The most bizarre experimental tanks ever to roll through a battlefield
Tanks are a crucial part of any land force in battle, and every military dreams of coming up with the ultimate invincible vehicle, complete with incredible firepower. But some militaries dream bigger than others. From winged tanks and DiY armored cars, to tanks studded with flamethrowers, here are some of the most bizarre examples of experimental tanks. Not surprisingly, most of these never saw much action in the field.
The homemade tank of Syrian rebels: the Sham II
Five video cameras and a mm gun outside, flat screen TVs, PlayStation controller (controlling the machine gun) and a steering wheel on the inside. The walls are centimetres thick and resist up to 23 mm cannon fire.
(via Russia Today)
Object , the Soviet experimental heavy track
G/O Media may get a commission
Developed at the Kirov Industrial Plant in Leningrad. Only one was built, in The tank has a four-track running gear and a hp 2DG-8M diesel engine, and if necessary it withstands the shockwave of a nuclear explosion. Object has mm thick armor, and is equipped with CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) protection.
(via Armor.kiev.ua and WW2 In Color)
Sherman BARV (Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle) or the Sea Lion, WWII
Based on a Sherman M4A2 tank, and able to operate in 9 foot (2,7 m) deep water, it was used to remove other vehicles and re-float stuck landing crafts. 52 of them were deployed on the Operation Neptune, (or D-Day), and they continued to be used until the s.
(via Geocities on Internet Archive)
Antonov A Krylya Tanka ("tank wings")
The legendary Oleg Antonov converted a T light tank into a flying tank. It was lightened when he removed armament, ammunition and headlights, and a limited amount of fuel. Then he attached it to a Tupolev TB-3 or a Petlyakov Pe-8 in The monster had only one flight, according to a Soviet source, but the Westerners say it never left the ground.
(via Fiddlers Green)
Japanese flamethrower tank from WWII
These were constructed in , and the interior parts were built in and Eight of these were found by American soldiers in It had two Type 97 mm tank machine guns and giant flamethrowers. Some of the tanks had just two flamethrowers, but on another one there were five mounts.
(via US Intelligence Bulletin / September and Marine Corps Association & Foundation)
The Venezuelan turtle: "Tortuga"
Designed by Tomás Pacanins, it was built out of a Ford 6x4 truck, and armed with a 7 mm machine gun. Twelve were built in the Puerto Cabello shipyard, but only five were displayed. Venezuela wanted to demonstrate its power to Columbia with these armored cars and two Italian Ansaldo CV33s.
(via Florida State University)
Wijnman Koekblikje ()
After the Dutch Army was founded in , they started a project to build an armored car on a common truck chassis. The outcome was the Koekblikje (jar of biscuits), based on a Morris 6x4, and including three M machine guns ( mm).
(via En Cars Globe and Desert Rats)
Carden-Loyd tankettes from Great Britain
This tankette bega as a private one-man tank project by a Brtish military engineer, Major Giffard LeQuesne Martel, but later some companies adapted his idea. One of them was the Carden-Loyd Tractors Ltd. They producted these tankettes from to The British Army used some of them, but the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Czechoslovakia, France, Netherlands, and other countries also bought these. At pounds ( kg), Mark VI was the most successful generation (in the foreground).
(via bkpforums and armourbook)
Stridsvagn m/ from Sweden
The Swedish Army bought the plans of the German Leichte Kampfwagen II (LK II) for , Swedish kronor after WW I, and produced it as Stridsvagn m/21 with a mm machine gun. In they updated the old construction with a better engine and an extra machine gun.
(via bkpforums and ointres.se)
Tsar Tank or Lebedenko Tank, Russia,
The largest armored vehicle ever built was made in in Russia, developed by Nikolai Lebedenko. The tank used the good old tricycle form instead of caterpillar tracks. The two big wheels were 27 feet high ( m), and powered by two hp Sunbeam engines. The weight of the big wheels was too much, so it often got stuck in the ground. After some tests the tank remained somewhere in a field, and stood there eight years before it was taken apart.
