The ballad of the wedge: Martel's wedge


Wedge "Morris-Martel" Mk.I. Rice. A. Shepsa

And another horse came out, a red one; and it was given to him who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another;
Revelations of John the Evangelist, 6: 4

History armored vehicles. It has always been and will be in the future that a certain person sees farther than others and understands more than others. And also, if he is well versed in technology, then he may well create something that then turns into a trend and gives a whole direction to the development of industry or military affairs. In England, such a man was Sir Giffard Le Quin Martel.

During and immediately after World War I, he served in the Royal Engineering Service. During this period, he was actively involved in the development tanks and ... bridges. But his very first development was ... a light single-seat tank. That is, if the British had problems determining who is the "father" of their tanks, then there is no disagreement regarding the tankette. He was her father!

Martel at the wheel of a four-track all-terrain vehicle that he built at his home while serving in India

Major Martel began work on his car in January 1925. He analyzed the events of the Great War and came to the conclusion that the main problem now is to protect the infantryman and enable him to move forward, while having enough firepower to destroy the enemy. So the tank appeared, but Martel had his own thoughts on this matter.

He believed that a tank united several soldiers into one large moving target, and a large target is always worse than a small one. In his opinion, there were two possible options for protecting moving targets on the battlefield. The meaning of the first option was to evade enemy shots due to high speed and maneuverability. Another option was to dramatically increase the tank's armor protection. Moreover, Martel considered the latter option quite possible from an engineering point of view. However, while serving in the post-war British army, which experienced a constant lack of funds, he realized that the lack of funding would impede the implementation of this plan. After all, building a large tank with heavy armor would require powerful engines, which would undoubtedly increase its cost to a level much higher than the amount that the Treasury could finance.

And then Martel suggested a third way. What if we turned the tank into something small, prioritizing the most minimalist design in its creation? Having created a single-seater tank, immune to rifle fire weapons enemy and armed with a light machine gun, British armored units could significantly outnumber any of the enemy's anti-tank weapons. Similarly, the small size made it possible to significantly simplify and reduce the cost of creating such a machine with good mobility characteristics, as well as making it difficult to detect on the battlefield.

The ballad of the wedge: Martel's wedge
Martel wedge for one person

As a result, he began to develop a project for a completely new class of vehicles, which he called "Wedge". And already in February 1925, he began building it in his garage.

The Martel wedge prototype is made of wood and painted gray. On later models, the large rear wheels were replaced by smaller wheels with solid rubber tires.

The prototype single-seat wedge was powered by a 20 hp Maxwell gasoline engine mounted at the front of the vehicle and connected to an axle taken from a Ford vehicle. The tracks and suspension were purchased from Roadles Traction LTD, and the large spoked rear wheels were from an old Federal truck. The hull was made of wood, but Martel tried to add additional ballast inside, approximately equal to the weight of the armor. The work was completed in August, and the first tests revealed some minor problems, such as too weak damping of the rear wheels.

At the time, Major Martel lived at Brown's Cottage at Camberley. And in this city was the headquarters college of the British army. One afternoon, Captain B. Liddell-Hart, who worked for him, was walking through the countryside, and ... came across Martel, who was driving around his makeshift tank. He stood dumbfounded and watched him move confidently over rough terrain. Returning home, he wrote an article for the Diley Telegraph. This article, published on August 28, 1925, brought the idea to the attention of the world.

“Surprise gave way to awe as this twentieth century soldier in his mechanical device climbed out of the road onto an almost perpendicular bank at least four feet high and raced through a strip of rough gorse at a speed that no man or rider would try to cross such a piece of land. ... Then he turned so abruptly that it would have caused the envy of any London taxi driver. And then he headed for a small but rather steep hill, and climbed it at a speed of 6-7 miles per hour, and then continued on his way through a forest plantation that a horse or pack mule could hardly overcome. "

Almost all British tanks up to this time were large and relatively slow-moving vehicles. Here, in front of Captain Liddell Hart, stood a tank that he said was about the size of a horse but with superior mobility. The tank had an embrasure from which it was possible to shoot from small arms, for example, a light machine gun. And he liked the car so much that he invited Martel to show it to the cadets of his college.

The result of these demonstrations was that the Ministry of War ordered two such machines to Martel. As a manufacturer, he offered Morris Commercial Motors LTD. Thanks to this, both cars received a proprietary 16 hp engine. Moreover, of the two tankettes that will be made, one had a single hull, and the other had a two-seater. Well, it is clear that the two-seater version had a slightly wider body. But the chassis were identical in both cases.

In addition, the company's specialists thought that the chassis without an armored body could be sold separately as a tractor. Thus, when the chassis rolled off the assembly line, an armored body designed for one or two people could be put on it, or a tractor body could be installed. Such a scheme could theoretically bring significant profits.

