Sunday, 20 July 2014

World of Tanks: Today in History: First Russian Tank

On July 20th, 1915, a Russian engineer named A.A. Porokhshikov arranged for the first demonstration of the "Vezdekhod" vehicle, which is now considered one of the first prototypes of a Russian tank.

As all tank projects of the early 20th century, the Vezdekhod had little in common with modern vehicles. It was a small tankette with an aerodynamic shape, which propelled itself with the aid of a wide strip of rubberized fabric stretched over rotating drums. The engine power was only 10 hp, but due to the vehicle's small mass (3.5 tons), it could reach speeds of up to 25 kph.

The July 20th trials showed that the vehicle did not measure up to Porokhovshikov's calculations. The fabric strip tore and slipped off its drums, the turning mechanisms were so weak that the driver needed to push off with a pole to maneuver, and the low cabin was too small for even one person. 

As the fabric strip proved unusable, Porokhovshikov abandoned it, and used a wheel and track design. The suspension was novel as well. The Vezdekhov would travel on roads using its front wheels and the rear sprockets of the tracks. To clear obstacles, the tank could "lie down" on the tracks entirely.

The tank's drawbacks were never fully resolved, and the vehicle did not make it to mass production. Nevertheless, the Vezdekhod was a novel design for its time. It was the first to use friction clutch turning mechanisms, a convertible drive (if in an unusual form), and armament in a rotating turret.

Original article available here

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