(via Landships and Hrenovina)
Experimental Tanks & Fighting Vehicles
Armor | Battlefield
Just as with aircraft, the realm of armored fighting vehicles has seen its fair share of experimental types envisioned.There are a total of [ 88 ] Experimental Tanks & Fighting Vehicles entries in the Military Factory. Entries are listed below by initial year of service descending. Flag images indicative of country of origin and not necessarily the primary operator. Special vehicles and unmanned / robotic systems are also included in this listing to showcase the breadth of developments in the realm of tank / land warfare.
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List of prototype World War II combat vehicles
This list contains combat vehicles which never left the design phase or had an extremely limited production (usually < 10).
- Entwicklung Series Entwicklung series, a comprehensive redesign of German armor from small tracked vehicles to a ton super-heavy tank. Only a single E chassis was completed
- Leichttraktor, pre-war light tank, four built
- Neubaufahrzeug, pre-war heavy tank design, five built
- Panther II, development of the Panzerkampfwagen V "Panther". A single chassis was built
- Panzerkampfwagen VII "Löwe", a super-heavy tank project that never reached prototype stage
- Panzerkampfwagen VIII "Maus", a super-heavy tank. Two prototypes built
- Panzerkampfwagen IX & Panzerkampfwagen X Paper project
- Landkreuzer P. Ratte; paper project
- Landkreuzer P. Monster; paper project
- cm Selbstfahrlafette auf VK (H) "Sturer Emil"
- Heuschrecke 10, Krupp's design for a new self-propelled artillery gun
- VK (P) - medium tank; paper project
- VK (DB) - prototype medium tank; one built
- VK (P) - Porsche Tiger tank; hulls built, 90 converted to Ferdinands, one Tiger (P) built, 3 Bergepanzer Tiger (p) and 3 Rammtigers built.
- Dicker Max, two prototypes built
- VK 20, medium tank proposed to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV; paper project
- Panzer-Selbstfahrlafette II, half-track tank destroyer; two built
- Panzer-Selbstfahrlafette IV Ausf. C, SPG, 3 built
- Geschützwagen Tiger, self-propelled artillery gun; one partial prototype built
- VK Leopard, reconnaissance tank; paper project
- Tank, Heavy, TOG I
- Tank Heavy, TOG II
- Tank, Heavy Assault, Excelsior (A33)
- Tank, Infantry, Valiant (A38)
- Tank, Heavy Assault, Tortoise (A39)
- Tank, Infantry, Black Prince (A43)
- A20 heavy tank
Nazi Germany ()
Unarmoured Half-Track – At Least 3 Completed
The D II series of experimental half-tracks arose from the German Army’s pursuit of motorization in the years preceding the outbreak of the Second World War. Following successful trials with prototype designs that utilized the half-track principle in the late s, semi-tracked trucks and prime movers became an integral component of this overarching drive for greater strategic and tactical mobility. Capable of achieving high speeds on roads as well as traversing difficult cross-country terrain, these vehicles appeared to be an excellent means of motorizing the German Army (Reichsheer). Convinced by these many advantages, the Heeres Waffenamt (Army Ordnance Department) assigned one of their most talented engineers, Heinrich Ernst Kniepkamp, the task of overseeing the development of a range of different half-tracks to fulfill the various needs of the German Army.
Having already approved the development of several designs capable of hauling heavy loads of up to five tonnes or more, in the Heeres Waffenamt initiated work on a smaller design that would be more suitable for towing lighter infantry guns and anti-tank guns. In response to these requirements for the Kleinster geländegängiger Ketten-schlepper (smallest cross-country tracked towing vehicle), the Demag firm produced small numbers of three consecutive prototype half-tracks: the D II 1, the D II 2, and the D II 3.
Known by their diminutive appellation ‘Liliput’, these comparatively small half-tracks nevertheless employed a whole host of innovative technological features that would go on to find widespread use throughout the Second World War. However, despite numerous incremental improvements across the three permutations of the D II series, the final D II 3 design still required further refinement before it could be considered suitable for series production. As a result, the overall design of the D II 3 continued to be gradually revised between and , until it evolved by way of the interim D 6 into the final D 7. Classified as the Sd.Kfz 1-tonne half-track by the Heer, over 10, of the D 7 half-tracks would be produced from until the end of the Second World War.
