Landships II

Members Login
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Caterpillar G9 and Other Early U.S. Tank Matters - Wonderful Book


Status: Offline
Posts: 3727
Caterpillar G9 and Other Early U.S. Tank Matters - Wonderful Book

This is an absolute gem. "Briefly Famous: The 1917 Caterpillar G9 Tank" by Jack Alexander. Paperback, A4 or thereabouts, 53 pages.

The main, and best, part of this excellent book is about American reaction to news of the first British tanks and the various machines that were constructed to represent them. Although the attack at Flers was reported in the newspapers, just as in Britain there were no photographs to show what the tanks looked like. The American press, therefore, knowing that caterpillar tractors, probably Holts, were in some way involved, speculated that the tanks were simply armoured bodies mounted on Holt machines, and published numerous "artist's impressions" of them. Manufacturers joined them, creating mock-ups to be used for recruiting, advertising, training, and  propaganda.

The book has a lot of photographs, some familiar but plenty new (to me), and a wealth of contemporary newspaper reports about the machines' appearances. There is coverage of the making of the film Patria, in which the battle scene took 3 weeks to film, involving nearly 3,000 men, several artillery batteries, 25 airplanes, and "one armored tractor or 'tank'". Although it looks as if the film hasn't survived, the book shows a still that appeared in a local paper, clearly showing the Caterpillar G9 in action. It goes on to explain that the US Army conducted genuine trials with the vehicle, during which it overturned. The author also disputes Tim Rigby's claim that there were 2 G9s

It proves me wrong about the film clip mentioned here: , featuring the other Best Tracklayer. It isn't from Patria. It would, though, seem to be from a mock battle staged outside San Francisco in June 1917.

Later in the book are mentions of the Holt-Gas Electric, the Steam Wheel, the Skeleton, the US-built Newton Cargo Carriers, the M17, the Hamilton, the Ford Two- and Three-Man, the Tracklaying Steam Tank, the Wickersham Land Torpedo, and the MK VIII. Even though most of these are well-known, there's a fair bit of additional information on more than one of them.

There are six pages on the complicated story of what has come to be called "Scat the Kaiser", and there's also something that answers some questions but raises more: the curious (and rather unclear) matter of the "1916 Bullock Creeping Grip Tank Proposal," a design apparently submitted by Bullock to the British government in October, 1916. It actually seems to be the "Alligator Car" discussed here that somehow found its way onto the US Tank Corps' buttons.

A couple of minor quibbles: There's a brief background on the development of British tanks that is a bit garbled and gives Swinton a prominence with which only he would agree. There's a bit of a mix-up between the Studebaker Newton and the Studebaker Tank, and the French only get a mention on the very last page.

But apart from that, this book is amazing. I think it says it all that in 53 pages there are twenty photographs and drawings that I had never seen before.

The price is a remarkable $7.95 (just over £5 or 7 euros) plus postage, and it's printed in the UK so it arrived with me in 72 hours.

The front cover is shown below.


One final thing: it seems that the G9 fooled not only the American and French press. The back cover of the book is a reproduction of the front page of a German motoring magazine from Spring 1918. A bit surprising that they had time for such idle puursuits in the circumstances, but the magazine saw fit to show the G9 on the cover, in a picture presumably copied from Le Miroir.


-- Edited by James H on Friday 7th of August 2015 01:01:40 PM


"Sometimes things that are not true are included in Wikipedia. While at first glance that may appear like a very great problem for Wikipedia, in reality is it not. In fact, it's a good thing." - Wikipedia.


Status: Offline
Posts: 142


Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to

Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard