A tank a day keeps Politicians at bay.

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by von Poop, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Project didn't fall apart - the HH just arrived too late. It's predecessor the Tetrarch (with which it shared many features) had already proved something of a disappointment. I include my write up
    Britain produced the Hamilcar, a large glider that could carry either a British Tetrarch or an American M22 Locust light tank in a capacious fuselage slung under a high wing above which was mounted the pilot’s cockpit. Specially modified Halifax bombers did the towing. The Tetrarch had originally been planned before the outbreak of war as a light cruiser tank with a speed of up to 40 mph. It was a good design and had it been available in 1940 to replace the ridiculous Mark IV light tanks with which British mechanised cavalry regiments were equipped it would have been very useful both in France and in the Western desert. It would have been a match for any of the German and Italian light tanks and given most of the medium tanks of the day problems. However it was not available in time and the light tanks were eventually replaced by American Stuart tanks (sometimes known as Honeys). The powers that be then decided to make it Britain’s main airborne tank. By 1943 it was effectively obsolete.

    Development of the Hamilcar was effectively based around the design of the Tetrarch. The big glider was not without problems. The strength of the restraints for the tank proved to be an issue and one Tetrarch (and three man crew) was lost on the approach to Normandy when the glider pitched downward in an air pocket and the tank broke free and burst through the nose doors to plunge 300 feet into the English channel. There is a photograph showing a Hamilcar that took part in the Rhine crossing in 1945. The glider has clearly landed intact, its nose cargo door is still shut but there is a Tetrarch shaped hole in it where the tank obviously broke its constraints and exited on touchdown. During the early trial flights it was found that the gliding characteristics of the Hamilcar were not as good as had been expected and aircraft were landing short of their target. One aircraft came down in the middle of an army camp and hit the brick end of a large Nissen hut. The wooden glider stopped dead, the pilots' cabin sheared off and came to rest on top of the hut with its occupants shaken but unhurt. The Tetrarch tank broke its restraints and being of heavier and sterner stuff didn't stop. It burst through the end wall and traversed the length of the hut exiiting the other end in a shower of bricks. Amazingly no one was hurt.

    The Hamilcar played a role in the D Day landings, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing. By this stage in the War the tanks it was designed to carry were too light to have much impact on the European battleground. Another, unexpected, problem emerged; Tetrarchs landed to support the D Day parachutists were rapidly immobilised as their suspensions and drive wheels became entangled and clogged with the numerous parachute lines that littered the drop zone. Of more value than the tanks was the Hamilcar’s ability to carry a couple of 17 pounder anti tank guns with their supporting vehicles. The Hamilcar had an unfortunate tendency to nose over during landing resulting in the destruction of its cargo if this were less sturdy than a tank. A number of much needed 17 pounder anti tank guns were lost on the Arnhem landing ground because of this problem. A further range of armoured fighting vehicles were developed for airborne use, this included the Harry Hopkins a third lightweight tank and the Alecto a miniaturised self propelled anti tank gun. All suffered from being comprehensively out gunned by the tanks they would have had to have faced. None of these vehicles were ready in time to see action.

    By the time the Harry Hopkins was ready the airborne tank concept had proved ineffective and the war in Europe was over.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  2. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Found these aged photos whilst looking for something else, which seems to happen much more frequently for me nowadays. Still not found the photos I was after.

    A long time ago, and far, far away. An invite and visit that was an absolute privilege.

    Just another tank? Maybe, but a labour of love for the crew working on it at the time.

    Please note, IDs obscured out of respect for the living, and those no longer with us (we all have a past).

    Kind regards, always,


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The green light was given.
    Production plans finalised, orders placed.
    Then technical faults with trials appear to have caused consternation.
    Not sure I've ever seen precisely what those issues were beyond pretty passing references. Even Fletcher seems uncommonly vague, & it's the sort of machine that would normally catch his eye.

    It wasn't ever really envisioned as airborne.
    That potential criteria doesn't appear in its genesis, despite the line of descent. The closest it came to flight was in theoretical deployment for airfield defence (always a byword for 'what do we do with this?') or 'Carrier wing' strangeness.

    The light debate never fully went away, but my interest is what technical grounds caused the issues.
    I'd think maybe that track-warp steering, though not sure how that fits with it being declared bulldozer suitable.
    It was ordered early, and might have been of use had it come on stream when intended, but something mechanical derailed progress enough to push it into white elephant territory.
  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    AFAIK the main differences between it and the Tetrarch were a better shaped turret and frontal armour but otherwise it was effectively an improved Tetrarch which it had been intended as a replacement for and it shared the same track system, gun etc etc. They did build a 100 of the things
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The proposed changes took it overweight for Airborne consideration from day one. (I think! Again, there's not the greatest amount of info out there on it.)

    They built approaching 2000 Covenanters & yet more RAMs.
    Strange days. (Though those at least found a training use.)
  6. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Given Robert-w makes mention of the M 22 in his post (#41above) here's a view of one from;

    "AIRBORNE EQUIPMENT A History of its Development" by Colonel John Weeks (published 1976)

    Keep up the good work folks.

