Landships II

Members Login
Username 
 
Password 
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Skeleton Tank - EXTRA EXTRA - READ ALL ABOUT IT!


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Skeleton Tank - EXTRA EXTRA - READ ALL ABOUT IT!
Permalink Closed


Just recieved my shipment of old articles from a historical society, involving Edwin Wheelock and/or the Skeleton Tank, from Winona Minnesota.

BIG images, but worth it!!! Check It Out.

1st Attachment: Article about how Edwin Wheelock may have been the true inventor of the British tank. Dated 11/26/1917. Well before Wheelock invented the Skeleton Tank.
2nd Attachment: Clipping from a 1942 newspaper showing a turretless, wood-panneling lacking Skeleton Tank being test in the /shallows of the Mississippi River/.
(The wood panneling you see missing was merely meant to help keep the the tracks unfouled - it was never going to be replaced with armor, there was no reason to.)
3rd Attachment: Article on the progress of the Skeleton Tank at the proving grounds.
4th attachment: Small bad image of Wheelock himself.

ENJOY!
Articles have been spliced together from multiple photocopied pages by me, so as to be one file.

---Vil.


Attachments
__________________


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Even More!


Picture of the Skeleton Tank, dilapidated at the Proving Grounds.
Technical data involving the tank.
Attachment: Random article that came with the others... About a "20 ton government caterpillar tank" being loaned to Winona for road-construction. What 20 ton tracked vehicles did we have back then...? Anyone got any ideas what vehicle they are referring to? I dont think ANY Holt tractors were ever THAT big, were they?

---Vil.
Edit: Dang... I accidentally added the Skeleton Tank article again!!... And I can't figure out how to delete it from my post... oh well. Just dont pay attention to that second attachment!


-- Edited by Vilkata at 06:53, 2005-12-13

-- Edited by Vilkata at 06:54, 2005-12-13

-- Edited by Vilkata at 06:56, 2005-12-13

Attachments
SkeletonData.jpg (141.8 kb)
__________________


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Another article about the contested prize given to whoever invented the tank...

---Vil.

Attachments
__________________


Sergeant

Status: Offline
Posts: 49
Date:
Permalink Closed

Hey Vilkata,
In the January/February 2002 issue of ARMOR Magazine (the U.S. Army's official "tank magazine") there's a really neat article on the Skeleton Tank and Wheelock's claims of being the first true inventor of the tank. And luckily, the army also keeps copies of all of it's articles online, so here you go!

http://www.knox.army.mil/center/ocoa/ArmorMag/jf02/1skeletontank02.pdf

Enjoy!
Matt

__________________

Yes, Heil is really my last name, as in "Gut Heil" or "Waidmanns Heil".  It is not a political statement. 

 



Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Already have it Matt, that article is what prompted me to look for the original newspaper articles

Thanks though!

---Vil.

__________________


Sergeant

Status: Offline
Posts: 49
Date:
Permalink Closed

Darn, and I was trying so hard to contribute and look smart...

()
Matt

__________________

Yes, Heil is really my last name, as in "Gut Heil" or "Waidmanns Heil".  It is not a political statement. 

 



Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
RE: Skeleton Tank - rattle dem bones
Permalink Closed


A major shortcoming was that bits kept dropping off. The commercial pipe joints could not withstand the jolting and the frame work gradually came unscrewed so that after each test run a major reassembly and tightening exercise was needed. One can imagine the hilarity in the German trenches if it had been deployed, rattled its way across no mans land only to fall apart before reaching its destination.

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
RE: Skeleton Tank - EXTRA EXTRA - READ ALL ABOUT IT!
Permalink Closed


Those are fascinating newspaper articles, Vilkata!


However, I for one would take them with a huge pinch of salt regarding the 'who invented the tank' angle. They are, after all, contemporary newspaper reports, and I wouldn't take them to be truth without corroborating evidence (official reports; photographs of plans; etc.). Not only that, but they're local newspaper reports ('WINONA MAN INVENTOR OF HUGE BRITISH ARMY TANKS!'), the tone of which seem to be 'look how well our local boys are doing' - it's akin to the Little Wallop Advertiser trumpeting 'LITTLE WALLOP MAN SOLVES WORLD HUNGER!'. Thirdly, the man making most of the claims on Wheelock's behalf is... a salesman! When was the last time you believed everything a salesman told you? BTW, if you are in the habit of believing salesmen, I've got this great gadget for making sausages out of air, it only costs $9,999.99, just send me your credit card details...



