People’s Republic of Poland (1955)
Tank – Probably Fake
The release of declassified historical documents from the archives of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has produced some interesting, unusual, and often rather odd intelligence reports relating to tanks. With much of what was happening behind the Iron Curtain, especially in terms of military developments, being beyond the reach of agents and aerial photography, the CIA was often dependent on reports by intelligence operatives. Sometimes, these human intelligence sources were often untrained and unskilled reporters who may or may not even have had first hand experiencew wih what they reported onwards. The shady world of covert human intelligence operations is rife with misunderstanding and mistakes, and the more technical the topic, often the greater the mistakes. One report of exactly this type came out of Poland in May 1955 through the CIA, presenting some kind of SU-76/T-34 hybridized vehicle – whether the vehicle existed or not, is however, entirely speculative.
Any contemplation of the existence of this vehicle or what it might even have looked like begins squarely with the originating document from the CIA. Under “Tanks, Tank Equipment, and Other Equipment of the Polish Army” came a note on the SU-76 saying that lecturers at OCS (Officer Candidate School?) stated that the SU-76 was no longer in Soviet use and remained only in OCS-use as a training aid.
The mention that this information came from lecturers at OCS in Poznan almost certainly shows that this is first or second hand eyewitness evidence rather than just rumors. In other words, the information appears to have come from a lecturer at OCS or someone who spoke to one and then reported to the CIA.
The second part of the all too brief SU-76 bit mentions that there are two different types of SU-76 in use there for training. One was a standard SU-76 and the other is the oddity – an SU-76 mounted on a T-34 chassis.
The first part is simple enough. Retaining a vehicle which was still in service in one form or another for training or even just as an educational tool is perfectly normal. The SU-76 was no longer in production, but the T-34 was just entering Polish service at this time, providing an interesting crossover between the vehicles.
The SU-76M (the M is often dropped nowadays, as the original SU-76 saw little production and use) was quite a small vehicle, just 4.97 m long and 2.10 m tall, weighing under 11 tonnes. The vehicle only required 3 crew to operate it (commander, driver, and gunner), although two loaders were also usually present, and was really little more than a lightly armored platform (35 mm front armor on the gunshield and hull nose and 26 mm on the glacis) carrying the 76 mm ZIS-3Sh gun along with a single 7.62 mm DT machine gun. Widely produced and exported, the SU-76 was a common, simple, and effective mobile field gun which, thanks to its gun, also provided potent tank-killing capability.
The vehicles themselves first saw service with the Polish 1st Armoured Brigade in 1943 in the fight to drive out German forces with the help of the Soviet Army.
Firing a range of ammunition, from Armor Piercing High Explosive (APHE), Armor Piercing (AP), High Explosive (HE), and even High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), the gun was still a potential threat on a Western European battlefield in the 1950s, even though it was, in all practical terms, an obsolete platform.
The T-34 is possibly one of the most famous tanks ever made and was produced in enormous numbers. This tank, perhaps more than any other, won the war for the Allies by providing a rugged, simple, well armored tank often superior or equal to the German tanks it faced on the Eastern Front. The subject of innumerable production changes, upgrades, modifications, and variants, the T-34 was, like the SU-76, widely exported both to Soviet satellite countries as well as countries outside Europe. Predominantly seen in two variants, the early 76 mm gun-armed version and, by 1945, predominantly the 85 mm gun-armed version with a larger and rounder turret, this tank was still a capable weapon system well after the war, although by the 1960s, it could be considered obsolete for frontline duty. Nonetheless, it would still be in many reserve units. In addition, it would also be a necessary and logical tank to have available at a training school.
Using a 38 liter water cooled V12 diesel engine developing 520 hp, the tank could manage up to 55 km/h on a road. Armament was concentrated in the turret with the 85 mm ZIS-S53 or D-5T gun and a 7.62 mm DT machine gun, with an additional 7.62 mm DT machine gun fitted in a bulge on the front right hand side of the hull, alongside the driver’s hatch. The vehicle reported in the CIA document is clearly turretless, so this would mean just a single machine gun was retained. The hull of the T-34 was both larger, heavier, and better protected than that of the original SU-76.
Polish units fighting under the command of the Red Army started receiving T-34s in 1945, with more arriving post-war and local production taking place between 1952 and 1956.
est. 23 tonnes
(casemate only – no turret)
(casemate only – no turret)
35 mm rounded mantlet, 35 mm at 55º
60 mm (rounded)
35 mm rounded mantlet, 35 mm at 55º
16 mm @ 65º
52 mm @ 30º
16 mm @ 65º
15 mm @ 70º
15 mm @ 70º
25 mm @ 60º
45 mm @ 60º
45 mm @ 60º
15 mm vertical
45 mm @ 40º
45 mm @ 40º
15 mm vertical
45 mm @ 48º
45 mm @ 48º
With no turret or gun, the T-34 would weigh substantially less than 26.5 tonnes, and even if the casemate from the SU-76 was added, it would still be lighter, as there was simply less added mass going back on. Depending on the variant of the T-34 and what motors, fittings, or other parts would be removed or modified during a creation of this type, the weight loss from a T-34 would have been up to around 5 tonnes. However, much of this weight would be added back on with the casemate and gun of the SU-76.
So What Was It?
The SU-76 and T-34 were substantially different both in stats and appearances. It is hard to imagine how someone with a modicum of knowledge on the subject could mistake the two. The SU-76 hull was small, with 6 small wheels, compared to the much larger T-34 hull with 5 large wheels.
If the report is taken at face value, and the vehicle was at least similar to the T-34’s hull with this open-topped SU-76-like feature added, what could it have been?
One possible explanation is the SU-100, a vehicle clearly visually the same to the T-34’s basic hull lines and dimensions. It had the same large 5 road wheels as the T-34 and a casemate built up over the hull. The Polish army had received some during April of 1945, with more arriving after the war. They were in service until the ‘60s.
On the face of it, this is perhaps the best candidate for mistaken identity, and the basic hull is as close as the report gets to a match. The casemate in no way looks similar in shape or style to that of the SU-76 and neither does the gun mount, as it lacks the large rectangular projection at the base. On top of this, the guns are wildly different. The SU-100 used a 100 mm D-10S gun over 5.6 m long with no muzzle brake, compared to the roughly 3.4 m long 76 mm ZIS-3sh on the SU-76, with a large and distinctive muzzle brake. There is also the obvious problem of the casemate not being open-topped on the SU-100, effectively ruling it out.
It is possible that it was something much more obscure, like the SU-100P, an open-topped vehicle on a vaguely similarly shaped hull. It had a different number of wheels (6 instead of 5), but at least had a muzzle brake. However, that vehicle was just a prototype, and it is hard to imagine why it might have randomly popped up in Poland long after it was redundant, not to mention the fact the gun was too long once more.
The final possibility is that this was a real vehicle, with a T-34 hull with a damaged turret being mated with a SU-76M superstructure, possibly from an SPG which had its hull damaged or destroyed. Such Frankentanks have appeared numerous times throughout history, and the construction of such a vehicle was definitely not outside the realm of posibility even for a regular tank batallion repair workshop. However, the question of what value such a contraption might have had for a training school remains unanswered.
Replacing the 85 mm gun from a T-34, a gun a field of fire of 360º thanks to being mounted in a turret, with the 76 mm ZIS-3Sh gun in a fixed casemate makes little sense from a combat point of view. Certainly, the gun switch would be a downgrade, adding nothing to the capability of the T-34 as a tank.
It would, however, be an upgrade for the SU-76. This would have been a bigger, heavier chassis on which to base the gun with more stowage space for ammunition, more armor (on the hull), and a top speed increased from around 45 km/h for the SU-76 to around 53 km/h for the T-34, and in this case, a slightly lighter T-34, so probably a little quicker still. Even so, there is no logic to try such an upgrade, and in fairness, the report does not discuss the vehicle as a combat vehicle, but as a training aid. As a training aid, maybe such a conversion made sense. It would have allowed tank driver training to be done with an actual tank whilst, at the same time, allowing for the basics of artillery training to be done with the SU-76 parts. Further, being open-topped would be more conducive to a school environment, whereby trainers could observe students, and indeed, the CIA report even confirms SU-76s being used for training roles at the school despite already having been withdrawn from service.
There is no good candidate for what the vehicle may have been, which leaves open the question of whether this SU-76 casemate on a T-34 hull really existed or was something else entirely. There are, of course, two simple answers, both of which meet the demands of Occam’s Razor. Either it never existed and the intelligence was wrong, or, the intelligence is correct and this was a simple training tool inside the OCS in Poznan. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in the 1990s, and the lack of subsequent corroborative documentation or photos of this vehicle, all that might be said of it currently is that it is conceivable that it existed.
Specifications T-34/SU-76 Hybrid
6.68 m Long, 3 m Wide, 2.45 m High, est. 23 tonnes
76 mm ZIS-3Sh gun along with a single 7.62 mm DT machine gun
Hull 45 mm, casemate, 35 mm at 55º on casemate front
38 liter water cooled V12 diesel engine developing 520 hp
Post-World War Two Europe was a continent rich in the legacy of the war. A legacy which took the form of an abundance of tanks, both in the form of legacy leftovers of the war, and a ready supply of new tanks from Britain (Centurion) or the United States (M47). The only thing matching this ready supply of tanks was an absence in the availability of foreign capital with which to purchase new tanks.
Yet new tanks were needed. The French had the remains of an empire to defend and there was also the very real threat of the powerful Soviet Union to the east, occupying much of what was left of Eastern Europe and Germany, along, of course, with the emergence of nuclear weapons.
Into this strategic mess of bankruptcy, an attempt to reassert an old order, and a new and assertive European land power, came the unassuming George Giacomini. In 1956, Giacomini submitted his concept for what was needed: a modern tank for these new and most dangerous times; a multiturretted, front-engined giant capable of preparing its own defenses. Whilst his design was not practical and was never built, it serves to illustrate one of the few ideas for new battle tanks in Europe at this time.
The point of patents is to protect an element of novelty. Ergo, something new to an existing item or product or system. The novelty at play in Giacomini’s design was not strictly just the tank, although it is an odd design for the time in its own right. Instead, the novelty was that this tank should be equipped, as standard, with trench digging/earthmoving equipment with which it could provide its own defensive structure. The fact that he decided to show it on such an odd platform, one so out of keeping with the tank trends prevailing for in-service vehicles of the time, was perhaps the most novel aspect of the whole design.
Georges Giacomini is also an enigma. His location on the patent application was Bouches-de-Rhône, an area on the south coast of France, close to Italy, where there was a significant Italian population. His nationality is not given as ‘Citizen of the Republic of France’, but, instead, as a “residant en France” – in other words, merely living in France and not French.
The only additional clue is also a patent. In March 1974, a man called Georges Giacomini, a resident of ‘Quartier Bel-Air 13300 Salon de Provence’ applied for a patent in France for a type of power generator using water pressure. That patent was granted in 1975. This location is within the province known as Bouches-de-Rhône. Whoever he was, whatever his background or nationality, he appears to have remained in the area for some time and continued to put his mind to ideas of technology and engineering, even if his tank never left the patent office.
The Tank Described
Giacomini provides no dimensions for the tank, but it is clearly a large vehicle. Suspension consisted of 8 road wheels on each side supporting a high track run, presumably running on some return rollers under the side plates out of sight.
The engine and automotive elements which are undescribed would clearly be fitted into the front of the vehicle, leaving a space at the back on which to mount the turret with the primary armament.
The body, large and cumbersome, is taller than most tanks, with the bulk of the hull rising above the level of the track run. The front of the tank is not sharply angled to meet the glacis but instead comes up vertically until it is level with the top of the tracks. After this vertical section it is followed by a short nose angled back at around 45º before the sloping glacis begins. This glacis extends back to a point level with around the second road wheel at around a 25º angle before meeting the flat top of the hull.
Immediately behind the intersection of the glacis with the hull top are a pair of small hemispherical turrets. Behind these mini turrets, the hull roof is flat covering an area under which can only be assumed to be the engine and other power components, vents, radiators, etcetera, needed to move the vehicle.
On the back half of the hull is a raised platform with a sloping front on which the main turret (carrying the primary armament) is mounted. This section is actually misdrawn in the plan view of the patent where the primary gun is shown in the plan-view as protruding from the front of the platform rather than the turret itself. The side elevation view is much clearer showing the gun attached to the turret instead.
The turret itself is of a well rounded form in plan view but which has vertical sides all round. The front slopes back from the rounded mantlet presenting a small and well shaped profile to an enemy vehicle. On top of the turret is a large square hatch and another square hatch is drawn on the rounded rear of the turret.
The back of the hull has the same 45º angled short ‘nose’ from the front, before becoming a vertical flat back plate. Over the vertical sides of the vehicle are a set of side skirts covering the running gear just just below the top of the road wheels.