But it turned out that the chassis was completely unsuitable for use as a tractor, so this cunning plan did not lead to anything. The reason lies, most likely, in the different functions of tractors and tanks. A tractor needs the ability to pull objects such as plows and trailers, while a wedge heel needs speed and maneuverability. Thus, the tractor gearbox must operate under completely different loads than the wedge gearbox.

Martel wedge chassis

The first single-seater vehicle was built in February 1926, and its hull was made of 8 mm mild steel. When weighed it, it turned out to be 1 ton more than its projected weight of 2 tons. To reduce this weight, an upgraded chassis was developed and the armor thickness was reduced to 6 mm. Tests on the ground showed that the weight of 3 tons was not a big problem, so the thickness of the armor was again increased to 8 mm, which corresponded to the armor of the then standard British Vickers Medium tank.

Martel's double wedge on trials

After trials in 1926, the War Department finally settled on the design of a two-seater vehicle. In December, 8 of these two-seaters were ordered. But they had competitors: 8 Carden-Loyd Mk.IV machines. In August and September 1927, both machines were tested together. Also, these tankettes were used during the 1928 maneuvers.

However, having lost the civilian market, Morris did not want to spend money on further development of the Morris-Martel tankette. And since the military did not have money for two tankettes, the championship remained with the "Cardin-Loyd".

Wedges "Morris-Martel" and "Carden-Loyd" during tests

But "Cardin-Loyd" happily took up the development of a new machine on its own, relieving the War Department from the financial burden. This in-house development soon led to the successful creation of the Mk.VI tankette, which became the basis for the emergence of tankettes around the world.

What was the world's first wedge heel from a technical point of view? She had an engine in front of the car, and a fighting compartment behind it. The radiator was located in the front, under the hood. The nose section of the bonnet was sloped, with louvers. The transmission was located behind the engine, passed under the fighting compartment and was connected to two leading sprockets. The exhaust pipe ran on the left side of the fighting compartment, outside the armor. The leading sprockets were in the back. The undercarriage was complemented by two small support wheels with double rubber rims. It is unclear if a pendant was attached to them. Above the two support wheels there was a mud chute designed to prevent dirt from the tracks from entering them.

In the fighting compartment on the right was a shooter armed with a .303 "Lewis" machine gun, which could fire from it through the embrasure. It is not known how much ammunition may have been stored on board. The driver was on the left. The seats of both tankers could be raised and lowered. The driver had a viewing slot through which he monitored when he was driving behind the armor. Whether it was protected by bulletproof glass is unknown.

There were two wheels in the rear of the tank. They were intended to prevent the tank from overturning backwards when driving on slopes or over rough terrain. These wheels also served as an additional means of controlling the wedge. At that time, other British tanks were controlled by braking one of the tracks. However, this meant that the tank slowed down due to a stop of one of the tracks, and half of its engine power was wasted (the differentials of the Kletrak system were not yet invented), and this led to significant wear on the brakes, clutch and tracks.

On the maneuvers in 1928. Comparative dimensions ...

On this wedge, the rear wheels could be used as steering wheels when driving on roads or when making turns with a large radius. This could be done without the use of brakes, without losing engine power and reducing the wear of the track tracks. True, such a control system was more complicated than the usual one, and also had more weight.

In front of the fighting compartment, two headlights were placed on the sides. At the rear of the car, two splash guards were placed, going from the fighting compartment to the rear wheels.

Although the Morris-Martel tankette remained an experimental machine, it nevertheless gave rise to the very idea of ​​the tankette and became the founder of a whole direction of development of the BTT in the interwar period. Her descendants will take part in the wars that preceded World War II, as well as at the very beginning.

Eventually, the idea of ​​a wedge heel died. Nevertheless, a small vehicle with a crew of two, created on its basis, became one of the most produced armored vehicles in history and one of the most successful - it was the famous British armored personnel carrier "Universal".

To be continued ...
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  1. +7
    8 October 2021 18: 34
    And the rear pair of wheels for turning - there is nothing "better" in the world, like something forgotten old (I mean the first British tanks).
    1. +8
      8 October 2021 18: 57
      Perhaps our domestic "All-terrain vehicle" could become the first tankette if it received a turret with a machine gun.
      Thanks to Vyacheslav Olegovich!
      1. +5
        8 October 2021 19: 03
        I subscribe to the words of gratitude.
        Thanks Vyacheslav Olegovich!
        But of all wedges, my heart was won by a modern one - "Wiesel")))
        1. +13
          8 October 2021 19: 20
          my heart was won by the modern - "Wiesel"
          Since such a booze has gone, then this wedge heel has long won my heart
          1. +5
            8 October 2021 20: 10
            Is this not the same wedge, which, while driving, flint imitates a machine gun?)
      2. +10
        8 October 2021 19: 07
        I join! If I understood correctly judging by To be continued ..., then this will be a series of articles dedicated to wedges .. the more interesting!
        1. +10
          8 October 2021 19: 22
          Quote: Crowe
          there will be a series of articles dedicated to wedges .. the more interesting!

