"QUANTUM SHOT" #310
Read Part 1 here.
Canned Nazis, bouncing over the hills
Not much is known about this WWII "spherical droid" - captured on the Eastern Front (in Manchuria) in 1945 and currently on display in Military Museum in Kubinka, Russia. This "brainchild" of German military thought had 5mm armor, driver's cab inside and two-stroke one-cylinder engine. By all appearances this machine was used as a reconnaissance vehicle.
Multiple inquiries about the origins of this machine, made to German historians and tank specialists, so far draw a blank. It is speculated that Krupp could have built this as Reconnaissance Rollzeug (Rolling Vehicle). Thus it's often referred to as "Krupp Kugelpanzer", or "Ball Tank". Note the narrow-slitted visor at the front, and imagine a poor soul canned in such a fashion and sent bouncing down the hill...
(image credit: chamtec.com)
(images credit: jagdtiger.de)
Similar "Ball Tank" concept from an engineer in Texas:
Popular Science, July 1936 described it as "a giant ball, a high-speed "tumbleweed tank" with a spherical hollow steel driving cab, enclosed by a rotating outer shell... The inventor states that the tank’s spherical shape presents the smallest possible target for enemy bombs or shells, and all but direct hits would glance off its curved sides." Not so impractical, after all, regardless of how crazy it looks.
Click to enlarge the image:
(image credit: modernmechanix)
Even earlier, there was a wilder concept:
War Tank on One Wheel
Popular Science, November 1933 - "Housed inside the armored body, the operator will steer the single main wheel by means of two small auxiliary wheels at the rear... by attaching propelling fins to the main wheel, the tank can be turned into an amphibian capable of plunging into a stream... As the tank rushes upon a trench or obstruction, the operator will drop the tubes so they dig into the earth and the whole machine will vault through the air to the other side! Without the armored body or the crutches, it is designed for highway use." Click to enlarge:
(image credit: modernmechanix)
One-wheeled tanks were imagined before first World War in a quite spectacular way - the ultimate rolling destruction machine:
Mobile Fortification Unit
An interesting "canned-operator" concept was also created in Germany in the beginning of the century, called The Fahrpanzer (mobile shielding). Rotating turret and 50mm gun made it a formidable little enclave. It was not motorized, however, and had very limited mobility. The only surviving specimen is on display at Royal Army Museum of Brussels:
(images credit: JC Carbonel/Model Stories)
Big-Wheel Battlewagon Design
German commercial firm of the Bremen Hansa-Lloyd Works created the The Treffas-Wagen in 1917, which had huge wheels, heavy guns, weighed 18 tons, and needed a crew of four to operate. This unique monstrosity was not developed any further, to be replaced by even more interesting A7V model:
(images credit: greyfalcon.us)
The First German Battletank from 1917 still looks the best
A7V had the appearance of something from the Stormtrooper's arsenal, and perhaps influenced some concept designs for George Lucas' "Star Wars". This block of iron was over seven metres long and three metres in width and height. There were only 20 made at the end of World War I.
Oleg Pomoshnikov at Gunpoint 3D has some 3D models created for this machine:
(images credit: Oleg Pomoshnikov)
(images credit: armor.kiev.ua)
Another armored monster vehicle for all fantasy fans out there: MarienWagen Gepanzert was ordered by frantic Germans (who just saw first British tanks used at Somme) in 1916, designed by Hugo G. Bremer and built by Daimler. In all, 10 such "tanks" were made, equipped with two machine-guns and two 20mm cannons Bekker AA:
(images credit: wwi.hut2.ru)
but the ultimate in brute "kollosal" force was reached with:
K-Wagen "Kolossal-Wagen" Super Heavy Breakthrough Tank:
(image credit: achtungpanzer)
Designed for planned service in 1919, it could be broken into four parts for rail transport and was to be operated by the crew of 22 men. Only two were built, but whoever built it were probably having nightmares for the rest of their lives.
