Demolition tanks

Demolition tanks
The German tracked torpedo "Goliath" Sd.Kfz.303a is a variant of a vehicle equipped with a gasoline engine. One of the most famous samples of remotely controlled land combat torpedoes

“So I saw in a vision the horses and their riders,
who had armor of fire, hyacinth and sulfur on them;
horses' heads are like lions' heads,
and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.”

Revelation of John the Evangelist, 9: 17

Our tank panopticon. The recent use of armored fire fighting vehicles by the Russian troops in the VO zone has again attracted attention by the fact that, firstly, nothing is new under the moon, and secondly, that the end always determines the means. That is, even everything very old can be used even now, if it is, say, effective, not too labor-intensive and ... inexpensive! And, of course, it is difficult to come up with something so new that has not been invented in the centuries before.

The same ship-fireships who only and when did not use. The Dutch, fighting the Spaniards in the XNUMXth century, completely used a barge as a fire-ship, on which they built something like a brick shed for gunpowder, the charge of which was supposed to be undermined by a clockwork. Why not a modern exploding boat, perhaps only without remote control ?!

The idea of ​​​​creating remotely controlled self-propelled mines or torpedoes was bribed by the fact that they seemed to require little metal, and they were hardly noticeable on the ground, and their effectiveness (due to manual control) was assumed to be high. In fact, everything turned out to be not so simple with them. However, there were such machines, they fought, and today we will look at them once again by visiting our tank freak show.

A lot of materials were published about remote blasting machines on the pages of VO, both in 2016 and in 2017, but since time has flown away decently since then, it makes sense to return to this topic again, especially in the light of recent events in the zone NWO.

"Fortress" - a combat vehicle powered by Gabet and Obrio. Photo from the book "Dawn of Glory"

It will be necessary to start with the fact that the first attempts to create a remote-controlled blasting machine were made back in 1915 by French engineers Aubriot and Gabet. And at first they offered a tank with an electric motor and power by wire. But when the military rejected it, they removed the turret from it, stuffed the hull with explosives and ... received the Torpile Terrestre ground torpedo.

The "Machine" carried a charge - 200 kg of explosives, which, according to the idea of ​​its authors, it was supposed to deliver to the enemy's field fortifications. That's just any cable break put it out of action, and its patency on wheels across a field dotted with funnels and clogged with stakes with barbed wire stretched between them was completely unsatisfactory.

E. I. Wickersham's remotely controlled demolition machine. Its peculiarity was electric motors located in armored boxes inside the caterpillar contours, and a cylindrical housing for a warhead placed between the tracks.

But at the end of the war in the United States, a project appeared for a caterpillar blasting machine driven by two electric motors, called the Wickersham Land Torpedo.

The project belonged to the engineer E. I. Wickersham and, judging by the drawings from the patent documentation, was well developed and was an original and interesting design. But ... the war just ended here, so the U.S. military did not need Wickersham's brainchild.

But in the 30s of the last century, interest in new species weapons the military showed up again, and it’s understandable, because it was going to a new world war, and any weapon was required, if only it killed well!

In France, the initiator of work on remotely controlled land-based torpedoes was the captain of the French army, Jean Pommelle, who was the first to build and test such a "machine". The project of the machine, called VP-38 (fr. Vehicule Pomellet, 1938, that is, “Pomelle Machine”, 1938) was completed in the winter of 1938. There were many complaints about the built model, but it was still recommended to be adopted and mass-produced.

The author of the second pre-war draft of the land torpedo was the well-known designer in France (and not only there) Adolf Kegress, who worked at one of the automotive plants. Being engaged in developments in the field of automotive technology, he proposed several interesting projects, among them the project of a remote-controlled self-propelled explosive charge. The “machine” was built, named Engine K (“Motor Kegressa”) and ... drowned in the Seine when France was occupied by German troops.

But, apparently, not only do manuscripts not burn, but inventions of this nature do not sink. The Germans got Kegress's "machine" from the bottom, studied it and decided that it would not hurt them to acquire something similar. Moreover, the so-called "radio tanks" in the 30s were only discussed in the special literature. Moreover, in the Heigl reference book, popular in those years, for 1937, on page 93, a photograph of the Japanese “small teletank” was placed and it was written that it was intended for clearing anti-tank minefields.