In light of the ubiquity of its descendants, the D II 3 was a significant stage in the development of German semi-tracked prime movers. Even though the early D II designs appear to be far removed from the future Sd.Kfz, the underpinnings of a reliable workhorse had been established by the time the D II 3 was produced in As such, these obscure machines (of which we know very little) represent an important chapter not only in the development of German prime movers but also in the German Army’s quest to fully motorize its forces; a goal that, contrary to Nazi propaganda, would never be achieved.
Solving an Old Problem: The Motorisation of the German Army
Following Germany’s defeat at the end of the First World War in November , the fledgling Weimar Republic inherited a strategic conundrum that had bedeviled generations of German military planners: how could the German armed forces defend Germany’s vast frontiers to both the east and the west with an army that was primarily reliant on railways for its mobility? Worse still for the German generals, the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles compounded Germany’s vulnerability by placing size restrictions on the size of the military and banning the use of much of the latest military technology, including tanks. Confronted with this perennial German predicament and many hostile neighbors, the Reichsheer aimed to solve this problem by cultivating a highly mobile professional army that could rapidly respond to enemy incursions and form the nucleus of a resurrected German army capable of conducting its own offensive operations. In order to realize these strategic aspirations, the Reichsheer needed to enhance its tactical mobility. This, in turn, required one essential ingredient: the motorization of the German Army.
Correspondingly, significant emphasis was placed upon procuring motorized transportation for the Reichsheer, particularly in the form of tractors to tow artillery, in order to ensure that Germany’s limited military assets possessed the mobility to make a difference on the battlefield. These efforts culminated in the Kraftfahrüstungsprogramm (Motorisation Programme) formulated by the General Staff during and According to this initiative, the Reichsheer would specify its automotive requirements and provide technical specifications for designs that would be able to fulfill its needs. Whilst the s saw many developments in this field, the Weimar Republic’s clandestine attempts to rearm in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles were accelerated with the accession of Adolf Hitler as German Chancellor in January Under the Nazi Party, which was vehemently opposed to what was perceived as the emasculating and unjust dictates of Versailles, plans to rebuild and motorize the Reichsheer were given greater priority and would eventually receive considerably more funds for research and development.
Among the many experiments in motorization undertaken by the Weimar Republic and continued by the Nazis was the development of three-quarter tracked vehicles (commonly known as half-tracks) for the purposes of carrying loads and, more importantly, towing artillery. Encouraged by earlier successes with these vehicles, Waffen Prüfwesen 6 (Wa Prüf 6), the sub-division of the German Army’s ordnance department responsible for the development of tanks and motor vehicles, initiated the creation of a light, medium, and heavy class of three-quarter tracked vehicles for the Reichsheer in At first, these vehicles were identified in accordance with their load-carrying capacity, but they were later reclassified to reflect towing weights of 5 tonnes, 8 tonnes, and 12 tonnes respectively. This reorientation originates from the conceptualization of these vehicles as prime-movers for the German Army’s various artillery pieces and trailers.
One of the products of this push for the motorization of the Reichsheer was the one-tonne three-quarter tracked vehicle. Although the initial requirements for three-quarter tracked vehicles prepared by Wa Prüf 6 in had not called for anything with less than 5 tonnes of towing capacity, there were plenty of anti-tank guns and infantry guns in development during the s that would benefit from motorised towing, but which did not require a tractor with a 5-tonne towing capacity. Therefore, in order to provide prime movers for these indispensable constituents of German infantry formations, Wa Prüf 6 expanded the range of three-quarter tracked vehicles in to encompass a design with a one-tonne towing capacity. It was due to this imperative of motorization that the rather odd-looking Demag D II came into being.
The Dark Ages: The Genesis of the One-Tonne Half-Track
Whilst the overarching narrative recounting the mobilization of the Reichsheer is relatively well-known, the more intricate details pertaining to each particular vehicle are, by contrast, exceedingly scant. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the all-too-typical case of the one-tonne half-tracked vehicle, of which there are no surviving primary source records from either Demag or Wa Prüf 6 concerning its early development and production. Historians of the Medieval period may resent the ‘Dark Ages’ paradigm, but it is an apt term to describe the loss of information regarding the history of many interwar German military vehicles.