__________________


Hero

Status: Offline
Posts: 837
Date:
Permalink Closed

Thanks Vil


  That some really great information. Thanks for sharing.


All The best


Tim R.


 



__________________
"The life given us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal"
-Cicero 106-43BC


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
Permalink Closed

The Skeleton Tank material is absolutely fascinating, particularly the Data Table - nice work, Vilkata!


So, who'll be first to model it...?



__________________


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Hey Centurion!

Where did you learn such details of the threaded pipe comming undone?

email me: destroidsrage@hotmail.com

---Vil.

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed


Vilkata wrote:

Hey Centurion!

Where did you learn such details of the threaded pipe comming undone?

email me: destroidsrage@hotmail.com

---Vil.



I don't currently have easy access to E mail (I'm running a Systems Design course in a residential training centre in a large Victorian mansion and am using a kiosk internet service to access the forum). It appears in a number of books including if memory serves one by Icks but I wont be in contact with my own library until the week end. Then I'll dig out the relevant references and post.

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

The only thing I have ever read about is engine associated problems relating to the design. I seriously doubt threaded pipe would come undone that easily. In fact, early pictures of the Skeleton Tank show it with a few /more/ structural pipes than later pictures of the tank on maneuvers at the proving grounds. That would seem to imply a few pipes were deemed unneccesary. That it was strong enough. It would seem a testament to the vehicles design success that 1,000 of them were ordered before the armistice.

So I would really like to hear what your books have to say! If it would be possible, I would absolutely love it if you could scan the entries out of your books. Or type them up in their entirety, if they are not too long.

Thank you in advance!

---Vil.

-- Edited by Vilkata at 22:43, 2005-12-13

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed


Vilkata wrote:

1,000 of them were ordered before the armistice.


---Vil.-- Edited by Vilkata at 22:43, 2005-12-13




In return can you tell me where that came from? I'm pretty sure that there were no orders but am always open to correction.

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Well, the Aberdeen Proving Grounds are generally pretty good about the history of the vehicles they showcase... This is the plaque beside the refurbed Skeleton Tank. I have heard of the reference elsewhere also.

---Vil.

Attachments
__________________


Corporal

Status: Offline
Posts: 8
Date:
plese see emhar delema
Permalink Closed


help!

__________________


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
RE: Skeleton Tank - EXTRA EXTRA - READ ALL ABOUT IT!
Permalink Closed


And as for Wheelocks AFV design being stolen by Swinton... Think of this...

Wheelocks design was much heavier, and wheeled. Wheelocks company was one of the best tractor manufacturers in the USA - but every single one of their tractors was wheel driven. Wheelock says that he designed his AFV with wheels, but he supposed whether the vehicle was wheeled or tracked would depend on the soil it was intended to drive over. Wheelocks tank was also quite a bit heavier than the MK.I.

I believe that Wheelocks tank may have looked a bit like the MKI, and that Swinton may have in fact gleaned some sort of inspiration from it, but from the facts given by wheelock himself, the Mk.I was NOT Wheelocks design. He probably saw that the MKI was similar to his design, and thought he deserved credit for the creator of such a vehicle. Little did he know that other people, such as DeMole, and Burstyn, had also created viable AFV designs that were overlooked and were never given credit. (Well, Burstyn was officially recognized by the Nazis and given an award.... But still.)

Mostly, those articles are just very interesting. And I mean, it was always thought that the Skeleton Tank had a great fording capacity, and it was written that it was tested in the shallows of the river - but theres an actual picture of it being tested in the river! I think that is SO cool. And that data sheet, I have no idea where it came from, but the listed speed you always see for the Skeleton Tank is 5mph. I always thought it must have been faster, because it had a very good power to weight ratio. So, this data sheet says its top road speed was 8mph! That would make it the fastest US tank up until the Christie M1921. Pretty neat... Although I still think it could have gone faster. A Pioneer Tractor person said the tank could go between 10-15mph, and I have calculated that is fairly accurate given it's power and weight for that time period. But obviously, the only way to prove it would be to build an exact running replica and take it out for a spin.

At any rate. I was extremely stoked I got all this stuff.

