Sunday, 16 November 2014

World of Tanks History Section: Flying Elephant

Englishman William Tritton must have had a well developed sense of humour to call his creation a "Flying Elephant".

The reason for its creation were the deficiencies of the Mark I tanks, discovered after their use in battle. Despite the panic that they caused at the Somme in September of 1916, the first British tanks were far from technical perfection. Additionally, once the Germans recovered from the initial shock, they discovered that the tanks can be penetrated not only by cannon fire, but by large caliber bullets.

Tritton had a choice: correct the deficiencies of the Mark I or create a brand new vehicle. He chose the second path. By December, a new tank project was ready and presented to the military.

The tank was very modern for its time. It would have had real anti-shell armour: 76 mm in the front, 51 on the sides and rear. Furthermore, Tritton developed a brand new suspension for his "Flying Elepant", which included two additional tracks underneath the tank. These tracks would increase the vehicle's performance on soft terrain. The tracks were positioned on the side of the tank, and not hugging the entire hull like on the rhombus tanks, and were covered in armour.

The tank would have been armed with a 57 mm gun, located in the front. A similar approach was later taken with assault guns. Aside from the main gun, the tank would have 4-6 7.7 mm Lewis machineguns, placed on the sides and the rear.

Foreign historians insist that the Flying Elephant had two types of hulls developed for it, one with a hemispherical front, and the other with a curved vertical front, with the aforementioned gun installed in it.

The crew would consist of 8-10 men, which was the norm at the time. The military did not accept the vehicle. It was too heavy, complicated, and expensive. Many components would have had to be developed anew. Since Mark IV and Mark V tanks reached production by December of 1916, the Flying Elephant had no future.

Original article available here

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