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Museums

(P) Exploring Arizona’s Military History – Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum


Click to visit the website of the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum!

Arizona has a rich military history, making it an ideal destination for history buffs, particularly those interested in the Army and the Air Force. Especially since World War II, the state of Arizona has served as a key training and testing ground, and residents of the state has served with honor. For those interested in learning more about Arizona’s contributions to America’s military greatness, these 3 sites offer exciting insights and opportunities to interact with important artifacts from past campaigns.

Airbase Arizona Museum

For the United States, World War II got its start when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, sinking the USS Arizona in December 1941, and today a remnant of this ship can be seen at the Airbase Arizona Museum in Mesa, Arizona. Long kept in a US Navy storage yard, this remnant was just moved to the Mesa museum in June 2019, the USS Arizona joins a significant collection of warplanes, including a B-17 Flying Fortress and B-25 Mitchell. With exhibits documenting 100 years of military aviation history, you shouldn’t miss this exciting museum.

Arizona Military Museum

Phoenix is one of the United States’ most vital and quickly growing metro areas, with Midtown Phoenix playing host to mixed-use developments, museums, and the Phoenix VA Healthcare System, which is one of the area’s largest employers – and the importance of the VA in this city should come as no surprise. Phoenix is home to a large population of military veterans, as well as the Arizona Military Museum.
Part of the Papago Park Military Reservation, the Arizona Military Museum is dedicated to the state’s veterans, tracing all the way back to the time of the conquistadors. More recently, the Arizona Military Museum has added exhibits highlighting the War on Terror, providing visitors with a complete look at how Arizonans have fought to protect the United States for centuries.
Arizona Mesa commemorative Air Force Museum Nieuport 28
A WWI French-built Nieuport 28 biplane fighter aircraft at the Airbase Arizona Museum – Source: Marine 69-71 on Wikipedia Commons.


A superb photo of a North American B-25 Mitchell at the Airbase Arizona Museum – Source: AZCAF.org

Arizona/California Maneuver Area

One reason that Arizona has played such an important role in American military history is that the large amount of unpopulated desert space makes for an ideal training ground. Leading up to their deployment during World War II, then, a large stretch of desert between Arizona and California was home to Canal Defence Light (CDL) Tank training, which was a secret project of
the American military. British soldiers also visited the area to train in their M3 CDLs, before being dispatched to Egypt.
For those who want to visit the Arizona/California Maneuver Area, there isn’t exactly a singular site, though there are a number of official camps you might choose from, including Camp Bouse, where the British trained. Rather, the area is broadly bounded by Palm Springs, California in the west, Yuma, Arizona in the south, Prescott, Arizona to the east, and Searchlight, Nevada in the north. Much of this area has also undergone substantial development and urbanization since that time, but some of the camps and forts in the region can provide insight into the area’s importance.
Arizona continues to cultivate memorials to its military history, including the new Fort Tuthill Military Museum, as well as through regular public events. What all these sites have in common, though, is a great reverence for our veterans and the ways in which Arizona has helped sustain our military and to drive support for the decades to come.

An American McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet interceptor at the Airbase Arizona Museum – Source: Marine 69-71 on Wikipedia Commons

Hello, dear reader! This is a sponsored post for the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. We will never accept paid posts that are malicious or are not of interest to you. All the funds from this sponsored post will be added to the Tank Encyclopedia War Chest and used for illustrations.
Categories
WW1 British prototypes

Lincoln No. 1 Machine

UK United Kingdom (1915)
Prototype – 1 built

The First World War was supposed to end quickly. Most of the high-ranking officials of the participating countries expected and planned for a short war, in which they would quickly crush their enemies and win glory and territories for their nations. However, after the German defeat at the First Battle of the Marne (6-12th September 1914), the Germans started digging in behind the River Aisne. The war was just one month old.
By March 1915, the trench lines on the Western Front spanned from the English Channel to the Swiss frontier. Bogged down in soft mud caused by heavy artillery bombing and rain, ensnared in barbed wire, entangled in numerous successive defensive lines, and decimated by machine-gun fire, offensives on the Western Front yielded little results and appalling casualties. The British and the French started looking for a solution to this ‘deadly equation’. The end result on the British end would be the first tank deployment in the world, preceded by the first tank prototype ever built, the ‘Lincoln No.1 Machine’.

The Lincoln No.1 Machine on trials. The tarpaulins concealing the vehicle have the name of the firm William Foster and Co. of Lincoln on them. Photo: SOURCE

A Historiographical Note

In October 1919, a Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors investigated about a dozen claims with regards to the invention of the tank. The claimants included personalities such as Winston Churchill, R.E.B.Crompton, William Tritton, Eustace d’Eyncourt and other important persons in the development of the tank. A large prize was awarded to those that the Commission deemed to be the ‘inventors’, although such a complicated machine could not be ‘invented’ by only two men and was a concentrated effort. However, the works of this Commission have driven a large number of divergent claims with regards to the development of the tank, and thus of the Lincoln No.1 Machine as well.
Furthermore, the Lincoln No.1 Machine (even under its more famous Little Willie name), while eliciting a large deal of interest, especially due to the centennial of the First World War, has only been treated superficially in the specialised literature, being glossed over in favor of the iconic rhomboid tanks.

A Flurry of Ideas

The tank, as it crashed through the German lines in 1916, did not appear out of a vacuum. Armored cars had been built and showcased around Europe for more than a decade, even though in small numbers and often facing vitriolic opposition. However, the armored car was incapable of traversing no man’s land. Various tank-like vehicles were also proposed around the continent and were just as rigorously ignored.
A myriad of solutions were soon envisaged, including portable bridges, pedrails, steam rollers and huge wheels. The tracked-vehicle did not immediately emerge as the redeeming solution. In fact, on 17th February 1915, a committee from the War Office (not to be confused with the later Landship Committee of the Admiralty) attended a demonstration of a Holt Tractor at Shoeburyness, some 40 miles west of London. However, the members of the committee were highly critical of the vehicle, especially regarding the weight and costs of an armored vehicle based on the Holt tractor. And thus the army turned its back on the tank idea.

The Navy Steps In

One of the major users of armored cars on the Western Front was, quite surprisingly, the Royal Navy Air Service, or RNAS. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Winston Churchill, had already joined the landship discussion in January 1915, with a letter to the Prime Minister speaking about armored steam tractors that would crush barbed wire, cross trenches, and deliver infantry to the enemy lines. While other fanciful ideas and ludicrous designs were discussed, on the 22nd February 1915, the Admiralty’s Landship Committee met for the first time under the chairmanship of Eustace d’Eyncourt, deciding to further look into two options, tracked vehicles or vehicles with large wheels.
With no reliable tracks available in Great Britain at the time, an officer was sent to the USA to try and locate some. The mission resulted in the delivery of the Killen-Strait tractor followed by two Creeping Grip tractors and an elongated set of tracks from the Bullock company in Chicago. The Bullock tracks arrived in August 1915.

An excellent shot of the two of the two Bullock Creeping Grip tractors that were bought on behalf of the Landship Committee and linked together. This was a development parallel to what would become the Lincoln No.1 Machine. However, this photograph of the original suspension also demonstrates the sagging that the elongated version on the Lincoln No.1 Machine suffered from. Because the tank’s tracks were much longer, they were even more likely to not connect correctly on the far end of the trench and be thrown off. Photo: IWM
In June 1915, the Army finally expressed its interest in getting back into the project, but the development would remain in Admiralty hands for a while longer. On 22nd (other sources state 24th) of July, the Lincoln-based William Foster & Company was finally contracted to build a prototype landship based on the longer version of the Bullock tracks. This choice came due to their previous experience with building tracked vehicles and their involvement with the military, having developed the humongous Daimler Foster artillery tractors and also having been involved in developing their own trench-crossing vehicle.
The vehicle at this stage is also described as based on one half of the articulated Crompton machine, as in an order from the Landship Committee from the 30th of July. This did not mean it actually was one half of the Crompton machine, but just that it used the same tracks.
However, from this short incubation period in the Navy’s berth, a number of components of the tank have received ship-like designations that are in use to this day. Tanks have hulls (from the watertight shell of a ship), hatches for the crew members, sometimes have weapon ports and sponsons (a part of a ship that projects beyond the side of the hull), one or more turrets (an entirely enclosed part of a ship that could rotate with the armament mounted in it), the hull machine-gun is often called a bow MG (the bow is the front of a ship) and the part above the engine is the engine deck (the floors on a ship).

The Lincoln No. 1 Machine

The paternity of the design that emerged is contested, with both R.E.B.Crompton and William Tritton claiming it. The former had led the design efforts of the Landship Committee before his contract ending prior to the end of the construction of the prototype and he was replaced with Tritton. What is known is that Tritton at least knew of a set of detailed drawings done by Crompton and an assistant, Mr. Rigby. Tritton contests having received a full set of detailed drawings, with other sources claiming he did, in fact, receive them. Regardless, construction finally began on 11th August. On the 9th (or 8th) of September, just four weeks later, it was already being driven around the yard at the Foster Company’s testing grounds.

The Lincoln No.1 Machine during trials. Notice the turret visible under the canvas and what looks like a gun holding up the cover. The vehicle was going over a small hill. The steering wheels are visible at the rear, as is the ‘nose’ that protrudes in front of the tracks. Note that the image was improperly scanned. Source: IWM Q 14543

The Name

The vehicle presented in this article, featuring the Bullock tracks, the simple version of the rear wheels and the large turret, was known as either the ‘Lincoln No.1 Machine’, after the locality it was built in, or the ‘Tritton’, after its head designer, at the time of its construction and testing. Some sources also state that William Tritton called both this design and Mother as ‘Juggernaut’.
The ‘Little Willie’ nickname seems to have only appeared after the Tritton tracks were fitted, sometime in January 1916, accompanying the ‘Big Willie’, better known as ‘Mother’ or ‘His Majesty’s Land Ship Centipede’. There is no proof that the vehicle ever officially ceased being called the ‘Lincoln No.1 Machine’, even after its upgrade.
It is thus the author’s choice to use the designations to differentiate between the ‘Lincoln No.1 Machine’ fitted with the Bullock tracks and the ‘Little Willie’ fitted with the Tritton tracks.
A note on the ‘tank’ designation should also be made. The persons involved in the project decided to adopt a cover name for the new vehicle being prepared, ‘landship’ being deemed as too conspicuous. ‘Water Carrier’ was first proposed, but the shorter version of ‘tank’ eventually won out and has remained in worldwide use. It is, however, unclear when the ‘tank’ designation first appeared and if it was applied to the Lincoln No.1 Machine. J.F.C. Fuller, in his book ‘Tanks in the Great War 1914-1918’ claims that it was first used on 24th December 1915 for a proposed ‘Tank Supply Committee’ that would take over armored development in the United Kingdom. This Committee was indeed formed in September 1916 upon the dissolution of the Landships Committee.
Another explanation given for the tank name is that the ‘chassis’ and the ‘body’ of the vehicle were separated, with the ‘chassis’, actually the Creeping Grip track system, being described as a training vehicle for the Royal Marine Artillery and the hull of the tank as a water carrier for Mesopotamia. This could also explain the photograph of the Lincoln No.1 Machine hull in the Foster factory, showing an almost complete vehicle, but with no running gear and no holes cut into the hull.