Consequently, the only comprehensive source available that outlines the early history of the one-tonne three-quarter tracked vehicle is a report compiled after the war in June by the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). Entitled ‘German Semi-Tracked Vehicle Development from onwards’, this document provides a detailed overview of the history and the technical features of most of the German three-quarter tracked vehicles developed before and during the Second World War. However, the fact that the information in this report was primarily derived from post-war interviews with relevant personnel from the design firms and Wa Prüf 6, who did not have access to their records, means that it can contain significant errors and omissions. In the case of the one-tonne three-quarter tracked vehicle, the BAOR report contains only a brief synopsis of the production and technical features of the trial vehicles. Faced with this barren documentary record, there is little that can be said about the events leading up to the completion of the first Demag D II 1 sometime in or
Piecing together the evidence that is available, it is probable that the one-tonne half-track started development in as part of an effort to create a light prime mover that could advance at high speeds along paved roads and negotiate rugged terrain. The idea that the one-tonne three-quarter tracked vehicle was envisaged as a towing vehicle for light artillery, such as the leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18 (le. IG 18) or the cm Panzerabwehrkanone ( cm Pak), is supported by a myriad of photographs showing trials vehicles hitched to these guns and their ammunition trailers, as well as the wartime use of their successors in this exact role.
Having established a need for this lightweight towing vehicle in , Wa Prüf 6 contracted Demag AG, a crane manufacturing company based in Wetter an der Ruhr, to produce a series of trial vehicles (Versuchs-Fahrzeuge) incorporating their desired technical features and adhering to the prescribed specifications. Although Demag was a large industrial concern specializing in heavy equipment such as cranes and steam locomotives, this appears to have been their first project involving the development of half-tracked vehicles. Unfortunately, there is no information revealing why Demag was chosen to design these trials vehicles, or whether there were alternative concepts considered for this role. Whatever the wider story behind the early stages of the one-tonne half-track, between and , Demag designed and produced a series of distinctive three-quarter tracked vehicles known as the D II, all of which employed several novel and unique technical features.
Micro Machines: The Development of the D II 1 and D II 2 ‘Liliput’
The first incarnations of the D II are immediately recognizable due to to their diminutive size and unconventional appearance. It is thanks to these characteristics that this series of machines received the peculiar moniker ‘Liliput’, an adjective (spelled ‘Lilliput’ in English) that denotes an object or person of extremely small size. Originating from Jonathan Swift’s famous eighteenth-century novel Gulliver’s Travels, in which Lilliput is an imaginary island inhabited by miniature 15 cm tall people, the term entered the European lexicon after this popular novel was translated into different languages. Whilst it may seem strange for a German military vehicle to be referred to by this esoteric label, the term ‘Liliput’ was sufficiently well-known in contemporary Europe that it became the name of one of the smallest semi-automatic handguns ever produced, the mm Liliput Pistol, which was designed and manufactured by Waffenfabrik August Menz in Germany between and It is unknown how this term came to be attached to the Demag D II, but it appears to have been a contemporary name that aptly captures the strange appearance of these tiny machines.
Asides from its noteworthy name, the first variant of the Demag D II series developed between and , the D II 1, also incorporated a number of unusual technological innovations. Whereas the other German semi-tracked vehicles mounted the automotive components onto a traditional chassis frame, the D II 1 encased all of these parts inside a unique lightweight hull. This novel approach to the construction helped to ensure that the machine would remain as light as possible, thus increasing its maneuverability and cross-country performance.
These performance characteristics were enhanced by Kniepkamp’s revolutionary torsion bar suspension, fitted to both the front axle as well as the tracked section. This worked in conjunction with the interleaved road wheels to provide the D II 1 with excellent mobility across challenging terrain, not to mention relatively fast speeds on paved roads. Although these features do not seem particularly remarkable in light of their widespread employment in later German designs of the Second World War, the Demag D II 1 was one of the first three-quarter tracked vehicles to use such an advanced suspension system successfully.
Kniepkamp’s penchant for cutting-edge technology and his preoccupation with speed, mobility, and weight are also evident in one of the types of track fitted to the D II 1. Alongside orthodox unlubricated pin cast steel track links intended to prioritize off-road traction, the D II 1 was also tested with lubricated needle-bearing track links, each of which carried a rubber pad. These track designs were viewed as a compromise between steel and rubber tracks, the former permitting higher speeds on road, with the latter being more suitable for off-road activity and more durable. By equipping German half-tracks with lubricated rubber padded tracks, Kniepkamp hoped to retain some of the beneficial performance and noise-dampening qualities of the rubber tracks, without sacrificing all of the resilience afforded by steel tracks. Although it appears to be the case that different track designs were still being evaluated at the time when the D II series was being tested, the lubricated needle-bearing rubber padded tracks had become a standard feature on all major German three-quarter tracked vehicles by the beginning of the Second World War.