And hey Tractor Experts! Any idea what that 20 ton "caterpillar tank built for the war" that the Winonans were expecting for roadwork services was...? I am guessing it was some sort of massive prime mover, but I didn't know of any 20 ton prime movers. That seems really big.

---Vil.

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
Permalink Closed

Very interesting about Wheelocks design being wheeled, Vikata, and the material you posted is fascinating stuff the Skeleton tank documents really are excellent! I would agree that with the power-to-weight ratio of the vehicle, 5mph really does seem low. The data sheet (where is it from? It looks like some kind of tatty official paper to me) says 8mph on roads, though it does also say 25mph across country, so perhaps it simply wasnt up to it on rough ground.


As for the road-rolling tank, well, I wouldnt trust the 20 ton figure as it comes from a newspaper, and we all know how accurate they can be! Especially as they were dealing with something quite novel, so for all we know they may have either genuinely misunderstood the true figure, or exaggerated it for effect. Without corroborative evidence, such as a mention of a specific vehicle and model type, I wouldnt rely too much on those reports.


Im also quite relieved to see you being critical of Wheelocks (and Lowes) claims, because I have to admit to having been quite irritated by the ARMOR article, which I felt to be rife with speculation and innuendo, and the newspaper reports, fascinating as they were, which were typical journalistic flimflammery. I didnt know Wheelocks design was wheeled (which really makes his claims absurd). However, even had Wheelock produced a tracked design, what of it? We all know that a motley assortment of inventors, engineers and military types came up with variously practical tracked designs or sketches, many before Lowe ever entered the scene on Wheelocks behalf in the spring of 1915.


You yourself mention Burstyn in 1911, and de Mole in 1912 (if anyone could have had a claim to having been ripped off it would have been de Mole, as his lozenge-shaped design came closest of anyone before the war to the actual rhomboidal tanks, but even he never claimed foul play, and there is no reason to suppose any). There was also Tullochs proposal to Vickers in early 1912.


As for Swinton being influenced, I dont see how, as he had himself been pondering armoured tracked vehicles since the autumn of 1914, many months before Lowes appearance at the War Office.


And if Wheelocks design was wheeled, I dont see how it could have borne any resemblance to the Mark I. It is important to remember that the distinguishing features of the Mark I, and its successors, were not so much merely that they were tracked, but: the rhomboidal form, a direct response to the operational requirements of trench-crossing and parapet-climbing, which were peculiar only to the conditions of the Western Front; the siting of the main armament in sponsons, which were not originally anticipated and only came about once it was realised that the all-around track produced a high vehicle, the stability of which would have been compromised by a turret (and that was dEyncourts contribution, as he had experience with sponsoned guns in warships); and the tracks, which were specially designed by Tritton when it was found that commercially available tracks were useless.


After all, the reason for the success of the British tanks was that they did not simply take a set of commercially available tracks, which had been around for some years before the war, and place an armoured body atop (unlike the French and Germans), which was the basis of most pre-war ideas. The shape, armament disposition and tracks of the British tanks were all completely new.


All in all, Wheelock and Lowes claims hold no water whatsoever.


While Im at it, Ill take a swipe at one thing in the ARMOR article that particularly annoyed me. It stated that Lowe (on Wheelocks behalf) visited the War Office in April 1915, where he presented his drawings to a Colonel Holden and a Major Wilson. The article then goes on to imply that this Major Wilson is the same Wilson, i.e. Walter Wilson, who collaborated with Tritton when designing the tank later on. Of course, whilst the article generously says that it is unlikely that Wilson stole Wheelocks design ideas, it nevertheless leaves the reader in no doubt of the implication. But I find this laughable (as well as insulting). Wilson was in the RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) at the time and mucking around with armoured cars in France. What on earth would a naval officer have been doing at the War Office? And Major is not a naval rank (which I would have thought the articles author, himself a Major, would have realised). Given that Wilson is a not uncommon name, is it beyond the bounds of credibility to suppose that the Major Wilson Lowe met was merely a Major Wilson, and not the Walter Wilson?


Right, rant over.



__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed


Vilkata wrote:



Little did he know that other people, such as DeMole, and Burstyn, had also created viable AFV designs that were overlooked and were never given credit. (
---Vil.




In fact I believe in 1919 Corp DeMole (by then Colonel DeMole) of the Australian Army submitted a claim to a committee responsible for allocating rewards for wartime inventions on the grounds that Tritton and Wilson had violated his patent even if they were not aware of it - his claim was recognised and he was made an award.