Construction

The large, boxy vehicle was of riveted construction using an iron-angle frame, being made out of boiler plate and not bullet-proof armor. This was, in the end, meant to be a test prototype and not to see combat. An angular nose protruded from the front, inside which the steering controls were located. Just above the glacis of this ‘nose’ were two hatches, hinged on the upper part, which allowed the driver and co-driver to see forwards. Both these hatches also featured a small horizontal slit with a shutter that should have allowed some limited visibility under fire. A similar design would be kept for most British tanks used in World War One. These could be held open using a strut. It is unclear if the circular gun slot that later appeared between the two hatches on Little Willie was present on the Lincoln No.1 Machine as well or if it was a later modification.
Two large, almost full-length sponsons were present on the sides, emerging from just over the tracks and reaching up to the top of the vehicle. Each of them had three weapon ports with a rotating shutter when not in use. One large headlight could be mounted on either side. The rear of the tank hosted the coupling that held the rear pair of wheels. This coupling allowed the wheels to be turned from the inside through a small hole at the rear of the tank. The rear assembly was fixed to mounting points on each side at the rear and connected to a large spring in the lower part of the rear. A door was also present on the left side of the tank, with a pistol port at its top. This seems to have been the only way of accessing the tank. A radiator fill port was present on the upper right side.

A photo showing the rear of the Lincoln No.1 Machine. The rear wheels and their mechanism are visible, as is the cable used to control them. The large door on the left is open, probably in order to aid ventilation inside. The small tubular piece of metal protruding out of the oval port hole in the center of the right-hand door at the back of the vehicle is the radiator filling tube. The constant use of a large canvas sheet over the vehicle was for security purposes, meant to disguise the machine. Photo: SOURCE
The rear wheels were meant to help the tank in steering and could be turned left and right, like on a regular car. They were based on the Ackerman steering geometry used in most wheeled vehicles. Because they were at the rear, when the wheels were turned to the left they would then turn the tank to the right, similar to how a car handles when driven in reverse. This was not the main means of steering, but was meant to augment the track steering and allow for more efficient shallow turns. The usual brake differential, which was the main mode of steering, led to the loss of a good deal of the tank’s power. Also, when crossing a trench, the wheels would offer extra support to the tank, allowing it to pass over trenches and not slide backward at the last moment.
The rear wheels on the Lincoln No.1 Machine were the same as the front wheels on the Foster-Daimler tractor, with a prominent circumferential central rib on the wheels. This feature would be kept for the Mark I tanks, but was removed afterward. The wheels where 1.37 m (4 ½ ft) in diameter. A large coil spring was also present, one end connected to the rear of the hull and the other to the rear wheel frame. This spring pulled the wheels downward, ensuring good contact with the terrain. The Lincoln No.1 Machine did not have the hydraulic system that could raise the rear wheels when needed.

The rear wheels on the Lincoln No.1 Machine. The attachment points and the large spring that held them in place are visible. Photo: SOURCE
The top of the tank had five structural support ribs running transversely, with another reinforcement running longitudinally on the centre. There was a radiator air intake at the rear right. A fan intake was placed further forward on the right, but behind the turret. Two more holes were present next to the fan. One of them was probably the fuel intake and the other the exhaust, although that is just speculation.
The Lincoln No.1 Machine also featured a large circular turret placed near the middle of the vehicle. There is some discussion around the placement of the turret, focusing on whether it was centered or offset to one side. Investigations on Little Willie, which survives in the Bovington Tank Museum, show that the circular plate that was used to cover the turret opening is off-center. However, it is unclear if this is because the turret opening itself is off-center or if only the plate was mounted to one side.
David Fletcher, in ‘The British Tank: 1915-1919’, states that the turret did not have any rotation mechanism installed for the prototype. It was not just a dummy weight though, as a photo taken during construction of the vehicle shows it being made of riveted steel, same as the rest of the tank. Contrary to various online opinions that state that the turret was meant to be fixed in place, it was almost assuredly designed to rotate on the final design. Turrets were not a new concept at the time, having already been used extensively on armored cars and on ships. Furthermore, the circular shape was too difficult to create and had no advantages over a rectangular shape if it was meant to be a fixed casemate.
Unfortunately, little else is known about the turret except for the fact it had at least one more weapon port. There is also a chalk lining on the front part, possibly showing where the cut-out for the gun would be made. There is a single photo showing the turret during the construction of the Lincoln No.1 Machine. The turret is well hidden by a textile cover in all the other photos of the vehicle. This was meant to obscure the role of the vehicle to any uninvited enquirers.

The only photo showing the Lincoln No.1 Machine’s turret. This was taken during construction at William Foster and Co. Note that the front hatches for the driver and co-driver have not been cut in yet. Neither have the side gun ports. The ‘tube’ sticking out of the lower side of the hull next to the ladder is the central pivoting axle, on which the track frames where mounted and also supported one drive chain sprocket. It is unclear what the thing attached to the side of the hull is, although it is possible it was used for cutting the weapon ports. Photo: SOURCE
The running gear was not directly connected to the hull of the vehicle. All the wheels that held the track were mounted on a frame that was then connected to a central pivoting axle on each side. Two other brackets on each side, one at the front and one at the rear, controlled the pitch of the body.

Armament

The Lincoln No.1 Machine was meant to sport impressive weaponry for the time. The turret was intended to mount a Quick Firing (QF) 2-pounder (40mm) Mark II gun. This watercooled Vickers-Maxim type autocannon was already in use in the Royal Navy as a ship-borne anti-aircraft gun. This weapon had a relatively high-rate of fire, being belt-fed, and a high muzzle velocity (585 m/s). However, the rather small shell had no explosive power, its main ammunition being solid shells, and would have struggled against enemy emplacements and machine-gun nests. This would lead to its abandonment by the nascent tank arm in favor of the 6-pounder.
Another machine-gun was meant to be mounted in the weapon port to the left of the gun. This was not coaxial and could be independently aimed.

A Quick-Firing 2-pounder (40mm) gun used as an Anti-Aircraft Gun on a train car in the Middle East, in Mesopotamia, in 1918. Photo: Q 24291, Imperial War Museum archives
Besides this, up to six Madsen light machine-guns were meant to be used. The hull of the Lincoln No.1 Machine had three pistol ports on each side and another one at the rear, from which the machine-guns were probably meant to be fired. They would be mounted on trunions and aimed through special sights using a short pistol grip. The barrel would have had a special cover. The machine-guns were magazine fed, with the magazine on the top part of the weapon. It can be speculated that the machine-guns could be dismounted for use outside the tank if needed.
The Madsens had been ordered from Denmark in 1914 for land and air use, but they were never shipped to Great Britain because the route was well covered by the German High Seas fleet and submarines. The Madsens were subsequently abandoned by the time the Tank Mark I rolled out at Flers-Courcelette, replaced by the locally-built Hotchkiss and Vickers machine-guns.

The tank version of the Madsen light machine-gun. Photo: The Madsen Machine Rifle. Main Characteristics, Organization and Tactical Use
Another source, ‘Lincoln No.1 Machine, Little Willie’ by M.J.Verrall, states that the machine-guns would be Lewis or Hotchkiss ones. The same source also states a Maxim machine-gun would have been fitted in the circular port at the front of the tank.
Some sources also state that some rifles would be carried, probably for use by the crew if they dismounted. Ammunition capacity and stowage are unknown. It is almost certain that the Lincoln No.1 Machine never got to the point where these were even considered.

Powerpack

The engine used in the Lincoln No.1 Machine was the same 105 hp Daimler-Foster already in use on Foster’s gigantic artillery tractors. This was a six-cylinder sleeve-valve petrol engine. The sleeve-valve system was an alternative to the currently usual poppet valve. These devices are used to control the flow of fuel into the piston.
At its invention, the sleeve-valve engine was significantly quieter and had markedly improved reliability, being a favorite for luxury machines. This came at the cost of excessive lubricating oil use. In the end, availability, Foster’s experience with the engine and the fact it was already in production and could be put into new tanks quickly led to its use in the Lincoln No.1 Machine.

A 1913 article from The Commercial Motor magazine showing a photo of the 105 hp Daimler engine that was later used in the Lincoln No.1 Machine. Photo: Commercial Motor April 1913
The engine was placed towards the rear of the tank, partially underneath the turret, which would have made the latter’s use more complicated. This peculiar arrangement was probably chosen in order to give a better weight distribution and allow better crew access to the engine.
Beside the engine, a gearbox (two forward speeds, one reverse), a worm differential, steering controls, and a radiator were also present. The radiator was placed at the rear-right of the vehicle and the differential was probably placed in the middle part of the vehicle. The steering controls were at the front, close to the two driver positions. One driver controlled the acceleration, gearbox and rear wheels, while the other one controlled the brakes for each track. Two fuel tanks were mounted in the rear upper sides of the hull.
The power transfer arrangement from the differential to the drive sprocket was ludicrously complicated. The drive shafts (one on each side) had a sprocket connected through a chain to another sprocket fitted to the central pivoting axle. This was connected to a second sprocket, also fitted to the central pivoting axle, which was connected by a second chain to a lantern pinion that drove the drive sprocket at the rear of the tank. A similarly complicated system was maintained on the subsequent Tank Mark I-IV. This had the advantage that the whole power transfer arrangement was more resistant to shocks, since the chains would not transmit exterior shocks to the gearbox and differential.

Illustration showing a cutaway of the complicated power transfer arrangement on the Tank Mark IV. Photo: Source unknown, taken from Pinterest

The slightly less complicated power transfer arrangement on the Tank Mark V, showing the two chain-connected sprockets, the second of which meshes with the drive sprocket. Photo: The Tank Corps, by Major Clough Williams-Ellis, M. C., and A. Williams-Ellis

A Daimler Foster artillery tractor. The size of this machine is immediately apparent. The engine and front wheels were reused on the Lincoln No.1 Machine. OHMS stands for On His Majesty’s Service. Photo: SOURCE

Crew

The number of crew members that the Little Willie would have accommodated is given as five in a single source, a speech given at an anniversary dinner 50 years later for the designers. It is unclear how accurate this information is. Two crew positions were present at the front of the vehicle, for the driver and the co-driver. At least two more crewmen would have been present in the turret, with the other one (or possibly more) manning the machine-guns in the sponsons.

The Track Units

The entire track system of the Lincoln No.1 Machine was imported from the United States, from the Bullock company of Chicago. They were an elongated version of the tracks used on the Creeping Grip tractor built by the same company. This was done because there were no suitable track producers in the United Kingdom and due to expedience, as they were already in production (even though thousands of miles and an ocean away).

The Bullock ‘Creeping Grip’ short tracks, as used on the original tractor. Photo: Commercial Motor magazine, 3rd April 1919
The drive sprocket was at the rear, while the idler was at the front. They both had a distinctive, slightly-spiraled design and were cast. The idler could be used to adjust the track tension. Eight equally-spaced small road wheels held the weight of the tank. These were all held on a single fixed frame. All photos of the Lincoln No.1 Machine show a significant curvature of the roadwheel line. This was apparently done in order to reduce the amount of track in contact with the ground and thus allow the tank to steer. There is indeed an inverse relationship between the contact length of the track and the ease of steering. The return of the track was supported by five return rollers, all fixed to another metal frame. This upper metal frame was connected to the arms of the idler and drive sprocket.
However, telegrams between Crompton and Wilson, sent when the Bullock tracks reached Foster’s, indicate that the tracks did not initially have this curvature, despite it being specified in the order to the Bullock company. This change was done on the 10th of August by lowering the central roadwheels.
There were apparently no springs or suspension parts, which assuredly made for a very bumpy ride. The vehicle was meant to be able to overcome a 1.5 m (5 ft) trench or a 75 cm (2 ½ ft) parapet.
It is interesting to note that all the running gear elements were connected to the ‘Creeping Grip’ frame and not directly to the hull of the Lincoln No.1 Machine. While this certainly affected the resistance and characteristics of the running gear, it nevertheless meant that it was easy to change, as was done when the Tritton system was introduced.

