Military Review

The first robots on the fronts of World War II

In recent years, the armies of many countries of the world have been paying more and more attention to various robots and robotic equipment. The military has long been dreaming of such a robot that on the battlefield could replace a man. And yet, few people realize that the very first attempts to use such machines occurred even during the Second World War. Robotic technology used troops of the USSR and Germany.

Tracked robots of the Red Army

First distance-controlled Tanks, or, as they were called in the USSR, teletanks appeared in the late 20s and early 30s. Over the years, designers from the Special Technical Bureau for Special-Purpose Military Inventions, the All-Union State Institute of Telemechanics and Communications, and NII-20 worked on their creation. So already in 1929-1930 in the Soviet Union tests of the French Renault FT tank were carried out, which could be controlled using cable-transmitted radio signals. A year later, the necessary equipment was mounted on a Soviet-made T-18 tank. Moreover, the first Soviet teletank was radio-controlled. And although the maximum speed of its movement did not exceed 4 km / h, this teletank moved forward and to the sides, could stop at the command of the operator.

The next Soviet model, the TT-18, had a wide range of options. This tank was created in 1933 year based on the MC-1. In the USSR, this machine was tested with control equipment, which was installed on the site of a driver. The tank could carry out up to 16 commands: change the speed of movement, turn, stop, start moving again, put up a smoke screen or release toxic substances when installing special equipment, it could also provide for the destruction of the mines being transported. The range of TT-18 was a few hundred meters. A small range of use was a significant drawback, and besides, it was achieved only under favorable conditions. Also, due to the relatively low mass of the machine and the high center of gravity, even a small obstacle under its tracks turned the tank to the side, which made remote control difficult. In total, at least 18 MC-7 tanks were converted into TT-1, but they never entered service.

Teletank TT-26

Alternatively, the TT-26 and TT-TU teleplanes, which were developed on the basis of the T-26 tank, were created and released. With the support of the control tanks, such robotic tanks could lay passages through wire barriers, drive a powerful mine to the enemy’s positions in the armored box, drop it and drive away to a safe distance before the delayed type fuse would work.

Such teletank armament also had a machine gun, a flamethrower, equipment for setting up a smoke screen and using chemical weapons. There was a charge on the machines intended for their self-destruction, in case the secret vehicle was under the threat of being captured by enemy soldiers. In addition, the crew of the control tank was ordered to shoot the teletank from its gun in such a situation. By the beginning of World War II, the Red Army had at least two teletank battalions.

Soviet designers also attempted to use light tankettes as teletanks, for example T-27. In addition, the T-38TT teletanket was released. Work in the Soviet Union also developed floating teletankov, created on the basis of T-37A. Even the heavy T-35 five-turreted tank was considered a combat tracked robot. Another remote-controlled tank was the A-7, which was created on the basis of the high-speed tank BT-7.

Soviet teletanki developed on the eve of the Great Patriotic War could be controlled in VHF and HF-band for several hours at the maximum distance to 4 km. However, as shown by the tests, the effective distance at which the operator could from a control tank with hatched hatches and limited visibility give commands to the tracked robot, did not exceed 1000 meters. At the same time, it was almost impossible to carry out precise fire on the enemy troops from teletanka.


There are a total of two known cases of the actual use of teletankov in combat conditions. For the first time, Soviet teletanki were used in February 1940 during the war with Finland. Machines were used in the area of ​​Vyborg. Before the advancing line tanks, a number of TT-26 teletanks were launched. However, most of them simply stuck in the funnels from the shells and was destroyed by fire Finnish 37-mm anti-tank guns "Bofors".

The second (and most likely the last) case of using teletankov in battles occurred in the 1942 year near Sevastopol. 27 February 1942, the Soviet troops used guided wedges here. These were the old T-27 vehicles, which at that time had already been removed from the combat units, they remained only in the training units. Armament from these tankettes was removed, and instead they installed powerful charges of TNT.

Management tanketki carried by wire. Remote control equipment was developed in Moscow at Plant No. XXUMX of the People's Commissariat of the Electrical Industry under the guidance of military engineer 627 of the rank A. P. Kazantsev Later he will become a famous Soviet science fiction writer. 3 managed to deliver such teletanks to the Crimea. They were released to the German positions 6 February. At the same time, two tankettes were able to explode in enemy positions, two more were blown up before approaching the target and two were destroyed by German artillery fire.

