The Tucker Tiger Tank armored car project (Tiger Tanker Tank or Tucker Combat Car (Tucker Fighting Vehicle)) from 1939 of the year (according to other data, from 1937) was developed by the American company Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company. An interesting background to this organization. Its founder was Preston Tucker, an engineer who was involved in the automotive industry and, in particular, Indianapolis races. It was during his work in the field of auto racing Tucker met with the designer Harry Miller, who later helped him to implement several new projects. In particular, Miller and Tucker, Inc worked on racing car projects.
In 1939, P. Tucker moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he founded the new company Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company. The only shop of the enterprise was organized in the old barn acquired by its founder. It was after this that Tucker and Miller tried their hand at creating combat armored vehicles.
According to some reports, work in the new field began with a request from the Netherlands to create promising armored vehicles. The Dutch Defense Ministry wanted a modern, high-performance armored car adapted to the conditions of the country. In particular, the required high passability on dirt roads and rough terrain, as well as the corresponding armament. P. Tucker and G. Miller began the development of a new armored car that could suit a potential customer. It was at this time that the designation Tucker Tiger Tank appeared.
The design of the armored car lasted for several months, and during this time the situation in Europe has changed. In the spring of 1940, the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany, which made it impossible to supply equipment to this country. However, Tucker and Miller did not abandon further work. They decided to bring the project to mind and offer a ready "Tiger" of the American army.
At the core of the Tucker Tiger Tank project was an interesting idea. It was proposed to create not just an armored car with machine-gun or cannon armament, but a universal machine that occupies an intermediate position in the existing nomenclature and is capable of solving various tasks. On a relatively light wheeled chassis, it was planned to install an armored hull and an original armament complex, ensuring the fight against both ground and air targets. In the end, it should have been an armored vehicle with developed anti-aircraft and anti-personnel weapons. It turned out that the "Tiger" will become a kind of transitional link between full-fledged armored cars and anti-aircraft installations. In the future, such a proposal interested potential customers and even led to the beginning of mass production of some individual units.
As a basis for a new armored car was taken wheeled chassis with the formula 4 x2. Probably, a ready-made chassis was used, but there is no exact information about this. The chassis had a frame structure and was equipped with a Packard V-12 gasoline engine with 175 horsepower. Before installation on the armored car, the engine was finalized by G. Miller with the aim of a slight increase in performance. With the help of a mechanical transmission, the engine installed in the front of the car was connected to the rear drive axle. Two bridges were mounted on leaf springs.
Armored car with a metal cap turret. Photo Aviarmor.net
Having no experience with armor, Tucker was forced to seek help from American Armament Corp. Its experts, in consultation with the author of the project, developed the original armored hull. In addition, in the future, this organization manufactured the case and installed it on the chassis. P. Tucker and G. Miller suggested some interesting ideas related to the design of the armored hull. Due to their use, the case received a classic layout for such a technique, but differed from other similar samples with some interesting features.
The body of Tucker Tiger Tank was proposed to be welded from a large number of straight-line armor plates of various sizes and shapes. Sheet thickness ranged from 7 to 14 mm. Such a booking made it possible to protect the crew and units of the vehicle from small-arms bullets. weapons. In addition to the housing, the protection of the units was to be carried out with the help of metal discs on the wheels, and several parts of the armored glass were used as part of the turret on the roof.
The hull, designed by P. Tucker and American Armament Corp., had a standard layout for armored cars. In front of the engine compartment there was, all other volumes were given under the joint department of management and combat department. In order to reduce the cost of armor and reduce the weight of the structure, it was decided to use a complex body shape formed by a large number of mating panels.
The lower part of the sides was located vertically, and the width of this part of the body did not change along its entire length. In front of the hull, in the engine compartment, there was an expanding upper part with a curved roof-hood. The front vertical wall of the engine compartment had radiator shutters. In front of the top of the expansion set headlights with drives for swing in a vertical plane. The headlights were controlled by means of the steering column. The habitable compartment had a similar arrangement of armor plates with small details, sprawled outward and the upper parts of the sides tilted inward. The hood and the horizontal roof were connected using an inclined frontal sheet, which was mated to the sides with the help of triangular cheekbones. In the stern, the upper part of the sides converged and joined with the inclined stern sheet.
View of the stern. Photo Aviarmor.net
The hull provided several manholes for landing and windows to monitor the situation. In the inclined frontal plate of the habitable compartment, two hatches were made to observe the road, covered with armored glass blocks. Two more square hatches of similar design with glass were on the sides, behind the cheekbones. There were two more hatches in the stern side sloping sheets. All windows were completed with identical glass blocks, which, if necessary, could be swapped. Above the control compartment, a relatively large hatch was located in the roof, and a large door for landing was provided in the stern sheet. Thus, the crew of the car could get into the car through the door or the upper hatch, and also monitor the environment with minimal dead zones.
Inside the hull provided three jobs for the crew. In front of the habitable compartment were the driver and commander. The third crew member, the shooter, was supposed to be in the stern, in the swing turret. It is noteworthy that the design of the car made the arrows of all three crew members. If necessary, the commander and the driver could also use the existing machine guns.