The Lincoln No.1 Machine during trials, showing an excellent view of the tracks. A close examination of the image shows that the first roadwheel has already disconnected with the tracks, landing on the outside of the guide horns when it should have stayed on the inside. Photo: SOURCE
The track links themselves were quite interesting. They were made from cast manganese steel and were 61 cm (24 in) wide. On the inner part, they had four sets of guide horn plates, which ran on either side of the wheels, idler, sprocket and return rollers. This was done in order to decrease the likelihood of the tank throwing its track. These guide horn plates also appear to have been able to rotate slightly in order to accommodate for the large curvature of the track at the front and rear.
The Bullock tracks were poorly manufactured. A report from the official that visited the Bullock factory claimed that, when the tracks did not fit the drive sprocket, the workers solved the problem by hammering the tracks into submission. Nonetheless, the tracks seem to have been unable to handle the larger weight of the Lincoln No.1 Machine and snapped or fell off as soon as the machine started moving in the factory. It must be noted that the vehicle was expected to have an operational life measured in tens of miles in order to accomplish its tasks of crossing the no-man’s-land and engaging the enemy defensive lines.
A larger problem became evident when crossing trenches. As the vehicle crossed the gap, the tracks sagged from under the wheels. When coming on the other side of the trench, the track guide horns would fail to properly connect with the wheels, which would land to the side of their intended central location. This lead to the track being thrown. During tests, this happened with alarming regularity and was, in the end, the downfall of the Creeping Grip track system, which was dropped in favor of a local design. This problem seems to have been due to the lateral flexibility of the tracks themselves.

The Lincoln No.1 Machine going up a slope during trials. Photo: SOURCE

Tests

The Lincoln No.1 Machine was tested at Cross O’Cliff Hill, just south of the Lincoln town, on the 19th of September 1915, with Sir Eustace Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Swinton, Major Walter Gordon Wilson, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, and others in attendance, including a large crowd of factory workers and their wives. Most of the vehicle was covered with three large textile canvases from the Foster factory. One was suspended over the nose of the vehicle and a larger one was draped over the turret and the hull roof except on the rear-right side. The last canvas hanged from the side of the vehicle on the rear right side. This left the rear-right of the tank’s roof uncovered, allowing the exhaust and fans to function unobstructed.
The vehicle was run through difficult terrain and trenches. However, the tracks were repeatedly thrown off when trying to cross trenches, while the track links themselves were unsuited for the weight of the vehicle and began to break off.
This lead to the abandonment of the Bullock tracks, which were replaced with a new design on the second version of the prototype, now known as the Little Willie. However, by this time, the lozenge-shaped tank concept had already entered development and Little Willie was just a track testing vehicle.
Apparently, the rear wheels also proved unsatisfactory in some way or another, as they were changed to include a hydraulic system. More problems that were identified during tests regarded the turret, which made the tank top-heavy and too tall. It was subsequently abandoned.

Illustration showing how the Lincoln No.1 Machine might have looked during its tests without the canvas cover. Behind it is the Foster Daimler tractor, from which the engine, transmission and front wheels were reused on the tank. Illustration by Tony Bryan, taken from British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939 by David Fletcher.

The Lincoln No.1 Machine during trials. The two openings at the front are clearly visible, although the hatches themselves seem to be missing. This photo shows the outer side of the tracks, which were of poor quality. Photo: IWM Q 14542

Little Willie specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h) 5.87×2.86×2.51 m (19x9x8 feet)
Total weight, battle ready 16.5 tons
Crew 6
Propulsion Foster-Daimler Knight sleeve valve petrol 105 hp
Speed 3.22 km/h (2 mph)
Range/consumption 30 km/800 liters (18.64 mi)
Armament Vickers 2 Pdr (40 mm) Mk. II
6 Vickers 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns
Armour From 10 to 15 mm (0.39-0.59 inches)
Total production One prototype

Sources

‘The British Tank: 1915-1919’ by David Fletcher
‘Osprey New Vanguard 100, British Mark I Tank 1916’ by David Fletcher
‘AFV Weapon Profiles 3, Tanks Mark I to V’ by Chris Ellis and Peter Chamberlain
‘A New Excalibur: The Development of the Tank, 1909-1939’ by A.J.Smithers
‘The Tank: Its Birth and Development’ by William Foster and others
‘The Landships of Lincoln’ by Richard Pullen
‘Eyewitness, being personal reminiscences of certain phases of the Great War, including the genesis of the tank’ by Major-General Sir Ernest D. Swinton.
‘History of the Tank’. Dinner Speech on the Commemoration of 50 years since the first use of tanks. January 1977
‘Lincoln No.1 Machine, Little Willie’ by M.J.Verrall, October 1988
‘The Madsen Machine Rifle. Main Characteristics, Organization and Tactical Use’
The Commercial Motor, A SIX – CYLINDER 105 h.p. SLEEVE-VALVE DAIMLER, 3rd April 1913, Page 14
The Commercial Motor, 3rd April 1919
This entire article has been funded by our Patron Golum through our Patreon campaign!

The Lincoln No.1 Machine, sporting the round turret armed with a 2-pounder Pom-Pom gun. Two more Madsen machine-guns are sticking out of the side sponson ports. Illustrated by Bernard ‘Escodrion’ Baker, funded by our Patron Golum through our Patreon Campaign.

Categories
WW2 German SPAAGs

Sd.Kfz.7/1

ww2 German half-tracks Nazi Germany (1939)
Half-Track SPAAG – 750

The most famous German self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAG) are the Panzer IV based Wirbelwind, Ostwind, Mobelwagen and even Kugelblitz. However, despite being overshadowed by their tank-based counterparts, it was actually the half-track SPAAGs that made up the bulk of the German mobile anti-aircraft fleet. Thousands of such lightly armored vehicles were built, based on different chassis and with different gun combinations.
One of the earliest examples of such a vehicle is the Sd.Kfz.7/1, a version of the ubiquitous half-tracked tractor armed with a 2 cm Flakvierling 38 anti-aircraft gun system.
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An early Sd.Kfz.7/1 undergoing trials, with the Flakvierling gun system covered. Notice that the tarpaulin covering the driver’s compartment is fitted. Also notice the early mesh drop-sides and the tools attached to them. Source: https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/germany/halftracks/sdkfz-7/sdkfz-7-armed-with-a-2-cm-flakvierling-38-flak/

The Sd.Kfz.7

The Sd.Kfz.7, or Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8t (Medium Tractor 8 tonnes), was developed as part of the larger family of German half-tracks. The first specifications for this vehicle were laid down in 1932 by Wa.Prüf.6. The vehicle was developed by Krauss-Maffei, with the first vehicle entering production in 1933.
As the designation suggests, the Sd.Kfz.7 was meant to tow weights of up to 8 tonnes. It was the tow vehicle of choice for the famous Flak 88 anti-aircraft guns, the 15 cm sFH 18 howitzer, and the 10.5 cm K18 field gun. However, due to the chaos of war, these vehicles were sometimes seen towing larger loads. They also towed trucks and even light tanks through the harsh conditions on the Eastern Front. The Sd.Kfz.7 could also carry up to 18 men on its 3 benches. The rear of the vehicle was compartmentalized in order to carry various equipment, fuel and ammo.
The design constantly evolved during its 11 year production period. Several engines were used, with various changes made to the superstructure and suspension, including the addition of an extra pair of roadwheels with the last model, the Typ m 11, in order to reduce ground pressure.
In total, 12,000 Sd.Kfz.7 half-tracks were built by Kraus-Maffei, Daimler-Benz, and Hansa-Lloyd in Germany, Saurer in Austria, and Breda in Italy until 1944. They served on all front with the German Wehrmacht, as well as with Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, and even the Yugoslav Partisans. Some were even used after the war by the Allies and the British tried to copy the design with the Traclat.
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An Sd.Kfz.7 Typ m 11 towing an 88 mm Flak gun on a Sonderanhänger 201 trailer. This was a large and powerful vehicle and made a good basis for a SPAAG. Source: Aviarmor.net.

The Sd.Kfz.7/1

The Sd.Kfz.7/1, also known as the ‘Selbstfahrlafette auf m.Zgkw.8t (Sd.Kfz.7/2) mit 2cm Flakvierling 38’, was born shortly after the 2cm Flakvierling 38 was presented to Adolf Hitler in October 1939. The Luftwaffe ordered 100 such weapons systems to be mounted on the Sd.Kfz.7 chassis. Production started in February 1940 and continued until December 1944, by which time between 750 and 800 were manufactured. This made the Sd.Kfz.7/1 one of the most numerous SPAAGs the Germans had at their disposal.
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The prototype Sd.Kfz.7/1. The pivot mounting used on the initial vehicles is very visible in this photo. The Flakvierling is lacking its full gun shield. Source: Panzer Tracts 12
The rear two bench rows were removed, as was the luggage compartment. In their place, a flat platform was created, with the gun mount in the center. A bench row was placed at the front of the platform, facing rearwards. The platform had three drop-sides. These were vertical when the vehicle was on the move, creating a space for the gun crew to stay in. When in firing position, these were dropped into a horizontal position, thus enlarging the space the crew had to move in. The rear drop-side also had a small ladder that helped the crew climb or descend from the platform. There were two kinds of drop sides used. For most Sd.Kfz.7/1 vehicles, these consisted of wire mesh fixed on a metal frame. Some of these metal frames had diagonal braces. However, vehicles built late in the war had these made of wood on a metal frame. This was probably done in order to save materials.
The windshield could be dropped down in order to allow a larger arc of fire for the gun. A tarpaulin could be added to give some cover from the elements, but it only covered the driver’s section.
The winch placed under the vehicle seems to have been retained. It was used to pull vehicles or guns that had gotten stuck.
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The Sd.Kfz.7/1 at Koblenz. This vehicle is a reconstruction, being based on a regular Sd.Kfz.7 recovered from France. It is a late version with an armored cab and wooden drop sides. Some tools are strapped to the bonnet. Source: https://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/11838/2-cm-Flakvierling-38-auf-Sd-Kfz-7-Sd-Kfz-7-1
After August 1943, the vehicle was up-armored using 8 mm steel plating (although production of the unarmored version continued in parallel) and the official designation also changed to ‘Selbstfahrlafette mitgepanzertem Fahrerhaus (Self-propelled gun carriage with armored cab) auf m.Zgkw.8t (Sd.Kfz.7/1) mit 2cm Flakvierling 38’. However, only certain sections of the vehicle were protected. There were two plates at the front of the vehicle, covering the radiator and the engine from frontal fire. The sides were completely exposed. A new armored cab was also added, protecting the driver’s position and the rear crew’s bench. It was partly open to the rear. The top part was only 1.5 mm thick. There were four vision ports protected by armored shutters, two in the front windscreen and two in the side doors. The forward armored shutters had glass vision blocks built in. There were also two hatches in the roof of this armored compartment. There was an armored firewall between the driving compartment and the engine compartment. The armor weighed 2.2 tons. There were plans to prepare a lighter armored cab weighing only 800 kg.
Tools could be carried on the outside of the drop-sides, like a shovel or a pickaxe. However, these are absent in a large number of contemporary photos. Tools are also often depicted as being mounted on the engine hood on the up-armored vehicles, but, yet again, photographic evidence is lacking. One vehicle, restored by Krauss-Mauffei and stored at least for a time at Koblenz, features these hood-mounted tools.
The gun system was mounted in the middle of the rear platform. There were no less than 4 gun mountings used during production. The first one was a small tripod that was height adjustable. Then, the gun system was mounted on a pivot which was also height adjustable. The third mounting is unclearly described in the literature. However, on later vehicles, a new mounting system was added, which allowed the mounting of the gun system using its usual tripod. This had the advantage of easily allowing the Flakvierling to be dismounted and placed on the ground, but this option seems to have been rarely used. The tripod mount was bulkier and occupied more space than the pivot mount.
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The later type gun mount. It could accommodate the Flakvierling directly on its tripod mounting. Source: Wheels & Tracks 12
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A late Sd.Kfz.7/1 showing the tripod mount of the Flakvierling. This allowed the gun to be easily dismounted from the vehicle with the use of a crane. Source: Pinterest
The Sd.Kfz.7/1 also towed a Sd.Ah.56 special trailer. This was a two-wheeler trailer specially designed for carrying the ammo boxes and accessories for the Flakvierling AA gun system.
120 boxes of ammunition carrying 20 rounds each for a total of 2400 rounds were carried. 30 magazines were carried in the vehicles itself, with the other 90 being kept in the trailer. However, in operations, ammo boxes were scattered all around the rear platform, in order to allow easy access to the loaders.
A large number of chassis were also produced without the gun, meant to act as munition carriers. However, they had all the fittings needed to receive a gun and also acted as reserve chassis. It is unclear if these vehicles are included in the total production number or not.
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A late version Sd.Kfz.7/1 with its Sd.Ah.56 trailer. Note the large amount of vegetation used as cover. Also, the steps are visible on the rear drop-side. These were used to access the platform. Source: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