It is onto these side skirts that the clever digging gear devised by Giacomini is attached.
Regarding the arrangement of the tank with its tall hull and mini turrets half-way down the length of the body, it is unclear if these turrets were just there for show in the patent, or if Giacomini genuinely thought these might be useful. Their placement certainly allows for depression of their guns down over the glacis to fire forwards, covering the blindspot which might otherwise be a problem in a rear-turreted tank, but Giacomini put the rear turret’s main gun so high up that it could itself depress to cover the same area. Quite what benefit these mini-turret guns could add is unclear. They are not drawn as some small gun either, like a machine gun, but something more akin to a small caliber cannon. As previously stated, the arrangement shows a vehicle with the engine and transmission-type components in the hull front and/or middle, so these turrets would potentially be crewless in order to save space inside for the machinery.
The gun in the primary turret is unusual in its own right. The curved mantlet is more than simply a protective cover over the front of the turret. Here, instead, the mantlet is also a mount for the gun itself. Formed in a circular shape, the mantlet is a letter ‘C’, with the breech of the gun attached to the base of the open face of the ‘C’ and then poking out through the back of the letter. With the trunnions, the bearings and point about which the whole piece rotates, in elevation mounted centrally within the ‘C’. The whole affair rotates as a wheel around a much larger arc of rotation than with a normal type of gun mounting, both in elevation and depression. Control of this rotation is done by means of a planetary gear affixed to the turret which engages with gearing on the mantlet to cause it to rotate up to “90 [degrees] with absolute accuracy”.
The patent clearly explains that the turret is expected to be able to rotate around a full 360º. With this gun mounting system as previously described, the vehicle is thus able to provide fire around a substantially wider area than a conventional vehicle. The primary gun is not identified or speculated about. However, the secondary gun is described and known to be an undisclosed type of heavy machine gun. This gun was not only for engaging targets in its own right but was also intended as an aid to aiming of the main gun.
The primary purpose of the patent, and rather overshadowed by the tank he provided as a carriage for it, was the earthmoving blade. This was no mere bulldozer blade. Such things had already been in widespread use for years, and Giacomini’s vision for an improvement was something quite different. Shaped in the manner of a half-moon in profile, his blade curved inwardly towards the vehicle unlike a conventional blade which curves away from the vehicle to act as a scoop.
The purpose of this earthmoving device was specifically for mobile and static use, something a normal type of blade could not do. In motion, the power of the vehicle could be used to push with the blade, but also, by dropping it, to scrape out an entrenchment for the vehicle.
When static, the same could still be done. I.e when the tank might have stopped to engage in combat it could deploy its entrenching device to build up earth or debris in front of the hull to help provide additional protection.
The way this worked was by virtue of the mounting system. On a conventional blade, it is usually attached to either mounts on the front of the tank, or onto pivots on the side and can be moved hydraulically. It operates just as a ‘pusher’ to move earth in front of it. On Giacomini’s design, the vehicle, even when stationary, could rotate the large mountings on the side skirts to lower the blade. The blade itself, mounted on a pair of horizontal tubes attached to that large mount could then propel the blade forwards as it gets dropped onto the ground, and then retract it back towards the vehicle to create a scrape in front of the vehicle. By repeating this extend/drop, retract and scrap technique several times the vehicle could thereby create a substantial berm in front of itself for protection.
The patent is surprisingly brief, at just 3 pages long. For such a complex device of earthmoving equipment, or the unusual gun mounting system, a longer description might normally be expected. In fact, he provides so much visual information in terms of the drawing of the tank and an unnecessary addition of those mini-turrets on the hull that it overshadows both of the really innovative elements and for no additional benefit.
As a tank, the design is certainly unusual. Front engine tanks were not new, there had been designs prior to Giacomini’s in 1954. Probably the most famous of these, and a vehicle with an equally hefty and brutalistic hull shape, was the German Maus. Giaocomini’s design of a tank is somewhat annoyingly vague on technical details despite him clearly having given some thought to layout and how a vehicle could work in combat. The ability to fire the tank’s main gun vertically and the ability to dig itself in were things nobody else had managed prior to that date, and yet those mini-turrets were a retrograde element in the design, adding no combat power and replacing them instead with added complexity, cost, crew, and weight.
As drawn and described the tank offered little for militaries. The lack of detail and the ‘regression’ to an earlier era of tanks with multiple turrets was unlikely to find interest. As such, the design stayed a patent and appears to have been quickly forgotten.
Giacomini Tank Specifications Giacomini Tank
one primary gun and coaxial gun, two mini-turret
French Patent FR1151425, Disposif de terrassement adapte a un char de combat. Filed 14th June 1956, granted 19th August 1957, published 30th January 1958.
French Patent FR 7411006, Disposif generateur de puissance. Filed 26th March 1974, granted 24th October 1975.
United Kingdom/United States of America (1998-2000)
Reconnaissance Vehicle – 2 Built
In the late 1990s, the specialist versions of the Land Rovers used by British Special forces and other reconnaissance troops were showing their age, with some units still using Series III vehicles – a vehicle which ended production in 1985. With an eye to a contract for replacing these vehicles, the British firm of Alvis, in conjunction with the American firm of AM General, developed their own vehicle. This vehicle was to compete for this small but lucrative market of specialist high performance off-road vehicles intended for special forces use on the international market and for which the UK and US were prime potential customers. The result was an unusual hybrid idea to make use of the British familiarity and experience with Land Rovers. The potential contracts for vehicle production and spares parts was huge and, if either the UK or US placed an order, then there was a good probability that other nations, particularly in the Middle East, would follow suit.
Alvis was formed in Coventry in 1919, the heart of the British motor industry, and over the following decades, produced a large number of civilian, and from 1939, military vehicles. Some of their most famous military vehicles were the Stalwart and the Saracen. By the late 1990s though, the changing face of the international order, with the Cold War over and defence budgets being slashed, led to a sequence of mergers in the defence sector. In 1997, Alvis purchased the firm of Hägglunds Vehicle AB, and the year later merged with GKN.
In a similar vein, the American partners in the Shadow project, AM General, had been through the merger process back in the 1990s. AM General had developed the vehicle which had won the contract for the US Army’s HMMWV program and had even made a civilian version, known as the ‘HUMMER’ in 1993 for a primary domestic American market for whom a jeep with the doors taken off and big tires was neither huge, unwieldy, uneconomical, or sufficiently pretentious enough. A ‘HUMMER’, therefore, offered all the practicality of a garden shed on the road with that all important pseudo-military look. Shortly afterwards though, all of the rights to the name ‘HUMMER’ were transferred over to General Motors (of whom AM was a subsidiary), along with all civilian marketing rights. AM General did, however, retain the military marketing rights for what was a well regarded if somewhat oversized military vehicle.
With AM General having the rights to exploit the HMMWV for military use, and Alvis looking for a military contract, the two firms worked together to develop this new vehicle. Combining elements of the HMMWV and a Land Rover under the design management of Alvis, the new vehicle was a hybrid of British and American vehicles, hoping to get the best of both worlds. Specifically, it was intended to have the size and off-road ability of the HMMWV with the reliability and ease of maintenance of the Land Rover. Based on a M1113 Expanded Capacity Vehicle (HMMWV) chassis, the vehicle looked substantially more HMMWV than it did ‘Land Rover’, but was also very much a cut down vehicle, providing an open space on this rugged platform, on which a variety of options could be developed, depending on role.
A second project run in conjunction with AM General by Alvis was looking at using Mercedes components, but the scale of involvement, if any, with Mercedes is unknown. It could well be that the project was simply to use commonly available Mercedes components parts, such as those for their G-Wagon range of vehicles, rather than a co-production. Either way, offering a second hybrid platform for the Shadow concept would serve to widen the potential market appeal to foreign forces which may already have been operating the Mercedes G-Wagon platform and wanted some degree of commonality in their forces.
In the Shadows
In June 2000, Alvis released this new design. Named ominously as the ‘Shadow’ to hint perhaps at the murky world of special forces operations, the vehicle was first shown publicly at the Eurosatory defence exposition that year. Following this, it was exhibited on the AM General stand as the ‘Alvis Shadow Offensive Action Vehicle’ (A.S.O.A.V.) at the Association of the United States Army (A.U.S.A.) exhibition in Washington D.C. in October that year.
The Mercedes-based vehicle does not appear to have been on display at all and seems in fact more like a side project or off-shoot of this primary AM General project instead. By the time the whole work would be terminated, the Mercedes project would remain substantially less refined in design and unfinished, indicating that the AM General co-production was Plan A for Alvis.
Layout and Weaponry
The Shadow was of a conventional layout, with the engine forward, followed by a driver (on the left) and front-seat passenger (on the right), behind which was a space for storage, other weapons, kit, and crew. The body of the Shadow was based on that of the M1113 HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-Role Wheeled Vehicle) Extended Capability Vehicle (E.C.V.) fitted with various Land Rover parts. Just two Shadows were made: one based on Mercedes components and the other on GM components. Power for the latter was provided by a General Motors 6.5 litre V8 turbo diesel producing 190 hp. This power was delivered via a General Motors 4 speed (plus torque converter) hydromatic gearbox. The suspension was provided by way of AM General double-wishbone suspension.
The technical details of the Mercedes-based component vehicle are unknown. In 1998, when the Shadow work began, the G-Wagon had already been in production for nearly 20 years by Daimler-Benz. The primary model in production and use in 1998 was the Model G vehicle featuring locking differentials, a fully automatic 5 speed transmission, and improved brakes. Engine options for that vehicle ranged from the modest 2.3 litre M 102 E 23 4-cylinder petrol to a 2.9 litre OM 602 D29 diesel or the 3.0 litre OM 642 DE 30 V6 turbodiesel.
On the exterior, the most obvious feature of the Shadow was the large box-type roll cage covering the whole of the cab, on top of which was a ring-mount on which a weapon could be mounted. The roll cage and this weapon mount were made from stainless steel. A further weapon mount was provided on the front right to be operated by the front right passenger. The Shadow was very well armed, with a 7.62 mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) mounted on the front passenger side (the right) and an M621 20 mm cannon on a P20 mount on the roof, although other weapons could also be mounted on the fully traversing turret ring. Such weapons could include another 7.62 mm GPMG or a heavy machine gun, like a 0.50 (12.7 mm) calibre M2 Browning heavy machine gun, automatic grenade launcher, or even an Anti-Tank Guided Missile (A.T.G.M.) system like the MILAN ATGM. What weapons were selected to be used would be down to the eventual user and the need to fulfil whatever role was needed at the time.
The rest of the space within the roll cage area was large enough for a significant amount of kit and stores, including at least one spare tire and a fourth operator carried in the back to make a maximum complement of 4 troops, although an additional folding section at the back provided additional, albeit not very secure seating or even a stretcher. The body was completely open, no doors, no roof, and importantly, no armor at all. The body, made from aluminum panels to save weight, offered no protection whatsoever from direct enemy fire from small arms or even shell splinters. Protection for the crew would, therefore, be limited to whatever personal protective gear, such as helmets and body armor, they would wear and, of course, to not being seen in the first place. This most important factor in the protection of the crew stood in direct contrast to the heavy weaponry on offer for combat.
The entire vehicle had to be light and it also had strict size limitations, as a pair of them would have to be able to fit within the hold of a CH47 Chinook, and three of them within the hold of a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. It was also air-droppable on the standard Medium Stress Platform.
Even unarmored, the Shadow struggled in the weight category, coming in at a rather chunky 4,800 kg. On top of that 4,800 kg weight, was a load capacity of 1,200 kg, for a total load of 6,000 kg. With the 190 hp engine, this meant a power to weight ratio of 31.7 hp per tonne.
Conclusion and the End of Alvis
The Alvis Shadow was not the first unarmored high mobility scout concept by any means and it certainly was not the last. As a design, it does, however, illustrate the problem of such vehicles. Either they have to be light enough to obtain good mobility, operational range, and discrete reconnaissance, or be protected sufficiently in order to survive a firefight with an enemy force.
In 2002, Alvis bought Vickers Defence Systems from Rolls-Royce, but, by 2004, Alvis itself was gone, bought out by the defense giant British Aerospace (BAe Systems), which combined Alvis with Royal Ordnance to create a new land systems unit. The Shadow had failed to gain any orders, although at least one example had been trialled by members of the British Army. The Shadow is no longer offered for sale.
AM General, for their part, now offers the M1165 Special Operation version of their HMMWV catered to the special forces market which does offer a vehicle with basic ballistic protection (fragments) on a heavier (5,488 kg) chassis with a lower payload (1,102 kg).