Photo and article in the August 1930 issue of the American Popular Science magazine, dedicated to Major Nagayama's remote-controlled tank

Here is what was written there:

“In the future, monstrous weapons of war can be controlled from a distance with the simple flip of a radio switch. A Japanese army officer, Major Nagayama, invented a means of radio control for the movement of a tank capable of moving at a speed of five miles per hour.

According to reports, successful attempts have already been made in England to control aircraft wirelessly. The pilot's seat was taken by the main radio station, operating through tiny pneumatic motors that powered the aircraft's controls.

Such a radio control system, like that of a tank or aircraft, does not involve the transmission of any appreciable amount of energy by radio. In a tank, for example, the radio pulses simply serve to trigger a relay that drives the tank's normal gasoline-powered machinery. Other relays, set to the appropriate wavelength, control the steering. The amount of power needed to operate these relays is as small as what transmits voices... to your radio.

Just as your own setup provides the power to amplify weak pulses, so relays in tanks and aircraft allow gasoline engines to provide real propulsion. Transmitting real amounts of power without wires is currently a dream.”

It is interesting that the Nagayama tank was created back in 1929 (here are the backward Japanese for you!) And it showed itself very well during the tests: it maneuvered and even fired a machine gun!

Work was actively carried out on radio-controlled tanks, which were used as T-26 vehicles, in the 30s in the USSR. At that time, many military men believed that the use of chemical weapons in a future war was more than likely. Therefore, on the basis of the T-26, they tried to create, first of all, "chemical tanks" that could spray poisonous substances. Accordingly, remotely controlled "smoke tanks" were intended to set up smoke screens.

But all this equipment did not appear in service with the Red Army. It turned out to be impossible to remotely control fire from a machine gun, all the more pointless it was to shoot from a cannon, but using the T-26 as a carrier of chemical weapons and explosives also turned out to be questionable due to the small thickness of the armor and the large size of this machine, which turned it into a good conspicuous target.

Tanks of the "Demoman" combat group

Interestingly, the T-26-based blasting machines were supposed to be controlled by radio from the command vehicle as part of the Demoman group from several blasting machines and one control vehicle at once.

Here it is, "Goliath"

So German engineers were by no means the first to start developing remote-controlled combat vehicles on the eve of World War II.

It is interesting, however, that the Germans, in contrast to the Soviet designers, who focused on the “chemical” and subversive nature of remote-controlled combat vehicles, tried to create multifunctional armored personnel carriers capable of not only delivering explosives to enemy positions, but also conducting reconnaissance and clearing passages in minefields.

With the high level of technology of the German industry, the technical implementation did not take much time. And soon the German army received a ground-based torpedo - Sonder Kraftfahrzeug 302 or Goliath, created by Borgward.

Box with the Goliath model, along with the calculation, which is produced by the Japanese company Tamiya in 1:35 scale

The trophy Engin K from the bottom of the Seine served as a role model for them. It appeared in 1942 and, like Engin K, was controlled by cable, which was not very convenient for the battlefield. Carrying capacity up to 70 kilograms, very low ground clearance (only 16,8 cm for the highest model), low speed up to 11,5 kilometers per hour and, of course, weak armor - all these shortcomings severely limited the use of this combat vehicle.

When driving on uneven terrain, the "land torpedoes" easily strayed off course, or even turned over, and their patency was completely unsatisfactory. In addition, they were vulnerable not only to anti-tank weapons, but also were successfully disabled by conventional small arms.

During the years of World War II, the Germans managed to make 7 Goliaths, spent energy, time, money, materials on them, but in reality a little more than a thousand vehicles were involved in the battles. And they had to recognize it as too expensive and ineffective.

English soldiers near the captured Goliaths

German engineers and torpedo vehicles were created on the basis of captured vehicles: the English Universal Carrier and the Belgian Utility Tractor. They had large dimensions, large carrying capacity, but the control was carried out as before - by cable.

In the summer of 1942, about thirty of these machines were used during the third assault on Sevastopol to undermine Soviet pillboxes. 13 armored personnel carriers were destroyed by fire, 9 were out of order for technical reasons, and only 8 were able to reach their goal. One of them, with the help of a 700-kilogram explosive charge, managed to destroy an artillery pillbox, which had held back the German advance for two days.

Sd.Kfz.301 (Borgward B IV)

Remote blasting machines were also used on the Kursk Bulge. But ... and there they "did not show themselves." Finally, they were used in Normandy, but even there, just like on the Eastern Front, the enemy quickly revealed all the weaknesses of this technique and began to actively destroy it without much harm to themselves.