          That's right, and there will be a lot of things. By the way, the second material is already ready, but not yet posted. A lot of things in stock for moderation. The summer season is over!
          1. +7
            8 October 2021 20: 19
            The summer season is over!
            Finally! And now you will not "phony" from comments to your own materials on weekends
            1. +7
              8 October 2021 20: 20
              That's right, Anton!
              1. +6
                8 October 2021 20: 29
                Ok, Vyacheslav Olegovich! I'm waiting for the next revelations about the finances of the Middle Ages. With all due respect!
                1. +6
                  8 October 2021 20: 33
                  Quote: 3x3zsave
                  I'm waiting for the next revelations about the finances of the Middle Ages. With all due respect!

                  Alas, Anton! I write according to my mood. And the order of the Middle Ages bothered me. Now there are 7 articles on moderation and only one about him. We are kind of finished with the Hundred Years War. Of course, there are interesting museums with interesting exhibits. It is necessary to continue "great people", "clothes" are stuck, again ... people remind about "food", in a word - there is a lot of things. But not everything is written well, that's the point.
                  1. +5
                    8 October 2021 20: 53
                    You see, Vyacheslav Olegovich, you have already hinted to me more than once that it is worth writing a couple of materials about the financial side of the Hundred Years War. But every time, referring to this topic, I understand that in the case of France you need to start with Saint Louis, in the case of England - with "Old Harry", at least. There is no other way to explain
                    1. +5
                      8 October 2021 21: 06
                      Well, start ...
                      1. +5
                        8 October 2021 21: 10
                        And to name the epic somehow non-trivial, for example, "Kings and" cabbage ""?
                      2. +3
                        9 October 2021 05: 47
                        Yes, but be sure to clarify the Middle Ages! That is to say, add accuracy and scientificness, and put Kings and K in quotes!
                      3. +3
                        9 October 2021 05: 53
                        and Kings and K in quotes!
                        No, you can only "cabbage". Otherwise O'Henry will be offended, and I love him very much.
                      4. +3
                        9 October 2021 06: 00
                        Yes, of course it is!
      3. +5
        8 October 2021 19: 21
        Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
        Perhaps the first tankette could be our domestic "All-terrain vehicle"

        But he didn't! And thank you for your comment!
      4. AUL
        8 October 2021 20: 24
        Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
        Perhaps the first tankette could be our domestic "All-terrain vehicle"

        Could not, due to the unavoidable design features of the chassis. Although Porokhovshchikov took a big step in the development of armored vehicles.
      5. +3
        8 October 2021 20: 29
        "All-terrain vehicle", by definition, does not pull on a wedge - it should have been armed with at least a machine gun in a 360 ROTATING GRD, and this is already a tank. Wedge heels do not have such pleasure. Example: German T-1 - two machine guns, but in a turret of rotation, although the characteristics are an ordinary tankette.
        1. +1
          8 October 2021 21: 31
          Quote: aleks neym_2
          "All-terrain vehicle", by definition, does not pull on a wedge - it should have been armed with at least a machine gun in a 360 ROTATING GRD, and this is already a tank. Wedge heels do not have such pleasure. Example: German T-1 - two machine guns, but in a turret of rotation, although the characteristics are an ordinary tankette.

          In the all-terrain vehicle, it was assumed that the driver and the shooter were placed side-by-side. So if there was a tower, it is unlikely that it was rotating.
          By the way, the “females” of the Mk-I family (II, III, etc.) also had machine guns not in the towers, but in sponsons, but they were not considered tankettes. However, like the "Borzykh" with the Mk-A cabin.
          1. +1
            8 October 2021 22: 33
            The division into "tanks" and "wedges" began in the 20s.
            1. +1
              9 October 2021 05: 57
              Quote: aleks neym_2
              The division into "tanks" and "wedges" began in the 20s.