No orders were ever received for the Shadow from Alvis but the market was a proven one. The USMC, for example, purchased a version of the Mercedes G-wagon as their ‘Interim Fast Attack Vehicle’. This was an altogether simpler ‘off-the shelf’ type of vehicle and offered a similar capability in terms of an open and capable off-road platform which could mount weapons. However, based on the 4.6 m long, 3-tonne Mercedes Geländewagen 290 model with a diesel engine, the vehicle was smaller than the Shadow and could carry a payload of just 730 kg compared to the Shadow’s 1,200 kg.
It too has now been replaced by the even smaller (4.14 m long) 2-tonne M1161 ‘Growler’ Internally Transportable Light Strike Vehicle, which is transportable by the V-22 Osprey. That vehicle has a payload capacity of just 900 kg, more than the G-Wagon-based IFSV but still substantially less than the Shadow.
Both of the Shadow prototypes built (the AM General-based one, and the Mercedes-based one) survive and were last known to be in private hands in the UK.
Specifications AM General/Alvis Shadow Offensive Action Vehicle
Up to 4
4.87m long x 2.06m wide x 1.8 m high.
4,800 kg, up to 6,000 kg fully laden
6.5 litre General Motors turbo charged diesel delivering 190 hp at 3,400 rpm.
various as needed
Alvis Plc. (16/10/2000). Press Release: A Shadow is Cast on AUSA
Defense and Aerospace Companies Volume II – Alvis Plc. Forecast International.com December 2004
Munroe, B. (2003). HMMWV. Crowood Press. UK
Samochod terenowy HMMWV Hummer, Dom Wydawniczy
Schulz, C. (2002). HMMWV – Workhorse of the US Army. Concorde Publications, Hong Kong.
Zaloga, S. (2006). HMMWV 1980-2005. Osprey Publishing, UK
Commonwealth of Australia (1942)
Heavy Tank – None Built
Post WW1, most tanks follow a common enough shape, with a rigid armored body, a pair of track units, with one on each side, an engine located within the body, and either a fixed casemate gun or a turret with some secondary guns in the hull. When a vehicle diverts from this common type of layout, it stands out and few designs could be seen as diverting from the norm as much as the triangular multi-tracked tank from the pen of Lance Bloomfield of New South Wales, Australia in 1942. In this design, Bloomfield diverted from the norms of tank design in virtually every conceivable way.
The Men Behind the Design
The designer behind the vehicle was Lance Bloomfield who, in signing the letter which accompanied the sketches, was sure to add that he was an “Old Digger”, meaning he had formally served in the Australian forces previously, most likely in WW1, which might partially explain the general shape of the primary drive unit.
Providing an address at Roslyn, Garland, in New South Wales, he came from a very rural area West of Sydney and appears to have led a rather uneventful life. However, his design and letter were not sent in by him, but on his behalf by Mr. W. Bloomfield, also of Garland, New South Wales, with instructions to send all return correspondence via W. Bloomfield. The family name matching suggests a direct relative but there is no mention of the exact relationship. The date on the design, as drawn by Lance Bloomfield, was 1st July 1942, but it was not submitted until 13th July. The submission was left with the Army Office in Sydney and then sent on to the Army Inventions Directorate on the 18th.
Layout, Engine, and Suspension
The general layout of Bloomfield’s design was a triangle with a primary caterpillar to be made from 2 or 4 separate tracks, forming a single 4’ (1.2 m) wide contact surface which was the forward point of the triangle. A pair of secondary tracks were each connected by a beam coming from the rear third of this central primary track unit and were held level using a trailing wheel between these two secondary units and which was itself held in place by an arm coming from the center of each of the beams from the primary to secondary track, forming a diamond shape within the overall triangular shape of the machine. The single track unit at the front was to provide the primary propulsion for Bloomfield’s “very heavy tank” and to contain the engine in the rear half, along with the gearing behind it and driving a rear track sprocket with the power transmitted by means of a gearbox to a crown wheel and pinion with no differential.
Unusually, the sprocket was to be in contact with the ground at the back. No particular engine or even type of engine (petrol or diesel) was specified by Bloomfield. With no engine shown in the secondary units, it is likely that he was proposing some kind of power take-off from the gearbox to be taken out to these secondary units. Such an arrangement of power transfer would be complicated but would allow for easy steering of the machine given how far apart the two units were, alluded to in his description stating that the design would be able to turn within its own length.
The overall shape of the primary drive unit under the armor was similar in some respects to the quasi-rhomboidal shape of British tanks in WW1, with the exception that the front was formed in a sharp triangle shape. Large wheels were positioned at the change in angle of the track as it ran around the circumference of the body and held off by means of 17 small wheels or rollers, for a total of 22 wheels or rollers to support the track.
Within this body, the power and transmission would all be at the front and extending to around the halfway point with the turret, with the remainder of the space behind it all assigned for stowage and fuel.
Bloomfield neither specified nor drew a thickness of armor for the design, but he did draw and describe the shape. He specifically wanted armor sufficiently thick to deflect “all field artillery that is used with open sights” and drew an armor layout consisting of a large upturned shallow oval bowl with the armor held off from the body of the vehicle and projecting beyond the vehicle on all sides and curving down to just above ground level to provide complete sheltering for the main section.
Whilst this shape did provide a very curved slope which would improve the chances of causing a shell deflection, it had the serious problem that it would hinder the mobility of the vehicle. Projecting as it did so far fore and aft, the shielding would inevitably foul on the ground or on obstacles such as tree stumps or rocks or embankments, despite his idea that hydraulic joists would be able to raise it slightly.
No armor is shown or mentioned for either of the two supplementary tracks connected to the main vehicle. Neither, for that matter, is any mention made of protection for the primary vehicle itself. Whilst the vehicle’s full width would be covered by the moving tracks, the sides would not and it can only be assumed that some sort of protection was envisaged here as well, or else it would lead to a very poorly protected and vulnerable vehicle inside.
Bloomfield wanted the vehicle to “carry a gun that will blast anything on the battlefield” and, to this end, he noted the primary weapon located centrally in what appears to be a turret on the primary track unit as a “4 or 6 inch” naval gun”.
In the front of the hull of this primary unit were a pair of holes through the armor for a pair of ‘lighter guns’, followed by a row of three more holes marked for machine guns. This would mean the ‘lighter guns’ were envisaged as something between a machine gun caliber weapon (the standard British Empire machine gun of the day being .303) and a 4” naval gun, which left a lot of room to select an armament.
This was not the end of the firepower for Bloomfield’s design either. On the rear of the hull, facing backwards, was a single, centrally located ‘light gun’ followed by two more machine guns lower down. This meant a grand total of one main gun, 3 intermediary guns, and 5 machine guns. It is wholly unclear whether these lighter guns or machine guns were to be operated directly or by some remote firing device or if the method of operation was even a consideration, but the combat value of fixed weapons like this is very limited, especially fixed in position to the rear. The turret-mounted primary weapon, on the other hand, would have been a monster. The monobloc 4” QF Mk. XIX gun of the era weighed well over a tonne on its own and was capable of firing a 15.9 kg High Explosive shell at nearly 400 m/s out to nearly 9 km. The 6” BL Mk. XXIII was even larger, weighing nearly 7 tonnes, and was capable of firing a 50 kg High Explosive shell at 841 m/s in excess of 23 km.
Both of those guns saw service with Australian forces during the war. However, the servicing of such guns was a huge task. The 4” Mark XIX required 6 men to operate it properly, with 3 men needed to keep bringing the ammunition to the gun to keep up with the maximum rate of fire of 15 rounds per minute. Each shell with its propellant weighed over 22 kg, meaning a single minute’s ammunition at the maximum rate of fire meant ⅓ tonne of ammunition being spent. Estimating perhaps 50 rounds provided for the gun to be a useful combat load, this would still mean over a tonne of ammunition. The situation would be even more extreme using a 6” gun, like the Mk. XXIII, as each complete round weighed over 60 kg including propellant, meaning that 50 rounds would mean 3 tonnes of ammunition along with the nightmare of moving such a heavy shell by hand in the confines of a tank turret.
Whilst a 4” gun might be a little excessive for dealing with enemy tanks and positions, it was still viable as a hand-loaded weapon for the vehicle, but the 6” option was a step too far and both impractical and unnecessary.
Rejection and Conclusion
It is perhaps not a surprise that the vehicle design did not reach the level of approval or production. It was too different and too flawed. The rejection process only took a few days, with a formal reply on 25th July 1942 saying that “..after thorough investigation by our technical officers, the decision has been reached that the suggestion submitted by you cannot be accepted”. Perhaps it was just due to the overall concept of a three-hulled vehicle which would mean too much design and testing work to carry off during a war.
The design was seriously flawed too, for a variety of reasons, some of which no doubt the Inventions Directorate considered and some others which maybe are clear only in hindsight. Whatever their reasons were, the Army did not expand on them, just thanking Bloomfield for his suggestion and closing the file on it.
The single front unit provided little effective fighting space for the crew, the fixed weapons were adding weight but little combat potential. The three hulls attached to each other the way that they were, added enormous complexity to the vehicle, but would also seriously hinder maneuverability of the vehicle off-road, through trees, or past other obstacles but much more than that in terms of moving along roads or being hauled by railway.
The armor too was an obvious problem and let the whole design down. The concept of connecting the individual parts of the vehicles together in such a way and balancing them with the trailing wheel was sound enough, although whether a system of powering them could be installed is another issue. The armor, however, formed as it was in that large shallow bowl shape, meant that the vehicle would inevitably foul on even modestly undulating terrain and it was not efficient either. So little of it overhung the sides that it left the vehicle underneath less well protected than it would be if the armor had simply been concentrated on the body of the track units instead.
Specifications Bloomfield’s Tortoise Single Track Heavy Tank
main caterpillar 4’ (1.2 m wide)
5 x machines guns, 3 x light guns, 1 x 4” or 6” naval gun
Australian Army Inventions Directorate file 4932, 40. Dated 16th October 1942
Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales 6th December 1940
Dr. Gabor Goede (Hungarian: Gábor Göde), a resident of Budapest, Hungary, filed a patent for a ‘New Type of Tank’ on 16th July 2002. In it, Goede was clear that in his view tanks would “continue to act [as] an important and indispensable part in modern warfare”, but that as the development direction of vehicles was to increase performance in every aspect of design from mobility to protection, that the weight of vehicles was growing rapidly.
Weight, according to Goede, was the biggest enemy of a tank’s mobility, reducing its operational range and necessitating larger automotive plants, more fuel, and a cycle of more weight used to armor them, and so on. So too was the growth in ‘special’ armor, such as what he described as “weakened uranium covered with steel” requiring new technological innovations.
The next issue was volumetric increase. Specifically, as vehicles improved protection, then so too were vehicles developing improved firepower to counter the enemy’s armor and this, and the ammunition to serve the guns, took up more space inside a vehicle. This means more internal volume for the vehicle around which to provide armor. Not only would a volumetric increase lead to more weight as more armor was needed to protect it to the same standard, but this bigger size would present a bigger target as well.
Solutions – Firepower and Turret Volume
Goede’s solutions to this problem were multi-layered. First up was the issue of firepower, and rather than adopting a new larger caliber gun or missiles or something more conventional, Goede instead proposed the use of a laser. The laser he proposed would be a “high performance laser gun that is able to destroy the armour protection of a traditional tank, but especially by damaging the tank’s gunbarrel and track” to immobilize the vehicle from both fighting and moving.
There was no practical laser weapon capable of defeating tank armor in 2002 any more than there was for the lesser-goal of a mobility-kill on a tank. It is unclear therefore, if he was simply speculating or had something else in mind. He did not, however, simply speculate on a random undisclosed laser-system, but was specific that it had to be a system with “preamplifiers” and a “high-performance generator” connected to “high-performance batteries” forming an electrical power unit for the vehicle.
The adoption of a high-powered laser would potentially (notwithstanding the need for some kind of power source) provide the vehicle with a gun of substantially lower weight and with no need for ammunition stowage, a much safer weapon system for the vehicle in contrast to the adoptions of a conventional gun. This, in turn, meant a substantially smaller turret could be adopted. One further note in favor of the laser-option for Goede was that it allowed the tank to engage enemy airborne assets as well.
The laser was just one weapon on this tank. Also proposed was a “missile-holding mechanism” to be attached to the rear of the tank. Stored in the tank, when required, this missile battery could be deployed by opening the rear of the tank and these missiles being pushed out and then elevated into position. A degree of rotation for these missiles in their pod was also mentioned.
Within the turret there would be three more weapon systems to complement the laser. Two of these were machine guns with both 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm calibers provided for. The third was a mortar mounted on top of the turret. The mortar was operated on an unusual rail system which could be varied in elevation and which was loaded automatically when the launching rail was rotated to retract the rear inside the turret. To complete the armament, two banks of three smoke grenade launchers are clearly visible on the sides of the turret.
