The very first US tank
Tank Best 75 on the street of San Francisco.
I once showed you the old tanks in the section and told the story of the emergence of tanks, and now let us also recall how the tanks began.
When the Americans read about British tanks in the newspapers and saw their photos, their country was not yet at war. But everyone was well aware that sooner or later, they would have to fight, that they would not be able to sit out overseas, and if so, then you need to take care of real superiority over the enemy. Therefore, the US military hastened to start developing their own tanks. Moreover, they did not see any particular difficulties. After all, someone who, and they certainly knew for sure, that the basis of all English and French developments was the chassis of their own Holt tractor. And if so, what is it that, Americans, prevent the British from repeating the experience: take a tractor and put it on armor ?!
The solution seemed so simple and obvious that no one really tried to think of something else - both Holt-Gasoline and a number of other experienced ones were built on its basis or on the basis of similar machines.
And now more ...
So C.L.Best also decided to try their luck in the field of creating a new type of weapon. In 1917, the company began developing its own tank, and on the basis of the tractor it produced ... Holt 75 rail spreader! This tractor was still the same well-known Holt 75 tractor of the 1909 type, which this company produced under license. This model was popular, and not only among railway workers, but also among the military, who noted the unpretentiousness of this car and its good maneuverability. The tractor itself was used in the American and British armies up to and including 1919, and during the Civil War in Russia it was supplied to the armies of the White Guards. The last samples of these cars, of course, are no longer military, but purely commercial, were written off only in 1945 - that was their wonderful story! And one of the reasons for such a long service was a very important circumstance, which is also relevant for the military machine - it was simple in all respects! It had two leading tracks and a steering wheel in the front, driven by a conventional car steering wheel. Therefore, they did not think long,and they simply weighed their rail-laying tractor with sheets of ordinary iron (for the production of armor, C.L.Best engineers simply did not have time), installed a gun in the nose, and on the sides — two machine guns, and called it “tank”.
C.L. Best - 1915 patent.
Then they offered “this” to the military, but they decisively abandoned it, rightly pointing out, first of all, the disgusting review that would make this car almost useless on the battlefield. However, an unfortunate result is also a result!
In order to get a profitable contract, the engineers decided to remake the project and soon offered the US Army a second prototype of their tank under the designation Tracklayer Best 75 (aka CLB 75). Now the car looked like a boat turned upside down with a keel, which, as the designers thought, would allow the tank to easily break the lines of wire obstacles. Unlike the British, they did not redo the chassis. That is, the steering wheel remained in front, and the tracks behind, with armor covering them almost to the ground. The guns were installed in a cylindrical turret shifted to the stern, but the view from the tank remained almost as bad as it was.As a result, even the futuristic appearance of the Tracklayer did not save and the military did not take it on board. But ... nevertheless, the tank came in handy: they started using it for propaganda purposes, showed it at exhibitions, and even printed its photos - well, they say, what a miracle of technical thought we have in the USA!
The device tank Tracklayer Best 75.
The tactical and technical characteristics of the tank were as follows: the combat weight of the order of 13-15 tons, the power of a gasoline engine with a working volume of 1,440 cubic meters, 75 hp at 550 obmin. Nevertheless, the speed was small, only 3-5 km / h, but the crew - 5 people, then the question naturally arises, but where did they all fit in it? The armament was immediately two guns of 37 mm caliber, and (possibly) 7.62 mm machine guns. In total, two cars were produced and for purely propaganda purposes this turned out to be more than enough!
Tractor Best 75 - side view.
Perhaps the most remarkable in the design of this "tank" - his tower, most of all resembling the fighting machine of Martians from the novel by HG Wells "War of the Worlds". Probably, for the first and last time (not counting the “Lebedenko tank”!), Portholes similar to those of ships were installed on the combat land vehicle, and for some reason they looked in different directions ...
Because of the tractor layout, the control compartment had to be placed in the rear of the hull and there also had to be placed the tower, in which both the driver and the gunners were located. Even with six viewing portholes, the future tank’s view was still disgusting, because the view ahead was obstructed by the ship’s nose of his car.
Вest 75 "in battle".
As for the device, technologically, the entire tank could be divided into four large structural units:
- tracked undercarriage (three support rollers on each side, and two supporting wheels, the front wheel guide and rear drive);
- wheel part (steering, since there were no side clutches on the tracks);
- a rectangular chassis frame riveted from tee beams;
- power plant (located in the front of the tractor and on it, as a rule, the hood did not close)
- governing bodies.
Since the engineers did not make any changes to the chassis, due to the specifics of the placement of the radiator, it was necessary to place two air inlets on the upper part of the hull.Management of the "tank" for the same reason also remained purely tractor - with the help of the steering wheel, mounted inside on a long bracket from the cab to the steering wheel. Interestingly, no attempt was made to “deploy” the hull and swap “front” and “rear”. It could somehow improve his review, but ... for some reason it didn’t come to mind of its creators.
"Tank" tears barbed wire.
The first sample of the CLB 75 was riveted from ordinary iron and completed by mid-1917. However, it immediately became clear that even a completely reliable chassis for a tractor on a battlefield was completely unsuitable for the tractor, and moreover, more successful tank models had already appeared in the USA.
"Our forts on wheels" - an article from the magazine "Modern Mechanics"
And yet, since the prototype was available, it was used in the department ... the propaganda of the American army, where there were very reasonable guys who began to photograph it in various forms and write about it "downhole" articles in various magazines. For example, the magazine "Modern Mechanics" wrote that America has armored cars with armor worth $ 1 per pound of manganese armored steel,reliably protecting their crews from bullets! In one case, these are trucks, covered with quarter-inch plates of armor, in the other case it is a “fort” with a tower that can move at a speed of 25 miles per hour! Prices for these “cars” were also indicated - 5 and 8 thousand dollars, with the latter having two towers with machine guns. That is, it was clearly talking about wheeled armored cars, but the photo depicted the first version of Tracklayer Best 75!
"Our forts on wheels" - an article from the magazine "Modern Mechanics" (continued).
Then the "tank" was involved during the maneuvers of the California National Guard, which were held in the same 1917 near San Francisco, about which even a booklet with pictures depicting the CLB 75 as a real combat vehicle was published. Well, and then, most likely, the car was dismantled for metal, and the chassis, as a "species-wise", was sold to some farmer on the cheap.
It is surprising, however, that the Americans, having acquired such a “futuristic tank”, spare the money to ... make them ... a lot! Well, let's say, pieces 12 or 20. And from the cheapest metal, that is, for the smallest price. But having driven them through the streets of San Francisco or New York, one could get an incomparably greater PR effect than the onewhat they got from one car. Well, for the German General Staff it would be a great misinformation!
California National Guard maneuvers.
Author Oleg Skvortsovsky
And now another interesting thing about tanks: here were the multi-turret tanks with revelations, but the Tank that destroyed the fighter jet. More Many-tower tanks of the USSR. Tank Grote (TG) and it’s not true that Tanks are still afraid of dirt! Here is the amazing Sturmtiger and the USSR missile tanks.This is a copy of the article located at http://masterokblog.ru/?p=11732.