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Post Info TOPIC: [BURSTYN TANK] First Functional Designed Tank Ever.

[BURSTYN TANK] First Functional Designed Tank Ever.
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After riding in a motor torpedo boat around 1903, a Austrian Oberleutenant named Gunther Burstyn got a great idea. Why not try to build a sort of land-torpedo-boat?

After much thought and contemplation, Burstyn patented a design for an unheard of vehicle design in 1911.

It was quite revolutionary! Burstyns "motor vehicle gun" ("Motorgeschutz") had a turret with almost full traverse, and tracked modern looking running gear with sprung bogies. Its main ingenuity however, were four lever operated "arms", two on each ends of the tank. These could be raised, and lowered forcibly to push up the entire tank. The idea was, if you came to a parapet you couldn't clime over, you'd merely lever yourself over it. The 'arms', and levering, could aso be used to get across trenches.

I am not sure, as I cannot read German, and direct translations are always horrid, but I think the Burstyn Tank also was built to be easily changed from Track to Wheels on good roads. One of the most massive problems of WWI tanks was mobility, and letting a tank move quickly over standard roads to the battlefield, then switch to tracks, was a great idea.
(if someone can read German, go here and tell me:

There were many incredible ideas introduced in this tank, including an engine compartment that was fully-enclosed from the crew-compartment. Many British tankers died, or nearly died, from the noxious overpowering fumes of their horridly stuffy rhomboids, so this was a great idea. The fact the bogies were sprung was also very uncommon in WWI tanks. The entire design could have been produced cheaply and easily, as it was quite a small vehicle. However, the design was absurdly radical in 1911, and Burstyn never got the chance to build even one prototype.

After WWI, it was finally realised just what a pioneering genius Burstyn was, and he was given an award by Nazi Germany for his accomplishments. Probably the only official recognition Burstyn Ever got.

Today in a prominent Austrian museum there is a display devoted to Burstyns tank, complete with models in a diorama, but I have never seen pictures of it. Anyone have a bunch of cool pictures of it?

The black and white pictures you see of the Burstyn Tank in a WWI battlefield, or attempting to lever over a parapet, are all trick-photography with models.

This is the very first thought-out practical tracked-armored-vehicle design ever. Lancelot De Mole, of Australia, had revolutionary ideas for an armored tracklaying design, but his first sketches were made in 1912 when he sent them to the British War Office, they of course flately rejected him even though his tank would have been far superior to the Little Willy prototype which took the British far too long to come up with.

In my oppinion (in order of importance), these guys were the most neglected, talented, tank designers of pre-WWI.

Gunther Burstyn
1911 Patent of his highly advanced tracked "Motorgeschutz" used concepts never seen before to give it extreme cross country ability.

Lancelot Eldin de Mole
Australian inventor who came up with a radically modern tracked-armored-vehicle design as early as 1912, incorporating Curve Track Steering, and a distinctly modern track-shape. The 1/8 scale model of his design still exists in a museum, as well as plans for his design.

Edwin M. Wheelock
Complete heresay, but in April 1915, Frances J. Lowe travelled to Brittain to sell Pioneer Tractor Co. vehicles, aswell as to show the the plans Wheelock (the Pioneer Co's boss) had made for a 60,000 lb 'armoured tractor'. Lowe showed the plans to Sir Henry Holden, who remarked "Come, Come! This is another Yankee invention to win the war. It will break down any bridge in Belgium and besides, you Yanks don't know that we drive to the left side of the road intead of the right, so it will block traffic as well." Finally, Lowe was introduced to Major (then Lieutenant) Wilson, who took the plans and said that he would let Lowe know if the Pioneer Co. would get any orders, but never heard from him again until after the Somme, when it was reported that funny looking 'cheese boxes' were going over the top and chasing the Germans. And in 1953, an extremely disgruntled, unacknowledged Wheelock sent a letter saying "SO MARK YOU. The conception (of the armored war tank) occurred before the British were at war with Germany, and the plans and drawings were on paper before Nov. 1 1914." Of course, any evidence that would prove Wheelocks claims is lost to history... His one surviving triumph, the interesting Skeleton Tank is still in existence however.

(sorry for the long explanation, but most people don't know the tantalizing conspiracy theory that Wheelock gave Brittain the idea for the rhomboid tank)

A model of this tank does exist, although it looks like fairly horrible moulding, and its over priced, and theres no way to get it in the 'States.

Peter Kempf

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Thanks for this info! I will try to do an article on the Burstyn Tank, and even try to scratch it. The shape is not too complicated.

I too have seen scans of the White Metal Burstyn Tank, and I agree: wrong scale, wrong price and, I hate to say it, not too good a quality...



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Thank you so much! Burstyn's vehicle is listed in "Tanks: An Illustrated History of Fighting Vehicles" by Armin Halle c. 1971 published by the New York Graphic Society on page 30. This sketch led me to your very erudite essay.



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Not Wheelock again! His claims have been  demolished in a number of postings in earlier threads in this forum.

aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions
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