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
Permalink Closed

Indeed. As I recall, de Mole rather touchingly applied for only 40, to cover his expenses; an Australian official said he should really apply for 1,000, and he was awarded 987.

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
Permalink Closed

Vilkata, a possible solution to the '20 ton tractor' question:


http://mailer.fsu.edu/~akirk/tanks/UnitedStates/unarmored-halftracks/unarmored-half-tracks.html



The 20-ton version of the Holt half-track artillery tractor is seen here ready for issue to the Army. Although similar in appearance to the earlier 15-ton model, it was 21 feet long, weighed around 27,000 pounds, and had a 2,119 cubic inch, 120 horsepower six-cylinder engine which produced 15,500 pounds draw-bar pull in low range, 11,500 in high.  The maximum speed was the same as the 15-ton: 2.1 and 3.5 miles per hour... etc.


You can even buy a handbook for it:


005283 Handbook for 20-Ton Artillery Tractor Model 120 H.P. Holt July 1918, 232 pages, $173.80, 1 copy in stock


http://www.ploughbooksales.com.au/5.htm



-- Edited by Roger Todd at 17:46, 2005-12-15

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed


Roger Todd wrote:

It is important to remember that the distinguishing features of the Mark I, and its successors, were not so much merely that they were tracked, but: the rhomboidal form, a direct response to the operational requirements of trench-crossing and parapet-climbing, which were peculiar only to the conditions of the Western Front;.



In sopport I would add that the shape of the original (curved) rhomboid was very carefully calculated to provide the exactly same degree of ground contact as the big wheel design specifically because this had been calculated as necessary for a wheel big enough to cross trenches. Even DeMole etc didn't spot that one

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Wow! A 20 ton Holt! That is really cool. I had only heard of the 15 ton model.

A lot of the information in the ARMOR article is taken from a 1945 newspaper article that I also have. I did not scan it, however, because it is incredibly wrong. Many, many details are completely false, I can point out things that are wrong almost every paragraph. Like how the Skeleton Tank had two 100hp engines, etc etc... The author did not know what he was talking about. That is why I only scanned the older articles.

And as for the speed... The Skeleton tank, as we now know, could hit 8mph on roads.

The Whippet weighed 14 tons, had a combined total of 90 hp, and could hit 8mph.
The Skeleton weighed 8 tons, had a combined total of 100hp, and could hit only 8mph also???

I've been over this before... But I calculated the average efficiency of transmissions for all fielded tanks of WWI, and then plugged that number into the Skeleton Tank, and I came up with a top speed of around 12mph. If using the efficiency of a Fiat2000 transmission, we get around 8.3 mph. If we use the Whippet transmission, we get around 14.4 mph. Combine this with the fact that there is a statement by George West, a pioneer tractor employee, who stated that the tank had "a powerful gasoline engine and top speed of 10-15 mph". It did indeed have a powerful ammount of HP for it's size. I still strongly believe that West was right, it was between 10-15.

However, perhaps the reason that document claims 8mph, is because if they were afraid the tank would fall apart at max speed, as with Centurions claims. I am sure there is a huge history of combat vehicles having their speeds regulated for presumed safety reasons.

---Vil.

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed

I think track design may also need to be taken into account as this together with suspension could also affect performance. It probably is too simple to compare weight and engine power alone. Looking at some of the photos in this thread the track run along the top of the skeleton looks somewhat loose and saggy and one wonders if going too fast with this might not cause problems. At the same time the track contact with the ground is very flat and I believe that on the British MK V* this caused steering problems (hence the Mk V** in an attempt to overcome this). Such steering problems would probably be exacerbated with an increased speed so performance might have been deliberately limited to avoid this.

-- Edited by Centurion at 21:50, 2005-12-15

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

The main reason those tanks had such a horrendous time steering was because they were simply too long. The longer you make the tracks the less easy it is to make it turn.

And I am not just looking at HP and Weight and trying to get meaningful information from that. I have calculated the efficiencies of the transmissions themselves. That is why I said a Skeleton Tank with a Whippet transmission could go around 14mph, theoretically.

The MK I II III IV V British tanks all had an incredibly measly surface contact area, and this meant that they could turn fairly well on flat ground, but it also meant that the entire vehicle would be bobbing around like a ship when under way.