Solutions – Armor
Just as Goede considered the size of conventional guns a problem for which he proposed a solution, so too did he propose an alternative to ‘traditional’ armorings. Goede’s armor solution involved steel as part of a composite package consisting of “multi-layers…the outermost steel armour plate is covered by wolfram [Tungsten] or another similar hard metal layer or plate. By modifying the crystal structure of the steel armour plates and by yoking of multi-layer thin plates made of steel armour, a more solid, stronger and better resisting armouring can be constructed”.
In other words, he proposed using steel armor made from multiple layers of different types of steels with a harder metal such as tungsten on the outside. This armor scheme would, he proposed, be suitable for both hull and turret and could be varied in thickness depending on exactly where on the vehicle the protection was being provided as an obvious weight-saving measure.
Large side skirts covered the sides of the tank outside of the tracks, providing some additional protection for the hull. Goede also proposed mine protection for this tank in the form of a mine detection system:
“the … tank is equipped with … a pneumatically or hydraulically moveable mechanism that extending in front of the nose part from the chamber surrounded by the hull, is equipped with a wire lath, on which wire lath soil detectors, explosive material detectors, electromagnetic sensors, metal locating detectors and microwave receivers are installed”.
Goede’s ideas for reduction in volume and weight might have been unconventional, but his design drawings (computer renders) delivered with his patent application were of a much more ‘normal’-looking vehicle than might otherwise have been expected.
The closest looking vehicle to Goede’s is probably the ‘ancient’ Soviet-era BMP-1 APC and his vehicle shares a few similarities. The most obvious of these is the low frusto-conical turret roughly in the middle of the hull. The hull for Goede’s New Tank was equally low, but instead of being angular like the BMP-1 was, it was more curved and characterized by large full-length side skirts covering the whole of the top of the track run and extending down to cover the tops of the 5 well-spaced open-web road wheels.
Also unlike the BMP-1, Goede’s design had the top of the hull, not flat, but sloping slightly upwards, creating a raised central portion onto which the turret was placed. At the rear of Goede’s vehicle were not the twin doors of the BMP-1 either. Instead, this tank (rather than APC) had the rear hull well rounded and below it a pair of propellers for motion in the water.
Not content with completely reinventing tank firepower or providing a vehicle made from steel armor in a novel way, Goede also had substantial improvements in mind for mobility.
The weight of current tanks (he specifically referenced the American “M1A2 tank … [at] 68 tons”) prevented them from being amphibious. His new, improved tank would also solve this apparent problem.
Underneath Goede’s design would be large balloons, presumably inside some chambers, which could be opened to allow them to fall out. These balloons would then be filled with compressed gas and attached to the underneath of the hull which somehow would provide the buoyancy it needed to float. Propulsion in the water was delivered by the pair of built-in propellers at the back of the tank.
Amphibious capabilities were by no means the least of the mobility advantages proposed by Goede. When it came to crossing obstacles, here too would his vehicle offer a capacity beyond that of existing machines. For example, his machine could climb a slope beyond a 60º angle. This was because his design could tow itself forwards up the slope by means of wire ropes attached to ground-anchors fired by rockets on the front. Eight such rocket-launched ground anchors were mounted on the front of the tank in two banks of four. Each set could be launched a set distance ahead up the slope or perhaps over soft or marshy ground. As the tank wound up the wire cable, the anchor remained in place and the tank would creep forwards. Once in place, the process could be repeated as many times as needed to cross wide barriers or slopes beyond the capabilities of other tanks.
There was one other trick with Goede’s design offered as well. This too, was related to crossing obstacles and is the most dramatic feature of the vehicle – hydraulic legs. Contemporary tanks were, according to Goede, limited to crossing a gap no wider than 3.6 m and climbing a step no higher than 1.5 m. This is generally correct and tanks will get around such issues by means of coordination with engineering vehicles creating bridges, ramps, or cutting gaps, or with fascines to fill in a ditch, etcetera.
Goede would not need any of these things for his tank, as by means of its Inspector Gadget-style telescoping legs, it could both climb and cross barriers in excess of any other tank. Four such legs were provided for underneath Goede’s tank with two at the front and two more at the back. These legs were not suitable for either bipedal or quadrupedal motion but were effectively stilts by which the tank could elevate or support itself.
For example, when approaching a wall or embankment higher than itself, a tank would normally be unable to cross it without engineer-vehicle support. Goede’s tank, on the other hand, could approach the bank, activate its electric motors and deploy the front pair of hydraulically (or pneumatically) telescoping legs to lift up the front and then move itself forwards against the top of the bank at an angle. Deployment of the rear pair of legs at this point would then lift the rear to the same level and the tank could then proceed to drive forwards whilst retracting first the front legs and then rear legs as it surmounted the lip of the bank.
Just as these legs would allow the tank to climb a bank, they could also allow it to cross a wide gap. In this circumstance, the front legs would be extended into the ditch from the approach-side, finding a point at the base of the opposite face rather in the manner of a pole-vaulter about to launch themselves into the air.
As it drove forwards, these legs supported the front as it became suspended over the ditch and the rear pair would be deployed into the bottom of the approach-side of the ditch where it met the bank. As a result, the tank would be completely supported in the air on four legs and by progressively extending the rear legs and shortening the front legs the tank crosses the ditch.
As ludicrous as this leg system might look, it is hardly new. Back in 1915, Colonel Crompton had tried ‘elephant’s feet’ on the side of the Bullock tractor he was trialing for the Pedrail. They did not work and were dumped but the principle was not much different. Even Nicholas Straussler had considered legs on a tank to help cross obstacles in 1935. That idea too did not find any success either.
In order to provide power for the vehicle, this tank would need an engine or motor. It had batteries for the laser and presumably this could be recharged by a dynamo from the main power supply if it needed to. Once more, Goede proposed a novel power plant for the vehicle to provide for both motion and for this possible recharging work. This was to consist of an engine running on hydrogen.
Compressing hydrogen gas into a liquid would allow for a compact power source for the engine whereby the chemical reaction of burning it produces not only power but also the output as just water. Not only was this cleaner fuel source a benefit for not producing harmful emissions, but also, Goede suggested, a useful tactical addition. Goede stated the reason for using a hydrogen engine was because “… thermal emission is completely missing at this mode of propulsion” rendering the tank harder to detect through thermal imaging.
This is not strictly correct. Hydrogen engines do produce heat, they just produce less heat than an equivalent petrol- or diesel-powered internal combustion engine due to the low ignition temperature of the fuel. There are some key disadvantages of adopting this type of engine such as the relatively high volume required within the vehicle to store it. The only other clues from Goede regarding his choice for a hydrogen power plant was that it would consist of a “metal-hybrid hydrogen reservoir, ceramic combustion chambers, one or more turbines and cooling systems and gearbox”.
If the hydrogen engine was not viable, Goede also suggested a ‘gas-turbine’ would suffice along with the required technical components needed by both engines viz. “Hydrodynamical torque transformer, automatic gearbox, hydraulic main clutch, differential, [and] hydrostatical steering”.
As another partial solution to the problem on internal volume, something which his tank containing various complex leg, balloon, and missile mechanisms would only make worse, Goede proposed simply removing the crew. Here, instead of a manned tank, the vehicle would be operated remotely by means of a “high capacity computer” transmitting messages by microwave to the tank. One ‘commander’ operating from an undisclosed and presumably safe distance away could control and operate several such tanks at the same time.
Was Goede really proposing this particular vehicle as a machine in its own right? Well, maybe yes and no. What he did, by way of a series of ‘improvements’ specified in the design was effectively provide himself some claim to any or all of those tank features alone or in conjunction with others. Whether it was the laser gun, the automatic rail-mortar, or the lamination idea for armor did not matter. He could, in theory, have used his design, protected by the patent, to assert some claim over any of those systems in use on a vehicle. It is highly unlikely that most of what he was suggesting was going to get used at all and the idea that fixed propellers on a tank might be a new or novel idea was obviously incorrect.
However, he was right when it came to some ideas about unmanned tanks. Whilst there is a strong likelihood of more unmanned tracked vehicles being used (whether armed or not), it is hard to foresee a future where his ‘Inspector Gadget’ legs might ever find a viable use. Today Dr. Goede is the Director at Invention and Production 2011 Ltd. in Budapest, Hungary. He has 20 patents in his name since 1988 with inventions ranging from those relating to solar power to a sleeping bullet launching system to prevent hijackings.
Specifications Goede’s New Tank
composite/laminated steel and tungsten (or other hard metal)
United States of America (1919)
Armored Truck – None Built
On 29th March 1919, Joseph Treanor McNaier submitted a patent design for a centrifugal gun. This was no ordinary firearm and was not merely a design for a weapon in isolation. When he filed his design on 2nd April, McNaier was proposing a new way to consider an old idea, and one which he had improved on.
A centrifugal gun is a gun reliant not on the expansion of gas from a chemical propellant or other sources for acceleration, but instead on centrifugal force. Such ideas had been around since at least the early 19th century and perhaps the most famous was the Winans Steam Gun of circa 1860.
The principles of these guns are the same. It is a circular weapon in which a high speed rotor is driven by some means producing a high rotational speed within a casing. Into this a stream of ‘bullets’ in the form of metal ball bearings or musket balls from a hopper are fed. The ball/bullet is accelerated by the rotating arm within the chamber and with only a narrow point of escape flies out of that point at high speed having been accelerated by the rotating arm. This, in effect, is a weaponized version of a lawnmower striking a piece of gravel. A small high velocity object flung by the transference of energy from the arm to the ball.
Certainly, McNaier was not claiming to have invented a centrifugal gun, more an improvement upon one. For example, rather than simple solid balls of metal (lead or steel), he proposed the option of a small explosive-filled ball as a bullet. Further, his design altered the feed of the bullets to come from a hopper above or below the rotating arms in such a way as to avoid jamming the mechanism as they were fed into the breech. By way of showing the potential value of his design, McNaier provided two possible mountings for it for use by the military. The first was on an armored truck and the second was on an airplane.
The patent for the centrifugal gun was filed in the name of Joseph Treanor McNaier of New York. Treanor was born in New York on 4th April 1875, the son of Walter and Emily McNaeir. He was 44 when he filed his design and also a practicing attorney as a graduate of New York University Law School in 1915. His US military draft card of 1917 states that he was a lawyer by trade residing at 256 West 108th Street, an apartment complex not far from New York’s Central Park.
Doing his part for the USA in WW1 (1914-1919), he registered for the draft and was called upon to serve as a captain within the Judge Advocate General’s Department assigned to the Survey Office within Maritime Affairs in 1917. He was discharged from US military service on 30th June 1920 following a period of sickness beginning in May that year. He survived his illness, which was possibly connected to the flu at the time, as he was back to work at least into 1926 as a solicitor in New York at his family business ‘McNair and Moore’ based in office 2122 at 233 Broadway, New York., – the iconic Woolworth Building.
The truck, as drawn by McNaier, would, in plan view, appear as a rectangle with the lower part at the front rounded and the upper part at the front forming a triangle. Between these two was a pair of cylindrical towers blended into the sloping front armor, with the upper of the two smaller and projecting slightly above the level of the flat roof. Surmounted by a low domed roof, the only notable feature on the top of this turret was a single periscope. The lower cylinder was part of the hull, but this upper cylinder formed a turret which could rotate within the larger cylinder below it.
In the two faces of the triangle on the front were a pair of rectangular slots for observation, with one on each side of the cylinders. In the face of the upper cylinder was another slot, although this one was for the centrifugal gun, not for observation.
The rest of the truck itself was somewhat plain. Vertical armored sides, a horizontal flat roof, and a slightly inclined rear. The vehicle ran on four wheels, with the rear wheels clearly drawn larger than those at the front. The drawing of the vehicle provides an ‘x-ray’ type view inside and therefore obscures some design ideas from the part cut-away, such as a possible access door or observation slot in the left-hand side. There is, however, one more vision slot drawn in the rear right-hand side of the hull, directly over the line of the rear wheel. No transmission or engine is proposed or mentioned by McNaier.
This slot appears to line up with the driver’s seating position, which would compete as potentially the most comfortable position for an armored vehicle, appearing more like a couch than a seat. Sat on this couch, the driver controlled the direction of the vehicle by means of a steering wheel connected to a large box affixed to the floor of the vehicle. No pedals or levers are shown.
The airplane offered two possible mounting ideas for a centrifugal type weapon on top and below the fuselage, at the rear and front of it, respectively. Powered by a directly connected transmission shaft from the engine, these centrifuge guns would have been able to spray a large volume of bullets forwards or backwards. In these contexts, accuracy, the main problem with such guns, would be obviated somewhat by the nature of ground-strafing or fending off an unfriendly aircraft behind it, where a wider dispersal than normal bullets might have been advantageous.