Automotive

The Sd.Kfz.7/1 kept all the automotive parts from the Sd.Kfz.7 half-track. The SPAAGs were based on the KM m 11 or the HM m 11 versions, the last in the evolution of the Sd.Kfz.7.
The original engine was a Maybach HL 62 TUK, although this was changed in 1943 for the HL 64 TR. The difference between the two was the displacement (6.4 liters instead of 6.2 liters) and the change of the lubrication system. Both were 6-cylinder water cooled gasoline engines. The HL 62 could reach a maximum of 140 hp at 2600 rpm. It could power the Sd.Kfz.7/1 to a maximum speed of 50 km/h. The 203-liter fuel tank gave a range of 250 km on road.
The engine was connected to a 5-speed differential gearbox (4 forward, 1 reverse) that powered the drive sprockets mounted at the front of the track. This was an “Aphon” type non-synchromesh gearbox. The clutch was a Mocano K 230 K. Seven pairs of interleaved rubberized roadwheels provided contact with the ground and also held the track on the return run. Six of the roadwheel pairs were sprung using a leaf spring suspension. However, the last pair, which also acted as the idler, had a torsion bar suspension instead.
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One of the suspension units of an Sd.Kfz.7. Four pairs of roadwheels were connected to this leaf spring. Another two pairs were connected to another leaf spring, while the last pair was connected to a torsion bar suspension. Image courtesy of the Sd.Kfz.7 Project Part Search https://www.facebook.com/sdkfz7/
Steering was achieved using the front two wheels. These were air-filled rubber wheels that were steered using the steering wheel in the driver’s cabin. The tracks could also be powered separately in order to help turning, but this was used only if the steering wheels were insufficient. The front wheels had a leaf-spring suspension

The 2cm Flakvierling 38

The Flakvierling 38 anti-aircraft mount system was introduced into service in 1940. It was developed by the Mauser company for the Kriegsmarine at first but was then adopted by the Wehrmacht in order to provide an anti-aircraft system with a better rate of fire. It consisted of four 2cm Flak 38 AA guns mounted together, two on each side. This allowed the Flakvierling to put up four times more bullets in the same amount of time compared to the single Flak 38, thus increasing the chances of severely damaging enemy airplanes.
Inadvertently, this also made the gun quite potent against ground targets, as it was able to saturate enemy positions with fire.
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A color (or colorized) image of a Sd.Kfz.7/1 in a very warm climate. Notice the vegetation piled up around the vehicle to provide some sort of cover. Source: https://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/11838/2-cm-Flakvierling-38-auf-Sd-Kfz-7-Sd-Kfz-7-1
There was no central loading system and each gun had its own 20 round magazine. The magazines were mounted on the sides of the system. When the system was at 0 degrees elevation, the magazines were horizontal.
The guns had a maximum range of 4.7 km and a maximum altitude range of 3.7 km. The combined maximum rate of fire of the 4 guns was 1800 rounds per minute, but this was usually closer to 800 rpm in operation, as the guns needed to be reloaded after they finished their magazines. It could take as little as 3 seconds to fire off all four magazines. Special compartments for the magazines were present on either side of the mount, rotating along with the whole system. The gun barrels could be removed for cleaning.
The guns were fired with the use of two-foot pedals. Each pedal fired two diagonally-opposed gun, so the upper-left at the same time as lower-right. This was done in order to balance out the firing recoil. If a pedal would have controlled the guns on one side, then the recoil from firing them would have rotated the mount to one side, thus making it impossible to aim. If the pedal would have controlled the guns on the upper part, the recoil would have pulled the system upwards, again throwing off the gunner. With the guns fired in diagonal pairs, the recoil compensated both horizontally and vertically, allowing the gunners to aim properly at their target. An official order was issued to Flakvierling 38 crews to only fire two barrels at a time, but this recommendation was mostly ignored in the field.
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An Sd.Kfz.7/1 gun crew looking after one of its targets prior to the Battle of Kursk, 1943. Notice the large amounts of vegetation used as camouflage. Source: ww2dbase, German Federal Archive
The aiming system consisted of either a Flakvisier 38 or a Flakvisier 40. They differed in minor details. These were electrical devices which used batteries to adjust the sights in order to help the gunners aim.
The Flakvierling could rotate 360 degrees, with elevation ranging from -8 to 85 degrees. Both rotation and elevation were done manually. The first Sd.Kfz.7/1 were not produced with a gun shield, but this was introduced quite early and retrofitted to older vehicles. The guns were protected by a 3-part shield, with the outer sides being dismountable. The shield weighed 325 kg. These offered the gunners and loaders a degree of protection from rifle-caliber bullets. For land use, the whole system sat on a static tripod which had a ring on which the system rotated. When used on ships, the system sat on a pivot. No fewer than 10 men were needed to crew the Sd.Kfz.7/1, with a driver, a commander and 8 gun servants.
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A well worn early Sd.Kfz.7/1. The Flakvierling is lacking two of its barrels. The vehicle has received a coat of white-wash as camouflage. Notice the wire mesh drop sides and the tools still attached to it.
Source: https://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/11838/2-cm-Flakvierling-38-auf-Sd-Kfz-7-Sd-Kfz-7-1

By the end of the war, the Flakvierling became less efficient against the newer versions of the Allied and Soviet ground attack planes, thus falling out of favor and being replaced by 3.7 cm guns. This was probably one of the reasons why the Sd.Kfz.7/1 was discontinued in 1944.

SdKfz-7/1 Flakvierling
SdKfz-7/1 Flakvierling by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet
SdKfz-7/1 with armoured cab
SdKfz-7/1 with armoured cab by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Markings and Camouflage

* Most of this information comes from photographic records.
The early war vehicles seem to have been painted in the regular Dunkelgrau color used for most German army vehicles at the time. Three license plates were fitted to the vehicle, two on the front bumper and one at the rear. No other markings seem to be present on the vehicles.
During winter, the Sd.Kfz.7/1 were white-washed in order to make them harder to detect by enemy pilots and ground troops.
The vehicles soon acquired various camouflage schemes, although it is unclear if these were regulated or purely the crew’s choice. A set of full-color pictures taken in Czechoslovakia in May 1945 of the surrender of the I. Flak-Korps show a number of Sd.Kfz.7/1 SPAAGs in green-sand camouflage colors, although the patterns are quite random.
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Two uparmored Sd.Kfz.7/1s from the I.Flak Korps surrendering in Czechoslovakia in May 1945. These are original color photos and beautifully show the camouflage colors used. Source: https://www.network54.com/Forum/571595/thread/1504613838/last-1504613838/myfile.htm
An interesting feature on a number of vehicles is that the gun shield was covered with cloth, probably in order to minimize reflections that might give the vehicle’s position away. Also, large amounts of vegetation were used to camouflage the vehicle and make it harder to see from the air.
Markings were quite rare. One vehicle was photographed with kill marks on the gun shield, indicating the number of plane and ground vehicle kills the crew claimed. One other late-style vehicle has the nickname ‘Dorle’ written on the radiator armor plating. Another vehicle, from a leichte Flak-Btl., had some markings denoting its unit on the front fenders. An up-armored Sd.Kfz.7/1 had unit markings on the right cab door. However, these occurrences were the exception and not the rule.
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An Sd.Kfz.7/1 with the gun shield covered by cloth sitting in a cereal field. This was meant to remove any reflections from the metal shield which could give away the position of the gun system. The two sunflowers are also an interesting addition. Source: German Self Propelled Guns, Armor at War series 7022
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An Sd.Kfz.7/1 also surrendering in Czechoslovakia. Notice the ‘Dorle’ nickname stenciled on the front armor plate. Source: https://www.network54.com/Forum/571595/thread/1504613838/last-1504613838/myfile.htm

Operational Use

The Sd.Kfz.7/1 was used by the Flak Kompanies and Flak Batteries of the Luftwaffe. These were used to accompany the Wehrmacht’s divisions or to protect important locations and installations like airfields. Two or three Sd.Kfz.7/1 SPAAGs formed a platoon. After 1943, a three-vehicle platoon was also added to the HQ unit of each Panzer Abteilung. This gave the tank units their own AA support, without having to rely on the Luftwaffe’s.
These vehicles were very well suited to accompany the German Panzer formations, as they could keep up with the tanks. Also, they could deploy very quickly, immediately providing cover for the troops in case of an unexpected air attack. A towed AA gun would first have to be taken off its trailer and then be placed on its mounting, which would take precious time during an attack. Also, the Sd.Kfz.7/1 could withdraw quickly if the situation required it, with little preparation required. As a trade-off, the Flakvierling could be towed by far smaller vehicles, meaning that the creation of a SPAAG meant the loss of a powerful tractor which could be used to tow a heavier piece of ordnance. This was especially important given the fact that, throughout WWII, the Wehrmacht was reliant on horses to tow their heavy ordnance, as there were never enough heavy tractors.
Their very high rate of fire made them a significant threat to enemy ground attack aircraft. Besides their potential to destroy the attackers, their presence could make enemy pilots hesitate or rush their attack runs, thus lowering their chances of success.
The Sd.Kfz.7/1 had a very high silhouette. Besides obviously making it more visible, this also made it harder to dug-in compared to the towed Flakvierling, as the whole tractor had to be accommodated under cover. Also, for the up-armored vehicles, the guns could not fire directly in front of the vehicle, creating a blind spot.
However, their lack of armor meant that they had to avoid enemy ground forces, as the initial batches of vehicles were vulnerable to all small arms fire and to artillery shrapnel. Even the later vehicles, although up-armored, were only protected against small arms fire coming from the front.
Despite these flaws, the Sd.Kfz.7/1 found itself pressed into a role it was definitely not suited for: fighting against enemy ground forces. In the ground fire support role, the Flakvierling could be a serious threat to enemy infantry and unarmored vehicles due to its high rate of fire and high caliber. Also, when using AP rounds, the Flakvierling could penetrate light armored vehicles such as armored cars or the shields of AT guns. When used in this role, the vehicle was driven in reverse, with the gun having a free field of fire towards the enemy. This did offer the advantage of a quick getaway if needed. Also, the armor of the vehicle was definitely insufficient for the task, with the crew members, especially the loaders, being protected only by the gun shield.
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An Sd.Kfz.7/1 on the Eastern Front, being used in a counter-attack against Soviet forces. The vehicle is being driven in reverse, with the gun facing towards the rear. Note that it is an early type vehicle, with no armor whatsoever except the gun shield. Source: Gepard: The History of German Anti-Aircraft Guns
The Sd.Kfz.7/1 soldiered for most of the war, serving especially on the Eastern Front, but also in Africa, Italy and the Western Front after 1944. It is, as of now, unclear if these vehicles served in the invasion of France or Norway.
One famous occasion in which an Sd.Kfz.7/1 was used was during operation Market Garden. Then, a vehicle from an SS unit used its guns to fire at airdropped paratroopers while they were still in the air, but also at the supply gliders.