    Kind regards, always,


    Attached Files:

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  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The Mighty TOG I/II/II*

    It might all have been over by Christmas if only they'd listened to the old gang!

    In truth, a splendid wheeze to distract largely semi-retired spanner-throwers with influential friends from interfering too much in the contemporary business of war (while keeping one or two fully engaged & interested for some still impressive skills).
    I can't decry their commitment & genuine belief in supporting the fight; I love TOG, but... nope.

    tog1_0011.jpg tog.jpg 1297928693_2-434.jpg

    TOG_2star.jpg tog2dtar_1.jpg

    Cracking film of I under steam here. (2 parts) :

    Andrew Hills's book:
    Thorough, if not the easiest read.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Written evidence from the South & Western Transport Action Group (SAWTAG) (TOG 27)
    This material is submitted to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport, as a means of ascertaining the truth of two particular matters concerning Olympics public transport that the Committee is currently investigating.
    Transport and the Olympics (14th March 2012)
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The T31 'Demolition' Tank.

    Like an M4a3 with encephalitis, the T31 arrives to satisfy all your bunker-busting minefield-challenged needs.
    Dazzled by the sheer brilliance of AVRE, the Septics thought they might want a piece of the action.
    They then probably overdid things a tad... with a 105mm Howitzer between two bloody great rockets, & I believe it may even have had a flame projector, but memory fails

    Not accepted for service.

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  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Fletcher has a wonderful tank chat on this, which is of course cynical and funny as well.
  11. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The Allies had been expecting the war to end with hard slogging against heavily armed concrete defence systems such as the Alpine Redoubt (which proved to exist only in Nazi imaginations) and in the Japanese home islands. As a result a number of demolition vehicles and devices were under development (see for example the Adeer Aggie) which proved to be unnecessary and/or impractical. Post war American focus was for a time a bit "nukes with everything" and included projects for both small nukes for fighter bombers and nuclear demolition charges which look like a massive version of "you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" syndrome.
  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    The Houses of Parliament would 'be Demolished' if it was not a listed heritage building
  13. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Rambling, outdated, unfitted for the modern world, addicted to arcane practices - but enough of the members - the Palace of Westminster .(which is the building) is in a pretty poor state too. BTW as a Royal Palace and Peculiar it is not subject to listing rules etc. It is outside of a great many regulations including the licencing laws which is why some members can sometings be seen to be listing
  14. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    What basically happened with the Harry Hopkins was that the project was not initiated against any particular operational requirement, so there was this endless search for something to do with it - giving it to the RAF to guard airfields, sending it to Russia, fitting it with wings and turning it into a glider, etc. but none of these were really viable.

    It was a bit like the tank equivalent of the Westland Welkin - an OK piece of technology created for a niche that failed to materialise.
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  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The T28 Super Heavy

    Staying with the Septics today.
    That 'Breakthrough'/'Shelled area'/'Spearhead' concept writ large.
    Very large.
    95 Tons of Large.
    Like Tigger, that strange concept of different track arrangement for transport etc., but at least it could tow its own encumbrance about (Imagine the swearing during changeover, though).
    Seems one made it to Korea, and then the sole survivor got lost for years, before being found in a farmer's field.
    Big field.

    T28-Super-Heavy-Tank.jpg 621ca4a949a6e1c51b0aa362abce0855.jpg Annotation 2019-11-10 151535.png f8485846444f34e1_large-1.jpg nbq3eq5cyxlx.jpg t28railload.jpg tumblr_nyrto9nUsF1us9bpho1_540.jpg T-28 Super Heavy towing its tracks.jpg
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  16. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Here's some pictures from a pilgrimage to Fort Benning in 2013. It had just been moved down from Fort Knox and had not been put back together yet.






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  17. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I guess it seems strange but the alternate or removable tracks are all down to railway tunnel (?) widths. British tank designs were generally limited by this as well.
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    "It wasn't the tanks that won the war, it was my boy Willie"


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  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Contentious. FV4401

    Conqueror wasn't exactly designed to fit in an aeroplane, and the fashion du jour was to snipe those dastardly reds.
    What to do? Something lighter, but also carrying a proper, accurate, BFG, when missile systems weren't quite there yet?
    Delightful strangeness. Something that can get there quickly, bringing tank-like armament.

    Always cited as a British S Tank (definitely by myself in the past), but never really considered as an MBT.
    An air-portable concept to deliver maximum long-range firepower with minimum crew. (Unfinished concept. Never seen suggested armour layout, or whether it'd be armoured at all.)
    You can call it Comet-based as much as you like... Maybe Comet components, but 'extensively modified' is an understatement...
    Still survives at Bovington. Nice to lurk by & watch people walking up going 'what the hell is that?!' (Though may now be in the preservation shed.)

    No idea what sixties era aircraft it was supposed to fit in. Beverley? Argosy?
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  20. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    American take on the concept:

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