Neither the truck nor the airplane seem to have been connected in any way, shape or form to McNaier’s own military service, nor his life experience. It is unclear where his ideas for these weapons may have come from, but there were certainly other centrifugal gun ideas around at the time and before from which he may have drawn inspiration. The drawing of both the truck and the airplane are basic and somewhat crude. The truck, afterall, is little more of a suggestion that a normal truck be used along with a front-and-center-mounted turret for his gun. For that matter, the gun itself is also rather redundant. It is hard to see what advantages a centrifugal gun might have over a readily available, smaller, and simpler system in the form of a machine gun. The centrifugal gun might have a veritable abundance of ammunition from its large magazine, but spherical objects are not as ballistically efficient as a bullet shape, they are also not ans accurate, not to mention that they are being fired from an open chamber rather than through a rifled barrel to spin them for stability. Less accuracy and lower range cannot be effectively overcome with just ‘more’ being used.
McNaier maybe had something on offer for his aircraft use of the gun, where such dispersal was less of a problem in the chaos of a dogfight. There were already plenty of machine guns and simply adding a second one could beat out any minor advantage his design might have had.
McNaier sadly provided no details of the engine, the armor (presumably bulletproof), performance, or a particular utility for his vehicle either for the Army or perhaps the police for riot control.
Either way, it is likely no surprise that the truck was never built and McNaier seems to have had a successful legal practice to rely on, so perhaps he did not need to trouble himself too much more with ideas of firearms anyway.
Specifications McNaier Armored Truck
2 gunner, driver
Bender’s Lawyer’s Diary, State of New York, 1916-1920.
New York Herald, 9th October 1921, Page 3.
New York Supreme Court, Papers of Appeal Appellate Division First Department, 1925.
New York University Catalog, 1915-1916. New York, University.
US Census 1880 ED94, Page 40.
US Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918, New York City No. 134, Serial 510, Order no. 857.
US Officer Muster Roll 1916-1939. Hayes-Holabird Post. Reel 132.
US Patent US1472080 ‘Centrifugal machine gun and method of feeding same’, filed 2nd April 1919, granted 30th October 1923.
US Veterans’ Bureaus service index card, film 105256134. NARA microfilm 76193916.
WW1 Roster of Officers, Hayes-Holabird Post. Reel 132. Monthly Officers’ Roster, Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, N.J. dated 15th June 1920.
Kingdom of Italy (1930)
Amphibious Tank – None Built
The problem of tanks getting over water, rivers, small lakes, or flooded ground has plagued tank designs right from WW1. A variety of solutions have been tried over the years, depending on how much water needs to be waded through or how wide the waterway is. The problems are numerous, from keeping the vehicle watertight, maintaining buoyancy, maintaining stability in the water, how to propel the tank through the water, and how to manage all of that within the context of a vehicle which would still need to maintain some semblance of viability when operating on land.
Some tanks simply adopt the philosophy of providing as much sealing as possible to raise the fording depth as far as possible. This obviously limits the tank design to relatively small bodies of water and ones on which the tank can still drive using the tracks on the ground under the water.
The next step would be to enable the tank to float, and through the 1920s and 1930s, various vehicles were tried, either being inherently buoyant i.e. able to float without the use of external floats being added, or optionally buoyant i.e. using floating pods attached to the tank.
Both of those options have serious shortcomings, with the tanks being generally small and lightly armored to keep the weight down and/or using large bulky pods or buoyancy packs which have to be shipped separately. They also come with a greater price tag and were vulnerable to enemy fire. Even in the 21st century, it is a difficult challenge, and perhaps the most successful fully amphibious ‘tank’ would be the Soviet era PT-76, and even then, it never got past the problem of relatively weak levels of protection.
Into this gap of ‘how do we maximise our tank to make it operate in more than one realm’ came a variety of designers and designs. A design from Felix Longobardi in 1918 really exemplifies the problem. Longobardi’s vehicle was little more than a ship with wheels, virtually useless on land and not much less useless in the water, where the wheels and other features would simply get in the way of good streamlining.
An Italian by the name of Oscar Biemmi presented a design in 1930 for a vehicle which would solve the problem of propulsion in water, and solve the dichotomy of land and water mobility. What Biemmi proposed was a vehicle with a moving body lying between two tracked bodies. Essentially, a ship-like hull suspended on either side by a track unit so that, when it was in water, the ship-part took a dominant role and, on land or when wading deeply, the track part was the dominant one.
Biemmi, in reviewing and looking at the past for inspiration, saw, quite correctly, that landing troops and especially vehicles on an opposing shore, especially a defended one, was a significant military challenge. Certainly, he would not be alone in that conclusion, and for 1930, was perhaps a little more advanced in his thinking than somewhere like the UK, which had done little in terms of developing a means of landing men and vehicles as an amphibious assault force since the end of WW1.
Landing men and machines on a beach was a timely and difficult process. A process that was made harder by tides and winds, the deleterious effects of water on machines, in particular corroding metal and damaging circuits. There was also the difficulty of moving from the water to the land as a transition across soft sand or loose shale.
Based on his current level of knowledge, Biemmi predicted that, at that time, should the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) in particular attempt such a landing, it would be doomed to fail. There was no prospective opponent for such a theorised landing, although, as a major nation within the Mediterranean Sea region, there was clearly no shortage of other shorelines on which troops might have to be landed. Biemmi was clearly correct in that the inability to conduct such an operation would be a serious shortcoming for the Army, so it had to be addressed.
The result was that, in October 1930, Biemmi wrote an article in a Science magazine advocating for a dedicated vehicle for exactly this role and to navigate the unique landing environment concerned, a vehicle as at home in the sea as it was in the shallows and on land. This was his idea for a “Tank-Marine“. Literally this was to be a ‘Naval Tank’ and its role was to bring heavy fire support to an amphibious landing. This vehicle could support the troops coming ashore – very much the sort of role a modern amphibious marine assault vehicle is used for.
The basic layout of the Naval Tank was in three sections, rather akin to a hot dog. The sausage itself was the ‘ship’ part of the vehicle, and the bun on either side was the land ‘tank’ part. The central section was made with vertical sides and a rounded top and bottom. The bottom formed the keel of the tank which, when in the water, would provide stability and, whilst on land, form the bottom of the hull of the vehicle.
In this central portion lay the powerplant which, according to Biemmi’s drawing, was located centrally, directly under the conning tower. Fore and aft of the powerplant were a series of vertical hydraulic cylinders which were connected at the base to the floor of this central section and were connected the central supporting framework for the whole vehicle. The rear of this section was rounded off, whilst the front was sharply angled to a point projecting just beyond the rearmost point of the tracks.
On either side of the ‘dog’ was the ‘bun’, consisting of a pair of mirror image track units. With an all-round track (track running around the outside of the unit), each one was constructed from a large lattice framework, with the top and bottom of the track running parallel to each other. The rear was angled sharply upwards at about 45º, whilst the front of the track units was rounded off symmetrically above and below. The sides of the track units were not vertical but were convex, projecting out from the front producing a rounded side profile.
On top of all of this was a pair of gun batteries, with one at each end of the central section, forming a line of three guns on each side. Between those and in the center of the hull was an oval frustoconical conning tower.
Whilst Biemmi drew several guns, he made no comments about the sort of suggested armament for such a vehicle. With the goal of supporting troops as they came ashore, a variety of weapons, from machine guns up to medium caliber artillery guns, may have been thought of. However, without mentioning or suggesting suitable choices, it can only be speculated what he was considering for armament.
The arrangement, however, is well shown. Two banks of guns, with one fore and the other aft, formed into what appears to be a traverse-fixed firing mounting, each with 3 guns. The mounting is shown with a curved face and vertical rear. Slots in this were provided to allow for high elevation. The vehicle would have to point in the right direction for weapons arranged like this to have any value, and regardless of which way it faced, the other battery would be facing in the opposite direction and be of little of no use. The fixed conning tower was also armed. The tower itself was oval and fixed to the hull, with the sides sloping upwards to a shallowly domed roof and surrounded by what, from the drawing, appears to be a small safety rail. In the center of that was a cylindrical structure which could have been an idea for a turret, but which is neither shown armed nor obviously rotatable. Instead, the only armament shown in the tower are four weapons mounted around the outer circumference, arranged equidistantly apart, so that two were on each side, meaning whichever way the vehicle approached a target or was approached by another vessel, at least two of the guns would be able to face it. Once more, no specified armament was suggested.
Propulsion for the Naval Tank was by means of conventional internal combustion engines. Power from these engines would be delivered to the tracks when operating on land and to the pair of propellers when in the water for movement. Whilst it may appear that the three sections of the machine moved relative to each other, this is not the case. It was only the hull/keel of the middle section which moved, pushed down into a position below the bottom of the tracks on either side of it when being propelled in the water.
When the vehicle operated in shallow water or on land, the hydraulic rams lifted the hull/keel part of the central section back into place. Thus, the vehicle would, in theory, be able to drive from land into the water, become buoyant and then push down the keel to begin to travel as a ship. On the converse, as the vessel approached land, the keel would be raised, allowing the tracks to contact the ground and the vehicle to then drive ashore under its own power. All of this movement could be done without affecting the top of the vehicle, which could interrupt either visibility or the ability to deliver fire in support of the troops.
Whilst operating on land, the hull of the central section of the Naval Tank would be in the ‘up’ position, allowing the track units to have contact with the ground. The top speed would be just 10 km/h, which was not fast by any means, but would have been more than sufficient to support unmounted infantry, and was essentially just the same sort of speed of a tank from WW1.
In the Sea
At sea, with the hull in the ‘down’ position, the keel of the vehicle was down, providing stability, and the top of the track sections was out of the water. They were, however, still submerged to more than half their depth, and this provides a necessary width to the vessel to provide stability, albeit, at the cost of some streamlining.
It was, afterall, not a true ship anyway, so this is not such a problem, and yet, even so, Biemmi proposed a top speed in the water of 15 km/h from the propellers.
Whilst at sea, the Naval Tank would float with only the tops of the tracks and central hull section exposed above the water line. The deck of the central section, carrying the primary firepower and the conning tower, would be visible, but were of a low profile and able to return fire just as easily at sea (notwithstanding the movement of the water) as it would on land. Certainly, those immersed parts would be well protected from enemy observations and fire, as they are below the water line.
The sides over the track units were convex, made from 8 large armored panels. Presumably, the tank was to be made from steel to provide some modicum of protection, although Biemmi neither provided the material nor any idea of what sort of protection he was thinking of. For all of the moving parts of the track and suspension however, he does provide information, namely proposing making these areas out of stainless steel to prevent corrosion.
Biemmi’s design was really more of a concept of perhaps how such a vehicle might look and work, and he wrote that the size could be varied depending where such a vehicle might be intended to operate. These could be small vehicles for intercoastal work offloaded from a ‘mother’ ship, and perhaps larger vehicles for taking a landing all the way across the sea under its own power all or some of the way, and using this larger version to show all of the features in the best detail.
Biemmi was undoubtedly correct in his goal to provide some thought on the problems of amphibious tanks or landing tanks from the sea. He even considered some of the problems of corrosion of components too and how to provide both propulsion and stability. However, where this design seriously falls short is undoubtedly within the ideas of armament. The conning tower appears to be fixed in place, meaning that the weaponry has to be deployed around it to provide the firepower in different directions. Allowing this tower to rotate as a turret would at least have allowed the firepower to be concentrated in one place and reduced the number of men needed to operate such a vehicle. Each gun required an operator and all of the problems of trying to command and control a large crew, of whom perhaps half were facing their weapons in the wrong direction.
Indeed, given the large Italian Navy (Regia Marina) at the time, it is somewhat surprising that the vehicle was simply not provided even with a naval style of central turret or any turret at all. Replacing the conning tower with a turret and abandoning the fixed hull guns would have provided a vehicle needing fewer crew and fewer guns and able to focus all of its firepower in one point as well as being easier to control.
Biemmi also missed one other potential feature – a large hatch or door of some description. The possibility of internal space within the central part of the machine could easily have been repurposed in some manner to create some space for landing troops.
Despite the good intentions of Biemmi to try and provoke some thought on a naval tank for Italy, it came to nothing. Ten years later, when Italy entered WW2 on the side of Germany, it still had no such vehicle and was still dominated by vehicles such as the CV.3 Series light tank, with the heaviest tank which might be involved in such an attack being the M.11/39 medium tank. Neither of these vehicles would be suitable for the purpose Biemmi envisaged.
Specifications Biemmi’s Naval Tank
Internal Combustion type
10 km/h (land), 15 km/h (water)
6 fixed traverse guns in two batteries on the hull. Four guns in fixed conning tower.
