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Post Info TOPIC: Hetherington's Big Wheel Idea


Legend

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Hetherington's Big Wheel Idea
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Does anyone know of a drawing or any illustration of the idea apparently presented by Hetherington to Stern and James Radley, and subsequently to Churchill by Hetherington, Sueter, and Briggs at the famous dinner? Centurion has described it before, but these are one or two additional statistics:

A platform mounted on three wheels, of which the front 2 are drivers and the stern for steering, armed with three turrets, each containing two 4-inch guns.

Diameter of wheels: 40 feet
Tread of main wheels: 13 feet 4 inches
Tread of steering-wheel: 5 feet
Overall length: 100 feet
Overall width: 80 feet
Overall height: 46 feet
Clear height under body: 17 feet
Armour: 3 inch
Total weight: 300 tons

They did add that, "It would appear at first sight that the machine ought to be more heavily armed and gunned, but considerations of the disproportionate weight of the guns and of the time of building have resulted in the proposal being reduced to the comparatively moderate one described above."

-- Edited by James H at 03:06, 2007-08-31

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Legend

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David Fletcher has hunted this; John Glanfield has hunted it; I've hunted it; all to no avail. It is very doubtful that an authentic Hetherington sketch survives.

The original 'proposal', such as it was, was for a machine with wheels the size of the Earl's Court Big Wheel (a huge ferris wheel that every Londoner would have been familiar with then, the London Eye of its time), an armoured body the size of a municipal gas tank, and 12" naval guns.

-- Edited by Roger Todd at 07:50, 2007-09-01

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Legend

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Good grief. The Earl's Court Wheel was three hundred feet in diameter! That's about 2/3 of the London Eye.

Picture below, and description here:
 http://against-the-day.pynchonwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Great_Wheel_of_Earl%27s_Court

It was demolished in 1906, but was clearly fresh in the minds of Hetherington et al. The surviving wheel in Vienna, as featured in the film The Third Man, is a replacement for the original but the same size, a mere 200ft in diameter. Pic of that below.




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Legend

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And no where does Hetherington appear to have given much thought as to what engine(s) would be needed to drive the beast.

-- Edited by Centurion at 15:18, 2007-08-31

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Legend

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It seems that for the 40 foot model he suggested an 800 horsepower Sunbeam Diesel Set. I haven't the faintest idea what this means, or how it compares with the K-Wagen etc.

For the 300 ft one, I can't imagine.

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Legend

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The K wagen was powered by 2 x 600 hp Daimler airship engines with forced glycerine cooling. The Char 2c with 2 x 300 hp Daimler engines.

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Legend

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This gives horsepower per ton figures of:
Hetherington 2.7 hp/ton
K Wagen 7.2 hp/ton
Char 2C 8 hp/ton

All to nearest dec place

Which does suggest Hetherington hadn't really thought too much about power weight ratios and how the thing was going to move.

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Legend

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James H wrote:

It seems that for the 40 foot model he suggested an 800 horsepower Sunbeam Diesel Set. I haven't the faintest idea what this means...


Sunbeam submarine engines, as I recall when I had a dig into it ages ago. I don't think Sunbeam made 800hp sub engines. However, I think they produced a 600hp job.

As for the 300-foot proposal, that was basically barrack-room and dinner-party talk, and was not in any way thought through and fleshed out. It was literally a case of Hetherington talking to some associates and saying, "Take something like a gasometer and put it on wheels like the Earl's Court Wheel, arm it with 12" guns and see what happens." I doubt he seriously meant it to be that large - he referred to such items as gasometers and the Earl's Court Wheel, because he knew his audience would be familiar with those things to give some semblance of scale. In this earliest form, it wasn't really a 'scheme' at all.

Frankly, Hetherington's proposal was the airiest of paper schemes. Even in its modified, toned-down form Tennyson D'Eyncourt looked into it and pronounced it totally impracticable. It can't really be taken seriously in and of itself, but it does have value for having prompted the creation of the Landships Committee.