Surviving Vehicles

At least three Sd.Kfz.7/1 exist today in museums. One late version with the armored cab is at the Koblenz Armor Museum in Germany. This is not an original vehicle, but a reproduction. The base vehicle was an Sd.Kfz.7 recovered from a scrapyard in France where it had been used as a heavy load tractor. It was refurbished with the help of a number of German military defense companies, including Krauss Maffei (who paid for the reconstruction), MTU (engine), ZF Friedrichshafen (transmission), and Clouth (roadwheels).
A second vehicle is at the Sinsheim Technical Museum in Germany, being an early unarmored version. The gun shield is probably a later addition and does not match the usual Flakvierling shield.
The third vehicle is at the Saumur Tank Museum in France. It is awaiting restoration and, while visually in a bad state, the chassis and automotive parts are claimed to be in good order. It is a late war version with the armored cab. The Flakvierling 38 on the back seems to be missing.
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The Sd.Kfz.7/1 at the Sinsheim Technical Museum. Source: https://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/11838/2-cm-Flakvierling-38-auf-Sd-Kfz-7-Sd-Kfz-7-1
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Sd.Kfz.7/1 at the Saumur Tank Museum, awaiting restoration. Image courtesy of Christophe Mialon.

Sd.Kfz.7/1

Dimensions (L-W-H) 6.85 x 2.35 x 2.62 m (22.6 x 7.9 x 8.7 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 11.5 tons
Crew 1 Driver + gun team
Propulsion Maybach HL 62 TUK, six-cylinder petrol
Suspension Half-track torsion arms, interleaved wheels
Maximum speed 50 km/h (31 mph)
Armament 2cm Flakvierling 38
Total production 750

Links, Reources & Further Reading

Panzer Tracts No.12: Flak Selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer, Thomas Jentz, 1998
Panzer Tracts No.22-5: Gepanzerter 8t Zugkraftwagen & Sfl. Flak (Sd.Kfz.7), Thomas Jentz
Gepard: The History of German Anti-Aircraft Guns, Walter Spielberger, 1982
‘Sd.Kfz.7 turned 7/1’, Walter Spielberger, Wheels & Tracks 12, 1985
German Half-Tracked Vehicles of World War II, John Milsom, 1975
Panzer Regiments: Equipment and Organisation, W.J.K Davies, 1978
Information about the Flakvisier from Handbook on German Military Forces, US War Department, 1945
20 mm Flak 38 on WW2-Weapons, written by WW2-Weapons team, consulted 29 December 2017, https://ww2-weapons.com/20mm-flak-38/
Deutsche Artillerie-Geschuetze, Alexander Lüdeke
War Office Tech Intell Summary No. 151, November 8th 1944
ETO Ordnance Technical Intelligence Report No.220, 11 April 1945
Special thank to the Sd.Kfz.7 Project Part Search for information about the suspension, to Mr. Hilary Louis Doyle for naming information, to Christophe Mialon for information about the vehicle at Saumur
Special thanks to Hunter12396, CaptianNemo, Craig Moore and Marcus Hock for help in searching for information and sources

Categories
Argentinian armor

TAM 2C Main Battle Tank

Argentina (2013)
MBT – 1 Built

The Tank with the Sun of May

As the name suggests, the Tanque Argentino Mediano, or TAM, is the main battle tank of Argentina in South America. Originally designed by a German company in the 1970’s, the TAM entered service in 1980, almost 30 years ago. The vehicles were built in Argentina, but with a substantial percentage of imported parts, including the engine and transmission.
However, after several decades without any upgrade, the original TAM is obsolete by modern standards. In this light, a program was started along with a number of Israeli companies, creating the TAM 2C, with the first vehicle being ready in 2013. As of the end of 2017 production had not yet started.
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The TAM 2C upgraded prototype. Photo: SOURCE

New Tank or Upgrade?

While several maintenance and upgrade programs had been proposed before, it was only in 2009 that the Argentinian Ministry of Defense prepared a Pre Feasibility Study.
The study included the possibility of buying foreign tanks and considered the German Leopard 2A4, French Leclerc, Israeli Merkava and the Russian T-90. However, it was decided that an upgrade of the TAM would be more suitable, due to the Argentinian terrain and infrastructure and serious financial constraints. Also, a modernization of the TAM would keep the existing supply and maintenance circuits, while also minimizing the amount of crew retraining needed.
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The upgraded TAM 2C features added sideskirts, thermal camera in front of the driver’s station, thermal sleeve on the gun, rear turret stowage basked and commander’s camera. This is also one of the few photos where the commander’s cupola MG is fitted. Photo: SOURCE
The Carl Zeiss (through its Forger SA subsidiary), Rheinmetall and Elbit companies were asked for bids for the modernization of the TAM tanks. The Israeli Elbit company was chosen in August 2010 by the Ministry, citing monetary reasons, among others.
A memorandum was signed between the Israeli and Argentinian Ministries of Defence for this modernization program. The first prototype was ready in March 2013, entirely done by the Israelis.

Design

Equipment

The TAM 2C upgrades mostly revolve around improved electronics and equipment. One of the most important additions is that of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) mounted on the back of the tank externally. The APU is basically a small turbine engine which provides the vehicle with electrical power while the main engine is turned off. This allows for lower fuel consumption and quieter operation when static.
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The APU added to the rear of the vehicle. Photo: SOURCE
The turret traverse mechanism was also changed from a hydraulic system to an all-electric system, which offers a higher rotation speed. The crew compartment also received an automatic fire suppression system, while another one is in the engine compartment.
The driver received a short-range thermal camera, allowing the TAM 2C to be driven at night or in low-visibility conditions. Both the gunner and the commander received a TV and a thermal camera with built-in laser rangefinders. Both of them also received new digital displays. The onboard computer system has also been significantly upgraded. A new meteorological station was added, giving information to the onboard computer and improving long range accuracy.
Also, a new external stowage basket has been added to the rear of the turret, allowing the crew to transport their belongings and essentially without occupying vital interior space.
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The driver’s new thermal camera that complements his usual viewing ports. On the right is the new commander’s camera system, which can rotate 360 degrees. Photo: SOURCE
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An excellent view of the gunner’s and commander’s stations in the TAM 2C. Photo: SOURCE

Armament

While the old FMK.4 Mod.1L 105 mm gun (based on the legendary British L7) was not changed, it received significant improvements on the 2C standard. The main gun is better balanced through the addition of counterweights, which should improve vertical sighting. Also, a thermal sleeve was added to protect against uneven thermal variations along the barrel, which can lead to small distortions and affect long-range accuracy.
The 2-axis stabilization of the gun has been replaced. The new system allows the temporary locking of the gun into position in order to allow the loader to insert a new shell, while the aiming system still keeps track of the target. Once loading is completed, the main gun is put back on target by the targeting system. If not, the main gun would be nearly impossible to load the gun on the move while tracking an enemy, because the gun would continuously move inside the tank in order to remain on target.
The gun has received a new APFSDS (Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot) shell, a modern high-penetration round also used by other top-of-the-range MBTs around the world. Other additions include a new I-HEAT-T shell and a new training shell which will be produced in Argentina by Fabricaciones Militares. These complement the already existing supplies of APFSDS, APDS (Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot, HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank), HESH (High-Explosive Squash Head) and a smoke shell.
It is also claimed that the TAM 2C can now fire the LAHAT (Laser Homing Attack/Laser Homing Anti-Tank) ATGM (ANti-Tank Guided Missile) also used by the Merkava tanks. This missile has a range of up to 8 km and can penetrate up to 800 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogenous Armor). However, it is unclear if the Argentinian army will buy any such ammunition.
When traveling in quiet zones, the gun rests on a travel lock placed at the front of the vehicle.
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Three new types of 105 mm shells for the 105 mm gun of the TAM. These are, from left to right, a training shell, an APFSDS shell and a HEAT shell. Photo:SOURCE
The secondary armament consists of two MAG 7.62 mm machine guns. One is mounted coaxially with the main gun, while the other is mounted next to the commander’s hatch and can be used for close defense or low-level AA (Anti-Aircraft) protection.
The TAM 2C also retained the two banks of four grenade launchers on the sides of the turret. The grenades can be either anti-personnel or smoke, meant to cover the retreat or the attack of the vehicle.

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The TAM 2C prototype showing off its gun wrapped in a thermal sleeve. Photo: SOURCE

Protection

The armor of the original TAM was retained. It consists of welded plates made from a special alloy of steel, nickel, and molybdenum. The upper glacis is 50 mm thick, angled at 75 degrees from the vertical, with 35 mm at 32 degrees on the sides. The turret is also quite thin, with a maximum of 35 mm of all-around offers all-around protection against small arms fire and shrapnel, with the frontal part probably being able to stand up to 20 mm autocannon fire. However, any tank-caliber gun or AT missile would have no problem passing through this protection.
The only change is the addition of side skirts with the TAM 2C. These are not meant to provide additional armor, but to lower the amount of dust kicked up during traveling.

Mobility

The 2C upgrade had little to do with the powertrain or drivetrain of the original TAM. The engine is a German MTU MB 833 Ka-500 developing 720 hp, coupled to a Renk HSWL-204 forward-mounted transmission. The engine itself is mounted at the front right of the vehicle, in an arrangement identical to the original Marder vehicle on which the TAM is based.
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The engine of the TAM, which was kept for the TAM 2C. Photo: SOURCE
The suspension consists of seven pairs of rubberized roadwheels connected to torsion bars on each side. The first three pairs and the last one also have hydraulic shock absorbers. The idler is at the rear, the drive sprocket at the front and 3 return rollers support the track.
Given the lack of changes, with the exception of a small increase in weight, the TAM 2C probably retained the 70 km/h maximum speed and 500 km range on road. The extra fuel tanks, which could increase the range to 900 km, are probably not an option anymore due to the addition of the external auxiliary power unit. The power to weight ratio remains in the area of 20 hp/ton.
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TAM with extra fuel tanks at the rear, which extended the range to 900 km. On the TAM 2C, their place was taken by an external auxiliary power unit. Photo: SOURCE

The State of Production

The initial TAM 2C prototype was unveiled in April 2013, the upgrade having been completed one month prior by Elbit Systems. After a technical evaluation, a contract was signed in June 2015 for the upgrade of 74 tanks to the TAM 2C standard. The whole investment was announced as being worth US$111 million.
However, since that point, little work seems to have been done on the actual upgrade. A change of government has led to an internal audit of the program and this caused delays. This is related to a series of austerity measures put in place in order to tackle the country’s inflation and public deficit. The engineers at Elbit are working with their Argentinian counterparts at the 602nd Battalion Arsenal.
According to the latest news from July 2017, a 3rd vehicle entered the shop for upgrade and all the other 71 vehicles will follow suit as funds become available. Also, some minor changes are also on the table. Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2018.
null
The TAM 2C prototype being studied in an Argentinian workshop. Behind it is the TAM 2IP prototype with improved protection. In the background is a row of VCA Palmaria SPGs. Photo: SOURCE

Potential Rivals

While the 2C standard does not make the TAM one of the top MBTs in the world, it is sufficiently adequate for its role and possible adversaries. Of Argentina’s neighbors, Chile possesses 200 upgraded Leopard 2A4CHLs, which are well superior to the TAM in all aspects except mobility. These have been upgraded with modern equipment as well. The Leopard 2A4CHL, with its new 120 mm L/55 gun, can easily dispatch the TAM 2C, while the Argentinian tank might struggle with the frontal armor of its adversary. However, the Chilean-Argentinian border, while one of the longest in the world, also goes along the Andes mountain chain, where the TAM’s higher mobility is of utmost importance.
Brazil also has a large fleet of M60 Pattons, Leopards and wheeled tank destroyers, all of which have armament that can deal with the TAM. However, the TAM 2C’s armament is also sufficient to deal with these vehicles and the Argentinian vehicle should have a small edge due to its more modern upgraded equipment.
The Falkland/Malvinas islands remain a point of potential conflict for Argentina. Despite losing the 1982 war, the South American country did not renounce its claim and has actually restated it on numerous occasions, including during a presidential visit to the United Kingdom. Should such a conflict rekindle, both nations would have to bring in any armored vehicles by sea, which is especially problematic for the UK due to the large distances involved. This would probably also forbid the deployment of any Challenger 2 tanks, but not of the Warrior or Ajax IFVs.

