Bizarre armor projects of the '40s. Universal combat vehicle
3rd rank military engineer A.I. Pavlov didn’t consider himself a conceited man. Sending his project to the department of inventions in 1943, he wrote: “Completeness and perfection of qualities and properties of technical inventions werenever achieved by their first inventor”. But the idea alone impressed with its scope: Pavlov proposed a vehicle with a wide spectrum of combat tasks which could, in his opinion, replace most of existing land military equipment.
Cabin analysis
“The form of the UCV-1 resembles a train and as such provides passability over wide (up to 9m) trenches” – Pavlov wrote.
The body should consist of seven cabins connected by hollow armored segments. Inside of these were hatches used by the crew to move between the cabins. At the same time they should be flexible enough so that the UCV-1 could cross very rough terrain. To lengthen the service life of the machine, transport over longer distances should be completed by train, with the cabins disconnected.
Each cabin has a distinct role. The head one housed the driver and commander and handled the steering of the UCV-1. “The frontal and upper sides of the cabin are armored and the rest represent a waterproof body, capable of submerging into water to the wheel’s axis” – Pavlov explained.
Cabins No. 2 and 6 were crowned by cylindrical turrets. Their roofs consisted of half-discs movable to the side. In these cabins, the author proposed the installation of high-caliber machineguns. Moreover, each cabin should contain up to 500kg of explosives which were to be tossed outside in packets through a special hatch. The crew of both cabins consisted of two men. Cabins No. 3 and 5 carried two artillery turrets each. Inside the cabins up to 2.5 tonnes of lubricant material were stored.
Cabin No. 4 of the “universal combat vehicle” was considered by the author as the most spacious one. Pavlov proposed to install two diesel engines with power generators and store 11 tonnes of fuel there. The armament of this cabin consisted of two flamethrowers and a pair of 7.62mm machineguns with a wide field of fire. Dealing with this arsenal was up to four crewmen. “In the ceiling part, the cooling system for the diesels and air suction are to be placed” – the author elaborated.
Finally, cabin No. 7 resembled the first one, but was supplied with additional armor and a deminer. During marches, the UCV-1 should move with the cabin No. 1 at the front to provide maximum passability and maneuvrability. In combat, it should turn with the rear towards the enemy.
Wheeled-floating beast
The inventor thought of a new chassis for his vehicle. “This project represents a new daring move in this field in form of a new propulsion system… wheeled-floating drive”. Each cabin was equipped with a pair of high-diameter wheels, whereas cabin No. 4 had even four of them.
The floating wheels represented hollow drums. On their outermost rim, rubber tires were installed, and the discs had a conical form with the tip on the outside. The inner disc made of 5mm steel was equipped with a braking ring. Also, inside the wheels were two rows of spokes. Pavlov also called the spokes “floats” because they should act as propeller blades and even saw his UCV as a wheeled steamer.
To avoid leakage of the wheels the author provided compression fittings, especially because each wheel should also contain an electromotor. The axes were to be made of hollow pipes which should house wires for the engines.
Aside from the structural description of the UCV-1, Pavlov also provided performance characteristics. With a length of 25m the width and height would be only 3m. The inventor estimated the mass of the vehicle to be about 100 tonnes, half of which would be represented by the armor. The crew weight alone would be 1.5 tonnes. Fuel supplies should last for a distance of about 4000km. Potential speeds were to be 100km/h on roads and up to 20km/h while swimming.
Over crooked mounds, thorugh river rifts…
This project also differed from others due to the planned combat usage of the UCV-1 considered by the author. Pavlov did not trifle: he assigned the armored body of his vehicles the task of crushing the defense of the eastern regions of Berlin and Germany. The concentration of the vehicles should be in the Vyazma region, especially in the swampy region where the enemy doesn’t expect attacks.
At the end of the day, the march to the frontline would start. “Divided into 3 columns of 33 vehicles each should move to the west, at dawn each group should additionally split in 11 groups of 3 vehicles each” – the author described. The main factor would be the movement speed, combat had to be entered in dire situations only. Pavlov considered to use camouflage, “imposting the Germans”, but which German vehicle could be mixed up with the UCV-1 is unclear. The march should be continued until the vehicles reached the Posen region. Battle groups had to cover a distance of 1000km in the course of a day, then had a night for preparations, and should attack in the morning.
During the march on Berlin, the “universal combat vehicles” should destroy the enemy’s infratructure, airfields and power lines. “Going around Berlin, all it’s outskirts are to be destroyed, after which the vehicles should head to the center to crush, shoot, kill and light up everything in their way” – Pavlov emphasized. After dealing with the capital of the Third Reich, groups of UCV-1 would head to other big cities. This revenge operation would be supported from the air, simultaneously delivering fuel and evacuating the wounded.
But before the destruction of the enemy should be dreamt of, production of the machine itself was to be arranged. The inventor understood this and provided a plan to swiftly release a hundred UCV-1. The preparation of drawings and construction of a prototype should take, in his opinion, about a month. The cabins would be produced by three factories and sent to Moscow. Amassed there would also be the special wheels, armament, electric equipment etc. Employing the power of two assembly plants, the people’s commissariat of defense would receive a hundred such vehicles within a month.
Pavlov predicted a bright future and many modifications for his invention. He thought of the UCV-1 to bring the victory of communism over the planet: “Such vehicles will be able to reach the English Channel and cross it with ease. A bold use of this machine would provide the possibility to quickly turn the tide of world’s history…”. After the end of the war, disarmed UCV-1 would be able to carry goods to the Arctic or to starving African countries – through ice and desert.
Sadly, no response by the GABTU is to be found in the archives. But it’s not hard to imagine it. In his project, the author combined many things which were considered already in WWI – together with all their deficiencies. However, one should pay tribute to the imagination of the inventor: even if he didn’t pass the limit of science fiction of his time, he at least did reach it’s limits.
Author – Yuri Bachurin
Source: ZAMO RF