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Registration date : 2011-06-30

PostSubject: Conception   Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:09 am


Film clip of tanks in Langres, France, during the First World War (1918)

Apart from Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a round, tank-like armoured wagon, the first description of a tank-like vehicle and its usefulness in trench warfare is found in an H.G. Wells short story, "The Land Ironclads", in the Strand Magazine, December 1903. The concept of the tank is implicit, however, in two letters published in 1833 in The London United Service Magazine. In the first (January 1833) "A Constant Reader" wrote from Bombay to propose the creation of "Steam Chariots of War": "The great forte of steam is its passiveness. Secure the boiler and the machinery from the stroke of a cannon-ball, and you might drive a steam-chariot triumphantly through a regiment. Imagine three or four of these machines driven at a galloping speed through a square of infantry; the director might be seated in perfect safety in the rear of the engine, and a body of cavalry, about fifty yards in rear, would enter the furrows ploughed by these formidable chariots, and give the coup-de-grace to the unfortunate infantry. The chariots might be armed with scythes, both in front and flank; and, if the first shock were avoided by the men opening their ranks, they might easily be made sufficiently manageable to wheel round and return on any part of the square which stood firm" (118). In the second letter (May 1833), a correspondent identified only as "C." discussed the "Application of Steam to Engines of War," advocating the construction of "Chariots of Iron"—"locomotive engines" covered in "proof iron plate" and capable of running "upon ordinary roads"—for use in battle (118).

Joseph Hawker is attributed as being the father of the modern tank when in 1872, Hawker took out a patent for: 'propelling a road locomotive employing endless flat linked pitch or other chains passing round the rims of the main moving wheels.' The details of his patent reveal clearly the influence his idea had on the whole concept of crawler tractors and tanks employing drive and clutch steering.[4] In 1903, the Levavasseur project describes a caterpillar-based armoured vehicle, and some eight years later, in 1911, two practical tank designs were developed independently by Austrian engineering officer Günther Burstyn and Australian civil engineer Lancelot de Mole, but all were rejected by governmental administrations.High Class London Escorts
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In Russia Vassily Mendeleev, son of the renowned chemist Dimitri Mendeleev designed in 1911-15 a caterpillar-tracked armoured fighting vehicle for the Tsarist army. It was surprisingly sophisticated for its time, with pneumatic suspension, a revolving turret and a static mode, which allowed it to sink downwards from its tracks and park - presumably when carrying out prolonged bombardment. The tank itself, however, was impractical in several ways. It was perfectly cuboid in shape, very large and unwieldy, and had long track-links which would have severely limited speed and manouvrebility. Due to a lack of industrial capacity, and doubts about the project, the war office never ordered for it to be built. Nonetheless, Mendeleev's designs still exist, with detailed schematics showing his ambitions.

Burstyn designed his tank with a sprung suspension and armed with a single gun located in a revolving turret—a design quite similar to modern tanks—but he lacked funding to work out all the design issues and develop a prototype, as neither the Austro-Hungarian nor Imperial German War Ministries were interested. He submitted his idea of a "land torpedo boat" to the Military Technical Committee in Vienna but the idea was rejected owing to an inability to foresee the use for such an innovation and unwillingness to fund a prototype and test regime at the expense of the Army's administration;[5] he did, however, manage to patent his invention (Zl. 252 815 DRP).[6][7]

Around the same time, de Mole designed "a tracked armoured vehicle" and sent his sketches to the British War Office. His idea was rejected, but after the Great War the Royal Commission awarded de Mole £965 (about £33,000 today) for expenses, and in 1920 he was appointed C.B.E.[7][8]
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