Conclusion

This upgrade is a welcome addition to Argentina’s aging fleet of tanks. However, it does not significantly improve the armament, armor or mobility of the vehicle, which are the main characteristics of any MBT. The 2C upgrade will help keep the TAM in service for at least another decade, but it will only postpone the inevitable need for a new modern MBT. The AMX-13s and SK-105s in Argentinian service will also need some attention or replacement in the near future.
Also, it is important to note that, due to the financial problems Argentina is currently going through, the TAM 2C program might still be canceled, despite a large amount of work and progress done on it.

TAM specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 8.23 (6.77 without gun) x 3.12 x 2.42 m
27′ (22’2″) x 10’2″ x 7’9″
Total weight, battle ready 30.5 tons (61,000 lbs)
Crew 4 (commander, driver, loader, gunner)
Propulsion MTU-MB 833 Ka-500 6-cyl diesel, 720 hp (540 kW)
Maximum speed 75 km/h (47 mph) on road
Suspensions Torsion bar
Range (Fuel) 370 miles/590 km or 500 miles/800 km with external FT
Armament 105 mm (4.13 in) FM K.4 Modelo 1L
2 x 7.62 mm NATO FN MAG GMPG (0.3 in) coax/AA
Armor Nose glacis, turret mantlet 50 mm (2 in)
Production 280

Links, Resources & Further Reading

Army Recognition Group, 2017. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
Defense.com team, 2013. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
Charly Borda Bettolli for Zona Militar, 2017. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
Federico Luna for Zona Militar, 2016. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
Maquina de Combate team, 2017. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
Parabrisas magazine, 2001. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
User Twisted 19 on Taringa.net, 2015. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
User Twisted 19 on Taringa.net, 2016. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
User Panzer_Arg on Taringa.net, 2015. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
User badchopper on Taringa.net, 2016. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
User juancho_98 on Taringa.net, 2012. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE
Wikipedia team, 2017. Accessed 31 November 2017
SEE HERE

The TAM 2C
The original TAM Main Battle Tank. 

The TAM 2C
The TAM 2C, modernized by Elbit Systems. Illustrations by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

The TAM 2C
The TAM 2C prototype in a slightly different livery. Illustration by Pablo Javier Gomez

Categories
Polish fake AFVs

Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39

Poland (1939)
Medium/Cruiser Tank – Fake tank

A Fake More Famous than the Real Thing

The 14TP is a little known Polish tank project of the late 1930s. While the information regarding it is vague and no photos have survived, some pieces of information about the project remain. The 14TP was based on the previous 10TP, but with more frontal armor, without the ability to run on its wheels alone and with a different engine.
However, the image most widely associated with the 14TP on the internet looks nothing like the lighter and better-known 10TP. It is the ‘Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39.’

A sketch of the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39, as presented in an article written by Janus Magnuski – Nowa Technika Wojskowa nr 6/1996

A Historical Fake?

The Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 was first published by Janus Magnuski, a Polish historian, in his articles in the Nowa Technika Wojskowa 6/1996 and the Poligon 1/2009 magazines.
According to Magnuski, after the war, the sketch of a tank named the “Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39” (“Polish Tank T-39”) was found in the documents of the Abwehr (Nazi German intelligence service). According to Magnuski, this tank looked like a cruiser-medium tank with a Christie-like suspension, similar to the 10TP, it was assumed that this was the German interpretation of the 14TP, based on whatever intelligence the Germans could get about it before or after the invasion.
While this story is plausible, no evidence was offered to support it and the original document, if it existed, has not emerged.

A ‘what-if’ drawing showing a Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 in action – Source: User bartekd on the odkrywca.pl forum
The Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 bears little resemblance to the 10TP, on which the real 14TP project was based. While it is often used to represent the 14TP, it most certainly bears no relationship to the real thing.
Of course, intelligence services are not infallible, and it possible that the T-39 was based on very poor-quality information obtained by the German agents in Polish territory. Alternatively, it is also widely postulated that this was a deliberate fabrication deliberately planted by the Poles in order to fool the Germans.
It is also possible that the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 is a more recent fabrication, produced by Magnuski or supplied to him by somebody else. Until the original document will be found, it is hard to tell.

The Design of the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39

The feature that brings the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 closest to the 10TP and 14TP is its Christie-like suspension. The T-39 has five large rubberized road wheels on each side, which also supported the track return. In the case of the real vehicles, each wheel would have been connected to a large coil spring sandwiched between two layers of armor.

‘What-if’ illustration of the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39, presented as the real 14TP – Source: WW2 Drawings, illustrated by V.Bourguignon.
The Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39, as shown in the outline from Magnuski, was significantly longer than the 10TP, with one more road wheel. Most of the lengthening seems to have gone to the engine bay. This partially relates to the real 14TP, which was meant to have a more powerful engine.
The front part of the lower hull extends significantly in front of the superstructure, a feature that is common to frontal transmission vehicles.
The rather large turret is mounted centrally in the vehicle, between the rear engine compartment and the front driver compartment. It does not resemble any Polish turret in use at that time. The front of the turret has a very pronounced curvature.
It is noteworthy that the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39, as shown, does not have any machine-gun visible, either in the turret or in the hull.


Illustration of the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 by Jarosław Janas.

Another illustration of the 14TP, done “Escodrion” Bernard Baker

The Fake Document

Since the appearance of the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 in the 1996 article by Magnuski, a document has appeared and widely circulated on the internet, often purported to be the original Abwehr document from which the T-39 project was ‘discovered’ by Magnuski.
However, a careful look reveals several problems with this document. First off, it is extremely clean, both in its writing and in its preservation. While this does not necessarily mean it is fake, it is a warning sign.
It must be noted that a large part of the original Abwehr documents was methodically destroyed during the war, to prevent their capture by the enemy.
Furthermore, the German used in the document is full of grammar and phrasing mistakes. Whoever produced it was clearly not a native speaker, especially not one writing official intelligence documents!
The drawing in the document also perfectly matches the T-39 drawing widely available on the internet. This might mean that Mister Januski was very thorough in reproducing it or that whoever produced this document used the image available online.
Another interesting thing to note is that German documents did not feature drawings in them. The drawings were usually attached as annexes, and not present along with the text.

Conclusion

The ‘Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39’ is not the 14TP. However, it has become widely mistaken for the real 14TP. Many websites and magazines, when writing about the little-known 14TP, use this fake tank to illustrate their pieces, often omitting to make any distinction between the two.
Also, some people have tried using the ‘Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39’ to spin the 14TP into a far more advanced vehicle than it was, one that would be on par or superior to anything else of the time. New information, however, indicates it was not such a super-vehicle.
It is possible that Magnuski indeed saw the ‘Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39’ in a German document, but until such a document appears, it should be treated with care. There is also no source where this ‘document’ was found or by whom or even when.

The supposed document showing the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39. It is almost assuredly a fake – Photo: As taken from a post by Raznarok on the World of Tanks forums

Links, Resources & Further Reading

Polish forum thread discussing various designs, including the 14TP
Poligon magazine 2010/1
Modern Drawings

Categories
Cold War French Wheeled Vehicles

AMX-10 RC & RCR

France (1979)
Wheeled tank destroyer – 457 built

Roues-Canon

The AMX-10 RC first appeared in the late 1970s, in an effort to replace the Panhard EBR heavy armored car, which was then approaching 30 years in service. The project was started at the Ateliers de construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux in September 1970. The vehicle does share some parts with the similarly named AMX 10P, but are otherwise totally different.
AMX-10 RC
AMX-10 RC – Photo: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
The first AMX 10 RCs entered service in 1979, and the vehicle has cemented the French Army’s love for wheeled tank destroyers. In 2000, the RCs were upgraded to the Renové standard, and are expected to remain in service until 2020-2025, at which point they should be replaced by the EBRC Jaguar.

Design

The AMX 10 RC is a 6×6 vehicle. It features a hydropneumatic suspension, which allows the driver to change the ground clearance of the vehicle. It can be varied between 21 and 60 cm, the choice depending on the type of the ground the vehicle is on.
The suspension can also be used to tilt the vehicle forward, backward or to the side, as required by the tactical necessities. The vehicle does not have any steering wheels, instead using skid steering. The principle is similar to how a tank turns, with the wheels on one side turning faster or slower to turn the vehicle.
The vehicles originally featured a HS 115 diesel engine built by Renault, which supplied 260 hp. However, the last production batches received a more powerful 280 hp Baudouin Model 6F 11 SRX engine. By 1995, all the previous vehicles were retrofitted with this engine.
The vehicle can reach 80 km/h on-road and 65 km/h and a range of 800 km. The transmission had four forward and four reverse gears. The vehicle is also amphibious, being propelled by two water jets up to a speed of 7.2 km/h. A trim vane must be erected before entering the water. The vehicle is air-transportable.
The turret of the vehicle is made out of welded aluminum, and the armor is said to protect against medium caliber weapons, meaning most 20-30 mm autocannons. The turret is called Toucan or TK105. Four smoke grenade dischargers are mounted at the rear of the turret. The turret is electro-hydraulically rotated.
AMX-10 RC
AMX-10 RC – Photo: As taken from Chars-Francais.net
The crew consists of four men. The driver sits in the hull, on the left side. He can use a hatch and 3 periscopes. The commander is seated on the right-rear side of the vehicle, with a hatch above his head. He has 6 periscopes and an M398 rotatable telescope at his disposal.
The commander is able to override the gunner, and rotate the turret or aim the gun. The gunner is seated in the turret front-right. He also has 3 periscopes and a telescope, which is connected to a laser range finder.
The main gun of the vehicle is an F2 105 mm medium-pressure gun, specially designed for light vehicles. The length of the barrel is 48 times the caliber without the muzzle break. The gun can fire high-explosive, high-explosive anti-tank, armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot and smoke rounds.
These shells are not NATO compatible. Its APFSDS round can penetrate a NATO triple heavy tank target at 2000 m. This is a standard which is meant to simulate the side of a Soviet MBT, with the side-skirt, a roadwheel and side-armor being factored in. The APFSDS round leaves the gun at 1400 m/s.
38 rounds are carried in all, of which 12 in the turret. A 7.62 mm machine-gun is fitted coaxially to the main gun. Some vehicles also have a roof-mounted machine-gun.

The AMX 10 RCR

In 1994, the French army decided to retrofit and modernize its fleet of AMX 10 RC vehicles. The intended upgrade involved a new turret and gun, applique armor and some modifications and improvements to the electronics. However, due to budget cutbacks, the upgrade was not given the go ahead.
The problem of modernizing the AMX 10 RC was finally addressed in 2000, when a contract was signed with Nexter Systems for the upgrade of 256 vehicles to a new standard. The improved AMX 10 RCR (the last R stands for Renové) is meant to remain in service until 2020-2025, when the new EBRC Jaguar will replace it.
The upgrade included the SIT-VI battlefield management system, which allows the vehicles to exchange battlefield information between themselves and with the command structure. An infrared missile jammer, the LIRE, was installed on the forward-left part of the turret, and a new thermal camera was installed for the gunner and the commander.
Protection-wise, the AMX-10 RCR has received add-on armor. Most visually notable are the side-skirts, but the front of the vehicle and the turret sides also received attention. Also, the turret was extended at the rear, creating more equipment space inside it.
The gun has received a new type of HEAT rounds. Also, a Galix system is mounted on the turret. This can fire a wide-range of grenades, including smoke, IR-decoys or explosive.
The gearbox was replaced, as was the control system of the hydro-pneumatic suspension. Furthermore, the driver can now vary the pressure in the tires, allowing him to better adapt the vehicle’s traction to the terrain. However, the added weight means the RCR is no longer amphibious, and the water jets were removed.
The first deliveries took place in 2005, and the whole retrofit program was finalized in 2010.