-- Edited by Roger Todd at 18:15, 2007-08-31

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Colonel

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Ups ....

Gentlemen ,

after reading all posts of this topic twotimes , i must say it is allways a pleasure to get news

about things that i never see in any sort of some of my terrefic dreams anyway.

It's astonishing to see that Hitlers " Maus " and some other developments were not the only "irritations" of war technology.



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Field Marshal

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Military Illustrated no. 79 has a short article on the Hetherington landship by Simon Evans, accompanied by an artists conception (by Stuart Priest) based on "a diagram in the Tank Museum, Bovington". Interested members are welcome to contact me by e-mail. (Please note that my e-mail address has changed.)   

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Corporal

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At least it's more feasible than the big wheel tank which was to be made entirely of concrete.



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Colonel

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But why we are wondering , it was the Titanic Era .

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Legend

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Rhomboid wrote:

Military Illustrated no. 79 has a short article on the Hetherington landship by Simon Evans, accompanied by an artists conception (by Stuart Priest) based on "a diagram in the Tank Museum, Bovington". Interested members are welcome to contact me by e-mail. (Please note that my e-mail address has changed.)   



That's fantastic. Put me down for one.

Further reading now indicates that H's idea was scaled down twice - from 300 ft to 40, and then to 15, but I'm struggling to work out from the various accounts which version was put to whom and when.

Incidentally, I've stumbled across an archive at McMaster University, which appears to be in Canada. They've got a sizeable Great War collection, including this:
 Squadron Commander T.G. Hetherington, 1916-1918. Letters and notes re the development of tanks; includes a copy of a letter to The World re a libellous article about him.

Never heard of this before. We need someone on the inside. Details are at:
http://library.mcmaster.ca/archives/findaids/findaids/w/ww1.htm



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Legend

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James H wrote:

Further reading now indicates that H's idea was scaled down twice - from 300 ft to 40, and then to 15, but I'm struggling to work out from the various accounts which version was put to whom and when.

Incidentally, I've stumbled across an archive at McMaster University, which appears to be in Canada. They've got a sizeable Great War collection, including this:
 Squadron Commander T.G. Hetherington, 1916-1918. Letters and notes re the development of tanks; includes a copy of a letter to The World re a libellous article about him.

Never heard of this before. We need someone on the inside. Details are at:
http://library.mcmaster.ca/archives/findaids/findaids/w/ww1.htm



When H made his first proposal, it was an off-the-cuff barrack room comment in which he used the Earl's Court Wheel (300ft) to give a general idea of size; I doubt he knew just how large the wheel was (who here could say how large the London Eye is without googling it?), as it had been demolished some years before, so I think to say that H proposed a 300ft wheel is erroneous.


The 40ft version was a real proposal.

The 15ft Big Wheel was a Tritton design, and not directly related to H's proposal. It may have been inspired by it, but it was not a development of it.

As for the libellous comment about H in The World, I'm pretty sure it was a Macfie or Macfie-inspired article. The World was an illustrated magazine which carried a number of articles late in the War and after, written by Macfie and a journalist sympathetic to him. These articles, and ensuing letters, were part of Macfie's campaign against his 'enemies'. I have read some of the material at the Bodleian, but I wasn't able to make copies. I'm pretty sure I recall making notes concerning H's involvement, I'll check when I get home later.



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Legend

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Here's a link to a drawing of Tritton's 15ft Big Wheel machine - it's in Tim Rigsby's article on the US Steam Wheel Tank:

http://www.landships.freeservers.com/jpegs/roger_todd/Foster-Tritton%20Big%20Wheeler.jpg

At home, I have a couple of photos of a 1/48 scale model on display at Bovington* which I'll post later.

*Well, on display 15 years ago, don't know if it still is... wink

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Legend

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James H wrote:
Incidentally, I've stumbled across an archive at McMaster University, which appears to be in Canada. They've got a sizeable Great War collection, including this:
 Squadron Commander T.G. Hetherington, 1916-1918. Letters and notes re the development of tanks; includes a copy of a letter to The World re a libellous article about him.


As I mentioned earlier, I went to look at the papers of Lord (Christopher) Addison at the Bodleian Library. Addison was Minister of Munitions during the Great War, and his collection of papers contains a dossier on Robert Macfie. In the dossier, the following items are of relevance (taken directly from my notes):

1)                  Letter from Mr West F de Wend Fenton, editor of The World, inviting Macfie to visit [1 page, 27 October 1916]

2)                  The Evolution of the Tank Idea, as seen by R F Macfie, article in The World with introduction by de Wend Fenton, accompanied by The Official View (a rebuttal) [The World, 31 October 1916, pp.784, 785]

3)                  Letter from Macfie, reply to The Official View [The World, 28 November 1916, p.897]

4)                  Letter from T Hetherington in The World [5 December 1916]

5)                  Letter from Col Crompton in The World [12 December 1916]

6)                  Letter from Macfie replying to Hetherington and Crompton in The World [19 December 1916]


Mr West F de Wend Fenton! What a magnificent monicker!

I didn't actually write out each item, and photocopying can only be done with the permission of the current Lord Addison, which I didn't make any attempt to obtain. Item (1), a handwritten letter to Macfie from de Wend Fenton and thus not in The World, was of no practical interest, being merely a polite personal letter of invitation to write the article. However, I shall be pursuing the published articles and letters in The World along other avenues...


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Legend

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Mr West F de Wend Fenton! What a magnificent monicker!

Fantastic. I remember his daughters, the West de Wend girls. It seems that the way to get on at that time was to have a barmy name, ideally with a suggestion of Frenchness and a reference to great literature; Sir Eustace Tennyson-d'Eyncourt, Lancelot de Mole, not forgetting Sir Beauvoir de L'Isle. Those were the days.

Lochinvar d'Aznavour, Doncaster.

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Legend

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Here's the photo of the model of Tritton's Big Wheel design. It's 1/48 scale and was built by J Pickering. Displayed at Bovington.

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Captain

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I have something for you. Not what you are looking but a similar idea :

patent GB125610 applied for in 1916 by a Mr Percy William Atherton for an armored fort on 300 feet diameter wheels (because the Channel is at most 120 ft deep and assuming the wheels would gouge 30ft into the bottom , the thing could still cross the Channel dry....)

JCC

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Legend

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JC Carbonel wrote:

I have something for you. Not what you are looking but a similar idea :

patent GB125610 applied for in 1916 by a Mr Percy William Atherton for an armored fort on 300 feet diameter wheels (because the Channel is at most 120 ft deep and assuming the wheels would gouge 30ft into the bottom , the thing could still cross the Channel dry....)

JCC



That's the best one yet. Any more info?

Probably a coincidence, but there's a Percy William Atherton's name on a war memorial in Stockport, not far from me. He was killed in WW2.



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Captain

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[url]http://v3.espacenet.com/textdraw?DB=EPODOC&IDX=GB125610&F=0&QPN=GB125610[url]

pdf version of the patent on Espacenet database.

hope this helps

JCC

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Captain

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sorry I must have made a mistake in the process as the link does not appear to be active. you will need to copy it and paste it .

JCC

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Legend

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JCC, you needed to put a forward-slash ('/') in the second part of the tag (between the '[' and the 'url').

Sorry to disappoint, but Tim Rigsby beat us all to Atherton way back in 2005:

http://www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=63528&p=3&topicID=5063837

Barmy scheme...

-- Edited by Roger Todd at 18:50, 2007-10-25

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Sergeant

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@Roger Todd

"Here's the photo of the model of Tritton's Big Wheel design" that's a Wilson Foster Landship



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