Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Flying Tank I.

This is coolbert:

Place this one in the oddities and curiosities category. The flying tank. An idea that was worth of consideration?

A tank that would be flown into battle in support of airborne forces. Paratroopers landing FAR BEHIND enemy lines have always been susceptible to counter-attack. Parachutists can only go into battle equipped with what they can jump with and carry on their back. A flying tank would provide fire support and protection for the friendlies on the ground!

[think of Arnhem where the British paratroopers were subject to continual counter-attack by German tank units. The German parachutists jumped at Crete carrying only a pistol and dagger. Terrible losses incurred just trying to recover equipment dropped separately.]

We need to clear here! We are NOT talking about placing a conventional tank INSIDE of a glider or a transport aircraft. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT STRAPPING WINGS TO A TANK, TOWING THE "APPARATUS" TO A LANDING ZONE, RELEASING, ALLOWING THE "FLYING TANK" TO BE FLOWN TO THE GROUND BY A PILOT INSIDE OF THE TANK!! Once on the ground, the "beast" sheds the wings and goes into battle as an ordinary armored vehicle!

Developments of the flying tank prior to World War Two [WW2] included:

1. Soviet Antonov A-40.

"The Antonov A-40 Krylya Tanka ("tank wings") was a Soviet attempt to allow a tank to glide into a battlefield after being towed aloft by an airplane, to support airborne forces or partisans."

[and also for sowing mass panic in rear areas where you have administrative and logistic type soldier in abundance. Folks NOT figuring they will ever "smell smoke"! NOT prepared to handle the attack by tanks for which they do not have organic capability to fight. OR ARE EVEN EXPECTING TO ENCOUNTER!! Tank fright and mass flight from the battle scene is the result!!]

2. American "The Christie Flying Tank Project"

"How formidable a weapon the flying tank will be in actual warfare can be understood from the drawings. Tanks can land almost directly on protected enemy territory, shed their wings, and plunge into action with their 75 millimeter guns blazing."

"Flying Tanks that Shed Their Wings (Jul, 1932)"

"Imagine those two formidable weapons of modern warfare, the airplane and the armored tank, combined into one terrible machine of destruction! Fantastic as the idea sounds, it is fast taking physical shape as a reality for Uncle Sam’s army. The whole amazing story is presented to you in this important article."

[an article, mind you, written in 1932!!]

"IS WAR, already made terrible to contemplate by the invention of too-efficient methods of destruction, on the verge of being banished forever by an amazing new weapon so horrible in its possibilities that nations of the world will not dare to risk its fury?"

[war never became too horrible to contemplate, even after the advent of atomic weapons. This is a popular idea that has been around for some time? Some terrible weapon will be developed and the nations of the world will just up and say, "this is too much for us, now peace is the only way for us!!" Never seems to materialize!]

"This is the idea conjured up by J. Walter Christie"

"John Walter Christie (May 6, 1865 - January 11, 1944) was an American engineer and inventor. He is best known for developing the Christie suspension system used in a number of World War II-era tank designs, most notably the Soviet BT and T-34 series"

The flying tank of Christie would have differed in one significant area from that of the Soviet version. WAS NOT MERELY A GLIDER THAT REQUIRED TOWING TO THE TARGET LANDING ZONE AREA. Had an INTEGRAL ENGINE AND COULD FLY AS WOULD ANY CONVENTIONAL AIRCRAFT!!

Christie incorporated some interesting features into his design BESIDES the ability to fly. Could shed the tank treads and operate solely on the road wheels when used for fast movement on a conventional highway!

J. Walter Christie. One of the most significant weapons engineers and developers of all time? Prior to the Christie tank suspension system, tanks were very ponderous vehicles, slow and subject to constant breakdown [the original tank as fielded by the British in the First World War carried a mechanic as a crew member, the mechanic being needed to attend to constant breakdowns]. Tanks with the Christie suspension system became infinitely better at cross-country mobility with speed.

The Soviet trade and espionage organization, Amtorg, through subterfuge, was able to purchase, and evading trade restrictions, ship to the Soviet Union two Christie suspension equipped tanks, these tanks being reverse engineered for study. The Christie concepts for tanks were adopted whole-heartedly by Soviet designers, EVEN, IT WOULD SEEM, THE IDEA FOR A FLYING TANK!!!




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