Mr. Moser for recognizing the value of sloped armor.

In the preferred form of the invention the armor for the car is conical in shape approximately as shown in the drawings in order to best dispose of shells or projectiles which maybe fired at it, and the base portion of the armor is indicated at 1 as a truncated cone made of a suitable thickness of steel plates designed for the purpose, and fashioned with an enlarged, annular head 2- at its upper edge in which a circular groove 3 is provided, and a ball race 4 is finished at the base of the groove for the balls or series of bearing balls 5 forming a race.

3. Our third entry is from 1917.  Created by Jan Zawacki, this armored vehicle patent consists of an automobile surrounded by a wedge shaped armored cover.  What is most unusual about this design is the propeller mounted on the top of the vehicle to brush away anything that happens to fall or drop on top of it!

This invention relates to improvements in armed and armored automobiles, and has as its obj ect the provision of a vehicle provided with armored sides by means of which the occupants are protected and which is further provided with an offensive implement of novel design.

A further object is to provide means whereby the roof’of the vehicle is provided with a rotative sweeping device, whereby any article falling lthereon is immediately brushed away.

4.  Entry number four is from 1918 and is an armored vehicle designed by Elton Franklin.  The distinguishing feature in his design is a “plurality of guns.”  and a somewhat boat shaped hull.

‘Another object of the invention is to provide an armored vehicle of this character, which is provided with a peculiarly shaped protective body portion, which contains a plurality of guns projecting through ports in the sides thereof, and said body is mounted upon a supporting frame, which has forward and rear trucks, the whole vehicle being itself propelled, so that it maybe advanced rapidly, and the peculiar shape of the armored body affording a maximum protection for the crew contained therein.

A further object of the invention is to provide a device of this character which is provided at opposite ends thereof with wire cutters,so that the vehicle may lead an advance through barbed wire entanglements as the force of the vehicle behind the wire cutter will sever the entanglements, and permit the infantry to pass there through .with little trouble. This type of vehicleis steered at either end, so that it maybe easily propelled in either direction. The vehicle is preferably driven by a gasoline engine, and the tank is disposed longitudinally within the body portion,

5.  Our fifth entry is an armored vehicle patent from 1915 by George Giem.  The primary feature of this design seems to be the use of sloping armor to deflect projectiles.  All in all, this design is not quite as fanciful as some of the others in this list, particularly considering that its creation date of 1915 is earlier than some of the others.

The present invention relates to improvements in armored vehicles, the characteristic feature of which lies in the formation of the body therefor of poly-sided construction such that objects, for example bullets or similar missiles, directed thereagainst, will be deflected therefrom along paths tangent to a median plane passing through said vehicle body.

The advantages of the arrangement are mainly that the surface of the body presents the very minimum of points where missiles would have a tendency to penetrate by direct impact, as well as insuringa shunting or deflecting of the objects in directions likely to do the least harm, thereby protecting not only the vehicle and its operators during offensive operations, but also surrounding objects whether they be troops or other vehicles.

Another object in view is to provide an armored vehicle of the above type with protective machine guns so disposed within the body as to project therefrom at the meeting angles where least likely to be damaged by missiles.

6.  Next is an armored automobile by Joseph Chervictnak patented in 1918.  Oddly enough, the patent describes Mr. Chervictnak as a “subject of the Emperor of Austria, residing at Plymouth, in the county of Luzerne and State of Pennsylvania.”  An unusual state of affairs considering that Austria and the US were at war when this patent was filled.

The primary object of the invention is the provision of an automobile adapted for army use whereby soldiers may fire upon the enemy from protected quarters, the vehicle being capable of traveling over the ground and over ditches and gullies of limited width.

A further object of the invention is the provision of an armored vehicle adapted for traveling over the ground and provided with a track for spanning depressions in the line of travel over which the vehicle may readily pass while provision is made for easily returning the track to its inoperative position upon the vehicle.

7. Next we present a patent for a “motor-vehicle” patented by John C Lobato in 1914.  Although not mentioned in the patent description, this vehicle is essentially a self propelled gun.  The gun mounting shown in the picture seems to allow only for indirect type fire.  All in all, a rather interesting design considering that it was put forward in 1914 at the very beginning of WW1. Again, we find reference in the patent description to the benefits of angled armor.

Furthermore, itv will be seen that in this last ca se i at all portions exc t the sides a pro]ectile striking the car would tend to glance off because of the fact that the surface contour’ of the armor is rounded in every directlon, and therefore the side of the car would be the most vulnerable point, ,With my construction, however, that part of the car which-isl most liable to be struck by projectiles and from which projectiles will ordinarily have the least tendency to glance oli is’ so formed by making the reverse curve at the margin of the upper portion of the armor, so that a projectile striking this part will tend to glance upward or be deflected upward from an approximately horizontal course and thus do no damage.

8. Our eighth entry is an odd patent from 1923 for a “military automobile” by George Glatter.  The primary feature of this contraption seems to be extensions sticking out of the sides of the armored hull to act as shovels for filling in trenches as as a means to repel anyone trying to climb on the car.  Given that this patent was filed in 1923, well after WW1 had ended and tank and armored car designs were well established, this patent is really rather ridiculous.

My invention relates to automobiles whereby the same are made particularly useful for military purposes and among the objects of my invention is’, first, to provide means to repel efforts to board or mount the automobile on the sides thereof,- by cavalry or infantry; second, to provide means whereby a trench can be filled sufficiently to permit the automobile to cross the trench; and third, `to provide means whereby the repelling mechanism, and the trench filling mechanism, respectively, may pass over or by obstructions adjacent to the path of the automobile.

9.  This next patent is quite unusual.  This is a manually-propelled armored vehicle by John Baptiste Felicetti filed in 1917.  This is a one-man vehicle, propelled by the use of levers.  Somehow, the inventor of this “vehicle” claims it can travel over land, sea, snow and sand, as well as easily climb hills and descend valleys.  Obviously, this vehicle is not intended for those with even a slight case of claustrophobia.

My invention consists of an improved manually propelled armored vehicle. One object of my invention is to provide a vehicle of the above mentioned type which can travel over land, sea, snow, and sand, or through water and mud. Another object is to so construct my improved vehicle that it will be capable of climbing hills and descending valleys with ease and safety. A further object is to so design my improved vehicle that it will be particularly useful for war purposes. A still further object is to make my improved vehicle of comparatively simple construction and so that it can be operated by a man while in either a sitting or reclining position. I Another object is to make my invention of sufficiently light weight so that it can be operated by a man or if necessary can be carried a short distance by the operator.

10. Our final entry in this article is the “mobile armament” filed by Massey Sitney in 1917.  This invention is similar to the previous entry in that it is an one man armored shell.  However, Mr. Massey has the good sense to at least include an engine in his design.  He also has included in his creation a provision allowing the users to fight standing in a trench while still inside the vehicle!

My invention relates to armored vehicles and it has for one object to provide a vehicle arranged and adapted to carry and offer protection for one man.

Another object is to provide a one man armored. Vehicle of the character above indicated, that shall be arranged to carry the man in a prone position and which nevertheless is arranged to permit a man to stand with the vehicle.resting with one end on his shoulders and yet offer him a protection against machine gun fire for example.

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