Now It’s LAND BATTLESHIPS! (Nov, 1941)

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THIS striking illustration by Staff Artist Reynold C. Anderson is a conception, based on all available technical reports, of what is perhaps the most amazing of all the new weapons developed in the present nightmarish war—the Russian “land battleship.”

First reports of this huge land tank came soon after the outbreak of the Russo-German war. The earliest Russian pictures from the battlefront showed whole rows of German light tanks crushed, but gave no explanation of the method of destruction. Soon rumors were heard in military circles to the effect that the Russians have developed a mammoth tank, capable of running over German 25 and 30 ton tanks. These rumors were followed by an announcement of “land battleships” by the Red Army magazine, “Red Star.” The announcement, however, as carried by The Associated Press, failed to specify any technical details.

Later, military circles received more definite reports, indicating that the “land battleships” are “approximately 500 tons” in size and mount .155 mm. cannon as well as “several .75’s.” These reports verified the earlier reports to the effect that these battleships were capable of literally crushing columns of ordinary tanks and motorized infantry.

  1. JMyint says: February 8, 201110:22 am

    It sounds like a propagandized report of when the Germans first encountered KV-1 tanks. The KV-1 was double the weight of the PzKfpwIV and its armour was immune to 37mm guns that the Germans mounted on their main battle tanks at the time.….

    There was also the KV-2 that mounted a 152mm gun and the SMK that had two turrets, one with a 76.2mm gun the other with a 45mm gun.

  2. Michael Donovan says: February 8, 201110:53 am

    Dude, you have got THE blog!

  3. MikeBurdoo says: February 8, 201112:11 pm

    Pure propaganda at a time when the Russians needed it. Seems unlikely that a 500 ton tank could even get from the factory to a battle.. For comparison, the M1 Abrams weighs 37 tons, has 1,500 horsepower, and does about 33 miles per hour off road.

  4. JMyint says: February 8, 20111:57 pm

    MikeBurdoo the original M-1 Abrams weighed in at 60 tons the current versions are almost 70 tons.

    In 1941 the two main German tanks were the PzKpfwIII at 19 tons armed with a 37mm gun and the PzKpfw 38(t) at 10 tons armed with the same 37mm gun. Both vehicles remained the backbone of German armour throughout the war. It was a shock for the Germans when the tanks that served them so well against the British and French forces in 1940 failed so miserably against the Newer Soviet tanks like the KV-1 and the T-38.

    So yeah the article is exaggeration for the purpose of propaganda but the effect was about the same.

  5. Firebrand38 says: February 8, 20112:49 pm

    Don’t forget the prototype 95 ton T-28 Super Heavy Tank…

  6. DouglasUrantia says: February 8, 20114:01 pm

    M1 Abrams…each one costs a bit over 6 million dollars and weigh in at approx. 67 tons.

  7. Hirudinea says: February 8, 20119:06 pm

    Firebrand38 – You call that a ridiculously larg tank? These are ridiculously large tanks!………

    I love wikipedia.

  8. Firebrand38 says: February 8, 20119:23 pm

    Hirudinea: Of your list only the Panzerkampfwagen VIII was actually built but at 200 tons it still didn’t match the breathless prose about Soviet land battleships weighing 500 tons.

    You gotta love that German talent for irony in calling it the “Maus”.

  9. Stephen says: February 9, 20115:30 am

    Hitler liked the idea of giant tanks, but there is a limit to how far you can scale them up. All other things being equal, the weight of a tank is proportional to the cube of its length, but the area of its tracks is proportional to the square of its length. Thus if you double the size of a tank without taking precautions to make it lighter, you double the weight on EVERY square inch of track. This means that, unless you make the tracks bigger, giant tanks are increasingly destructive of the ground over which they travel, and ultimately will get bogged down.

  10. jayessell says: February 9, 20115:42 am

    Land battleships were a staple of the SF literature of the 1930s.
    Also the covers of magazines.……

  11. jayessell says: February 9, 20114:37 pm

    I found this ‘artist’s conception’ of a 1000 ton tank.
    100 ft long, 30 ft wide and high.



  12. badnewswade says: February 9, 20115:02 pm

    Thanks all – I’ve always been a fan of the huge tanks in the various C&C games, always wondered how big they got in real life

  13. Dan says: February 9, 20117:25 pm

    @jayessell – Are those Russians selling some droids?

  14. GaryM says: February 10, 20112:09 pm

    H. G. Wells published a story called “The Land Ironclads” in 1903. They were oversized armored personnel carriers.

  15. jayessell says: February 10, 20113:43 pm

    When I read that, I can’t make out what the author meant by the last line.

    “And he was much too good a journalist to spoil his
    contrast by remarking that the half-dozen comparatively
    slender young men in blue pyjamas who were standing
    about their victorious land ironclad, drinking coffee and
    eating biscuits, had also in their eyes and carriage something
    not altogether degraded below the level of a man.”

    They’re english words, but make no sense to me in that order.

  16. John says: February 10, 20115:12 pm

    jayessel: Read it in context of the previous line:

    “‘I’ll call my article,’ meditated the war correspondent ‘ “Mankind versus Ironmongery”, and quote the old boy at the beginning.'”

    A point is made early in the story that the side that doesn’t have Land Ironclads is sturdy outdoorsmen and the occupants of the vehicles are like “clerks”.

    So in their eyes and carriage something not completely less than the men they have been defeating.

  17. jayessell says: February 10, 20116:54 pm


    So he’s saying the tank crews weren’t “real” warriors?
    I thought it was something like that.

    How would HGW feel about the crossword puzzle experts who cracked the
    German codes with one of the first electronic computers?
    They’d be wasted at the front.
    (They’d be supply clerks!)

  18. John says: February 10, 20117:09 pm

    jayessell: What I think he was saying is that the men of science were just as much men of the outdoors that they had defeated. Dichotomy is a theme that he also addressed in The Time Machine. Contrast the two descendants of contemporary man, the Eloi and the Morlocks. Welles was a eugenicist don’t you know.

  19. jayessell says: February 11, 20118:51 am

    Off the topic of tanks. Sorry.

    Wells was a eugenicist don’t you know.

    John… I know!

    “The lascivious and the lazy, the dark-skinned and the dreamers, the rebels and the religious, the unstable and the unhappy, and all who do not fit deftly into the eye of Wells’ needle would be put to death,” continues Coren. Such people, Wells explained, live “only on sufferance, out of pity and patience, and on the understanding that they do not propagate; and I do not foresee any reason to suppose that they [the rulers] will hesitate to kill when that sufferance is abused.” Those among the ruling elite who scruple at the wholesale murder of “inferior” human beings will be admonished that there is an “ideal that will make killing worth the while,” according to Wells.

  20. Patron Zero says: February 14, 20119:13 pm

    I often wondered where the inspiration for the tabletop miniatures game O.G.R.E. came from, now I know.

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