On the march, the B-IV wedge (Sd.Kfz.301) could be driven by the driver. It turned out a kind of light tracked all-terrain vehicle

By the beginning of the spring of 1945, the Wehrmacht had approximately 2 Sd.Kfz.530a vehicles (with electric motors) and 302 vehicles with gasoline engines. That is, just over 3 in total. The rest of the cars were in warehouses.

Captured RC tankette B-IV (container with explosives installed on site)

Since 1943, vehicles controlled by radio V-IV (Sd.Kfz.301) appeared in the army tank units of the Wehrmacht. They were controlled by radio from tanks T-III, T-IV, etc. and carried on the hull a drop container with an explosive charge weighing 500 kg.

The machine was intended for blasting and reconnaissance. Later, the range of tasks solved with its help was expanded. It was supposed to be used to degas the area (in the event that the enemy used chemical weapons) and to set up a smoke screen on the battlefield. For this, the appropriate equipment was installed on the machine.

Sd.Kfz. 304 Jumper

The most advanced example of a radio-controlled machine, the SdKfz 304 Jumper, was created at the very end of the war, but also did not play any special role in it.

It is known that in the Red Army explosive tankettes controlled by wires were proposed by the future science fiction writer Alexander Kazantsev. And a certain number of them were created, used in battles, and with their help a certain amount of damage was inflicted on the Nazis. But ... they also did not have a chance to play a big role at the front, their design was very unreliable and vulnerable.

Well, what now? Is it really impossible to create some kind of "special machine" for similar purposes?

Probably you can. But the "cost-effectiveness" criterion tells us that this business is ... unpromising.

We can imagine, say, an armored hovercraft, which will not care about pits or bumps, not to mention mines, with a charge of a couple of tons of explosives, a powerful engine and controlled by a video camera, but how much the combat mechanism will cost us in terms of one soul killed - that is the question!

Color illustrations by A. Sheps.
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  1. +3
    7 July 2023 05: 32
    Good morning everyone and have a nice day! smile

    Olegovich went on vacation, but his heart is with us. smile good

    Well, what now? Is it really impossible to create some kind of "special machine" for similar purposes?

    So there is already, they created and continue to create all and sundry and who have money.

    Combat multifunctional robotic complex "Uran-9"

    And this is the technique of our Belarusian friends

    You can find many other different ones, but this is a topic for a separate article.
    1. +2
      7 July 2023 09: 56
      Olegovich went on vacation, but his heart is with us laughing

      He flew away, but promised to return (c) smile
      My respect, Konstantin. Good day everyone
  2. +6
    7 July 2023 05: 54
    It is a pity that they forget about our land "torpedoes" ET-1-627, the initial period of the war ...

    Teletorpedo ET-1-627. In August 1941, at the initiative of military engineer 3rd rank A.P. Kazantsev (the future famous Soviet science fiction writer), the ET-1-627 teletorpedo was created. Most likely, the idea of ​​its creation did not arise from scratch - obviously, pre-war developments were used, with which Kazantsev was well acquainted as a direct engineer-developer of television and radio-controlled weapons. The last number in the torpedo index appeared thanks to the Moscow plant No. 627 of the People's Commissariat of the Electrical Industry, whose workers participated in the creation of the first prototypes of the torpedo and its serial production.
    The torpedo was assembled on a wooden frame, had four small track rollers on each side (two assembled into two sprung bogies), rubber-fabric-based tracks with wooden track plates and an electric motor driven by rear drive wheels. The movement and detonation of the tankette-torpedo was controlled by two wires, and power was supplied through the third power wire from a generator located in the escort tank.
    It is authentically known that ET-1-627 were used during the fighting on the Kerch Peninsula, and the designer A.P. Kazantsev also observed their use: “... And then a land torpedo, similar to a tiny tankette, jumped out of the caponier and rushed to the first tank steeply climbing the hill. They noticed it from the tank, but probably did not understand what it was. Just in case, they gave her a line from a machine gun. The bullets must have short-circuited one of the electric motors. The other continued to work, and the tankette ran in an arc, bypassing the tank. Then a second torpedo flew out, controlled by Pechnikov. The tank was too close to her to dodge. Fountain of fire and smoke rushed sideways with a roar. When the smoke cleared, we saw that the armor of the tank had been torn apart.
    In total, these teletorpedoes destroyed up to nine enemy tanks near Kerch. They were also used in the defense of Leningrad to fight German bunkers and other fortifications.
    The ET-1-627 land torpedo was not widely used, since it turned out that it was much cheaper and more efficient to use demolition dogs, and if less than 1 ET-627-100 pieces were fired, then the number of dogs trained to blow up tanks reached 60.
  3. +5
    7 July 2023 07: 47
    And at first they offered a tank with an electric motor and power by wire. But when the military rejected it, they removed the turret from it, stuffed the hull with explosives and ... received the Torpile Terrestre ground torpedo.