Whereas the technical and automotive attributes of the Demag D II 1 fulfilled the brief for a light cross-country vehicle, other aspects of the design left something to be desired. Chief among these limitations of the D II 1, at least among those that are apparent without having access to any detailed testing reports, was the placement of the litre 6-cylinder 28 hp BMW engine. In another example of defying normal expectations, the engine of the D II 1 was not located in a separate compartment at the front, but was instead installed at the right rear of the hull, where it took up most of the space inside the rear compartment. As a result, there was room for only a driver and three additional men, with little space for extra stowage. For a vehicle designed to tow guns and carry their ammunition and crew complements, the lack of internal volume was a significant shortcoming that could only be rectified by a radical rearrangement of the internal layout of the hull.
Sometime after the D II 1 was completed, the D II 2 was finished in In many respects, the D II 2 remained the same as its predecessor. It maintained the exact layout, engine, and suspension used in the D II 1, with the only major difference being the addition of an extra road wheel to the tracked suspension as well as a corresponding increase in track length. Other than the provision of a canvas cover to protect the driver from the elements, there were no more significant differences distinguishing the D II 2 from the earlier D II 1.
Consequently, by the end of , Wa Prüf 6 was in possession of two lightweight compact towing vehicles capable of moving their light artillery. In the case of the D II 2, this translated into a vehicle capable of towing up to kg, despite only weighing 2, kg fully laden. Moreover, it was able to attain a range of km and a top speed of 50km/hr on roads, as well as scale a grade of 24 degrees unloaded or 12 degrees loaded. However, there were also significant shortcomings to these early designs which necessitated continued development by Demag.
Towards the Sd.Kfz The Demag D II 3
In , the third and final incarnation of the D II, the D II 3, was assembled by Demag and delivered to Wa Prüf 6 for testing. In this guise, the D II came to more closely resemble the final shape of the mass-produced D 7. The original layout was discarded in favor of a more traditional setup, with the engine placed at the front in a separate compartment, whilst another road wheel was also appended to the suspension. Along with the conspicuous bulbous front fenders, these alterations to the D II 3 resulted in an appearance that bore a much closer resemblance to the later Sd.Kfz
However, the modifications to the D II 3 were not merely superficial aesthetic details. By replacing the BMW engine with a larger liter 6-cylinder BMW , the D II 3 was slightly more powerful than its predecessors. In addition to this, the relocation of the engine to the front of the vehicle improved cooling, thereby reducing the stress on the engine. Furthermore, the greater internal volume in the rear compartment meant that the D II 3 was able to transport 6 men in total, including the driver. For a vehicle intended to transport gun crews, this was a considerable upgrade to the design that increased its utility on the battlefield.
The suspension also underwent several notable alterations. The solid road wheels of the D II were replaced by five road wheels of a new 6-holed variety. Coupled to a larger idler wheel that was mounted close to the ground, the extra track contact area provided by this refined suspension improved flotation on soft terrain, thus ameliorating the cross country mobility of this machine.
Another crucial evolution to the D II 3 design was the substitution of rollers in the place of teeth on the front-mounted drive sprocket. By using rollers, the friction between the track links and the sprocket was decreased. This reduction in resistance allowed the D II 3 to attain higher speeds and was to become a staple feature of later German three-quarter tracked designs.
In the same way as its forebears, the D II 3 was trialed with at least two different track designs, as well as two kinds of front wheels. In terms of tracks, this consisted of a familiar all-steel design alongside Kniepkamp’s lubricated rubber-padded tracks. These tracks could be combined with either pneumatic tires of a type similar to the D II 1 and D II 2, or a solid rubber variety. Unsurprisingly for an experimental vehicle like the D II 3, the photographic evidence is sparse and, due to the quality of surviving photos, difficult to interpret. However, photographs show that both types of tracks and front wheels were equipped on the D II 3, and seem to suggest that the different tire designs were tested in combination with both track variants.
