War Tank on One Wheel OPERATED BY ONE MAN (Nov, 1933)

War Tank on One Wheel OPERATED BY ONE MAN

SUDDENLY, through the drifting smoke of a hard-fought battle, rush weird, one-man fighting tanks. They have the appearance of disk wheels and roll like hoops across the battlefield. Pouring out machine-gun fire, they leap over trenches, vaulting across on strange steel crutches to pursue the disorganized enemy.

Such is the startling vision foreseen by a New York inventor. He has just obtained a patent upon a unicycle-type tank which he believes will revolutionize battlefield tactics.

Housed inside the armored body, the operator will steer the single main wheel by means of two small auxiliary wheels at the rear. A turn of the handlebar lifts one stabilizing wheel and lowers the other, shifting the balance of the machine and turning it to one side or the other. An internal gear mechanism, operated by a motor inside the body, drives the wheel ahead at remarkable speed.

By a simple process of inverting the streamlined pants on the stabilizing wheels, so they form balancing floats, and attaching propelling fins to the main wheel, the tank can be turned into an amphibian capable of plunging into a stream and rolling to the other side.

One of the oddest features of the revolutionary machine is formed by the steel-tube crutches that project ahead on either side like medieval lances. As the tank rushes upon a trench or obstruction, the operator will drop the tubes so they dig into the earth and the whole machine will vault through the air to the other side. An open-type form of the vehicle, which is shown on our cover, has also been devised by the inventor. Without the armored body or the crutches, it is designed for highway use.

In various parts of the world, recently, engineers have been reviving the idea of the unicycle. Attracted by the economy and compactness of a one-wheeled vehicle, they have been attacking anew the problems of balance and propulsion which have been the stumbling blocks in the path of the inventors.

In England, an Italian inventor has just demonstrated a single-passenger unicycle in which he claims to have reached speeds of 100 miles an hour and to have made 280 miles on a gallon of gasoline. In the near future, he plans to bring the machine to the United States and demonstrate its adaptability to American highways. Perfected after more than ten years of experiment, this odd machine rests solely upon one huge pneumatic tire encircling the driver, and dispenses entirely with exterior steering apparatus. The metal rim within the tire supports the frame and driver’s seat and is rotated by a motor of one and three-fourths horsepower. To guide the vehicle to left or right, a steering wheel tilts the central frame with respect to the wheel, shifting the driver’s weight and thus steering the hoop. Models of various sizes are contemplated, the diameter of the hoop being suited to the height of the driver, so that a tall man, according to the inventor, would use a larger unicycle than a short man.

20 comments
  1. fluffy says: January 17, 20074:39 pm
  2. Charlie says: January 17, 20074:41 pm

    Oh yeah, I’d totally forgotten about that episode :)

  3. Stannous says: January 17, 200711:17 pm

    I can’t imagine that it would be possible to install a motor with enough HP to move anything with sufficient armor plating to offer any significant protection.
    Not to mention presenting a HUGE target.

  4. Boing Boing says: January 18, 200712:23 pm

    Unicycle tank from 1933…

    Modern Mechanix posted a neat article from the November 1933 issue of Popular Science about a man’s design for an amphibious unicycle tank. The tank bears a striking similarity to Kerry McLean’s Rocket Roadster whose project is profiled in the MAKE:…

  5. Neatorama » Blog Archive » Monowheel Tank. says: January 18, 20072:00 pm

    [...] Link – via Make and Boing Boing [...]

  6. blog.k-rolus.net says: January 18, 20072:04 pm

    One Wheel Tank…

    En la (muy friki) Make Magazine, comentan el diseño de un tanque-rueda (no sé cómo llamarlo) que a su vez publican en Modern Mechanix. Por lo visto ellos (Make) ya habían publicado ante algo similar en su libro, pero parece que se olvidan
    de que ant…

  7. blog.k-rolus.net says: January 18, 20072:29 pm

    [AUTOSAVED] One Wheel Tank…

    En la (muy friki) Make Magazine, comentan el diseño de un tanque-rueda (no sé cómo llamarlo) que a su vez publican en Modern Mechanix. Por lo visto ellos (Make) ya habían publicado ante algo similar en su libro, pero parece que se olvidan
    de que ant…

  8. [...] War Tank on One Wheel Operated by One Man It’s been a while since I posted some Minutiæ from the real world, but I’m gonna get back in the swing of things with this awesomeness from the evercool Modern Mechanix weblog. This particular oddity makes it look fun to fight a war! The best part is that the thing is a giant wheel, but it has these legs in the front that it uses to vault over obstacles, presumably like barbed wire and trenches. Big Wheel is unfortunately not interviewed in the article. Thursday January 18th 2007, 10:53 pm Filed under: shock:, science/fiction [...]

  9. [...] Modern Mechanix does it again by digging up this exceedingly cool article about the one-wheeled tanks of the future! – Link [...]

  10. » Breaking patterns says: January 26, 20078:07 am

    [...] Unicycle Tank: One man amphibious vehichle design to go 100mph, and 280 miles on one tank of gas… designed in 1933 [...]

  11. [...] Modern Mechanix does it again by digging up this exceedingly cool article about the one-wheeled tanks of the future! – Link [...]

  12. prateek pareek says: August 4, 200711:35 pm

    when i saw dis pic.
    d first thing i thought ws it should hav its brakes in d giant wheel fr efficent brakings
    but den it should have a wheel infront of it

  13. Tim Tracy says: July 17, 20081:11 am

    How does one keep it from toppling end over end if they have to slam on the brakes? (the civilian model doesn’t appear to have “crutches”)

  14. fomp says: August 24, 20087:40 am

    They’d have had a place of honour reserved for this thing in the ’43 victory parade in Berlin.

  15. jayessell says: August 25, 20089:20 am

    During the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympics, I thought I saw several pedal powered uniwheels!

    War machine to acrobat accessory!

  16. La dinaesfera | Anfrix says: December 16, 20085:02 pm

    [...] se convirtieron en toda una obsesión para los inventores de principio de siglo, siendo incluso considerados por varios ejércitos del mundo. Este artículo fue publicado el: 16/12/08 a las 6:02 pm,y se encuentra archivado bajo [...]

  17. [...] Si bien el invento parece un tanto excentrico, debemos recordar que este tipo de vehículos es decir “monorueda” se convirtieron en toda una obsesión para los inventores de principio de siglo, siendo incluso considerados por varios ejércitos del mundo. [...]

  18. TheWoollyMammoth says: July 22, 200911:33 am

    Stability and braking problems are inherent in this kind of machine. That’s the part they don’t tell you. Modern gyroscopic stabilization fixes these problems. I wonder why we haven’t seen newer working versions of this idea.

  19. Arglebarglefarglegleep says: August 18, 201010:47 pm

    Monocycles are around, just as individual models. http://en.wikipedia.org…
    The big problem is ‘gerbling’ i.e. when the brakes lock but the wheel keeps rolling. Think about what happens to a mouse or hamster in their exercise wheel. This happens to riders of monocycles when things go bad.

  20. [...] Are At Your Heels, Streamlined Auto Can Almost Fly). One of the most recent scans he posted of the monowheel tank (from the November 1993 issue of Popular Science) caught my interest. I’ve been fascinated [...]

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