    The tank of Obrio and Gabet was wheeled and has nothing to do with Torpille Terrestre, it is an independent development.

    The third caterpillar is designed to facilitate overcoming wire obstacles.
    1. +4
      7 July 2023 09: 15
      The tank of Obrio and Gabet has nothing to do with Torpille Terrestre, it is an independent development.

      Moreover, Torpille Terrestre had its own "parent" - Schneider. What Schneider Torpille Terrestre (Schneider Crocodile and EGTA (electrical ground torpedo)) Aubriot-Gabet had in common was only that both wire-controlled designs were French.
      1. +7
        7 July 2023 09: 31
        Ground Torpedo Schneider Torpille Terrestre Schneider Crocodile

        Crocodile Type A/B
        Country: France
        Manufacturer: Schneider
        Year of production: 1915-1918
        Number of issued: 3 + 20 (200)?
        Combat weight: 142 kg
        Armament: 40 kg of explosives
        Dimensions: 1660x820x600 mm
        Schneider's "ground torpedoes" were intended to undermine the wire barriers, which were considered the main obstacle to the "Gali spirit" of the French infantry.
        a photo. Torpille Terrestre Schneider Crocodile typ A before testing.
        a photo. Torpille Terrestre Schneider Crocodile before factory testing 1915

        The general appearance of engineering ammunition was formed quickly: minimal dimensions, high-explosive charge of sufficient power, electric drive, caterpillar propulsion. To implement the project, they chose the simplest option - a simple tubular frame. The hull and any closure of the aggregate compartment to save weight and reduce cost were not planned. Batteries, a pair of electric motors and a coil for a control wire were installed on the frame. The control of the engines was provided by wire. All onboard electrical units were sealed, which made it possible to overcome water obstacles, that is, to be a real "Crocodile". Since the batteries are not visually noticeable on the "torpedo", it is sometimes said that the current was also supplied through the wires, especially since the cable was powerful. But there is no evidence of the presence of generator-type units outside the engineering ammunition. The mover was the simplest - three rollers - leading and two supporting. The rear track roller played the role of a guide wheel. All roller wheels had the same design. The basis of the caterpillar was a canvas tape of the required dimensions. On it, at regular intervals, it was proposed to fix rectangular wooden bars used as lugs. On board the Torpille Terrestre guided torpedo, a 40-kilogram high-explosive warhead was supposed to be located, which was detonated remotely by an electric fuse. To undermine the warhead, it was proposed to use an electric fuse with a remote control. The Crocodile land torpedo was controlled by the operator through a simple electric remote control, from which it was possible to turn on or off the left or right engine, as well as blow up the torpedo. The turn was provided by turning off one of the engines and braking one of the tracks.
        a photo. Torpille Terrestre Schneider Crocodile trials. 1915

        1. +4
          7 July 2023 09: 41
          The combat use of a land torpedo was very simple. At the position, the calculation unfolded the remote control and the cable reel, connected the "torpedo" to them, activated the fuse and sent the car to the target. Turning the engines on and off, the torpedo reached the wire barriers, drove under them and was blown up. The sealing of electrical circuits and good cross-country ability made it possible to perform the task in any conditions. Having brought the torpedo to the target, the operator gave the command to detonate the warhead. An explosion of 40 kg made a wide passage in the wire fence and could even provide explosive clearance if, in addition to the wire, anti-personnel mines were also installed.