Russian Armored oddities:
We'll start small. Here is MC-1 from 1929:
(art credit "Teknika Molodezhi")
The 1931 tank sporting wheels as well as tracks:
(image credit: englishrussia)
T-27 Armored Tankette developed by Soviets in the 1930s:
(art credit "Teknika Molodezhi")
T-28 was much heavier, and presented the utmost in Soviet terror machine arsenal just before World War II. It was equipped with respectable 76.2mm cannon and was considered the most advanced medium tank in the world:
(images credit: ochevidec)
But this was nothing compared with the biggest and baddest: - T-35.
Note the Nazi Germany soldier sharing his experiences with Stalinist Army, widely practiced cooperation just before the onset of World War II.
or consider this KV-2 from 1940:
or T-100 heavy tank, one of those called "Dreadnoughts" by their crews...
Want even bigger? How about this:
Words fail me when I try to describe its intimidating might... Remember "Kolossal Wagen"? It's the one shown on the bottom left for size comparison in this picture.
By the way, on the bottom right is one of the Hitler's macho dreams - the Maus. This would give you some idea what unspeakable scale was projected for the Soviet "Bolshevik" tank from 1932. Designed by German engineer E. Grotte, under contract with power-hungry Communists, this beauty had 24,000 horse-powers multiple engines, weighed 1000 tons, had 6 turrets and crew of sixty people. O... my.... God....
It stayed only on paper, but these Russians had another shot at similar stupendous engineering:
I bet Hitler did not expect this:
How this thing would ever turn? What about the turning radius?
"It doesn't need to turn, it will drive straight to Berlin" - said Stalin when approving this project. (probably the most interesting thing he ever said)
(model by: Brian Fowler)
KV-VI Behemoth was more than a landship, it was a Communist wet dream. It had some hilarious history, too: "The first prototype was completed in December 1941 and was rushed into the defense of Moscow. In its first action during a dense winter fog, the rear turret accidentally fired into the center turret. The resulting explosion completely destroyed the vehicle. The second prototype was completed in January 1942, and was sent to the Leningrad front. This one had indicators installed to show whe another turret was in the line of fire. In its initial attack on the Germans, the tank broke in half when crossing a ravine."
Crew: 15 men and one Commissar. The KV-VI was nicknamed "Stalin's Orchestra" by the few Germans that encountered it because of the variety of weapons it deployed.
UPDATE: The last crazy machine should perhaps be served with the "prank alert" warning. Regardless of how we want it to be true, and elaborate history behind it, there is suspiciously little information about it on the web. So, I'd take it with a grain of salt.
Cold War Terror Machines
At the height of Cold War in 1962 Soviet Army produced some interesting tank monsters, for example, rarely seen experimental Rocket Tanks. Code-named "Object 775" and "Object 780" they were heavily modified T-64 tanks sporting 125mm cannon capable to shoot guided rocket "Rubin" missiles...
(images credit: arhiv-diletanta.nnm.ru)
Now upgrade this to nuclear!
Soviets decided to go all the way in 1954 and develop SAU "Kondensator" armored vehicles with ability to shoot nuclear missiles...
"OKA" was introduced in 1957 to show the world who's the "biggest of them all" and had 420mm cannon, such tremendous caliber deemed necessary because of inability of Russian engineers to make more compact nuclear payloads.
(images credit: shushpanzer)
To better illustrate the "terror tank" madness, here is how Boris Artzybasheff (talented illustrator from the 40s) envisioned tank battlefield in his "Diablerie":
(image credit: AnimationArchive)
Could this be the most awesome tank picture? A fan art imagined for "Terminator 3", but unfortunately never used there:
(image credit: Kiel Bryant)
Now that you are all enthusiastic about cool tanks, why don't make your own? And perhaps put it up for sale... for 5 bucks?
Let us know about other impressive and weird tanks to feature in the next part of this series.
READ THE FIRST PART HERE
Strange Tanks, part 1
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