These vehicles were designed by a French engineer known as Mr.Boirault. Mr.Boirault proposed the Boirault Machine (prototype 1) in December 1914, to help combat the ever growing nuisance of barbed wire and static warfare. His attempts developed into two of the strangest vehicle designs of World War One.
Boirault Prototype 1
This vehicle was designed to be capable of crossing muddy trenches, and crushing the dreaded miles of barbed wire. It consisted of six metal frames sliding on a pyramidal structure. The driving compartment was situated in the middle, and was supported by large girders. This was also where the petrol engine was located, it helped propel the monster to a maximum of 3 kph. Propulsion was achieved by the motor turning chains and driving rods, which were connected to the metal girders.
If the French made the worst tank of the war, they also made the very best one, the Renault FT, a quite revolutionary vehicle which set the shape and pattern for tanks of the future, even until today. It came out of a desire to give the standard tanks like the Schneider CA 1 a light partner, designed to be more more useful than the heavy tanks for the exploitation of breakthroughs. It was a joint semi-private project between the maverick father of the French tank weapon, General Estienne, and the french firm of Renault. After many bureaucratic delays the first prototypes were tested in early 1917, and proved to be an immediate success. It included a number of very innovative features, including a manually moved turret.
The turret made the employment of its armament much more flexible and effective, and the whole vehicle was considerably more agile and easy to drive than its heavier partners, yet better protected. Although the short length of the vehicle, rectified somewhat with the addition of the special tail, often made trench-crossing difficult, the track assembly with its large front wheel gave the tank good ability to climb high obstacles. It also proved easily adapted to form numerous variations (besides the basic variants, equipped with either one MG or one 37mm cannon), including a Signals and Command tank (TSF), a 75mm gun tank and a Fascine Carrier.
Both the French and the US used the FT during WW1, and the British and Canadian forces employed some, in the capacity of Liason Vehicle: they removed the weaponry and left the hole open, to enable the passenger a good view forward.
Author: P Kempf. Editor: Charlie Clelland. With many photos provided by “PDA” and Hans van Oerle
Considering the fact that during WW1 Italy’s main fighting was done in the alpine areas on the border to Austria-Hungary, it is not remarkable that their efforts when it came to tracked armoured vehicles was not en par with those of Britain and France. Considering the weak industrial base of Italy, it can be called quite impressive, when you remember the circumstances. Continue reading “The Fiat 2000(picture heavy)”→
This large tank weighed 50 American tons (45 tonnes), had ½-inch thick (maximum) armour, a crew of 8, and had two 2-cylinder steam engines developing a total of 500hp, which moved it at 4mph (maximum). It was 34ft 9in (10.6m) long, 12ft 6in (3.8m) wide, and 10ft 4½in (3.2m) high. It was based on the British rhomboids, but had a distinctive shape all its own. Perhaps the most notable feature of it was the mud-clearing spikes on the front horns.
It is a well known fact, that Russian industry in the beginning of the twentieth century strongly lagged behind the industry of Europe. Nevertheless, the development of the country showed impressive progress. Together with the growth of manufacturing, Russian engineers had been developing a number of interesting projects in different areas of technology, including military ones. One interesting AFV project was offered in 1915 by the Russian engineer Vasiliy Mendeleyev (1886-1922). He was the son of the well known Russian scientist Dmitriy Mendeleev. Vasiliy Mendeleyev had graduated from the Kronshtadt Marine Engineering School, and worked as an engineer at a ship-building factory.
Over the course of several years (1911-1915) and without any assistance, Mendeleev worked in his own time on the AFV project. One of the variants of this machine, with it’s projected weight being about 170 tons, was to be be armed with 120-mm gun placed in the forward part of the armored hull, and with a machine gun in the rotating turret. It carried an ammunition load of 51 shells. The thickness of the armored protection of the hull, was: front: 150 mm, sides and rear: 100 mm. Maximum speed: 24 km/hour. It was to have a crew of 8. The tank was never built.