Variants

The AMX 10 RC has spawned a number of variants, however none have made it into production

AMX-10 RP

The RP was an APC version developed in the late ’70s. The turret was removed and the engine was moved to the front, making room for 8 soldiers in the rear compartment. The vehicle was to be armed with a 20mm autocannon and a coaxial machine-gun. Most of the other features of the AMX 10 RC were kept. However, the vehicle didn’t attract any attention and was never bought. The prototype of the vehicle is currently at Saumur, not on display.

AMX-10 RTT

The RTT was another APC version, appearing in 1983 as a replacement to the unsuccessful RP. It was similar to the previous vehicle, but featured a GIAT Dragar one-man turret fitted with a 25 mm autocannon and a coaxial machine-gun. However, the RTT similarly failed in garnering any attention, and it was discontinued.

AMX-10 RAA

This was an AA version first presented at Satory in 1981. It featured a large turret armed with two 30 mm autocannons produced by SAMM. Another turret, made by Thales, was also available.

AMX-10 RAC

An AMX-10 RC fitted with a TS 90 turret and CS Super 90 high-velocity riffled gun. This turret-gun combination can also be found on the AMX 10 PAC 90 and Renault VBC-90.
AMX-10 RC T-40 - Photo: As taken from warfaretech.blogspot.comAMX-10 RP - Photo: As taken from vestnik-rm.ruAMX-10 C - Photo: As taken from chars-francais.netAMX-10 RAA - Photos: As taken from vehi-nation.weebly.comAMX-10 RTT - Photo: As taken from vestnik-rm.ru

AMX-10 C

A tracked vehicle with the RC’s turret, and sharing the same automotive components.

AMX-10 RC TML 105

One of the upgrade proposals for the AMX 10 RC was the installation of the TML 105 turret, which had a new 105 mm gun, compatible with NATO rounds. This modular turret was also tested on the Vextra, CV-90 and Piranha III. The version on the AMX 10 RC seems to have some add-on armor on the sides.

AMX-10 RC T40M

An AMX-10 RC hull with the Nexter T40M turret, presented at the Satory 2013 exposition. This turret features a 40 mm autocannon, a roof mounted machine-gun and 2 ATGM pods. Meant as a demonstrator a fire trial vehicle for the turret.
Moroccan AMX-10RC
Moroccan AMX-10RC – Photo: As taken from arabic-military.com

Other operators

Morocco

Morocco ordered 108 AMX-10 RCs as soon as 1978. The vehicles supplied to them were not fitted with water jets.

Qatar

Qatar also ordered 12 AMX-10 RCs. The vehicles were delivered in 1994 from French Army stocks.

Operational use

The AMX 10 RCs first participated in the 1983-84 military intervention in Chad, codenamed Operation Manta. It was meant to stop the combined Lybian-rebel Chadian advance into the country.
AMX-10RC, Operation Desert Storm 1991
AMX-10RC, Operation Desert Storm 1991 – Source: Dopuldepepluta.blogspot.com
Some vehicle have apparently also been involved in the UN operations in Kosovo.
After upgrading, the RCR first saw action in the Cote d’Ivoire in 2006, with the French Foreign Legion, as part of the UN peacekeeping operation there.
Two platoons of AMX-10 RCRs have also been in action in Afghanistan, in the Suroba and Kapisa regions. At least one was hit by an IED.
Two squadrons and one platoon of RCRs were also deployed in Mali during the French intervention there. The vehicles helped repel the Islamists from Northern Mali, as part of Operation Serval.

The AMX 10 RC during Desert Storm

Probably the most important operation of the AMX 10 RCs was during Operation Desert Storm. Prior to the actual fighting, however, the vehicles received some upgrades. Their front armor was reinforced, an ATGM decoy system was added, such as the one fitted afterwards on the RCR, along with a DIVT-16 thermal camera.
The 96 AMX-10 RCs were the most numerically important armored component of the 6th Light Armored Division. The division covered the left flank of the invasion force, protecting the Coalition forces against an enemy counter-attack. During the attack, also named Operation Daguet, the French forces clashed with the Iraqi 45th Infantry Division, which was defeated. The French also captured the As-Salman airfield.
The results of the fighting are impressive. Almost 3000 Iraqis were captured, with twenty enemy tanks being destroyed and two captured. Multiple other light vehicles and artillery pieces were destroyed or captured. The French didn’t lose a single vehicle, and no losses were suffered due to enemy action.

AMX-10 RC early production, 1980.
AMX-10 RC early production, 1980.
AMX-10 RC Division Daguet, Operation desert Storm, 1991.
AMX-10 RC Division Daguet, Operation desert Storm, 1991.
AMX-10 RC of the Qatari Army
AMX-10 RC of the Qatari Army (12 in service)
AMX-10 RC of the Moroccan Army
AMX-10 RC of the Moroccan Army (108 in service)
AMX-10 RC Valorisé
AMX-10 RC valorisé with NATO camouflage
AMX-10 RCR, 2000s
AMX-10 RCR, 2000s
AMX-10 RCR SEPAR, 2000s
AMX-10 RCR SEPAR late type with side addon-armour, operation in northern Mali, 2014

Gallery

AMX-10RC from Operation Desert Storm, on display alongside an ERC-90 of the same period at Saumur Museum.
AMX-10RC from Operation Desert Storm, on display alongside an ERC-90 of the same period at Saumur Museum – Source: Vladimir Yakubov, as taken from net-maquettes.com
AMX-10 RC preserved at Saumur Museum
AMX-10 RC preserved at Saumur Museum – Photo: Antoine Misner, as taken from chars-francais.net
AMX-10 RC showing its armament
AMX-10 RC showing its armament – Photo: As taken from Reddit
Qatari AMX-10RC
Qatari AMX-10RC – Photo: As taken from army-recognition.com
AMX-10RC-blueprint
AMX-10 RC blueprint – Photo: Made by the-blueprints.com user kok007
Early AMX-10 RC

Video: Documentary on the 1st REGIMENT of SPAHIS

French Foreign Legion AMX-10 crew interview

In 1984, I joined the 1et Escadron 1er REC. Orange, France (French Foreign Legion), after I left the British Army having completed my length of service. I wanted to try something different. We used AMX-10 heavy armored cars. We were a reconnaissance unit.
You started off being posted to long-range desert modified jeeps and motorbikes. Then you were ‘promoted’ to AMX-10 loader and then gunner. I completed the AMX-10 driver’s course. Our Regiment and 1et Spahis were the recce units for the 6th Light Armored Brigade, which was in turn part of the FAR force action rapide.
By coincidence, the Spahis had visited us when I was serving in the British Army 2nd Royal Tank Regiment in Germany as part of a tri-nation force designed to keep open the Helmstedt corridor to Berlin in case of a crisis.
We operated 3x AMX-10RC per troop. Each Squadron had 4x troops. The Regiment was comprised of 4x Squadrons: number 1 to 4 and a HQ unit. The 4th Squadron was kitted out with VAB (Véhicule de l’avant blindé) armored personnel carriers and troops.
The Nexter Armoured campaign shooting exercise video you have on this page was exactly like the exercise I completed in 1985. Contrary to popular belief the French Foreign Legion does not just operate in the deserts of North Africa. The Legion practices battle craft in all environments including the snow.” – Neill Stuart Thomson.

AMX-10 RCR specifications

Dimensions 9.13 x 2.95 x 2.6 m (29’11” x 9’8” x 8’6”)
Total weight, battle ready 17 tons
Crew 4 (driver, gunner, loader, commander)
Propulsion Baudouin GF-11SX diesel, 280 hp, 520 l of fuel
Suspension Hydro-pneumatic
Speed (road) 85 km/h (53 mph)
Range 800 km (500 mi)
Armament 105 mm (4.13 in) F2 rifled cannon
1-2x 7.62 mm (0.5 in) machine-guns
Galix grenade launching system
Armor Protected against medium-caliber weapons
Total production 256 vehicles upgraded to RCR

Links

The AMX-10 RC on Army-Guide
The AMX-10 RC on Army Recognition
The AMX-10 RCR on Army Recognition
Article on Forecast International about the AMX 10P and RC
Operation Daguet on Wikipedia (French)
The AMX-10 RCR French Defense Ministry page
Originally published on 23 August 2016

Categories
WW1 Russian Prototypes

Tsar tank

ww1 Russian armor Russian empire (1914)
Experimental vehicle – 1 prototype built

A weird behemoth

The Tsar tank, also known as the Lebedenko tank or Netopyr, is probably one of the weirdest armored fighting vehicles in history, and it seems more in place in a science fiction novel or steampunk nightmare than real-life. While not a tank in any way, as it had no tracks, the Tsar tank’s huge wheels were yet another answer to the problem of passing over rough terrain and other obstacles. A set of rear wheels were meant to stabilize the tank, while the front wheels, powered by a 250 hp engine each, would easily pass over most obstacles.
The idea was first envisioned by engineer Nikolai Lebedenko, and he also received help from Nikolai Zhukovsky, Boris Stechkin and Alexander Mikulin. A scale model with a spring motor was presented to the Tsar of the Russian Empire, and he was impressed by its ability to climb some thick books laid in front of the model. He decided to fund the project, and the tank earned the name of its sponsor, who would ultimately sink 250,000 rubles into it, which is equivalent to several tens of millions of dollars today.
A single prototype was built. The hull resembled a tuning fork, with the two 9 m wheels mounted on the arms. Each of them was powered by a 250 hp engine. At the center of the hull a large structure was added, containing a top turret and sponsoons. These would have held the Tsar tank’s crew, ammunition and armament, probably a myriad of cannons and machine-guns. The vehicle had to be dismounted into several parts in order to be transported.
The prototype was shipped to a proving ground 60 km from Moscow, where it was demonstrated in front of a commission. However, it soon got bogged down and it was not retrieved. The whole project was shut down along with the whole concept of ferris-wheel-tank, especially due to the costs and inefficiency of the concept. The prototype remained on the spot until 1923, when it was scrapped.

Would it have worked?

It is often stated that the Tsar tank was underpowered, but explaining its failure is not that simple. 500 hp, for the time, was a huge amount of power and even given the weight of the vehicle, its power-to-weight ratio would have been better than any other tank at the time, even the light Whippet. However, the way that power was transmitted to the wheels was crude. But the biggest problem of the Tsar tank was its weight distribution. Due to some miscalculations in the design phase, too much weight rested on the rear wheels, which, indeed, got stuck during the tests.
Due to the sheer dimensions of the vehicle, it would have been very prone to damage from artillery, especially the rather fragile front wheels. Also, the armament would have had very limited arcs of fire due to being blocked by the front wheels. But the pure psychological effect of seeing such a beast rolling towards the trenches would have been tremendous.