Popular Science Magazine, May 1935
Radio – Scienza e Vita, year II – N. 13 – 1-15 October 1930.
The classic film Things to Come hit the big screen in 1936. Right at the outset of what would become WW2, this film, directed by William Menzies, predicted a devastating conflict in Europe which would last for years and destroy the very fabric of society. It was based on H. G. Wells’ science fiction book The Shape of Things to Come released in 1933.
Wells and Tanks
H. G. Wells was born in Victorian England in 1866 and went on to become one of the best known science fiction writers in history, with titles such as The First Men in the Moon (1901), The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), and the War of the Worlds (1898). Wells is also famous for his story ‘The Land Ironclads’, published in 1903 in The Strand Magazine. This fascinating piece of speculative fiction has often been seen as an influence on tank development, despite the fact the insect-like, pedrail-wheeled vehicles bore minimal resemblance to anything that saw actual production.
Much of Wells’ work involves creative visions and ideas of what the future of warfare might look like from the perspective of a man born at the height of the industrial revolution. Much of his inspiration stems from the works of earlier writers, such as Albert Robida, as well as the innovative use of armored trains during the Boer Wars in South Africa.
His prescience has, however, been seemingly overblown for this relatively minor story in a science-fiction magazine relying in part on his connection to a man like Sir Ernest Swinton, who also wrote for the magazine. This is despite Swinton himself saying it was not the reason for the invention and that it had no influence on the work. Focussing therefore on this relatively minor aspect of a long writing career has also managed to detract from his vehicles in the 1933 book The Shape of Things to Come. In the book, he says relatively little about these war machines – perhaps to the surprise of people who choose to credit him with the ‘invention’ of the tank.
Wells’ real tanks are best seen not in this book, or even in his Strand Magazine story from 30 years prior, but instead, in the film based on the book. Wells was personally in attendance during parts of the shooting, he knew the director and producer, wrote the screenplay, and had a strong personal input into all elements of the film. This perhaps explains why it is often considered a little slow and rambling, interspersed with overly long and flowery speeches from the main protagonist. But these stylistic touches extend to the visuals as well, and it is certain that Wells both saw and approved of the futuristic tank designs depicted in the film. We can therefore infer that he saw these as a better reflection of his concepts for the future of armored warfare, especially in comparison to the fanciful, insectoid machines of his 1903 publication.
In the past, many films, and especially war films, have been made with an eye for drama and messaging over the practical realities of war. The emphasis has been on the ‘human experience’ of the troops involved, or on conveying the horrors of conflict. Regardless of the precise focus of these efforts, the results are often mixed, and many miss the mark completely. However, the short war sequences in Things to Come benefited greatly from having a cast, crew, and production team made up primarily from veterans of the Great War.
The director, William Menzies, certainly knew what war looked like, having served with the US expeditionary forces in Europe in WW1. He was not alone either; the star of the film Raymond Massey was wounded in WW1 in France whilst serving with the Canadian Field Artillery. Ralph (later Sir Ralph) Richardson was too young to take part in WW1, although he did enlist in WW2 in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and train as a pilot. Edward Chapman would end up taking a break from acting and join the Royal Air Force working as an Intelligence Officer in WW2.
Published in 1933, the story was a ‘future-history’ written in epilogue as a reminiscence by a fictional character called Dr. Phillip Raven. Raven was a diplomat writing a 5-volume history from his perspective in the year 2106.
The book initially depicts a European society irrevocably torn apart by a thirty-year economic depression followed by a prolonged war. Huge strides in aeronautical engineering results in cities being devastated by mass bomber formations, causing unthinkable casualties on all sides. With their infrastructure in ruins and plagues running rampant, nations fracture and crumble back into feudal city-states ruled by local despots and warlords. Yet Wells’ narrative also details how civilisation rebuilds after calamity and slowly but surely overcomes various issues of nationalism, fascism, and religion, replacing them with a utopian vision of a world that holds science and education among its highest values. The book went on to influence other writers and science fiction, yet remains a quiet ‘cousin’ to another futurist view of a new utopia published the year before by Aldous Huxley titled Brave New World.
Nonetheless, the book was significant enough that Alexander Korda decided to create Wells’ vision on the big screen. This could have been as some kind of antidote to the even earlier Metropolis (1927) from Fritz Lange and its view of a future society divided much akin to Huxley’s Upper and Lower class stratification.
Regarding ‘tanks’ in the book, Wells makes surprisingly little mention and no description at all. There was a small reference to “the primitive tank” as a weapon in WW1 (Chapter 4), reinforcing the idea that Wells did not like the tanks the British Army was equipped with in WW1. This is reinforced by his comment (via Dr. Raven) about how “the British had first invented, and then made a great mess of, the tank in the World War, and they were a tenacious people. The authorities stuck to it belatedly but doggedly.” Though one might argue that this statement was made in-character and did not reflect Wells’ personal views, it aligned well with the British tank fleet in 1933, which consisted of an eclectic mixture of vehicles and numerous dead-end prototypes that would prove to have little military value.
Dr. Raven’s denunciation of the parlous state of post-war British preparation for the next war follows directly on from this brief review of armored warfare in WW1, saying:
Wells actually wrote rather inconsistently on tanks in his stories. In the Land Ironclads of 1903, they were the war winner, and in War and the Future written in 1917, he mused on gargantuan tanks, land leviathans literally the size of ships cruising across and crushing all before them. He built on this idea in part in The Work, Health and Happiness of Mankind, written in 1932, the year before The Shape of Things to Come. In that story, the power of the tanks was paramount, crushing helpless and hapless enemy soldiers into “….a sort of jam…” as they rolled across the land. Yet, these vehicles, the land leviathans, were now rendered helpless in The Shape of Things to Come, with the advent of poison gas and enemy minefields.
Starring Raymond Massey as John and Oswald Cabal, Ralph Richardon as ‘The Boss’, and Edward Chapman as Pippa and Raymond Passworthy, the film was the production of Alexander Korda. Set in pre-war ‘Everytown’ (although it is meant to be London), the streets were full of gaiety and citizens enjoying their routine, from shopping at Sandersons department store for Christmas 1940. Food is plentiful, the people are well dressed and content, from the working man in his tweed flat cap to the toff in his top hat and tails leaving the Burleigh Cinema. In the background to this gaiety is the looming aspect of war, headlines about a nondescript enemy and the prospect of war with Europe rearming.
It is after Christmas that John Cabal (Raymond Massey) and Pippa Passworthy (Edward Chapman) and others are shocked by the unexpected news on the wireless; war has broken out, and the first bombs had already started falling on the city’s water works.
There follows a general mobilization and the passing of a national Defence Act. Meanwhile, the mood on the street becomes somber and gloomy as the war gets closer and closer to ‘Everytown’. Then, abruptly, the hustle and bustle of the streets is suddenly overwhelmed with a fleet of soldiers on motorbikes and the arrival of anti-aircraft guns in the square, followed soon by the shriek of loudhailers.
Here the film provides a short taste of what an air-raid by modern planes might look like – the sort of thing no Londoner would need to be reminded of in just a few years’ time. Warned to seek shelter and go home or use the underground, panic grips the streets as and our top-hatted toff shakes an impotent fist at the enemy above. Cabal is next seen in a uniform of the RAF, and in short order the first bombs start to fall. Soon the city is plunged into darkness as a blackout begins, eerily foreshadowing the darkness that would grip Britain’s own cities in just a few years. Nonetheless, the bombs still drop, obliterating first the cinemas and then the department store owned by the Sandersons.
This was a terrifying image to portray to audiences in 1936, as citizens were blown apart, vehicles and buildings were shattered by bombs, and finally poison gas started to fill the streets. Certainly, this was no light hearted or campy vision of a future being shown to audiences, but an all-too realistic look ahead to what a new war might bring them on the Home Front.
The viewer was then treated to a montage of combat made from stock footage of troops and machines, the Royal Navy at sea and excerpts of Vickers Medium Mark I tanks filmed during maneuvers. It is during this sequence and prior to the mass-bombing scenes (featuring what appear to be Lysanders) that the ‘future’ tanks are seen. These new tanks, not of a design which existed at the time, were designed to show the audience the progression of technology as the war developed.
As far as filimography goes, the air to air combat sequence which followed was certainly as good or better than some of the rather dreary contemporary films. The audience even gets to see John Cabal in action in a shiny silver open-topped Hawker Fury fighter, downing some as yet unnamed dastardly enemy who had just dropped poison gas from his Percival Mew Gull.
The time scale of the film shifts next to 21st September 1966 (also the 100th birthday of H. G. Wells). The war is dragging on and clearly things have not gone well, with rampant inflation, a shattered landscape, and the emergence of an epidemic known as the ‘wandering sickness’.
It is this wandering sickness which propels the new chapter, with Ralph Richardson as ‘The Boss’. He portrays a vicious and pompous warlord who rises to power by ruthlessly executing those unlucky enough to be struck with the wandering sickness.
By 1966, the only functional parts of society are the military and, amusingly, the fashion industry, as citizens walk dressed in rags or stereotypical Romani costumes, while still sporting immaculate hairstyles carefully slicked back by the generous application of Brylcreem. The people at this time are also half-starved – a stark contrast to the halcyon pre-war days of a well-fed populus. The wandering sickness meanwhile continues to ravage society, taking until 1970 to finally peter out.
All this time, the people remain at war, although maybe not the same war they started, for the enemy is now as much rival towns over resources, such as ‘the hill people’ and the nearby coal mines, as much as any ‘foreign’ foe. Here, ‘The Boss’ brings his army to the fore to seize the coal mines so he can make petrol and get his planes into the air.
The Boss’ plans are thrown off by the arrival of the ludicrously-large helmeted and now gray-haired John Cabal in a modern aircraft, bringing news of a new organization. This harkens back to the idea of the League of Nations, but perhaps is closer to the post-war concept of the United Nations, albeit known by the unusual and not very intimidating name of ‘Wings Over the World’ (W.O.T.W.).
Cabal brings this news to ‘The Boss’, who imprisons him until a message of his capture can be taken to W.O.T.W. W.O.T.W’s reply is succinct yet definitive, coming as it does in the form of a fleet of giant bombers, who proceed to drop bombs full of sleeping gas on the uncivilized masses thronging the ruins of Everytown. The people are saved from starvation, poverty, and the untidily dressed, at the cost of a single human life, as the Boss expires helplessly on the steps of the city hall. The arrival of the W.O.T.W heralds an end to the new dark ages, promising an end to disorder and chaos.
In the aftermath of the end of this barbarous time, Cabal makes one of those ‘trying-a-bit-too-hard-to-be-inspiring’ speeches followed by another montage. This time, it is the progress of science as the Earth is mined ruthlessly for its hidden resources, leading to the bright new future and featuring giant tracked machines blasting away at the rock.
This future of 2036 is decidedly whiter, cleaner and less Romani-esque than the age before. Cloaks, short shorts, and the same slicked back hairstyles dominate as progress reaches the point where man is to travel to the stars. This journey to the stars is courtesy of a giant gun hundreds of stories high used to launch one man and woman into the future.
Those two characters are the children of Oswald Cabal and Raymond Passworthy and the launching has to be rushed to avoid destruction by the modern anti-science, anti-progress, populist luddites led by an artist called Theotocopulos (played by Cedric (later Sir Cedric) Hardwicke – also a veteran of WW1).
The film ends with the firing of the gun as the angry luddite-mod led by Theotocopulos storms the gun and are presumably killed or otherwise rendered even more senseless by the great concussion of it propelling the new Adam and Eve to the stars to conquer the Moon.
Yet another great speech from Cabal brings the movie to a close and, as sentimental as some of it may seem, the motives expressed were clearly real – a drive for science and progress to never stop, for man to never quit dreaming of the future and greatness, and that humans, as small, feeble, and fragile as they are, can conquer any adversity. Certainly very noble attributes with lofty goals for the film and inspiration for the struggle to come in just a couple of years.
The film itself was well funded, costing over GB£300,000 to produce – this was the equivalent of US$1m in 1933 and in 2021 would be the equivalent of GB£22.8m (US$28.5 m) accounting for inflation. It ‘predicted’ a few things that, in 2021, we take for granted, from helicopters to holographic projection and the flat screen television. It did not, however, predict a good showing at the box office.
The film was not a commercial success and has lapsed in copyright. It is now in the public domain and can be watched online on a variety of platforms for free, although some versions are of a second rate quality copied from old videos or discs. The Criterion Collection offers a version of DVD with added extras, such as another montage showing the construction of the great underground city, which is not found on other releases.