              Dear Alexey, I know this.
  2. +7
    8 October 2021 18: 35
    After reading the article, I remembered the Soviet TV program "You Can Do It".
  3. +8
    8 October 2021 18: 37
    During this period, he was actively involved in the development of tanks and ... bridges.
    Three points here are perhaps superfluous, because Giffard le Quesne Martel participated in the development of not just bridges, but bridges for tanks or, in military language, bridge property.
    1. +6
      8 October 2021 19: 01
      Vic, good evening. hi
      And I was most interested in a four-track all-terrain vehicle built in an "Indian home barn". No, the engine, the case - there are no questions, it was possible to get it, but where did Martel get the chassis for this miracle, it was not in the Indian hardware workshop that they made everything for him. Do you have any information about this?
      1. +5
        8 October 2021 19: 27
        Good evening, Konstantin.
        Here the author misled the reader by publishing a photo "in front of everyone." First, Martel served in India from 1929 to 1934. Secondly, he obviously did not build it in a "home shed", since he served first in King George V's Own Corps of Sappers and Mine Workers, then in the British Army Headquarters College in Quetta (modern Pakistan).
        That is, he did not have any special problems with the equipment, as well as with the receipt of tracks and other units from Britain.
        1. +3
          8 October 2021 19: 44
          It's clear. Thanks. But the caterpillars, from where, from what technique, they look painfully "advanced", if I saw them on the net, I would definitely take them for photoshop.
          1. +5
            8 October 2021 20: 05
            There is nothing supernatural about those caterpillars.
            I removed it from the Light Tank Mk II Indian Pattern and altered it a bit.
            1. +3
              8 October 2021 20: 55
              So he raked a battle tank for his apparatus? Well, the guy gives it! laughing
              1. +4
                8 October 2021 21: 23
                Why did you immediately "raskurochil"? Do you not admit the presence of spare parts?
                1. +4
                  8 October 2021 21: 37
                  I admit it. But just like that, they took it straight from the warehouse and gave it to the major for his own needs? This was not even the case in the SA. Well, they stole, of course, but in order for the chassis from the tank, it must be written off, and who will sign and how will it?
                  1. +4
                    8 October 2021 21: 58
                    I could not find such subtleties. But since from India he went directly to the Ministry of War as a brigadier general, he was not an easy major.
                    1. +2
                      8 October 2021 22: 22
                      It is clear, cronyism and corruption, they all studied together at Eton, or wherever they bake "not simple majors" and Lords of the Admiralty. laughing
                      1. +3
                        8 October 2021 22: 40
                        He did not study at Eton. He is a hereditary military man. Father is a brigadier general and an intelligent engineer. He studied at the Royal Academy at Woolwich. He was promoted exclusively by his talent. Wedge heel is just one of the things that are generally known.
                      2. +1
                        8 October 2021 22: 54
                        ... just one of the things that are common knowledge.

                        Is it really a spy too? !!! Although, the British are all ...
                      3. +4
                        8 October 2021 23: 08
                        He is not a spy, he is an engineer. Or there can be no engineers among the British?
                        It's just that they write about his tankette everywhere, although I believe that his contribution, for example, to equipping the engineering troops, is no less valuable.
                      4. +1
                        9 October 2021 02: 25
                        He is not a spy, he is an engineer.

                        One thing does not interfere with the other, and among the British there can be anyone. Lawrence was an archaeologist and what, it prevented him from being a spy? smile
  4. +8
    8 October 2021 19: 03
    Nevertheless, a small vehicle with a crew of two, created on its basis, became one of the most produced armored vehicles in history and one of the most successful - it was the famous British armored personnel carrier "Universal".

    The station wagon is still probably closer to armored personnel carriers than tankettes.

    1. +8
      8 October 2021 19: 12
      I will add to the "heap".
      In the photo in the article, Martel's competitor tankette Carden-Loyd Mk.V

      Subsequent production version of Vickers, which was purchased by many countries Vickers Carden-Loyd Mk.VI

      Well, the Germans with their trophies. smile
      1. +8
        8 October 2021 19: 16
        Well, ours are not immediately picked up from their T-27.

        But Martel didn’t work out. request
        1. +4
          8 October 2021 19: 24
          The Lloyds proved to be more skillful in every way!
          1. +5
            8 October 2021 19: 49
            Yes, and Vickers "said his word", who was in charge then, Sir Basil Zaharoff?

            Thanks for the article, Vyacheslav. smile
          2. +6
            8 October 2021 19: 51
            The Lloyds proved to be more skillful in every way!

            Then the Cardenists and Loydians, since at Carden-Loyd, John Valentine Cardin was responsible for technical development, and Loyd was involved in marketing and production organization.
            1. +5
              8 October 2021 20: 15
              What kind of talent to find fault with trifles?
              1. +11
                8 October 2021 20: 39
                It depends from what point of view. For you - nitpicking. For readers - additional information on a topic that could not be covered in the article. Suum cuique.
                1. +7
                  8 October 2021 21: 04
                  Quote: Undecim
                  For readers - additional information on a topic that could not be covered in the article

                  Quite right. I didn't realize. You are absolutely right!
  5. 0
    9 October 2021 12: 01
    Very interesting. Thank!
  6. +1
    9 October 2021 19: 26
    This is a universal tracked chassis from Roadless Traction Ltd, which in the 20s was installed on half-track tractors and other machines, even steam ones, an analogue of Kegress.
    Morris also used this half-goose on their 1 ton truck, pictured with a machine gun. and others, this design was popular in the 20s.

    1. 0
      11 October 2021 00: 51
      The brits know how to create freaks.

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