From the Vault: Christie Motor Carriage

Today we present an article on “Christie Motor Carriages” from the March – April 1922 issue of Amy Ordnance magazine.  Written by H. E. Pengilly, the article looks at some of the early designs created by famous tank designer Walter J. Christie.  Christie is most well known for being the first designer to create armored vehicles with independently sprung suspensions, giving them very high mobility for their era.  Christie was also fixated with convertible tracks, vehicles that could operate both with and without tracks.  The motor carriages in this article are examples of some of his early “convertible” designs.

From the Vault: Ordnance article on Mark VIII tank

tank picToday we present an article from The 1920 July-August issue of Ordnance magazine on the “Manufacture of Mark VIII tanks at the Rock Island Arsenal” by Harry B. Jordan.  The article describes the construction of these vehicles, one of the very first tanks assembled in the United States.  For those interested in the technical details of these early tanks, this article should prove illuminating.  There is also a somewhat amusing photo in the article of a Mark VIII that flipped upside down during a loading accident.

From the Vault: US report on Japanese tank and antitank warfare

Japanese tank and antitank warfareToday we present a link to a PDF of the US report “Japanese tank and antitank warfare, Special Series no. 34.”  This document was released on August 1, 1945 and was intended to replace several earlier reports on Japanese tanks and antitank weapons and methods.  Unfortunately the reproduction of the document is not perfect, the text is easily readable but some of the pictures are a bit hard to see.  However, there is much in this report that will be of interest to those curious about Japanese armor.  Vehicle descriptions are provided, as well as descriptions of all the known guns which equipped Japanese tanks.  Japanese armored tactics and organization are also addressed in this report, as well as antitank equipment and tactics.

Download PDF here.

From the Vault: US description of Soviet tanks from 1942

Today we present an article from August 13, 1942, US Army publication Tactical and Technical Trends #5.  The technical information is relatively accurate although the illustrations leave a bit to be desired.  This article gives a good impression of how well informed the US military was concerning armor development on the Eastern Front in 1942.  It is interesting to note that the longest paragraph in this report deals with aspects of the T-34 design intended to allow infantry to ride on the tank or to prevent enemy soldiers from climbing aboard.

Tank warfare has taught the Russians lessons which have influenced their tank design.  The turret is located well forward to permit tank infantrymen (desyanti, see tactical and Technical Trends No. 3, page 44) to use it as a shield while riding atop the tank.   Every provision has been made to prevent unwelcome riders from getting aboard.  There is a lack of external fittings, tools, sharp projections, etc.: this meets the double purpose of eliminating hand grips for enemy hitch-hikers and the chance that a fire bomb or other missile could lodge on the tank.  The fender of the tank is very narrow so that “tank hunters” who seek to jump aboard run the risk of being caught in the track.  The newer American sponson-type tanks have no fenders as such and have solved these problems largely through basic design.  As a further protective measure for the tank crew, the hatch in the top of the turret is so constructed that it cannot be opened from the outside.  A special tool is required to open the hatch from the inside.

Leichttraktor pictures and documents from Swedish Tank Archives blog

leichttracktorRen Hanxue, creator of the Swedish Tank Archives blog, recently posted a PDF of documents and pictures from the Swedish Archives pertaining to the German Leichttraktor.  The documents are of course in German so we are not entirely sure what they contain.  However, the pictures are very interesting, providing shots of not just the vehicle but also of some of the automotive components and subsystems.  The Leichttraktor is a fairly obscure vehicle, being a German post WWI design that never saw mass production.  It is most widely known as the tier one German tank in the World of Tanks video game, where it is commonly referred to as the “Loltraktor.”

The PDF is available here.

We highly recommend Swedish Tank Archives.  People with an interest in Swedish tanks will find it a valuable resource.  The site also contains documents relating to Swedish evaluations of foreign vehicles such as the Chieftain, AMX 13, and T-80U.  Ren Hanxue also maintains a youtube page with some videos if Swedish tank terrain trails including Centurion, Strv 104, T-72 and T-80 tanks.

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.

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From the Editor: The Hull Machine Gunner

bow gunOne of the unique characteristics of WW2 era tanks is the hull machine gunner position.  This crew position was assigned a variety of names in different armies, being referred to as the assistant driver, radio operator, or bow gunner to name a few. A large majority of the tanks designed and used during the war had this position as part of their crew layout, although it quickly disappeared from tank design in the post war period.

In the 1920’s and early 1930’s, tank design was still in its formative stages and vehicle crew and component layout varied dramatically.  However, by the late 30’s a consensus starts to emerge in regards to crew layout.  In Germany, the Panzer III and IV established the layout that would be most common during the war, a five man crew with three in the turret and two in the hull, a driver and the hull machine gunner.  The Soviet Union, USA, Czechoslovokia and Japan also adopted the hull gunner concept, although their early war tanks typically had two men in the turret (T-34, M2 and M3 light tank, LT vz 35 and 38, Type 97).  The two major exceptions to the move toward bow gunners were the United Kingdom and France.  French tank design was fairly unique, relying primarily on smaller vehicles with 2 man crews (Renault and Hotchkiss infantry tanks) or larger tanks such as the Somua S35 or Char B1 Bis which had a radio operator position but did not give him a machine gun to operate. British pre-war tank design varied.  The Matilda II (A12) infantry tank had a very modern crew layout of driver in the hull and three in the turret.  On the other hand, the Cruiser Mk I introduced into service in 1939 had two hull machine gunners, each with his own turret!

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