The ‘Future Tank’
Appearing for just a few seconds during the film, the ‘future tank’ is little more than a model. In other instances, some random ‘tank’ model from a film would garner little interest, more so if it was science fiction. The tank presented in Things to Come, however, stands out. This was not the random thought of a model maker, but a film based on a book written and filmography approved by H. G. Wells. If Wells occupies any position in ideas of armored warfare before WW1, then his interwar idea of a tank must be taken into account in no less detail.
Sadly, with just a few seconds of footage and no substantive description from the book on which the vehicles were based, all that can be gathered as information is from the model as presented (and approved by Wells) in the film.
From the brief screen appearance, a sleek and rounded vehicle is apparent. Running on a pair of tracks made from what appears to be rubber, the rounded track runs flush to the body, extending out over the sides. The track shape is roughly that of a long obtuse triangle, with the top of the track run as the long side tapering down to ground level to meet the second-longest side which is in contact with the ground. The third side of this triangle is the shortest and creates the attack angle at the front, allowing the vehicle to climb obstacles.
There are no features within the triangle made by these tracks other than the rounded projection of what can be assumed to be armor covering the suspension or drive components which would have been underneath. Between the horns of the tracks, the hull is noticeably heavily rounded and curves down between them without connecting to the front horns of the track. On the front of this rounded front hull is a semi-spherical projection, the prospective function of which is unclear.
With the track horns projecting forwards in a manner reminiscent of the later A.22 Churchill tank, this would indicate that, if this were to be a functional vehicle, then it would have to have the drive components, like sprockets at the back rather than at the front.
The hull, above the tracks, is likewise tapering to the back and is a simple doorstep-wedge shape, albeit heavily rounded and surmounted at the apex of the ‘wedge’ by what appears to be a small round cupola.
On the well-angled right hand side of the upper hull (and presumably duplicated on the left hand side as well) is a large semicircular vent running the full height, from the top of the track to the top of the wedge. It is unclear if this vent is meant to be something for the crew or engine, but the size would indicate that it is more likely intended to convey an air intake for a combustion engine, presumably located within the tapered back half of the tank.
In terms of size, there is little from which to judge the proposed size of this tank other than the landscape scene, where they are driving across fields and the view of it crushing a building. Assuming the model brick building being deployed in the sequence was meant to indicate a normal two story dwelling or shop, this would make the vehicle not much bigger than a ‘normal’ tank of the era, at approximately 4 m high. Assuming the vehicle to be 4 m high, the tank would be around the same width and somewhere around 8 m long.
The dominant feature at the front of the hull is the gun. Like other features, there is nothing to go on other than the model. The primary tank gun for the British Army in 1933, when this film was made, was the 2 pdr. gun. This was an excellent gun for knocking holes in armor and was still in frontline service on some armored vehicles through 1945. It is not, however, the gun on this tank. As shown in the model, the gun is long – projecting maybe a quarter of the height of the vehicle forwards, which would mean a projection of around a meter. It is also substantially larger in terms of bore and barrel thickness and is perhaps meant to convey some kind of heavy howitzer rather than a high-velocity anti-armor gun.
Whilst the film itself was not a commercial success, it is a classic pre-war science fiction film in the truest sense of the word, alongside Metropolis (1927). The ‘prediction’ elements of the film are perhaps a little overblown, in the sense that many people in the 1930s could see another war, especially after the rise of Hitler in Germany. Wells perhaps is the most notable of these and, in terms of tanks, the vehicles shown in the film are clearly indicative that, whether or not he felt they were limited (by gas and mines), or some unstoppable leviathans, they would have a place in the forthcoming war. In this, he was undoubtedly correct and, dying in 1946, he got the chance to see this new war run to fruition, not with the collapse of society during a never ending war, but with Victory over Germany and its allies. Further, he got to see the development of tanks as well, and may have taken some satisfaction that the pre-war vehicles (such as the Vickers Medium Mark I) featured in the film, which were unsuitable, were quickly eclipsed and replaced.
United States of America (1916)
Armored Car – None Built
In 1916, there was one war sucking up all of the attention – the war in Europe, which was seeing the largest European empires battling it out at extreme costs. The USA did not enter the war until April 1917, and, in the meantime, already had a military challenge of its own to contend with – a revolution in Mexico which led to numerous border raids by armed forces. Some armored cars were deployed by the US Army to the border, but one man in southern Alabama also had an idea. His name was Erasmus Blacksher and his vehicle would allow for an armored car with improved mobility and protection over existing designs.
The man behind this invention was Erasmus Manford Blacksher. Erasmus was a “farmer & financier” from Brewton, a small town in southern Alabama. Born on 4th August 1878 in Boykin, Alabama to Uriah and Martha Blacksher, he was born into a wealthy family, one which had made its money in the timber industry. In 1911, he was a wealthy man and built a grand house called ‘Marinia’ on his family estate known as ‘Alco’. In records, he was giving his occupation as a farmer throughout this time and even beyond WW1. During that war, he, like millions of other men, was required to register for the draft, and he did so in September 1918.
In 1929, following the stock market crash, Blaskher’s family fortunes dwindled, but they still had some notable assets in the area. He died on 23rd April 1957, aged 78 and is buried in Union Cemetery, Brewton.
Between 1915 and 1930, he filed patents for an improved rail tie (1915), an improved airplane (1918), a safety device for an airplane (1930), and this armored automobile. The automobile was filed first in the United states in September 1916, which was then followed by a filing in Canada in July 1917.
The design of Blacksher’s armored car was a combination of both conventional and unconventional. Conventional in form, unconventional in function and design. Based around a simple four wheeled chassis, the drawing does not show anything more than a simple rectangular vehicular frame and four wheels. However, he was clear in the patent that it should have had some form of steering, although omitted any details of it. There is no mention of any form of propulsion, but, as it was an automobile, it had to be powered by some form of motor or engine. Just as there is no mention of the form of propulsion, there is also no mention of where such an engine might have been placed or what sort of drive train might have been involved. The only hint are the air vents on the roof.
With a body shape encompassing and completely enclosing the chassis and these 4 main wheels, the vehicle, in plan view, had a distinctive pill-shape with parallel sides and a “rounded contour… modeled as closely as consistent with the shell of a tortoise”. This was the key feature of the patent, which Blacksher described as a “protective casing”. The only large features on this shell was a large rectangular door on the side. Only one side is shown, but another one on the other side would have been a convenient feature for the design.
This armored shell was supported by a series of springs placed all around the body of the vehicle in order to allow for movement of the body and yielding when hit by enemy fire. Each corner of the chassis had a spring connected to the shell, with two more on each side for a total of 8 large springs.
Only the very top of the vehicle was flat in profile, where the upwards curving sides met. Centrally, within the roof of the vehicle, was a fully revolving turret in the shape of “an inverted cup” with a conical or tapering top. The bottom lip of the turret armor was overlapped by the armored body so there were no gaps for bullets to get through. One or more turrets could be added as needed, but Blacksher showed a design with just this single centrally-positioned turret.
The turret was meant to be supported on wheels mounted to a ring within the turret itself and ran along an annular track. Rotated by a gear wheel, the turret is shown in the drawing to be armed with a single gun. On one side of the turret (it is unclear whether it is in front or behind it) are a couple of funnels, presumably to draw air inside.
These would therefore appear to be what Blacksher described as “air chutes” which were to be “… of light metal so that, if struck by a bullet or the like, they will be pierced without damaging the same so far as their function of ventilation is concerned”. Unfortunately, the positioning and height of them is such that they would likely interfere with the traversing of the main gun.
A third projection is also visible, this time from the apex of the roof of the turret. This projection was a mirrored periscope for observation purposes rather than something for ventilation.
The armored body of the vehicle was carried separate to the vehicle itself by means of 6 wheels, with two on each side slightly inwards of the chassis wheels, and one more on the front and back. Arranged around the outside of the armored body were also 6 rollers (3 at each end). These were fitted with springs as well and could move vertically to accommodate undulations in the ground. Arranged in this way, the vehicle would not ground out when traversing rough ground.
No engine or even steering system was shown in the plan view, leaving just a plain and simple rectangular frame for the vehicle. In effect, what Blacksher provided therefore was not a specific chassis design but a template on which to mount such an armored body.
In other words, this patent was concerned with the provision of an armored body and turret which could potentially be made and then fitted over a regular truck chassis. This idea would match the location of those air-chutes on the roof, as they would indicate an engine potentially underneath them, suggesting a conventional style of truck layout inside.
No armament is directly indicated in terms of what gun or guns and of what type or size should be mounted. Instead, Blacksher simply provided an impression of the vehicle mounting a single gun inside this turret.
A cross-sectional view of the vehicle and turret provided another view of the gun and an indication that it was not to be a machine gun but potentially a small cannon mounted to a framework and supported from the floor of the ‘cup’ in which the turret was formed.
Employment and Conclusion
Although Blacksher’s vehicle was never built, it could, at first glance, be supposed to be some idea for service in WW1. Designed in 1916, this would certainly be a possibility, but there is another option as well and one hinted at by the presence of the cacti in the background of his illustration – the US southern border with Mexico.
In 1910, Mexico fell into a civil war, and due to the insecurity which resulted, US armed forces were deployed to the border area to help provide security and prevent Mexican forces from crossing over. There were numerous skirmishes between American and various Mexican rebel groups, and in 1916, these culminated in the famous raid by Pancho Villa into New Mexico, where he attacked the town of Columbus in March. Despite being repulsed by a US Cavalry force, the city was virtually destroyed. It was not the last raid either, as Villa’s forces searched for supplies. In April 1916, they crossed into Texas and raided the towns of Glenn Springs and Boquillas.
Incensed at this incursion, the US Army crossed over into Mexico under the command of General J. Pershing, as part of what was known as the ‘Punitive Expedition’. Operations over the border to secure it continued through 1918, and, although Villa was never caught by US forces, this conflict was a small taste of a mobile hit and run kind of warfare which was becoming possible thanks not only to horses but to trucks – some of which were staring to be armored.
It is not hard to see, in light of this conflict on the border, what sort of inspirations might have attracted Blacksher. All the design needed normal truck, a simple armored body and a degree of mobility to fight border banditry. Indeed, in this terrain, perhaps more than the ground of the Western Front in France and Belgium, these armored cars were more capable of off-road movement. At the time Blacksher submitted his patent, the US armed forces were not even involved in WW1, but they were engaged in this operation in the south.
US forces would eventually go to war in Europe and Blacksher got his draft papers completed in 1918. The war ended before he got called up and never got the chance to either see war directly for himself, or see his invention or something similar in action.
Blackshear, P. (1954). Blacksheariana. Perry Lynnfield Blackshear, Atlanta, Georgira, USA.
Canadian Patent CA180017, Armoured Automobile, filed 20th July 1917, granted 30th October 1917.
Canadian Patent CA193774, Aeroplane. Filed 9th December 1918, granted 11th November 1919.
French Patent FR501168, Aeroplane, filed 30th June 1919, granted 19th January 1920, published 6th April 1920.
Grimes, L. 2011. Images of America; Brewton and East Brewton. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, USA.
Swiss Patent CH93150, Luftfahrzeug mit vom motor aus autreibbaren stabilisation propellern, filed 13th June 1919, granted 16th February 1922.
The Brewton Standard, Blacksher’s Haunter Legend lives on. 3rd October 2018. https://www.brewtonstandard.com/2018/10/03/blackshers-haunted-legend-lives-on/
The Brewton Standard. More about the Blacksher’s, 7th April 2004. https://www.brewtonstandard.com/2004/04/07/more-about-the-blackshers/
US Census 1920, enumeration district 87, Supervisor’s District 2, Sheet 4A.
US Census 1930, enumeration district 27-6, Supervisor District 10, Sheet 23A.
US Draft Registration Card, Erasmus Manford Blacksher, 12th September 1918.
US Patent US1229869, Armored Automobile, filed 26th September 1916, granted 12th June 1917.
US Patent US1147321, Combination cement-tie and rail-clamping means, filed 25th January 1915, granted 20th July 1915.
US Patent US1789033, Safety Appliance for Airplanes, filed 18th February 1930, granted 13th January 1931.
Zaloga, S. Early US Armour: 1915-1940. Osprey Publishing, UK.
United States of America (1987-1991)
Missile Tank Destroyer – 5 Built
The AGM-114 ‘Hellfire’ missile was developed by the US Army specifically to counter modern Soviet main battle tanks in a potential clash of superpowers during a Cold War-turned-hot scenario. Thankfully for all concerned, such a conflict did not erupt, the Cold War ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The missile itself is a third-generation anti-tank missile capable of both air-launch (originally from the Advanced Attack Helicopter program by Hughes Aircraft Company) but also from the ground, in a line of development dating back to the late 1960s with the LASAM (LAser Semi Active Missile) and MISTIC (MIssile System Target Illuminator Controlled) programs. By 1969, MYSTIC, the over the horizon laser missile program, had transitioned into a new program known as the ‘Heliborne Laser Fire and Forget Missile’, shortly thereafter renamed ‘Heliborne Launched Fire and Forget Missile’, later shortened to just ‘Hellfire’.