More remote-controlled tanks by Soviet troops during the years of World War II were not used. The command, even before the outbreak of war, came to the conclusion that at this stage in the development of technology, radio-controlled tanks without crews were ineffective in conducting combat operations. Therefore, they were practically not used during the war with Germany. Many television tanks were lost at the very beginning of the war, including from the actions of the German aviation. Radio equipment was simply removed from the remaining vehicles in the ranks, after which they were used as ordinary tanks with an ordinary crew. After the war ended, GBTU still conducted some experiments to create a remote-controlled tank based on the T-34-85, but they ended in complete failure.

Wehrmacht tracked robots

German developers also paid attention to the creation of robotic technology. They began work on creating tracked robots even before the attack on the USSR. So in 1939, Borgward developed the first German remote-controlled robot tank, which received the code designation B-IV (Sd.Kfz.301). In total, up to a thousand of such tracked “robots” could be assembled in German factories during the Second World War. Originally it was planned to use them for making passages in minefields, as well as destroying enemy field fortifications. However, towards the end of the war, the Germans tried to make the main task of such radio-controlled tanks fighting the enemy’s armored vehicles.

B-IV (Sd.Kfz.301)

According to the German classification B-IV belonged to the "heavy charge carriers". The weight of such a teletanka exceeded 5 tons. The machine was controlled using a three-core cable (according to some data, radio control in the VHF range could also be used). This machine was supposed to deliver to the targets special 500 kg bombs and, dropping them directly near the target, retreat to their positions. However, such machines did not earn special glory in combat use.

The command of the Wehrmacht defined the following list of tasks for machines B-IV:
Conducting enemy defense reconnaissance before the first tank echelon in the offensive zone of tank units, by calling on the enemy’s anti-tank weapons and detecting minefields.
Exploration of the area in order to establish its patency (steep slopes, swamps, anti-tank ditches, hollows, overlooking ravines, etc.).
Destruction of field structures and long-term fortifications;
Destruction or explosion of the enemy’s heavy tanks;
Undermining of bridges and other structures when it is impossible to use sappers for this purpose.
The defeat of enemy manpower (in a radius of up to 40 meters - a killer action, up to 80 meters - a temporary withdrawal of soldiers from the system).

The first B-IV teletketts entered service with the 301 and 302 German Tank Battalions. These machines were used during the Kursk battle. They were mainly used for minefield clearance. In August, the 1944 of the year, the 301 heavy tank "Tiger" was transferred to the 21 tank battalion. These machines were used as control tanks. The platoon consisted of a 4 tank: three command vehicles and one commander, each command vehicle controlled three B-IV teletketki.

The B-IV teletketts were in service with the 301 and 302 tank battalions at the time when these units took part in suppressing the Warsaw Uprising. The Germans used the B-IV to undermine the barricades and the buildings in which Polish insurgents were hiding. Part of these tanket shoes in January 1945 was seized by Red Army units right on the railway platforms, the Germans just did not have time to withdraw them. On 1 March 1945, the 397 of these tankettes still remained in the ranks.

In addition to the use for its intended purpose, B-IV could play the role of an ordinary armored conveyor or even a kind of ACS. At the end of the war, the Germans tried to turn some of these cars into tank destroyers, demonstrating a remarkable fantasy. The Red Army captured one similar SPG in the very center of the German capital near the Brandenburg Gate. This vehicle was armed with three grenade launchers for the installation of smoke screens, and for fighting enemy tanks it had an installation of X Panchrech 6 tubes that fired 88-mm missiles. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the effectiveness of such an installation today. However, most likely, such a machine could be at least a little effective only in street battles, acting from ambushes, but no more. In addition, there are pictures of another such ACS, armed with four “Panzer-servhers”, this car even bore its own name “Crown”.

There were Germans and "Average charge carriers" Sd. Kfz. 304 Springer (Jumper). They were created on the basis of the Kleines Kettenkraftrad SdKfz 2 tracked motorcycle and were supposed to replace the B-IV. Having its own weight at the level of 2,5 tons "Jumper" could carry up to 330 kg of explosives and reach speeds up to 40 km / h. In a number of sources it is mentioned that the Germans tried to use television cameras to control the machine even without visual contact with it, but this was a very expensive pleasure. Until the end of the war, no more 50 Sd was created. Kfz. 304 Springer, which almost did not assert themselves on the battlefields of the Second World War.