Links

On Military Factory
On Landships
Rear view of the Tsar tank prototype - Photo: As taken from foto-history.livejournal.comBy far the most famous photo of the Tsar tank - Photo: As taken from Landships.infoA drawing of the Lebedenko tank, unknown author - Photo: As taken from Landships.infoAnother view of the Tsar tank - Photo: As taken from Landships.info

Tsar tank specifications

Dimensions 17.8 x 9 x 12 m (58 x 30 x 39 ft)
Weight ~60 tons (132,000 lbs)
Crew 10
Propulsion 2 x 240 hp Maybach
Speed (road) 17 km/h (11 mph)
Armament Machine-guns and guns
Production 1 prototype

Lebedenko Tank

Categories
WW1 American prototypes

White 4×2 Model 1917

USA USA (1917) – Experimental vehicle – 1 prototype built

Not needed

The White 4×2 Armored Car model 1917 was built on a commercial chassis, from which it also kept the 45 hp White engine. This powerpack had 4 cylinders and a carburetor and was mounted at the front of the vehicle. The vehicle received an armored body, made from around 30 panels, made by the Van Dorn Iron Works from Cleveland, Ohio. Protection was between 3.8 and 6.5 mm (0.15-0.25 in), barely sufficient against small-arms fire and shrapnel. There were no side doors and access was granted through a single one at the rear. A small, one man revolving turret was mounted on top of the crew compartent, and it was armed with a rifle-caliber machine-gun.
The weight of the vehicle reached 3300 kg (7430 lbs) and it had double tires on its rear axle, in order to support the weight of the rear fighting compartment. The driver and co-driver, sitting side by side, could see through armored shutters and small side windows with armored flaps. Armored doors also protected the radiator and granted access to the White liquid cooled engine. The wheels were spoked and had mudguards. The crew was of three, including the machine-gunner.
The single prototype, which was assigned the number 11508, was tested at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1917-18. However, there was no obvious need for an armored car at the time, and the White model 1917 was never cleared for mass production.

Links

On War Wheels
On Aviarmor

White 1917
White 4×2 armored car model 1917.

White 4x2 model 1917 with open shutter and radiator hatch - Photo: Armored Car, A History of American Wheeled Combat Vehicles by R.P.HunnicuttThe White model 1917 with closed hatches - Photo: Armored Car, A History of American Wheeled Combat Vehicles by R.P.HunnicuttA rear view of the White model 1917 with the crew door open - Photo: Armored Car, A History of American Wheeled Combat Vehicles by R.P.HunnicuttA rare photo of a White 4x2 model 1917 with its armament in place - Photo: Armored Car, A History of American Wheeled Combat Vehicles by R.P.HunnicuttProbably the best known side profile of the prototype - Photo: Armored Car, A History of American Wheeled Combat Vehicles by R.P.Hunnicutt

White 4×2 model 1917 specifications

Weight 3.3 tons (7430 lbs)
Crew 3 (driver, machine-gunner, commander)
Propulsion White, carburetor, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 45 hp power
Speed (road) 64 km/h (40 mph)
Armament 7.62 mm (0.3 in) machine-gun
Armor 3.8-6.5 mm (0.15-0.25 in)
Production 1 prototype
Categories
WW1 American prototypes

Holt Gas-Electric Tank

US armor ww1 USA (1917) Experimental vehicle – 1 prototype built

Catching up

When the United States entered the First World War, they were already familiar with the tank concept following the initial British successes. However, they lacked any such vehicle and could not equip their newly formed units, despite the obvious industrial capacity for tank production. American companies did not take long before they joined the fray, and the first American tank prototype to be built was developed by Holt and General Electric.

The main peculiarity of the vehicle was the fact that it used a gasoline engine connected to an electric generator, which then powered to electric motors connected to the drive wheels, not far from the Saint-Chamond or Porsche’s Tiger. This arrangement also gave the name of the vehicle, the Holt gas-electric tank. The engine-generator tandem was prone to overheating, so a rather complex water cooling system was installed, with the radiator directly above the generator. A rear armored door could be opened to facilitate cooling, but this was impractical in battle. The whole arrangement was mounted at the rear of the vehicle.

Design

While the chassis was based on the Holt 75 tractor, the original track system had proven unsuitable when used on the Saint-Chamond or Schneider CA. So a new suspension was devised, with 10 roadwheels and a return guide rail. The drive wheel was at the rear, while the idler was at the front.

The front and middle portions of the tank were occupied by the armament and crew compartment. The main weapon of the vehicle was a 75 mm (2.95 in) Vickers mountain gun mounted in the nose of the vehicle. Two detachable Browning machine-guns were also fitted to the sides of the vehicle, in sponsoons. The crew would have probably consisted of 6 or 7 men. These included a driver, a commander, two gun servants and two machine-gunners, with the possibility of a mechanic also being present. Another uncommon feature was that there was a single way to enter the vehicle, through a door at the rear, followed by a small corridor which lead to the crew compartment.
The vehicle had 6-10 mm (0.24-0.39 in) of armor, but the vehicle was very boxy in shape. Except for the front, which formed a beak, the sides and rear were perfectly flat.

Failing the tests

Construction of the prototype started in 1917 and was completed the following year. However, during trials, the vehicle proved disappointing. The whole power pack and the required cooling added a lot of weight to the vehicle, which reached 25 tons, and this proved far too much for the feeble 90 hp Holt engine. Top speed on flat ground reached 10 km/h (6 mph), but even modest slopes proved too much of a hurdle for the Holt gas-electric tank. This deficiency made the tank unusable in the field and it was rejected. Any work on the project ceased thereafter.


The Holt Gas-Electric tank.

Links

On Military Factory
On Landships
A front view of the Holt gas-electric tank, clearly showing the position of the gun and the side-sponsoon - Source: Public Domain, as taken from Wikimedia CommonsA rear view of the Holt gas-electric, showing the engine access door on the left and the crew door on the right - Source: Public Domain, as taken from Landships.infoThe prototype undergoing trials, going over a small hill - Source: Public Domain, as taken from Landships.infoSide profile of the Holt gas-electric tank - Source: Public Domain, as taken from Landships.info

Holt gas-electric tank specifications

Dimensions 5 x 2.76 x 2.37 m (16ft4 x 9ft1 x 7ft9)
Weight 25 tons (55,000 lbs)
Crew 6-7
Propulsion Holt, gasoline, liquid-cooled, 90 hp
Speed (road) 10 km/h (6 mph)
Armament 75 mm (2.95 in) Vickers mountain gun
2xM1917 Browning machine-guns
Armor 6-10 mm (0.24-0.39 in)
Production 1 prototype

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Categories
Cold War American Other Vehicles Coldwar Canadian Other Vehicles Dutch Armor

M113 C/V Lynx

USA (1963)
Reconnaissance vehicle – 424 built

The 113-and-a-half

By 1963, the US army had adopted Cadillac’s M114 to serve as a command and reconnaissance vehicle. However, the vehicle had proven troublesome and it elicited no interest from abroad for any export. Seizing this opportunity, the FMC Corporation (nowadays United Defense LP), prepared a reconnaissance and command vehicle of their own. FMC had also designed the world famous M113 APC, and used it as a basis for the new AFV.
The result was the M113 ½, which shared many features with it’s bigger brother. The Netherlands and Canada bought almost four-hundred in total, and some of them still serve to this day. They served with reconnaissance units and as command vehicles, being fast and with good cross-country mobility.

General design of the M113 ½

While similar in appearance to the original M113, the new vehicle was modified heavily for its new purpose. The troop compartment was completely removed. The same 6 cylinder General Motors engine which was on the M113 was placed at the rear. The crew compartment was at the front of the vehicle, and housed the driver, the commander and the observer. It was described as cramped. While the suspension from the M113 was kept, one roadwheel was eliminated, leaving only four on each side.
A Dutch M113 C&V with the Oerlikon turret
A Dutch M113 C&V with the Oerlikon turret – Photo: Ulrich Wrede, as taken from Panzerbaer
The aluminum armor was also taken from the M113, with a maximum thickness of 1.75 in (44.5 mm) on the lower front part, and a minimum of 0.75 in (19 mm). While these thicknesses may seem large, aluminum does not offer the same level of protection as steel. The armor could only protect the crew from machine-gun fire and shrapnel.  An easy way to differentiate the M113 ½ from the M114 is that the front of the former is 3-sided, while that of the latter is a simple slope.
The Lynx was narrower (2.4 m vs 2.68 m), shorter (4.6 vs 4.86 m) and significantly lower (2.17 vs 2.52 m) than the M113. Of course, this also meant that the vehicle was lighter (8700 vs 11,300 kg). It retained the amphibious capabilities of its forerunner, but necessitated some quick preparations. A trim vane had to be erected (a part at the front which kept water from coming over the vehicle), bilge pumps started (remove water from inside the vehicle) and some covers put in place. Once in the water, the vehicle was propelled by the movement of its tracks, being able to reach a modest 6 km/h (4 mph).
Also, being significantly lighter, the 6 cylinder 212 hp diesel engine allowed it to reach speeds of up to 71 km/h (44 mph). The range, when going only on roads, was above 500 km (325 mi).

The Dutch M113 C&V

The Netherlands was the first customer for the new vehicle, buying 250 vehicles. In Dutch service, these were known as the M113 C&V (Commando & Verkenningen, literally Command & Reconnaissance). Sometimes, they are also called C&R. The driver was seated in the front left of the vehicle, with an infrared periscope mounted on his hatch and four normal ones on the roof of the vehicle. To his right sat the radio-operator, who also had four periscopes at his disposal. The commander was seated at the back, under a large cupola.
A 12.7 mm (0.5 in) M2TTHB machine-gun was mounted on top of the vehicle, being operated by the commander. Another 7.62 mm (0.3 in) machine-gun could be mounted in front of the radio-operator’s hatch.
However, in 1974, the Dutch army decided to replace the commander’s cupola and armament with an Oerlikon Contraves GBD-AOA turret, armed with a 25 mm (0.98 in) KBA-B cannon. The C&V was eventually replaced by the Fennek.
Some of the Dutch vehicles have been sold off to Bahrain (35) and Chile (8).

The Canadian Lynx

Canada was the second operator of the type, having bought some 174 vehicles in 1968. The Canadian vehicles differed in the arrangement of the crew. The driver takes the same position, but the radio operator is placed at his back. The commander sat on the right side of the vehicle, with the same M26 cupola. He operated the 12.7 mm heavy machine-gun, and could fire it from inside the vehicle. However, reloading had to be done externally.
The Canadian Lynx were removed from service in 1993, replaced by M113A2s which had been stationed in Germany and returned after the fall of the Soviet bloc and AVGP Cougars. In 1997, the role was taken over by the Coyote vehicles. Most Lynxes were scrapped or became range targets. A fair few are spread in museums all over Canada.
A Canadian M113 Lynx at the Ontario Regiment Museum
A Canadian M113 Lynx at the Ontario Regiment Museum – Photo: Samuel Richardson, private communication

Links & Sources

On Army-Guide
Specification sheet on AFV Database
Photos in Bahraini service
Thanks to Anthony Sewards for the information he provided

M113 Lynx specifications

Dimensions 4.6 x 2.4 x 2.17 m (15’1” x 7’9” x 7’1”)
Total weight, battle ready 8460 kg (18,650 lbs)
Crew 3 (driver, comander, radio-operator)
Propulsion General Motors 6V53, 6 cylinder, 212 hp
Suspension Torsion bar
Speed (road) 74 km/h (44 mph)
Range 520 km (325 mi)
Armament 0.5 in (12.7 mm) M2TTHB machine-gun
Armor Aluminum, 19-45 mm (0.75-1.75 in)
Total production 424

Lynx-Dutch
A Dutch M113 C&V, before the addition of the Oerlikon turret.
M113-Lynx-Oerlikon-Barhain
A Bahraini M113 C&V, with the 25 mm turret, during Exercise Peninsula Shield 9. Bahrain bought 35 vehicles from the Netherlands.
Lynx-Canadian
A M113 Lynx from the Ontario Regiment Museum.
Canadian Lynx recce
Canadian Lynx recce armored vehicle in the 1970s.

Gallery

Bahraini M113 C&Vs on a shooting range during Peninsula Shield 9
Bahraini M113 C&Vs on a shooting range during Peninsula Shield 9 – Photo: Bahrain News Agency, as taken from the MilinME blog
Canadian M113 Lynx of the 4th Mechanized Brigade, 1986 - Credits: Wolfgang Igert
Canadian M113 Lynx of the 4th Mechanized Brigade, 1986 – Photo: Wolfgang Igert, as taken from Panzerbaer
A Canadian Lynx used as a monument
A Canadian Lynx used as a monument – Photo: Taken from Army Recognition