By 1973, the Hellfire was already being offered for procurement by Rockwell International based in Columbus, Ohio and to be manufactured by Martin Marietta Corporation. Somewhat misleadingly, it was still being considered or labelled by some as a ‘fire and forget’ type of weapon.
Procurement and limited manufacturing followed, with the first test firings of the finished product, known as the YAGM-114A, at Redstone Arsenal in September 1978. With some modifications to the infra-red seeker of the missile and Army trials completed in 1981, full scale production began in early 1982. The first units were fielded by the US Army in Europe at the end of 1984. It is worthy of note that, as far back as 1980, the US Army was considering how to leverage the Hellfire onto a ground-launched platform.
Despite occasionally being mislabelled as a fire and forget missile, the Hellfire can, in fact, be used quite differently. Fire and Forget implies that, once the weapon is locked onto a target, it could be fired and then the launch vehicle could retreat to a safe distance or move on to the next target. This was not strictly correct, as the missile also had the ability to have its trajectory changed during flight by up to 20 degrees from the original and up to a 1,000 m each way.
Targeting for the missile was by means of a laser which was projected from a designator, either in the air or on the ground, regardless of from where the missile was launched. An air-launched Hellfire could, for example, be targeted onto an enemy vehicle by a ground designation laser or by other designating aircraft. The missile was not limited to ground targets either, it could also be used to target aircraft, with some emphasis on its ability to counter enemy attack helicopters. Thus, the missile gained a substantial survivability bonus for a launch vehicle, as it did not have to remain in situ and could even be fired from over the horizon, such as over a hill at targets beyond.
The TOW (Tube-launched Optically-tracked, Wire commanded linked) was already available in the US arsenal, but Hellfire offered some things that TOW did not. For example, it had an increased standoff capacity along with an increased range, an increased versatility of use, as the TOW was not suitable for anti-aircraft use, as well as improved physical performance such as armor penetration, explosive blast, and a shorter flight time due to travelling more quickly.
With a continuous laser seeker on the missile following the designation applied, the missile could easily target moving vehicles whilst being harder to intercept or counter (by engaging the launcher).
Improvements in ballistics through the 1980s improved the Hellfire design and the weapon has a maximum effective range quoted as being up to 8 km, with longer ranges being achieved with a reduction in accuracy due mainly to attenuation of the laser beam. Data from the US Department of Defense (D.O.D.), however, provides a maximum direct fire range of 7 km, with indirect fire out to 8 km and a minimum engagement range of 500 m.
The Hellfire missile was first used in anger during the invasion of Panama in December 1989, with 7 missiles being fired, all of which hit their targets.
Ground Launched Hellfire – Light (GLH-L)
By 1991, the success of the Hellfire was readily apparent, as was the potential it offered to the user. With improved anti-armor capabilities, the Army sought to install Hellfire missiles onto ground vehicles for use, ostensibly by the 9th Infantry Division to complete a concept first considered for the unit back in February 1987. This was a light infantry division and had a specific need for improved anti-armor firepower. In order to achieve this need, the HMMWV was selected to be the mount for these missiles. With a maximum effective range of 7 km, the Hellfire in the ground role extended the anti-armor capacity of the division, especially when it had the ability to be guided onto target remotely by a forward-deployed laser designator known as the Combat Observing Lasing Team (COLT) using a device like the G/VLLD or MULE laser designators. Some US$2 million (US$4.7 million in 2020 values) were allocated by the US Congress within the defence budget for development of this project, with the somewhat ambitious plan to have 36 systems deployed by the 9th Infantry Division within 22 months at an additional cost of $22 million for development and $10.6 million for procurement for a total concept to deliver cost of US$34.6 million (US$82.7 million in 2020 values).
Development took place on an ‘off-the-shelf’ basis, meaning it used existing hardware and software rather than redesigning a system from scratch. In this case, the system selected as the donor was the hardware from the Swedish shore defence missile program. Funding for the project also came from Sweden, with five vehicles made for trials. Sweden had already been involved in Hellfire since at least 1984, expressing an interest in the system to fill the role of a coastal defence missile. They had already done significant work and were likely trying to sell back some of the technology they had developed for the system, followed by an agreement for deliveries between the two countries in April 1987.
This was a light system for a light mobile force and was operated as the ‘Ground Launched Hellfire – Light’ (GLH-L) program, as a sub-part of a wider GLH program for both light and heavy vehicles.
The mounts for the GLH-L took the form of the standard cargo-bodied HMMWV vehicle M998. Development was due for completion by 1991 and 5 such vehicles were modified.
The M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) was the US Army’s replacement vehicle for the M151 Jeep, entering service in the early 1980s. The vehicle was to fulfill a variety of general and light utility roles but also as a platform to carry unit level equipment. One of those roles was to carry a TOW missile launcher on top and, with that mounting, the vehicle was either the M966, M1036, M1045, or M1046, depending on whether the vehicle had supplemental armor and/or a winch or not.
At over 2.3 tonnes, 4.5 metres long and over 2.1 metres wide, the M998 is roughly the length of a family saloon car but substantially wider and nearly twice the weight. Powered by a 6.2 litre diesel engine, the M998, in its Cargo Configuration, as converted to mount the GLH-L, was capable of up to 100 km/h on a good road.
The vehicles built were sent for testing by TRADOC (US Army Training, Doctrine, and Command) and, with firing trials set to take place at the field laboratory of the Test and Experimentation Command (TEXCOM) at Fort Hunter-Liggett in California in June 1991. However, no orders were even expected for the system. Nonetheless, the firing trials were successful and firing blind over the crest of a hill at a static tank target 3.5 km away saw a missile hit.
This was followed by exercise trials with TOW missile operators from 2nd Battalion, 27th Regiment, 7th Infantry Division crewing the GLH-L vehicles, opposed by crews from the TEXCOM Experimentation Centre (T.E.C.) manning M1A1 Abrams tanks during simulated engagements. The TOW operators received an additional 3 weeks of Hellfire training prior to the exercise from Rockwell Missile Systems International (RMSI). The goal of the exercises was to see if a standard infantry battalion could adequately operate and control the GLH-L under operational conditions, such as deploying them appropriately to engage enemy armor it might encounter.
The only modification from real to simulated operation was the substitution of the laser designator from the standard Ground Laser Designator (G.L.D.) to a lower power and eye-safe system to prevent injury to anyone who got lased. When live-missiles were used, however, the standard GLD was used, although the lock-on for the missiles was set at launch due to the range limitations at play.
Forty day and night trials were conducted with the two forces, with continual electronic monitoring for later review. Using the GLD for these live fire shoots, an advance team was able to lase the target and radio in for a missile launch, leading to 6 missiles being fired and hitting the target.
Mounted on the roof using a ‘GLH Adaptor Kit’, the vehicle carried 6 missiles in the back, with 2 mounted on the roof, for a total load of 8 missiles.
The Army was considering the idea of this system to equip elements of the 82nd Airborne Division but, once more, with no formal requirement and no production orders, the idea was only that – just an idea.
For heavier vehicles, ones with some built in ballistic protection from enemy fire and more suitable for conventional units, two vehicles were the obvious choice of launch platform for the Hellfire, the Bradley, and the ever-present M113. Operating as Fire Support Team Vehicles (FIST-V), the vehicles would be able to lase an enemy target and attack it directly if they wished, or once more use the remote targeting. This was the Ground Launched Hellfire – Heavy (GLH – H), part of the 16-month long GLH project. That work saw a turret put together and installed as a test on an M901 Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV) variant of the M113. The system was substantially larger than the 2-missile system on the M998, holding 8 missiles in two 4-missile pods on either side of the turret.
That system was also tested and found to be functional, but was not carried forward and received no orders for production.
The GLH-L, part of the GLH program, had been supported by the Army and by the Hellfire Project Office (HPO), which had accumulated the work of MICOM Weapons Systems Management Directorate (WSDM) in February 1990. HPO had then followed up on the Hellfire, as it was used in service and was being improved and refined. At the same time, Martin Marietta received a contract for development of the missile, known as the Hellfire Optimised Missile System (HOMS) in March 1990 and both had supported the work on GLH-L. However, in April 1991, HPO was redesignated as the Air-to-Ground Missile Systems (AGMS) Project Management Office, leaving no doubt that official interest seemed to have ended in ground-launched applications in favor of aircraft-launched systems. Indeed, this was just a few months after work on developing the Hellfire missile for the Longbow Apache helicopter had started.
By 1992, HOMS too was gone and its work was simply repurposed as ‘Hellfire II’, which was to finally take the form in the AGM-114K version of the missile. The GLH-H side of things, therefore, was also left out in the cold. There seemed little appetite for a ground launched version of a weapon which was already successful on aircraft and the development work specifically was to focus on airborne use as well.
In recent years however, renewed interest has been shown in a ground launched Hellfire version to replace TOW and upgrade the US military’s ability to strike enemy targets from even further away. In 2010, Boeing, for example, tested the ability of the Avenger turret air defence system to launch Hellfire missiles. This would allow the Hellfire once more to be mounted on light vehicles, like the HMMWV, but also on the LAV and other systems.
However, such systems seeing service seems unlikely, as the Hellfire missile and variants was, as of 2016, destined for replacement by a new missile known as the Joint Air to Ground Missile (J.A.G.M.) as a common missile across all platforms naval, air, and ground.
Overview of Hellfire Missile Variants
AGM-114 A, B, & C
1982 – <1992
8 kg shaped charge warhead,
Semi-active laser homing,
Not effective against ERA,
45 kg / 1.63 m long
8 kg shaped charged tandem warhead,
Semi-active laser homing,
Effective against ERA,
45 kg / 1.63 m long
~ 1990 – 1992
9 kg shaped charge tandem warhead,
Semi-active laser homing,
Electronic safety devices,
49 kg / 1.80 m long
Hardened vs countermeasures
Added insensitive munitions
(AGM-114 K BF)
Added blast-fragmentation sleeve
1995 – 2005
9 kg shaped charge tandem warhead,
Millimeter wave radar (MMW) seeker,
49 kg / 1.80 m long
Hellfire Longbow II
1998 – 2010
Semi-active laser homing,
For use vs buildings and soft-skinned targets,
49 kg / 1.80 m long
Blast fragmentation warhead (BFWH)
Hellfire II (MAC)
Metal-Augmented charge (MAC)*
Hellfire II (UAV)
2003 – 2012
Semi-active laser homing
Shaped charge or blast fragmentation warheads depending on model.
Designed for high altitude UAV use.
49 kg / 1.80 m long
Integrated blast fragmentation sleeve (IBFS),
49 kg / 1.80 m long
Inert warhead using mass and cutting blades for low-collateral damage removal of human targets
Adapted from US Army Weapons Handbook guide to Hellfire via fas.org
* Sometimes referred to as a ‘thermobaric charge’.
** Classified development
Aberdeen Proving Ground. (1992). Ballisticians in War and Peace Volume III: A history of the United States Army Ballistic Research Laboratory 1977-1992. APG, Maryland, USA
AMCOM. Hellfire https://history.redstone.army.mil/miss-hellfire.html
Armada International. (1990). US Anti-Tank Missile Developments. Armada Internal February 1990.
Author’s notes from vehicle examination, June 2020 and July 2021
Dell, N. (1991). Laser-guided Hellfire Missile. United States Army Aviation Digest September/October 1991.
GAO. (2016). Defence Acquisitions. GAO-16-329SP
Lange, A. (1998). Getting the most from a lethal missile system. Armor Magazine January-February 1998.
Lockheed Martin. 17th June 2014. Lockheed Martin’s DAGR and Hellfire II missile score direct hits during ground-vehicle launch tests. Press Release https://news.lockheedmartin.com/2014-06-17-Lockheed-Martins-DAGR-And-HELLFIRE-II-Missiles-Score-Direct-Hits-During-Ground-Vehicle-Launch-Tests
Parsch, A. (2009). Directory of US Military Rockets and Missiles: AGM-114. http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-114.html
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Thinkdefence.co.uk Vehicle Mounted Anti-Tank Missiles https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/07/vehicle-mounted-anti-tank-missiles/
Transue, J., & Hansult, C. (1990). The Balanced Technology Initiative, Annual Report to Congress. BTI, Virginia, USA
United States Army. (2012). Hellfire family of missiles. Weapon Systems 2012. Via https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/wsh2012/132.pdf
United States Army. (1980). The United States Army Logistics Center Historical Summary 1st October 1978 to 30th September 1979. US Army Logistics Center, Fort Lee, Virginia, USA
United States Department of Defense. (1987). Department of Defence Appropriations for 1988.
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