Why Don’t We Have… Baby Assault Tanks (Apr, 1952)
It seems like this would just get stuck in the mud. Also, where do you store fuel and ammo?
Why Don’t We Have… Baby Assault Tanks
Tiny but deadly insect-like tri-tracks would spearhead our advancing infantry.
By Frank Tinsley
WE are living in a machine age and our wars have become mechanical, but it’s still the muddy, tired infantryman who must storm the enemy’s stronghold in bloody assault.
In some cases the tactical situation and nature of the terrain make this necessary. In many others, however, the brunt of the attack could just as well be absorbed by light, heavily armed machines. Why, then, can’t we send in a first wave of baby assault tanks and use our irreplaceable GI’s for the less hazardous chore of mopping up?
The primary consideration for such a tank is mobility. Our baby battle-buggy must be able to scuttle rapidly over rough ground, scale steep banks and bridge shell-holes and trenches.
In the design shown here the armored hull is supported by three independently sprung track gears which are joined to the body by long, self leveling legs. In order to span wide gullies the front leg telescopes and is capable of feeling around for a foothold like an insect’s antenna. It can be raised, or lowered and swung in a 180Â° arc. It also can be extended and steered. While all these movements are taking place, a jack is necessary to give temporary support to the apex of the triangle. This can be of the hydraulic type, retractable and operated from within the hull.
Some sort of rear buttress is needed to prevent our buggy from tumbling over backwards while scaling extra steep slopes and banks. Again we borrow from the insect world. A universally mounted tail “feeler,” similar to the front rig, does the trick. Extended and lowered on uphill grades, it props up our buggy like the tucked-down tail of an insect on a twig.
The hull is cigar-shaped, 12 feet long, swelling to a 3-1/2-foot maximum diameter. It is capped by a revolving turret in which the armament is mounted. This raises its overall height to 7 feet, a minimum for clear vision in high grass or bushy terrain. The width of the main tracks is 12 feet and the machine’s overall length can be extended from 24 to 32 feet.
The two-man crew consists of a driver and gunner. The former sits in a bucket seat in the nose and drives by means of two miniature control sticksâ€”one for the main tractors, the other for the nose unit. Other controls, like those found in the cab of an electric power shovel, permit him to manipulate the telescopic nose and tail gear.
The gunner sits behind and above the driver in a hanging seat that revolves with the turret. The latter is mounted on a circular track with a full 360Â° traverse and is fitted with ear-like extensions on either side. These are really smaller turrets which revolve in a vertical plane to elevate or depress the guns mounted in them.