---Vil.

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed


Vilkata wrote:

The main reason those tanks had such a horrendous time steering was because they were simply too long. The longer you make the tracks the less easy it is to make it turn.

---Vil.




So why go to the trouble of producing the Mk V**? Same length as the V* but with the curve reinstated?

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

I know when I can no longer argue a point - I have no idea Centurion. My books claim that the major differences between the V* and V** was that a change in commanders cupola, and the new Ricardo 225hp engine.

My guess... Would be that, the length of the tracks were clearly the reason the vehicle was so unmaneuverable. So, they re-instated the curved-tracks, so that only a short span was actually in ground contact. In this way, the V** would have the same trench crossing capacity of the V*, but when driving on roads, it would be far more maneuverable. In essence, on a flat road, the V** would turn as nimbly as a tank 1/3 of its length. Just speculation though, don't whip me!

---Vil.

__________________


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Ok, back on track!

Even more I just got in the mail!

Apparently the Skeleton Tank was the star attraction of a Nov 11, 1918 Winona victory celebration. Apparently the Mayor rode in it!! One would think there would be lots of pictures from such an event...

Apparently a guy named William B. Stout designed the Ford Trimotor airplane, a host of other things, and helped the Pioneer Tractor Co.. Interesting. The article says that he was developing the 'first armored combat tank'... You know how Winonans took Wheelocks claims completely too far. He was more than likely just working there when they were developing the Skeleton Tank.

And "Winona Sees Spidertank", which clearly has a few issues... "The only other man required for the spider tank sits at the rear of the gunner and has control of the motor." ... The tanks turret was at the rear of the fighting compartment. So clearly that statement should be reversed. One should never fully trust these newspaper articles (or newspapers in general, even today!). But, nevertheless, these articles are SUPER cool!

---Vil.

Attachments
__________________


Hero

Status: Offline
Posts: 837
Date:
Permalink Closed

Thanks Vilkata, Those are some very interesting articles.


All the Best


Tim R.



__________________
"The life given us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal"
-Cicero 106-43BC


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
Permalink Closed

Those are excellent, Vilkata! I love the tone of the writing, breathless and constantly harping on every Winona connection they can find, brilliantly provincial!

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed

I said I'd follow this up when I got home and could access my library and notes. 1st Installement as follows:


T don't know were the Aberdeen Proving ground got the idea that the tank was ordered in quantity I quote the following (my own annotations are in italics)


From US Armor-Cavalry A short history 1917-1967  Duncan Crow 1973


 


"the tank and its possibilities were the studied in great detail by several committees reporting to a board at the A.E.F (American Expeditionary Force) G.H.Q.


 


Based on these recommendations the Project for the Overseas Tank Corps was drafted. The Corps was to consist of five heavy tank battalions equipped with tanks of the British heavy type and twenty light tank battalions equipped with tanks of the French light Renault F T type (then in production). Pershing approved the Project on September 23 1917.


By this time several experimental tanks had been built by American companies, and others had been proposed by American inventor. In the event none of these became the equipment for the new American tank force (pictures of the Holt Gas Electric and the Skeleton are shown at this point in the text).  Instead, for the heavy tank, the British Mark VI (still under design) was proposed and 600 were provisionally ordered (this was later substituted by an order for the MK VIII International); and for the light tank a modified Renault (the 6 ton tank) was to be produced in the United States"


 


From Tanks and Armoured Vehicles1900 1945  Col Robert J Icks USAR


 


"The most unfortunate side of our (US) wartime program of tank production was the lack of coordination between the arrangements made overseas and in this country  (the USA) While the ambitious tank program previously mentioned was being arranged in Europe by the A.E.F. , other agencies in the United States were busy designing tanks for use in France. Much of the mechanical experience gained by the Allies was ignored, practically all the models put forth were of mediocre design and foredoomed to failure. And therefore any labour which would have assisted in the tank program planned by the A.E.F. thus was diverted" (he then goes on in several paragraphs to detail the Holt Gas Electric, the Steam Tank, the Holt Thee Wheeled Steam Tank and the Skeleton Tank as those to which he is referring).



So unless there was another US Tank force being built I can't see what an order for the Skeleton would be for.


My notes indicate the reasons for possible failutes in the structure of the Skeleton which also indicate possible reasons for a speed restriction - as follows.