If the technical features of the D II are relatively well-documented by the BAOR report, production figures for these earlier vehicles are more opaque. According to the British, 38 D II 3 were completed by Demag. However, this claim is not confirmed by any surviving German records from the time and does not accord with the usual practice of producing trial vehicles in small series of one to five examples. This suggests that this statement in the BAOR report may be one of its many errors, but without the original German records, no definitive answer can be obtained. In either case, it is clear that in spite of the considerable improvements, the Demag D II 3 was an experimental vehicle that required further development in the eyes of Wa Prüf 6.
Waste Not, Want Not: The D II 3 as a Testbed
Despite their shadowy existence in both the documentary and the photographic record, German prototype vehicles rarely enjoyed a quiet life. Rather than allow their experimental machines to languish in storage, many of the German trial vehicles ordered by the Heeres Waffenamt saw later use as testbeds for new concepts or technology. The Demag D II 3 was no such exception to this rule.
Even before the end of , the Heeres Waffenamt had already presented a report outlining the tactical advantages of creating self-propelled 2 cm Flak guns on the basis of existing half-tracks. The report noted that due to the greater muzzle velocity and the superior penetration of the 2 cm Flak 30 anti-aircraft gun compared to other weapons of this caliber, it was not only an effective defense against air attacks but could also be employed to protect marching columns against surprise tank attacks. Taken by the merits of this idea, the D II 3 and D 6 experimental half-tracks were used to test a superstructure able to mount a 2 cm Flak 30 with degrees of traverse, which would go on to be used on the mass-produced Sd.Kfz/4 anti-aircraft half-track.
Generally, such experiments mentioned in the documentation are devoid of photographic evidence, but every so often, stray photographs are published which illuminate these forgotten chapters of a particular vehicle’s career in service. In the case of the D II 3, there are at least two photographs confirming that at least one of the D II 3 experimental chassis fitted with solid rubber front tires and all-steel tracks was used to test this idea.
Close examination of these photographs reveals many similarities between the design of this trial superstructure and the standard style used on the Sd.Kfz/4, such as the four ready bins for one twenty-round Flak 30 magazine attached to the folding sides. Puzzlingly, the D II 3 testbed also has several features that were not fitted to Sd.Kfz/4 produced in , but which did become standard in These include the loading ramps protruding from the front of the vehicle and the cable rollers just behind the driver, which were intended to allow the 2 cm Flak 30 to be dismounted from the half-track so that it could be emplaced in a concealed position on the ground.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to say any more about this experimental vehicle due to the lack of additional evidence. It is not even clear when this trial machine was modified in this manner, although it is probable, given its role as a testbed, that the conversion was completed between the production of the D II 3 in and the date at which the first orders for the Sd.Kfz/4 were issued in May Nonetheless, this example of reusing a prototype machine exemplifies the importance of the D II series in establishing the design parameters for many of the 1-tonne half-tracks that would see successful wartime service.
Stepping Stones: The D II in Retrospect
By the end of their development in , the D II series of prototypes had established the foundations for a half-track design capable of meeting the specifications for a lightweight cross-country towing vehicle outlined by the Heeres Waffenamt in Although the D II 1 and D II 2 had many peculiar characteristics that were later dispensed with, they also pioneered several ingenious features that would be carried through to the mass-produced D 7, most notably the torsion bar suspension and the substitution of a hull construction in place of the conventional chassis frame. When the positive aspects of the early D II machines were amalgamated with numerous improvements introduced in the D II 3, the basic outline of the future Sd.Kfz became fixed in shape.
Even so, the external similarities between the Sd.Kfz and the final incarnation of the D II can be misleading. There would be multiple adjustments to almost every single facet of the existing design before its finalization as the D 7 in , including changes to the engine, front axle, and road wheels. Nevertheless, In spite of these many modifications distancing the D 7 from the D II 3, these earlier vehicles still performed an important role in establishing the basic parameters and characteristics for their successors.
Consequently, the D II series must not be perceived as an evolutionary dead-end, but as a key step in the history of the development of the ubiquitous Sd.Kfz Whilst none of the D II prototypes have survived to this day, their influence can still be appreciated through the mass-produced D 7, which is as prolific in present-day collections of German military vehicles as it was on the battlefields of the Second World War.