          On July 15, 1915, tests were carried out in one day, which fully confirmed the expectations from engineering ammunition. Schneider Crocodile, at a speed of several kilometers per hour, could move a distance limited by the length of the cable, successfully maneuvered on the battlefield, and moved over small obstacles, including water ones. Operator training was not difficult. The warhead of the charge showed high characteristics suitable for solving problems. Of the disadvantages of the design, the selection committee revealed that the small size not only made it difficult for the enemy to detect the torpedo, but also interfered with the operator. If during tests on a tracked vehicle it was possible to put something like a flag, then in combat conditions this was unacceptable. In order to control the operator had to look out of the trench, exposing himself to danger. But these were expected shortcomings. According to some reports, 200 crocodiles were released, but there is no exact information either about the use of self-propelled self-propelled ammunition in the French army, or from the allies, where they could be supplied. In June 1916, the Schneider company ceased production of Crocodile self-propelled torpedoes, concentrating on the fulfillment of a large order for tanks.
  4. +1
    7 July 2023 12: 12
    An armored hovercraft wouldn't hurt now.
  5. +4
    7 July 2023 13: 10
    the first attempts to create a remotely controlled blasting machine were made as early as 1915 by French engineers Aubriot and Gabet. And at first they offered a tank with an electric motor and power by wire. But when the military rejected it, removed the turret from it, stuffed the hull with explosives and ... received a ground-based torpedo.

    No, it's not like that. Firstly, the tank of Obrio and Gabet was never remotely controlled - it was controlled by a driver-mechanic.
    Secondly, the first three-wheeled electric tank with a massive turret turned out to be very heavy for them and during the tests it simply could not move on the ground - it was buried in the ground. The commission immediately rejected him. Then Aubriot and Gabe, in order to facilitate the construction, removed the tower, removed the armor plates, and also changed the wheels to improve patency. And again presented the commission.
    a photo. Aubriot and Gabet near the Aubriot-Gabet three-wheeled electric tank (2nd light version). 1915

    But this option did not pass the test either - while driving on the ground, it got stuck and tipped over on its side.
    Aubriot and Gabet filled the hull with explosives and ... received a ground torpedo. "Machine" carried a charge - 200 kg of explosives

    Again, everything is wrong. Obrio and Gabet did not receive any ground torpedoes. They just offered it to the commission. Military acceptance, given the two previously unsuccessful tests, rejected this tank and simply denied them funding. Then, in order not to lose money, Aubrio and Gabet suggested that the commission fill the hull with explosives and ... get a ground torpedo. But apparently they forgot in the heat of the moment that their "electric tank" was controlled by a mechanic-driver, only the power supply to the motor went through the wire. The response of the military was simply mockingly ironic:
    Si les gentlemen ingénieurs jugent cette idée bonne, alors qu'ils remplissent leur unité d'explosifs, qu'ils s'y mettent eux-mêmes et qu'ils la testent à leurs frais, car la France souffre actuellement d'une grande pénurie de mecaniciens - suicidaire.

    Translation: If gentlemen engineers consider this idea sound, then let them fill their unit with explosives themselves, get into it themselves, and test it themselves at their own expense, since France currently has a large shortage of suicide mechanics (s)
    After that, a big fat cross was finally put on a three-wheeled electric torpedo controlled from the inside
    1. +1
      8 July 2023 08: 49
      And on the last video, ours rode MTLB almost to the very trenches of the enemy, then jumped out over the top! and ran away. And the motorcycle league drove somewhere there by itself and exploded. We seem to have suicidal mechanics.
  6. +4
    7 July 2023 14: 14
    A lot of materials were published about remote blasting machines on the pages of VO, both in 2016 and in 2017, but since time has flown away decently since then, it makes sense to return to this topic again, especially in the light of recent events in the zone NWO.

    Unfortunately, in 2016, and in 2017, and in today's article, the history of the creation and use of what is today called "drones" is presented in fragments. If someone wants to get acquainted with the issue systematically, I recommend this book.

  7. +1
    7 July 2023 22: 05
    My father told me, and he took part in the capture of Koenigsberg, that they got several Goliaths as trophies and they had fun riding these self-propelled mines.
  8. 0
    8 July 2023 08: 26
    Cars weighing up to 3 tons should be wheeled. Patency will be at the level of MTZ-82, and the design is simpler and cheaper.
    However, I have been writing this since 2011.
    Yes, and there is an idea how to make a remote-controlled machine gun more or less effective. And today, given the impossibility for living machine gunners to approach the enemy at a distance of effective fire, a fearless robot machine gun will be more effective.
  9. +1
    9 July 2023 10: 39
    it was much cheaper and more efficient to use demolition dogs
    Conclusion: Give me a robotic dog!

    Years later ... hell will do!
  10. 0
    19 September 2023 22: 30
    [quote]By the beginning of spring 1945, the Wehrmacht had approximately 2 Sd.Kfz.530a vehicles (with electric motors) and 302 vehicles with gasoline engines. That is, just over 3./quote]
    Interesting math: 2350 + 3800 = 1200. And also warehouse stocks.