A number of texts (including The Fighting Tanks  by Jones Rarry and Icks, describe the Skeleton tank as being constructed from domestic iron pipes with a wooden framework. In the enclosed blow up one can see the wood actually rotting and having broken up in places. There appears to be no suspension for the running wheels.  I was fortunate enough to be educated in a British Grammar-Tech (a short lived post war experiment intended to produce literate scientists and engineers) I know therefore from what I was taught that such pipes are cast. Whilst cast iron is very strong in compression (and therefore good for withstanding pressure) its relatively high carbon content (when compared to pure iron) makes it very brittle (unlike cast steel  which has a lower carbon content). This is why when there is a need to use iron that is likely to need to withstand sharp shocks such as blows wrought iron is preferred. Col Icks in that excellent 1930s publication The Fighting Tanks devotes a chapter to the need for suspension and provides some calculations to illustrate the high impact on a tank of running over even quite a small object (such as a rock) on a hard surface at any speed much above 2 4 miles per hour. I would conclude that this shock would be likely to cause fractures in wrought iron pipes especially when experienced at an angle as it would be with a shock running vertically into the threaded section of a join which could sheer the threads. This would explain the need to keep the Skeleton Tanks running speed down. Had it been fitted with adequate suspension the effect may have been less.


 



-- Edited by Centurion at 16:20, 2005-12-18

Attachments
skeleton2.jpg (175.1 kb)
__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Well perhaps I will just have to email or write the Aberdeen Proving Ground and see if they can give me facts as to when and how the Skeleton Tank was ordered.

In your texts, they say that the Americans opted for the Mk.VIII eventually, aswell was the M1917. What about the Ford 3 Ton? There is ample proof that they were going to be produced en masse, as light support tanks, and armed artillery movers.

And again, the Skeleton Tank still exists. All of the pipe is in fine shape. I remember hearing somewhere that the museum restoration people were gladly amazed that the pipe structure had held up so well.

And, when you show pictures of the wood cracking and splitting, for one thing you have no idea when those pictures were taken. The Skeleton Tank was rotting in a field for a very very long time. And, furthermore, the splitting wood does not matter in the slightest. At all. All of that wood was merely meant to help keep the tracks unfouled. There was no other purpose. That is why it is wood, and not metal. It was meant to save weight, and be easy to replace. The entire tank was meant to be repaired in the field with a limited ammount of technical skill.

And you say "if the americans had the VIII, and the M1917, why would they need the skeleton tank?" The skeleton tank was cheap, pretty well armored, and had a trench crossing capacity far better than the M1917.

All of your arguments are heresay. "In the one picture the tracks look floppy, I bet it shed its tracks easily. In that pic the wood is splintered, I bet it was terrible cross country because of its un-sprung tracks. In my book an order for them was never specifically mentioned therefore it must not be true." When you told me that the pipes broke easily, that the tracks shed easily, I was figuring you would pull out a wonderous little book I had never heard of and enlighten me - but you are just guessing.

---Vil.

__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed

Vilkata wrote:



Well perhaps I will just have to email or write the Aberdeen Proving Ground and see if they can give me facts as to when and how the Skeleton Tank was ordered. In your texts, they say that the Americans opted for the Mk.VIII eventually, aswell was the M1917. What about the Ford 3 Ton? There is ample proof that they were going to be produced en masse, as light support tanks, and armed artillery movers. And again, the Skeleton Tank still exists. All of the pipe is in fine shape. I remember hearing somewhere that the museum restoration people were gladly amazed that the pipe structure had held up so well. And, when you show pictures of the wood cracking and splitting, for one thing you have no idea when those pictures were taken. The Skeleton Tank was rotting in a field for a very very long time. And, furthermore, the splitting wood does not matter in the slightest. At all. All of that wood was merely meant to help keep the tracks unfouled. There was no other purpose. That is why it is wood, and not metal. It was meant to save weight, and be easy to replace. The entire tank was meant to be repaired in the field with a limited ammount of technical skill. And you say "if the americans had the VIII, and the M1917, why would they need the skeleton tank?" The skeleton tank was cheap, pretty well armored, and had a trench crossing capacity far better than the M1917. All of your arguments are heresay. "In the one picture the tracks look floppy, I bet it shed its tracks easily. In that pic the wood is splintered, I bet it was terrible cross country because of its un-sprung tracks. In my book an order for them was never specifically mentioned therefore it must not be true." When you told me that the pipes broke easily, that the tracks shed easily, I was figuring you would pull out a wonderous little book I had never heard of and enlighten me - but you are just guessing. ---Vil.



