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Post Info TOPIC: The Steam Tank possible problems


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The Steam Tank possible problems
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A litle while ago I said that I had developed some doubts about the possible effectiveness of the Steam Tank and that I'd post these. The following is an extract from a book of mine (covering a much wider period than WW1 and all arms, its currently under consideration with a publisher).

In 1917 the US Corps of Engineers stepped in with their own design known as the Steam Tank. This used all round tracks like the British heavy tanks. The real differences lay in its propulsion and armament. It was powered by a steam engine with a kerosene (paraffin) heated boiler and armed with a flamethrower. The logic of the use of steam had been that the pressure from the boiler could provide the necessary force to project the fire from the flamethrower (which was intended to knock out German bunkers and pill boxes). This proved impractical and so a secondary petrol (gasoline) engine was provided for the flamethrower. The result was that within the hull was contained:


  • A pressurised steam boiler

  • Burners producing flames to heat the boiler

  • A fuel tank containing kerosene

  • A fuel tank containing petrol

  • A fuel tank containing the highly volatile flamethrower fuel

 A single bullet penetrating the hull could cause mayhem and turn the interior into an inferno. If the Schneider had been dangerous to its crew the Steam Tank would have been a lethal nightmare. World War II flame throwing tanks usually kept the fuel for the flamethrower in an armoured reservoir outside the hull (and the very successful Churchill Crocodile towed its flame fuel in an armoured trailer). None of them had to contend with the complications of steam boilers and burners.


Off course  freely admit that thuis is speculative view on my part but I note from 'The Tank Data Book'  by Ian Hogg one that is shared by others. Any comments folks?

aka Robert Robinson Always mistrust captions

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the temperature would also probably exceed human living conditions, it would be come like a owen if all the engines and falmethrower would be used, a conventional mk.IV had awfully hot temperatures inside, the steam tank would simply be impractical. I wonder how the protoype fared when it was tested, and the temperature that would be reached inside



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Problem is, is that we don't know where the tanks were located. The vehicle was -enormous-, it was the largest tracked AFV actually completed in WWI. There was ample room inside to put the engines in a seperate compartment, and put the fuel stores inside heavily armored compartments aswell. Perhaps the US Engineers had already thought of these problems. Or, perhaps, they didn't and the tank would have been doomed to failure.

All we can really do is speculate saying things "could have" happened, or "might have" happened in the event of combat.

It really makes me wish definitive blueprints for this awesome monster could be found!


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