The lack of surviving documentation concerning the history of the Demag D II series of vehicles means that the BAOR Report is still the primary source of information regarding these half-tracks. For those unable to access this report, Panzer Tracts is an essential resource for further reading into this topic. As well as quoting directly from the BAOR report, this Panzer Tracts volume also highlights possible errors and provides several photographs of the D II that have not been published elsewhere. In addition to this, the coverage of the later D 6 and D 7 developments has revolutionized our understanding of the history of these vehicles. Older works of literature, such as those authored by Spielberger and Milsom, also summarise the history of the D II as presented in the BAOR report, but they should be used with caution when researching the rest of the Sd.Kfz family, as they each contain errors and outdated information. Finally, a considerable number of photos of the D II that have not been published in printed books have surfaced on the internet, the majority of which have been published in this article.
Illustration of the Demag D II 1 half-track prototype with the rear-mounted engine and with the windshield up.
Illustration of the Demag D II 3 half-track prototype with the engine in the front.
Both illustrations by Alexe Carpaticus Pavel, funded by our Patreon campaign.
|Variant||D II 1||D II 2||D II 3|
|Crew||1 + 3||1 + 3||1 + 5|
|Dimensions||?||m (L) x m (W) x m (H)||m (L) x m (W) x m (H)|
|Automotive Components||28 HP BMW litre 6-cylinder petrol engine|
ZF 4-speed transmission
|28 HP BMW litre 6-cylinder Petrol Engine|
ZF 4-speed transmission
|42 HP BMW litre 6-cylinder petrol engine|
ZF 4-speed transmission
|Maximum Speed||?||50 km/hr||?|
|Range||?||km (on roads)||?|
|Gradient||?||24 degrees (without load)|
12 degrees (with load)
Doyle, Hilary L., and Jentz, Thomas L., Panzer Tracts No Leichter Zugkraftwagen 1 t (Sd.Kfz) Ausf.A und B and Variants: Development and Production from to (Maryland: Panzer Tracts, ).
Milsom, John, German Half-Tracked Vehicles of World War 2: Unarmoured Support Vehicles of the German Army (London: Arms and Armour Press, ).
Spielberger, Walter J., Die Halbkettenfahrzeuge des deutschen Heeres (Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag, ).Translated into English as Halftrack Vehicles of the German Army (Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing US, ).
Spielberger, Walter J., Die Motorisierung der deutschen Reichswehr (Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag, ).Photograph of D II 2. Date of Access: 14 June
Photographs of the D II 3. Date of Access: 14 June
Of ww2 tanks experimental
Extremely large or weighty tracked fighting vehicle
A super-heavy tank or super heavy tank is any tank that is notably beyond the standard of the class heavy tank in either size or weight relative to contemporary vehicles.
Programs have been initiated on several occasions with the aim of creating an indestructible vehicle for penetrating enemy formations without fear of being destroyed in combat; however, only a few examples have ever been built, and there is little evidence of any super heavy tank having seen combat. Examples were designed in World War I and World War II, along with a few in the Cold War.
World War I
The first super-heavy tank was designed by the Russian naval engineer Vasily Mendeleyev who worked on the project from to The tank was envisioned to be invulnerable to almost all contemporary threats but remained on paper due to its high construction cost. Following the production of their first tanks, the British "Flying Elephant" was designed as a tank that would be resistant to artillery fire. Since mobility was more important than protection, and the tanks already developed were successful, work on the project was stopped. The German K-Wagen (Großkampfwagen) was a very heavy design carrying 4 guns and needing a crew of Two of them were under construction when the war ended and both were demolished.
In the early s, the French produced the tonne Char 2C. The ten tanks would see limited combat during the Battle for France in , but were used mostly for propaganda purposes and French tried to pull them out of combat zones.
The pre second World War design and prototype of TOG 2* was a lot heavier than any other contemporary tank used by United Kingdom and also can be considered Super-Heavy Tank.
World War II
During World War II all of the major combatants introduced prototypes for special roles. Adolf Hitler was a proponent of "war winning" weapons and supported projects like the tonne Maus, and even larger 1, tonne Landkreuzer P. Ratte. The British and Soviets all built prototype designs similar to the Jagdtiger, and the US was working on the project then known as T95 Gun Carriage, which was later changed to T28 Super Heavy Tank. However, most of these designs never passed the prototype stage, and only some have ever been in existence.
Compared to other heavy tanks of the time, Tiger II could be considered super-heavy tank, considering that other heavy tanks were a lot lighter. However at the time Germans generally opted to use more heavy vehicles, with their Panzer IV being significantly uparmed and uparmored (and as a result - a lot heavier) and Panthers being considered medium tanks while of similar mass to other heavy tanks. As a result by late time German standards Tiger II was indeed heavy tank and nowhere near as heavy as Maus.
The idea of very heavy tanks saw less development after the war, not least since the destructive force of tactical nuclear weapons would always overcome any feasible armour. The advances in armour technology allowed large tanks to stay in the approximate 65 ton range. Examples include Object (Soviet Union) and T30 Heavy Tank (United States), but neither can be considered a true Super-Heavy Tank.
Post Cold war
Further advances in armour technology have given the armour of late 20th century tanks the estimated equivalent of over a meter of rolled homogeneous armour (the type of armour used before, now used for comparison between different armour designs). At the same time the weapon development allows for any equal adversary to destroy any target detected and tracked by the wide array of different sensors available. This means adding more armour would not increase protection to any significant degree, and thus current development is instead focused on a combination of remaining undetected, interfering with tracking and active counter-measures to neutralize the enemy weapon systems.
List of models
- United Kingdom
- TOG 1: 80 tons; built in ; designed for ground conditions similar to those experienced in WWI; one prototype.
- TOG II*: 80 tons improved design of TOG1; one prototype.
- Flying Elephant: First World War-era project at tons; not built.
- Tortoise heavy assault tank: 80 tons, designed to attack fortifications. 6 pilot vehicles completed.
Neither of the TOG prototypes were built the way they were designed; had the sponsons been added, and the proper turret attached, their weight would have been different.
- Char 2C: 69 tons; 10 built, in service from to ; obsolete by World War II, 9 destroyed to prevent capture and the remaining 1 was shown in Berlin as a trophy.
- Char 2C bis: 72 tons; modified Char 2C with mm howitzer and different turret; one Char 2C was converted into this variant but later returned into the original configuration
- FCM F1: tons; World War II era replacement for the Char 2C, to attack fortifications. Ordered and full-scale wooden mock-up was produced but no prototype built before the Fall of France ().
- ARL Tracteur C: tons, developed by ARL to attack fortifications; wooden mockup was produced but canceled in favor of FCM F1 which was proven to be superior design (developed )
- AMX Tracteur C: tons, developed by AMX to attack fortifications; the project was terminated after AMX being out of schedule (developed )
- German Empire
- K-Wagen: metric tons; two were nearly complete when World War I ended. Both were demolished.
- Nazi Germany
- Japanese Empire
- O-I series
- "Super Heavy Tank": tons. Purportedly one prototype was produced in  According to another source, the O-I project was canceled before the ton prototype was completed.
- "Ultra Heavy Tank": Modification of the O-I Super Heavy Tank with four turrets. Project only.
- Russian Empire
- Tsar Tank: A giant wheeled (about 9m diameter) tricycle gun platform of which was abandoned because it was vulnerable to artillery.
- Mendeleev Tank: to design for a heavily armoured "landship" which would have weighed around tons if built
- Soviet Union
- T (Tank Grote or TG-V): tons with mm main gun and four sub-turrets. Models and drawings produced 
- KV project. A proposed 90– ton tank, carrying a mm main gun and a 45 mm or 76 mm secondary; various layouts were considered, with the hull-mounted mm and a 76 mm turret chosen as the final option. Feasibility stage only.
- KV another Kliment Voroshilov series ton-class tank design. Armed with the same mm main gun in a large, KVstyle turret, and two mm machine gun turrets (one on the forward hull, one on top of the main turret); powered by two V2 diesels due to wartime lack of a hp engine. Project stopped due to Siege of Leningrad and cancelled without anything built.
- United States
- T28 Super Heavy Tank: Also known as T95 GMC, designed for attacking heavy fortifications. metric tons; 2 prototypes built right after World War II; by layout a self-propelled gun. Very similar to British Tortoise. One can now be seen on display at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Nobody counted. Children. They saved everyone. Small children. Victims of the war and a tribute to it in the name of the impending peace.
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