No not guessing


first.  Apart from the plaque at Aberdeen there is no record of the Skeleton being ordered in any number (unless U can prove different. but there are details of specific orders placed for heavy and light tanks. The order for the Mk VIIIs for example is actually enshrined in an international treaty. Yes the little Ford tank was ordered in some numbers but much later. There just isn't room for a big Skeleton order - who is going to use it? Col Icks was one of the leading US proponents of the use of Armour after WW1 and if he is saying in the 30's that the Skeleton wasn't a goer then I would tend to believe him.
second. you miss my point about the wood. I pointed out the rot just to prove the point (documented elsewhere) that is was WOOD! Cast iron and wood does not make a very stout framework (and certainly not one able to stand up to gunfire). Most tank designers prefer steel. Believe me I have some knowledge of the characteristics of cast iron and it is just not suitable - leave it in a field and it will last for eons, treat it to shocks and it will shatter, especially the thinner elements such as screw threads. Thats why railway engineers moved to steel as soon as it was economic. Have Aberdeen given their restored skeleton a good cross country run? I think not.
Lastly I think the sarrcasim about the book a bit of a cheap shot. Note the heading of my last entry - first installment. Given that I only got home from a trip away late last night I thought I'd responded pretty damn quickly. My notes do refer to a pre WW2 book, I just don't have a copy myself not being able to afford every volume available, but I do think that I can lay hands on a copy in the next week or two (everything takes longer around about Christmas) - watch this space.


 



-- Edited by Centurion at 21:06, 2005-12-18

__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions


Hero

Status: Offline
Posts: 837
Date:
Permalink Closed

Ok Guys, This is a friendly forum, I know we all disagree sometimes, But we dont need harsh words, and sarcasm. I would like to see this thread keep going since I have a fascination with the Skeleton Tank as well. But unless my friends you calm down, I will have to do some heavy editing, or delete this thread all together.


All The Best


Tim R.



__________________
"The life given us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal"
-Cicero 106-43BC


Brigadier

Status: Offline
Posts: 279
Date:
Permalink Closed

Centurion, I am sorry if I sounded like a creep in my previous post. And Tim, sorry for you having to get ready to flex your moderating muscle. Centurion, you have added immensely to many threads on this forum and I meant you no disrespect. I think we may be misunderstanding eachother.

I got a bit frustrated because, for one, a lot of books I have make absolutely no mention of the orders for the Ford 3 Man Tank, and that is well documented. The problem with its center of gravity was only realised afterwards as I understand. Also, the US Engineer Corps Steam Tank was actually in France before the Armistice. There is a newspaper article describing the event, and how the gigantic behemoth (the largest tank actually completed in WWI, both by dimensions and weight) was being tested there. Presumably, as the biggest US war vehicle then in operation, it was christened The America. Most books dont have any of that information. I merely think that just because no book I know of makes note of the Skeleton Tank orders, it does not mean it did not happen. Furthermore, you say that yes, the 3 Ton was ordered, but much later. What does that mean? As I understand it, it was ordered in massive quanity before the Armistice - and cancelled after the armistice. "It was planned to put the Ford Tank into mass-production 15,015 vehicles being ordered. However, only 15 of these were built before all orders were cancelled after the armistice." from Tanks Of the World by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis.

Tim! You contact the Aberdeen people every now and then, do you think you could try and put this to rest? Was the Skeleton Tank ordered or not? I would find it hard to believe that Aberdeen would print an unsubstatiated lie on the memorial plaque.

Furthermore, I think you misunderstand the role the wood played on the skeleton tank... It was not part of the frame - although I hesitate, as I do know know exactly what you would call it... It served no structural support purpose, as "frame" would imply. That wood was there to try and keep mud out of the running gear. It could get shot up, lit on fire, blown apart, splintered, etc, and it would not really matter (except, obviously, the tracks would get fouled and the vehicle would shed its tracks much easier). Furthermore (fact) Wheelock designed the tank to withstand pipes being destroyed. He had figured that, because of the skeletal frame, it would be much harder to knock out integral parts of the tank, and even if the enemy did manage to destroy a few pipes, it would not seriously affect the performance of the tank, and the pipes could be refitted afterwards. So clearly Wheelock knew the limitations of the iron pipe, but because it was so cheap and easy to build with, he worked around these problems.

Again, you say you are going to post material from a book you own, and I look forward to that. I am just trying to make the point that, some problems can be blown out of proportions. As Tim found out, the Holt 3 Wheel Steam Tank would get stuck in ditches - but after a while of building up steam in its boilers, it could wrench itself free. Likewise, I can imagine that even if your book says that pipes were not up to stopping bullets, the wood was easily destroyed - etc, it does not mean the tank was not succesful. All of that was designed to happen.

And of course, I am a bit defenive of this tank, as I do absolutely love the design. My mind often wanders thinking of a modern day version of this tank. I think that, from what I presume to be true about this design, it would have been the best light tank of WWI.

Again, no exuses Centurion - Im sorry for being a jerk. Sorry to you too Tim! This forum is an almost magical place of learning and I would not like our misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or me being a jerk, get in the way of that.

---Vil.

P.S. Centurion, you know leagues about this stuff. What do you know about the Holt HA36 'Baby Tank'? I understand it was built as a promotional gimick for General Swintons visit to Stockton California - but other claims have it that Holt actually offered the design to the military as a one-man tank. Which seems absurd to me! I rejected that notion, until I came across an old 1918 issue of Popular Mechanics, with a painting of HA36s supported by infantry attacking German lines, with the caption "The One Man Tank."... I ordered this issue off of Ebay to see exactly what it is about, but it has not arrived yet. The tank was indeed originally built as a promitional gimmick/joke, but herhaps Holt offered it as a viable design afterwards...? I will read the Popular Mechanics issue, and scan the relevant pages and post them on here when it arrives.
http://i10.ebayimg.com/04/i/05/b9/f1/70_1.JPG


__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 1382
Date:
Permalink Closed

Well, I think when a lot of enthusiasts get together, passions can run away, but at least there are sensible mods here with a proper sense of proportion who will gently knock heads and get us back on track!


Be warned about writing to Aberdeen - I did ages ago about the Big Bertha, and it was months before I received, in fairly rapid succession, two contradictory replies from different people!


Nevertheless, it would be nice to find out more about the Skeleton Tank. Being honest, I'm rather sceptical as to its abilities, but it's certainly a fascinating design and I shall enjoy anything dug up about it.



__________________


Legend

Status: Offline
Posts: 2332
Date:
Permalink Closed

Pax Vilkata


I guess part of the problem is that I've been reading and reaserching a long time. Sometimes you read something in a library, and make some notes. Then years later the subject comes up and you can't find the original reference. It seems that I jotted down my reference to the Skeleton in passing when I was trying to find some pictures or drawings for the Fiat 2000 model (which I must recover from storage and photo) and as the book didn't contain anything on the Italian tank I didn't record the book itself. I do know which Library but I now live 100 miles away. I hope to be in the vicinity in the New Year and plan to see if the bok is still in its reference files (Annoyingly I can remember what it looks like but not the title but then I've always had a visual memory).


I think the reason why no contract reference is made to the three ton order in some of the books I have is that they seem to regard the 3 ton not so much as a tank but as a weapons carrier, tractor and general armoured utility vehicle (much like the Universal carriers of WW2). As such I suspect any contract would not be seen as part of the AEF tank force project and so not refered to in this context. In various places Icks is very scathing about the degree of uncordination back in the US regarding tank development so its possible that someone somewhere did order the skeleton and was then deemed out of order. Of course its possible that those friendly newspaper guys  raised the idea about the same time that they claimed the invention of the tank.


Somewhere I've seen a photo of Swinton posing with the little Holt Baby which would suggest the publicity phot theory is correct. Being only powered by a motorcycle engine I doubt if it could carry a man a gun and armour. Might make a good little remote demolition vehicle like the WW2 Goliath.


Re the Steam tank I did theorise about some of the problems it might encounter in an as yet unpublished book. I was interested to pick up another publication only yesterday that shared at least one of my doubts (nothing to do with being stuck in trenches). I'll write this up and post in a seperate thread.



__________________
aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions
Page 1 of 1  sorted by
 
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to Del.icio.us


Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard