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Hauksbee

Bloody great Russian...tanks?

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The worlds biggest tank...

...was built in Russia in 1915 (the designer - Lebedenko). It was an ugly and huge tricycle monster, weighing some 40tons; the forward wheels were almost of 10m in diameter! The multiply armament emplaced in the left and right sponsors, and upper (bigger) and lower (smaller) turrets. While it lacked luxury accessories most of the new
military
tanks offer today, this
tricycle
tank got the job done. No one would want to be in the
path
of this tank's destruction! It was powered by 2x240hp engines....

 

 

The Russians have always had a sweet-tooth for super-large weaponry, but I've never heard of anything like this. Any one else seen anything like this?

xcvbnm,..jpg

Edited by Hauksbee

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If you google for Lebedenko Tank or Tsar Tank, you get many pics and pages.

It look impressive. But wouldn't the huge wheels limit the main gun a lot?

 

 

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Someone actualy made a model of it for the game First Eagles. I havn't tried it out yet but it certainly is a strange tank. Sometimes I think war not only brings out the best in mans mind but also taps into his weirdest imaginations.

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I've never seen it before. Might be the biggest tank, but at 40 tons it's definitely not the heaviest.

 

I also expect it would take some meaty torque to drive those big wheels, and I suspect you could stall the engine or force a change in direction with a sandbag. If the big wheels dipped into a trench or even just some mud, I honestly don't think it would have the grunt to get itself out. Just think how much power a modern agricultural tractor needs to drive itself with wheels and weight a fraction of the size. It would be hard to stop once it got going, but it would take a lot of work to get it going.

 

I'm assuming however those big wheels were driven from the centre, not some mechanism driving the rim. That might have made a difference.

 

I'm also wondering how robust those wheels are if buckled by a shell.

 

Definitely interesting, but I'm guessing there's one big reason it isn't better known....

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Another I'd never heard of, tho' it only got to the drawing stage. A friend stopped by yesterday and mentioned it. Speer canceled the project in 1943. The small graphic shows the respective sizes of the Ratte, Maus VIII and the Tiger tank. The Maus and King Tiger were famous for sinking into the Russian mud. I wonder how the Ratte would fare?

Capture.JPG

bvcbnm.JPG

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The Tsar tank didn't do that well in its first (and only) field trial.

 

http://www.landships.freeservers.com/lebedenko_info.htm

 

The vehicle moved well over some firm ground, crashed a tree, but then went into a soft patch, where the small double wheel got stuck in a ditch. Soon it was obvious that the engines were to small, as they were unable to free the rear double wheel.

 

The Lebedenko stood there, bogged down, for the rest of the war, but was finally scrapped in 1923.

 

FC

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I have heard tales about tank crews being killed when they were asleep underneath their tanks which settled on top of them and crushed them. Not a very pleasant way to go.

 

It's all about torque - that's the force it takes to make the wheel turn. It's all about force times distance and ratios etc, and to make such a big radius move would require a tremendous lot of force to be applied to the centre. You can see for yourself, try turning a bicycle wheel with your fingers. It's much easier to turn the wheel near the rim than near the centre. Even supposing the engines could deliver that amount of power, which I doubt in 1915, if it had run, I expect such massive force would have quickly destroyed the gears on whatever drive system was used. It wouldn't be very long before something went 'ping'. I reckon to work at all, you would have to apply the force from the engines out on the radius. They might have done this, it's hard to tell from the picture, but I don't see any drive teeth or gears on the radius.

 

I think it's interesting how the Germans were looking at tanks as fortresses. From an undouted lead in tank design, (with the exception of the T34), I think German Tank design lost it's way. Bigger isn't better, and there's no obvious understanding about sloping armour demonstrated in their heavy designs, nor lessons learned from Kursk or the Ardennes about keeping their tanks fuelled. They seemed more concerned with the expression of power than actually delivering it, but even some of their 56 ton (I think) King Tigers were flipped on their turrets by Allied bombing. If they actually built a Ratte tank, how on earth were they going to transport it to and from the battlefield?

Edited by Flyby PC

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Okay here we go...

 

This is a late German WW1-Design. It's called the "Grosskampfwagen" (G.K.4, or K-Wagen). The Germans really tried to build this thing. 27 Men Crew.

Technically interesting but tactically senseless Monsters...

See below the German experimental Tanks from both WW1 and WW2

Edited by Andy73

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When it comes to designing weapons, the male brain drives strange blossoms ometimes.

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I'm assuming however those big wheels were driven from the centre, not some mechanism driving the rim. That might have made a difference.

I'm also wondering how robust those wheels are if buckled by a shell.

You're most likely right about the wheels being driven from the center, but I wonder how? The biggest chain drive in history? Or...a long drive shaft on each side? Then again, the rim of the wheel, at one point, is enclosed by the body of the tank. While I see no sign of gear teeth on the rim, (as you pointed out, but possibly they could drive the rim. The Russians were pretty clever about things like this. Strange blossoms, indeed.

 

FlybyPC: I think it's interesting how the Germans were looking at tanks as fortresses. From an undouted lead in tank design, (with the exception of the T34), I think German Tank design lost it's way.

In a way, I think you're right, but also, the nature of the fight had changed. In the early days of Panzer Blitzkreig, it was all about speed. The Pzkw Mk I only mounted two machineguns, and was considered a recon vehicle, the Pzkw II carried a 50mm cannon. The Pzkw III started off with a 37mm, later upgreded to a 50mm, then a 75mm. From these humble beginnings, I can see why they'd want something bigger and faster. But faced with artillery, and air power, and enemy tanks, the name of the game became survivabilty. I think it became a contest to see who could pack on the most armor. and we know where that leads

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Not only on the ground, but also at sea with their H-serie battleship. Anyway all Ratte, Monster or Krokodil project draws are purely fictional, no originals were ever recovered.

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I think the word to remember is prototype.

 

You probably learn more from a prototype which doesn't work rather than one that does. That way faults don't make it into production and the Mk2 version is usually an improvement.

 

Not to be unfair about the German designers, the British tank designers were years off the pace. Quite relevent was a recent program in the UK about the tank drivers of WW2. Some of the Desert Rats who fought with Montgomery in North Africa were well and trully horrified with the Cromwell tanks they were given to drive ashore on D-Day after the likes of the lend lease American tanks such as Grants and Shermans they'd seen in N. Africa. It was cramped, full of lethal rivets, had flat square armour, and a tiny main armament. I also think the turret could foul the drivers hatch so he sometimes couldn't get out. They were going into battle against crack SS Panzer Divisions with Tiger tanks and 88's which could pick them off at 2000 yards. Talk about courage... The Cromwell grew into the Comet tank which had more punch and some improvements, but it would have been interesting to see how the 1945 Centurion would have competed with the German armour if it had arrived a year earlier and had gone ashore on D-Day. Mind you, in WW2 weapon design, a year or two could be a very long time indeed.

 

Believe it or not, until 1943, British Tanks were restricted to 40 tons weight so existing infrastructure could transport them. By 1943, after engagements with the 88's of the Afrika Korps, designers were briefed to design tanks which could survive being hit by an 88 but yet remain under 40 tons. When this weight restriction was lifted, and lessons were learned from T-34's and Panther tanks, it all came together in the Centurion, but it just wasn't ready in time to see service. It's easy to condemn the weight restriction with hindsight, but I suspect the must greater impetus for change was coming up against the 88's, but it all took time.

 

In fairness to the British designers, they were still fighting WW1, and had two categories of tanks, slow and heavily armoured tanks to support infantry, and a second category of light, fast, cruiser tanks designed to be fast and mobile to exploit breakthoughs like cavalry. Heavy tanks were not in their design concepts or brief; an obvious error in hindsight, but no worse perhaps than the strategic error of the Luftwaffe never developing heavy bombers because they never anticipated the need for them.

 

I don't mean to be critical of the German tank designers, but it seems these drawing board designs for giant tanks are focussed and built upon the undeniable strengths of the Tiger, when in reality German designers learned more upgrading it's weaknesses and limitations - unreliabilty/support, fuel supply, too heavy for the battlefields, strategic mobility... I'm thinking about the Panther tank. It proved to be less decisive than the Tiger, but I think it's a much better tank than it's more famous brother the Tiger.

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Tanks across the Channel have nonetheless endured an outdated according to standards deployment for nearly four years. The concept of armored infantry support was outdated from the 30s, yet the British forces positioned Matilda I and II of France, equally strong but vulnerable on the sides, like the Renault B-1bis, not to mention the restricted number of one or two crew members in the turret, where the Germans had pioneered with the Pzr III ausf A and its loader, sighter and tank-chief in the same place. The high and heavy turret of Cromwell makes it a top placed center of gravity engine and difficult to maneuver off-road.

 

Anyway, it would be rude and untruthful to not talk about the Centurion as a revolution, without any doubt. While many experts treat the Pzr VI ausf B as the best tank of the war, I consider that this place belongs to the British tank incorporating the major conflict learned lessons, inclined shields, his powerful RR Meteor (although the use of gasoline tended turn these cans into giant molotov cocktails at the first blow), a turret which can accommodate the 17 pdr, an excellent internal organization, and finally a platform promoted to a great future, much more flexible than the M-26, the IS-2 and all others in this last generation.

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The WWI game, Toy Soldiers, has the Tsar tank in it. I thought it was fictional until I saw some other articles on it:

 

ToySoldiers_02.jpg

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Wow. That one image makes it look much more menacing. It has a War of the Worlds type feeling about it. You could half expect to see a heat ray shooting out.

 

In some of the other pictures, you'd be forgiven for thinking the concept was a cross between a penny farthing and a kid's wind up toy 'tank' - you know? The one you make with a pencil, rubber band and a cotton reel.

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Olham: the German Wiki claims a 150mm gun. That a six-inch bore. That seems awfully big. And the pictures in some of the other (English) links seem to have multiple machine guns in the center turret. (Hauptbewaffnung 1 × 150-mm-Bordkanone)

Do you think the cannons in the sponsons (A) are big enough to be 6" guns?

kora_tsar_kit_built.jpg

Edited by Hauksbee

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No idea really. The models show several guns/cannon per side-tower, which look like water-cooled MGs.

Did you know it had German Maybach engines?

 

 

Edited by Olham

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Did you know it had German Maybach engines?

Yes. Variously reported as either 240hp, or 250hp, but in the end, not enough hp to get it out of soft dirt. I wonder how German Maybachs ended up in an experimental Russian tank? I realize that governments at war manage to deal under-the-table with each other, but still...?

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Well, the Russian Tsar and Kaiser Wilhelm were relatives, as far as I know?

At least did they call each other "Willy" and "Nicky".

So, before the war broke out, they had rather good relationships.

The Maybach engines must have been bought before the war, I guess.

 

PS/Edit: Nikolaus was a Cousin to King George, and a Cousin (by mariage) to Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Edited by Olham

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Well, the Russian Tsar and Kaiser Wilhelm were relatives, as far as I know?

At least did they call each other "Willy" and "Nicky".

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had Europe's most successful, and fertile, marriage. They had a total of nine children, and after these were all married off, just about every royal in Europe was related to every other. (It was Victoria who passed on the latent gene for hemophilia.)

 

Wilhelm and Nicholas corresponded at great length, (Dear Willy/Dear Nicky) in the only language they shared: English.

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