Sd.Kfz.302 Goliath

There was in the German army and "Light carrier of charges" Sd.Kfz.302 Goliath. "Goliath" has become the most popular model of the combat robot of those years. Most likely, for the reason that it was the cheapest to manufacture. According to some, they were built from 5 thousands to 7,5 thousands. A simple remote control with three buttons was used to control this small device. With a total mass of less than 400 kg, this small wedge could carry on from 75 to 100 kg of explosives. Control was carried out by cable, which was wound on a reel mounted on the stern of the machine. The length of the cable was sufficient for the implementation of simple maneuvers at a distance of 600-700 meters. To transport the “Goliaths” to the place of combat use, a special cart was used, which the 2 soldier had to roll.

By and large, all German remote-controlled mini-wedges, unlike their heavier brothers, were mechanical “kamikazes” - self-propelled bombs that were supposed to explode, coming close to the target. Initially, the "Goliath" equipped with an electric motor, which allowed them to move relatively quietly. But such an engine turned out to be capricious, not powerful enough, expensive and difficult to operate for a self-propelled mine that was used only once. As a result, later they began to put on them unpretentious gasoline engines.

In actual combat, these small, controlled mines have proven to be insufficiently efficient machines. They could only move at a low speed - less than 10 km / h, and their easy booking could not protect them from enemy fire. Such tankettes stopped even machine-gun bursts, while the internal explosive charge could detonate from enemy fire. A vulnerable part of the tanket was the cable of control running after them, which was cut not only by fragments and bullets, but also by an ordinary knife or an engineer shovel. The attempt of the Germans to switch completely to radio control also failed to turn the “Goliath” into a formidable weapon.

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  1. Samy
    Samy April 3 2015 06: 14
    These are not robots, but simply radio or remotely controlled mechanisms. They do not have artificial intelligence, there is no laid down program of action, and they relate to robots as well as a TV remote control.
    1. Afinogen
      Afinogen April 3 2015 07: 56
      Quote: Samy
      and they treat robots as well as a TV remote control.

      More likely then it’s not the remote, but the TV, and the remote in the hands of Homo sapiens (Homo sapiens) laughing I agree completely. The robot works without human intervention.

      1. enot73
        enot73 April 3 2015 13: 23
        In real combat operations, these small guided mines proved to be insufficiently efficient machines.
        But . on staged filming. against a motionless Soviet self-propelled gun, "Goliath" looks impressive
        1. Nikolaevich I
          Nikolaevich I April 4 2015 03: 48
          In my opinion, the video frames from this movie were used in the shooting of a popular Soviet film "about scouts".
  2. 31rus
    31rus April 3 2015 07: 52
    Dear, the small addition Tiger-1 is too expensive a tank to control, because it was used as a reconnaissance and control stug-3, there were also heavy pilot-controlled wedges, the pilot drove a wedge with explosives to a certain distance, then left the wedge and radio control went on, accuracy increased at times, wedges are a redone Skd-250, by the way it was near Kursk that they failed and were rarely used
  3. Dragon-y
    Dragon-y April 3 2015 10: 34
    Yes, there was a mention of this work in Kazantsev's memoirs, but there were literally a couple of lines ...
    1. 31rus
      31rus April 3 2015 18: 26
      Dear, if you are interested in A. Lobanov "Hitler's Tank Forces", I recommend a very good encyclopedia about Wehrmacht tanks and armored vehicles with comparisons and analysis, until I have met better, there is a lot about these controlled tankettes, methods of use, purpose and performance characteristics (links to German archive)
  4. tchoni
    tchoni April 3 2015 10: 46
    The technology did not allow to realize even a normal remote control, not to mention battery life. So the first robots, for that matter, should be considered remote-controlled guns ..
  5. Noncombatant
    Noncombatant April 3 2015 11: 10
    However, the Germans had a sense of humor. Remember the legend about David and Goliath. ))))
  6. cosmos111
    cosmos111 April 3 2015 19: 05
    photo, where naglo-Saxons with Sd.Kfz.302 "Goliath" ...
    1. cosmos111
      cosmos111 April 3 2015 19: 20
      Kursk Bulk 1243 year: Pz-III control tank and the B-IV Sd.Kfz.301 television tanks controlled by it

      teletanket Sd.Kfz.301 Ausf.C and Pz-V Ausf.D "Panther" .... B-IV were actively used by the nation .., in the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising, to undermine the rebel barricades
      1. cosmos111
        cosmos111 April 3 2015 19: 51
        and more information on the topic: Sd.Kfz. Xnumx differed from Sd.ICfz. 302 "Goliath" - length - 1,63 m / 1,5 m ... width - 0,9 m / 0,85 m ... height - 0,62 m / 0,56 m ...., combat weight - 430 kg / 370 kg ... the weight of the transported charge / explosives - up to 75 kg (in the last series - up to 100 kg) / bO- t kg ....

