Monday, 2 September 2013

World of Tanks: Today in History: "Tank Wings"

At the start of the Great Patriotic War, a series of aviation engineering bureaus received orders to develop gliders. One of the engineers working on that task was O. Antonov. In 1941, he proposed an idea of a tank with wings. The tank would be towed behind an airplane, then detach 20-25 km before its target, silently approach, land, remove the wings, and enter battle.

Antonov's project received the name KT ("Krylya Tanka", "Tank Wings"). The TB-3 bomber was used to tow a lightened version of the T-60 tank. A biplane glider with an 18 meter wingspan was developed for this task, named A-40.

KT's tests began in Moscow in the end of August of 1942. At first, the tank was simply accelerated on the landing strip to 110-116 kph, to see if the suspension would endure such speeds. Then, a few flights at minimal height, to test the controls.

The first real flights happened on September 2nd. It turned out that the TB-3 is insufficiently powerful for towing the glider at a height of more than 40 meters. An attempt to increase speed led to loss of height at a rate of about 0.5 m/s. The pilot decided to drop the glider at the nearest airport. The nearest was the airstrip at Bykhino. The glider pilot, S. Anohin, began his descent.

Administrative services did not communicate that such a strange apparatus will be landing. Seeing a winged tank aiming for the landing strip, the airport director ordered AA guns to ready. The tank, mean while, successfully landed, dropped its wings, and drove straight for the command center. As soon as Anohin exited the tank, he was detained.

Due to a lack of a sufficiently powerful airplane and cancellation of the T-60, work on the KT stopped.

Original article available here.

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