The basis of the armament complex of the Tucker Tiger Tank armored car was the original swiveling turret with electric drives. In the aft part of the hull roof there was a shoulder strap with fastenings for a turret designed specifically for the new armored car. In the turret there was a place to accommodate the gunner and a set of necessary controls. In the central part of the turret located attachment for armament. For the attack of various targets, it was possible to use the 37-mm automatic cannon with a rate of fire of up to 120 rounds per minute, as well as a large-caliber machine gun M2.
The design of the turret provided circular guidance horizontally and elevation angles to + 75 °. To facilitate observation of the surrounding space, the turret was equipped with a hemispherical transparent dome made of bulletproof glass. For certain reasons, a ready-made full-fledged “glass” turret did not appear immediately, which is why the roof of the armored car was initially empty, and then a model of a fighting compartment made of metal was installed on it. Only in the later stages of the project the armored car received a full-fledged turret with weapons, and then a hemispherical transparent cap. Moreover, the design of the turret was refined several times.
The process of replacing bulletproof glass. A shot from the newsreel
As an additional weapon, Tucker's armored car received two rifle-caliber machine guns, the M1919. They were mounted in installations of the zygomatic sheets of the hull and were to be used by the commander and driver. Thus, the armored car could attack targets in any direction with the help of an automatic cannon and a large-caliber machine gun, and part of the sectors of the front hemisphere was additionally blocked by two machine guns.
New armored car turned out quite compact and light. The length of the armored vehicle "Tigr" reached 4,2 m, the width was 1,9 m, height (along with the turret) - 2,44 m. The combat weight was declared at the level of 10 thousand pounds (just over 4,5 t), thus, due to a number of original solutions, promising the armored car was about a ton lighter than its direct counterparts.
The first and, according to some sources, the only prototype of the Tucker Tiger Tank or Tucker Combat Car armored car was built at the beginning of 1940 at the American Armament Corp. plant. As already mentioned, during the production some problems arose with the manufacture of the turret, which is why the armored car went out for the first tests without any weapons, but later received all the necessary equipment.
Having lost a customer in the face of the army of the Netherlands, P. Tucker offered his design to the American armed forces. The US military was interested in the proposal and invited the inventor-enthusiast to demonstrate a new armored vehicle at the army training ground. During the demonstration of the armored vehicle to the military, the project manager pressed on its main advantages. Mentioned quite powerful weapons, combat versatility, low weight, high speed, etc. In addition, according to some data, P. Tucker spoke about the increased resistance to mines associated with the shape of the lower part of the hull.
Turret with 37-mm cannon and 12,7-mm machine gun. Photo Aviarmor.net
A characteristic part of the Tigr armored car was a small combat mass and a relatively large engine power, which could give it high mobility characteristics. However, accurate information on this is missing. Various sources mention that the armored vehicle could reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour (more than 160 km / h), up to 117 miles / h (more than 180 km / h). However, other documents mention more modest characteristics. Thus, in military documents, the maximum speed of an armored car was determined at the level of 74 miles / h (120 km / h). What figures most fully correspond to reality is not known, however, it can be assumed that acceleration to speeds of the order of 150-200 km / h could be associated with problems regarding the handling and stability of the car’s behavior on the road.
Perspective armored car Tucker Tiger Tank passed the necessary tests, the results of which the military decided. The proposed armored car had positive features, but was not without flaws. Analysis of the characteristics and capabilities showed that the army should abandon the original proposal. Armored vehicles did not become the subject of a contract for serial construction and supply. Nevertheless, some of the developments of the project by Tucker and Miller were used later in the construction of new military equipment.
A separate issue is the number of built armored cars. According to most sources, only one Tucker Tiger Tank / Tucker Combat Car was built, used for testing and written off after they were completed. However, in the surviving newsreel, a “fully tested and ready for delivery fleet” of such armored vehicles of about two dozen vehicles is demonstrated. How these frames correlate with information from other sources is not completely clear. Apparently, there really was more than one armored vehicle of the new type, but due to the refusal of the military, all the assembled armored cars were disposed of as unnecessary.
One of the main elements of the design of the armored car "Tiger" was a special turret with gun and machine gun weapons. Unlike other units of an armored car, this product could interest the military. Soon after the completion of the tests and the abandonment of the armored car, a decision was made on some modifications of the turret with the subsequent start of its mass production. A fairly successful design allowed the use of this system on boats and vessels of various types, as well as on long-range bombers. The armament of the Tucker Turret usually consisted of two large-caliber machine guns. Various equipment equipped with such turrets was operated for a long time and remained in service even after the end of the Second World War.
Turret and shooter. Photo Aviarmor.net
For certain reasons, after the start of serial production of turrets, P. Tucker had to go to court. Differences arose over the use of proprietary aggregates and non-payment of rewards. Because of this, the inventor for several years was forced to sue the manufacturers of weapons based on its developments.
After the refusal of the military department, Preston Tucker returned to the creation of automotive vehicles for civilian use and no longer returned to the development of combat vehicles. By the second half of the forties, he developed and presented several original and daring projects. By the early fifties, he was trying to promote a number of promising projects, which were based on unconventional and promising ideas. However, the automotive market has already been divided between major manufacturers, which is why a new company with too bold ideas could not win a place for itself.
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