        Sd.Kfz. 30 was equipped with a two-stroke carburetor engine "Zundap" SZ7 with a working volume of 703 cc. cm, developing a power of 12,5 liters. from. at 4500 rpm. , from an army motorcycle and allowed the wedge to reach speeds of up to 10 km / h, a cruising range of 7 km ...
        serially produced since 1943 of the year ....
        from April 1942 to January 1945 the firms "Borgward", "Zundapp", "Zachertz" - produced 7569 tankettes ((2560 variants 302 and 4919 - variants 303)))

        three main serial modifications IV: Sd.Kfz. 301 Ausf. BUT: combat weight - 3,45 tons (500-ku explosives), length - 3,65 m, width - 1,8 m, height - 1,18 mt, armor protection of the frontal part was equal to 8-10 mm, sides 6 mm., Borgward BM RTBV six-cylinder liquid-cooled carburetor power 50 l / s. , speed in 38 km / h ...
        Sd.Kfz. 301 Ausf In: the A-receiving radio antenna was moved to the bow, the pillows made of rubber were removed from the tracks, the combat weight increased to 4 tons ...
        Sd.Kfz. 301 Ausf C: combat weight - 4,85 tons .. length - 4,1 m, width - 1,83 m, height - 1,25 meters, armoring of the frontal part, sides and stern - 20 mm, roof and bottom b-mm., engine : six-cylinder carburetor "Borgward bV" with a capacity of 78 l / s, speed - 40 km / h, cruising range - 10 km ...

        1. cosmos111
          cosmos111 April 3 2015 20: 05
          let's continue ...
          remote-controlled wedge Sd.Kfz. 304 Springer. ...
          serially produced from 1944 of the year, by NSU from October 1944 to February of 1945, released about 50 units ((planned to produce 460 units)))
          length -3,17 m, width -1,43, height - 1,45 m, combat weight - 2,4 tons, transported explosive charge - 330 kg., engine - 4-cylinder carburetor four-stroke "Orel 01 ympia", power 38 l / s. , speed - 42 km / h, cruising range - 200 km
        2. cosmos111
          cosmos111 April 3 2015 20: 25
          PS: in the pictures .ms. above, the remote-controlled tankette Sd.Kfz. 304 "Springer" ...

          hereSd.Kfz. Xnumx
          1. cosmos111
            cosmos111 April 3 2015 20: 33
            photo Sd.Kfz.301 Ausf.C.
      2. ddglory
        ddglory April 3 2015 21: 11
        Fix 1243 year
        1. cosmos111
          cosmos111 April 3 2015 21: 21
          Quote: ddglory
          Fix 1243 year

          already, no fix ...

          interesting project / drawing: Sd.Kfz. 301 Ausf.B, in the version of a tank destroyer, with 4 m RPG ((not commercially available)))
    2. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I April 4 2015 04: 00
      In military memoirs, there are references to how Soviet soldiers in rare periods of lull from fighting had fun riding these "teletankets." By the way, I once met in the literature a described episode of the use of "goliaths" as a self-propelled land mine during the battles for Berlin.
  7. Ice
    Ice April 4 2015 20: 43
    The Americans captured Goliaths back in Normandy.
    The Germans wanted to use them as an anti-landing weapon.

    Goliaths look like prototypes of all the Western robots of today.

    It's funny that after so much time, we only come to what the Germans created back in those days, even if it didn’t work very well for them.

    All the same, it is striking that the fascists essentially invented whole areas of weapons that are still in use. And how many more would they come up with.

    Robots (albeit primitive ones), ballistic missiles, drones, Stg44 as a prototype of a machine gun, jet aircraft, Tiger as a main battle tank.
    If we didn’t quickly finish them, they would have their first atomic weapon too.