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Post Info TOPIC: Steam Wheeled Tank


Captain

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Steam Wheeled Tank
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The Steam 3-Wheeled Tank remains the most mysterious tank built in the US in World War I. Here's a couple of new pieces to the puzzle. I found a second photo of the pilot sitting at APG in the mid 1920s at NARA. Unfortunately, it is from the rear rather than the front which is already relatively well understood from the previous photo. To further add to the confusion. This page from an Ordnance report on wartime tanks indicates it was armed with two 6 pdr. guns plus two MG plus adding a few small details.

 

Steam A.jpgSteam B.jpg



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Legend

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Steve, the second photo is the front view. Have a look here: https://landships.activeboard.com/t63071117/the-steam-wheel-tank-a-wikipedia-problem-help-needed/

In your top photo here, the caption says "Front View" and describes the steam-powered "driving wheels."



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Major

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I believe the caption is wrong when it says 'Dooble Boiler' - It should read as 'Doble boiler' as Doble were a maker of steam plant and vehicles


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General

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The idea that the small wheel should be the front of the tank just does not make sense - it would fall in a hole or ditch and it would not be able to get out of it without reversing.

The small wheel has a skid plate in front of it - similar to the Renault FT has at the rear.  Again, if the small wheel was at the front, the plate would dig into the side of any hole larger than the wheel.  If the "Tsar" tank couldn't pull its small rear wheel out of a ditch, imagine the problems with a small wheel at the front.  With all the louvres being at the "front" of the tank, the engines' cooling would have been susceptible to enemy fire.

With the 6 pdrs being mounted in sponsons, the large front face would have given enough space for the driver, commander, and gunners to be able to see and be seated, while if the driver was seated in reverse of that, his view would be severely limited, especially for objects causing a threat of ditching with the "front" wheel.

The sponsons certainly do not look big enough for a 6 pdr - look at the cylinder diameter on the British tanks.  

At the moment I'm trying to create accurate drawings of the Seabrook Armoured Lorry - some of the "official" dimensions are just plain wrong, as are the two drawings available - but all that will be the subject of another post.

The main point is that articles are frequently written by people with no technical knowledge or are plagiarising other's work containing errors which are not apparent to them.

IMHO, the large wheels must be at the front.



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Legend

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The "front" wheel does seem counterintuitive, and, if pictures of it can be trusted, the Treffaswagen would seem to support the tadpole configuration. However, the delta configuration didn't stop them experimenting with the Holt 60 and the Killen-Strait.

In addition, in U.S. Military Tracked Vehicles, Fred Crismon says of this vehicle, in 1992:

"The machine shown here has presented an enigma to everyone who has tried to reasearch it. It was wheeled, but was omitted from the previously published U.S. Military Wheeled Vehicles due to the fact that it was a tank (Was it? - Ed). Although it was built by the Holt Tractor Company in 1918, the extensive archives held today by Caterpillar do not include any other views, although these records do refer to it as the "150 Ton Field Monitor." It has been generally assumed that a rear view is seen here, and that the large steel driving wheels were at the front. However, Mr. Louis Neumiller, a former Chairman of the Board at Caterpillar, remembers the vehicle undergoing tests and says the small wheels were at the front, farm tractor style. Regardless of which way was forward, it only moved about 50 feet in testing before it got bogged down. Each of the 8 foot tall driving wheels ws individually powered by a 2 cylinder double acting Doble steam engine. Each engine had a Doble-type boiler, and a large Holt radiator was behind the vertical louvers, acting as a condensor for the system."

I wasn't around in 1918 and "Louie" B. Neumiller hasn't been around since 1989, so we have to rely on the word of someone who seems to have spoken to an eye-witness.

Let us also consider the following:

The U.S. Ordnance Department description states specifically that the small wheel is the front view. If it is, then the vehicle is facing the same way as the Skeleton Tank in the background, and the howitzer on its plinth has been arranged in the way you would if you were laying out a display - with eveything facing the observer.

Another way of looking at the skid on the small wheels is that it's not the equivalent of the skid on the FT but the equivalent of the avant-bec on the Schneider CA, its purpose to ride over and crush barbed wire.

There is no sign of any armament any of the photographs of the vehicle, so it might have been merely notional.

We don't know what the other face was like, so whether it could accommodate the 6-pdrs is speculation. We know that the tank was about 22 feet long, 10ft high, and 10ft wide, so maybe. And the supposed "louvers" appear to be bolted onto something, forming a solid, protective surface with, according to Neumiller, a large Holt radiator behind it.

So on the one hand we have what some would describe as common sense suggesting that the small wheel must have been at the rear, but on the other, two primary sources stating plainly that they were at the front.

Another curious aspect: if the Ordnance and the Chairman of Caterpillar are wrong, and the photos with which we are familiar are all of the rear, isn't it odd that there are, therefore, as far as I'm aware, no photos of the front? It's strange. The tendency seems to be overwhelmingly to photograph the business end of tanks, but here it is put to us that only photos of the back end survive. I would have thought it would be vice-versa.

BTW, Crismon's claim that this was also known as the "150 Ton Field Monitor" is puzzling. That never got off the drawing board. Perhaps there is some confusion caused by the fact that the Steam Wheeled Tank was 150 B.H.P., or has he confused the two vehicles?

I hope this examination of the facts is sufficiently forensic.

 



-- Edited by James H on Tuesday 29th of October 2019 05:49:59 PM

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"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.

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