Bizarre armor projects of the '40s. Mountain tanks

Before the historical article, I would like to point out that I am not posting about the Japanese WoT eSports fail (that adult movie actress removing her clothing and giving it to the „losers”). This blog was not made for NSFW articles and my moral conduct tells me to not show you lewd pictures, pictures that are honestly useless IMO and that do not bring any new, useful info with them. I cannot post that guys. I can do better. And WG did a really stupid move by adding this to eSports. This is the biggest fail I have ever seen, followed by the removal of forum downvotes (and the new like system)! WoT is played by a young audience too and things like that are just showing off how much WG cares about the “kiddies”.
Second note: Vlad, my translator, is extremely busy and he cannot translate historical articles for a month (estimate). Please forgive him. This is the last translated historical article for now but I promise there will be more in the distant future. Moreover, we will still have historical articles from other sources.
The problem of warfare in the mountains is as huge and unconquerable as the mountain ridges themselves. And however the efforts of commanders fare to exclude maneuvers between snowy peaks, sometimes the circumstances force them to send troops to places where not everyone would go to even at peaceful times. But not only infantrymen. Some two hundred years B.C. the Carthaginian commander Hannibal crossed the Alps with his war elephants, suffering huge losses.
During the ’40s there were already specialized mountain troops in existence – even artillery. And inventors discovered a whole direction of military thought for themselves: the development of special mountain tanks.
Wheels, tracks… feet
At the end of 1940, Yerevan (Seb: capital of now Armenia) resident Emin Aramovich Ter-Grigoryan sent a tank project to the GABTU. The inventor named his creation after himself and wrote: “I offer a new concept of a universal cross-country tank, which has exceptional terrain passability and does not know of any obstacles, crawling through mountains like a four-legged animal”.
Ter-Grigoryan invented an incredibly elaborate chassis for his “Emin”. Besides the wheel and track chassis, which should be used on relatively even ground, it also had “feet”. Judging by the author’s drawings they represented some kind of motorcycle forks which were able to move in and out of the body at any angle. If, for example, the terrain became unsuitable for wheels, the feet were to be extended so the tank would move on its’ tracks. Mound ahead? No problem, lift the foot, cling with the wheel and drive up. A pit? If the feet can reach the ground, the tank can stand on them and continue moving. Ter-Gregoriyan’s machine could handle any landscape.
The inventor wrote: “Using eight pedals, the driver could execute quite complicated operations”: An interesting one would be turning the “Emin” into a reconnaisance post. One should choose a tree with a dense crown, approach it and stand on the feet so that the body was covered by branches.

The armament consisted of an immobile gun mounted into the body and two machineguns. Despite the description being vague and inconsistent, the inventor provided an electric trigger: “When the enemy tank appears on the display in the right position, the driver presses a button next to the steering wheel and thus, the gun opens fire using an electrical system”.
The spectrum of combat usages covered by the “Emin” was seen by its’ author as quite wide. During movement, the tank would disrupt enemy communications: through a hatch at the bottom, the commander could lower mines and remotely detonate them. Support of infantry, its deployment and transport, detection of pitfalls and engineer work – it seemed that the tank could do anything.
Military engineer Mozhelev first got his hands on the project, studying it and giving Ter-Gregoriyan an answer. He rightly pointed out that the tank’s construction is extremely difficult, that the “Emin” is too wide and thus would not fit through narrow passes and woodlands. The inventor recieved criticism because of the irrational use of the tank’s internal space which didn’t even have room for a stowage. The “feet” would be subject to heavy bending and thus had to be either too big or too brittle. All in all, the project turned out to be not viable.
Zamoyski’s mountain tank
Another project arrived on the 17th June 1941 directly to the central committee of the VKP(b) (TN: Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks) ). Its’ author and sender was the accountant of the Abin winery Viktor Petrovich Zamoisky.
As a preface to the project served a long letter in which Zamoisky admitted that he has no clue about military engineering and shared his desire to travel to Moscow. He complained that nobody responded to his previous letters. However, he busily passed on to the matter: “The main purpose of the tank are operations on mountainous terrain. The tank consists of five bonded sections which allows it to cross terrain which has any twist”.
The form of the tank was the first, but not the only highlight of the inventive concept. Judging from the description and drawing, Zamoisky thought of something like Buyen’s armoured train designed already in 1874. The French engineer Eduard Buyen proposed to create an armoured body from eight segments, put it on a chassis and arm it. However Zamoisky stepped further than his predecessor. He wrote: “The tank has dual armor – a thin inner layer and an outer one, which has the form as shown on fig. XI. The outer armor is made of elastic steel – on receiving a hit, it contracts and then bounces the shell off”.
The author did not specify which steel grade is meant. Maybe he was talking about some amortization devices on the body. The drawing does not represent this however. Zamoisky proposed to create the frames of the sections out of the same mysterious material.
To increase its’ passability, the mountain tank had a wheel and track drive. The project mentioned a system of flexible axes but didn’t go into any detail. He ordered the machine to be provided with two engines and finally concluded: “The volume, armament, engine power, form and others are to be determined by design professionals. The scaling is not respected in the sketch”.
Zamoisky’s letter was transmitted to the inventions department of the GABTU. The inventor’s dream came to life: military engineer Mozhelev, already mentioned earlier on, gave him an answer. This is all the more surprising since the Great Patriotic War had already started and the experts had their hands full with work already.
Zamoisky was probably not pleased with the answer. The military engineer noted that the construction would be extremely complicated by the system of connected sections and that it would decrease its durability. Moreover, he explained that the proposed elastic armor could not withstand the kinetic energy of a shell. Consequently, Zamoisky’s invention was unusable.
It should be added that the idea of a mountain tank was not alone in the inventor’s mind. In the letter, he mentioned his earlier ideas: “… an original “desert tank”, a flying car with retractable wings and a “flying shell” – a projectile to destroy enemy planes – the last one haunts my mind for the third month already”. Evidently, V.P. Zamoisky was a dreamer and not at all burdened by it.
No specific tanks for mountainous combat were developed in the ’40s in the end. A year after Zamoisky sent his project, in August 1942, simple T-26 tanks dug into the ground were defending the mountain passes on the way to Novorossiysk together with infantry from the German troops. Whether they would have found tanks with “feet” or “metallic worms” useful is a question unanswered by history.