Wednesday 17 September 2014

Tendencies of British Tank Building

Barykov's report on his presence in England jumps back and forth between his assessment of British tanks as a whole and Straussler's tank in particular. This article will deal with the general assessment, and another will deal with the specific vehicle.

"Short report in addition to the report sent by the director of the Experimental Kirov Factory, Engineer N.V. Barykov, on the trip to England

During my presence in England, I inspected the following:
  1. 4.5 ton Carden-Lloyd tank.
  2. 8 ton Vickers tank.
  3. Straussler tank.
  4. Engines:
    1. Armstrong-Siddeley 90 hp.
    2. Blueprints for 180 and 350 hp engines from the same company.
    3. S. Thomas engine.
    4. Rudstopp ship diesel.
    5. Perkins diesel.
    6. AES engines.
  5. Factories: AES, Armstrong-Siddeley, Porkino, a diesel factory in Coventry, a Ford factory.
  6. Automotive factory in Olimpia, Milden-Hall airfield (during England-Austria flight).
After inspecting Vickers tanks, viewing video reels, and talking to engine manufacturers and engineer Straussler, it can be said that the following vehicles are used in the English army:
  1. 4.5 ton tank with a 90 hp water cooled Meadows engine, with a maximum speed of 65 kph on a good English highway.
  2. 8 ton Vickers tank with a 90 hp Armstrong-Siddeley engine, known to us.
  3. 16 ton tank with a 180 hp Armstrong-Siddeley engine with a maximum speed of 45 kph, armed with a 37 mm gun and two machineguns.
  4. 8 ton Vickers tank with one turret and a 120-130 hp Rolls-Royce engine, with a speed around 40-45 kph.
According to Captain Lloyd, this last vehicle is experimental, although work on it has been going on for 1.5 years. Lloyd said that the manufacturer wants to change the cooling system, remove the oil cooler, change the air intake system, and in general alter the prototype for another 1.5 years.

The suspension of the Vickers/Rolls-Royce vehicle is of interest, being the Vickers 6 ton suspension, but significantly more robust. The road wheels increased in size and are completely metallic, and the number of springs has increased to 14. Due to the Rolls-Royce engine, the vehicle is supposed to be simple and reliable. It would seem that some components still need work. During the trials I observed, the rim of an idler burst, which led to the track breaking off.

I already wrote that the engine is shifted to the side, and, due to this, a hatch can be made in the rear of the turret platform for the crew to exit through during a forced stop on the battlefield. 

Aside from the aforementioned vehicles, there is a tank with an air cooled 120 hp Armstrong-Siddeley engine. It is top secret and undergoing trials at the Woolwich arsenal. No characteristics of this vehicle are known. It cannot even be said if the vehicle has a convertible drive or travels on tracks only.

There is a heavy tank, a five turret Vickers, 32-35 tons, with a 350 hp engine. Judging by the engine factory, there is a very small number of these tanks.
Main tendencies in English tank-building:
  1. The fight for reliability. This is achieved by maximal simplification of the design. As a rule, English vehicles run only on tracks. Inside the tanks, unlike in ours, there is a minimal amount of armament, ammunition, and various mechanisms. English tanks cannot be called universal.
  2. Pursuit of high speeds, even at the cost of armour.
  3. Presence of a power reserve in proportion to the weight of the vehicle. It appears that this rule only applies up to 16 tons.
The lack of many auxiliary components makes the tank roomy and comfortable for the driver and crew. I think that the question of equipping our tanks can be revisited with the objective of freeing them from unnecessary parts. 
Having visited the car show, I noticed that many vehicles had an engine in the rear. These chassis are ready for armouring. If the engine is in the rear, it is possible to place the crew, ammunition, and armament in the front.

Out of vehicles with front engines, the following are of interest:
  • Citroen vehicle, completely original. Each of the four wheels has an independent suspension. This vehicle can drive over rough terrain while retaining horizontal hull positioning, which is important for firing on the move. This suspension can be used for armoured cars and tankettes. Straussler's armoured car includes all the elements of the Citroen car in its suspension. Additionally, the Citroen vehicle has a very low center of gravity, which makes it very stable. The car costs 450 Pound Sterling, and can serve as a prototype for developing a series of Citroen improvements domestically.
  • The other two vehicles, Singer and Austin, solve the issue of hydraulically disengaging the main clutch and synchronized gearboxes, which can automatically change the gear of a vehicle depending on terrain. These vehicles are inexpensive, costing only 250 Pound Sterling apiece. Purchasing these vehicles could aid us in the solution of the problem of creating a reliable and simple gearbox for light tanks.
  • The headlights on the Talbot car, with spiral light reflectors, are of interest. They can be used to drive in fog. The new type of jack is also interesting.

Each factory has a solid foundation for experimental work on the topics of improving existing vehicles and creating new ones. The experimental departments devote great attention to improving metalwork, improving casting, replacement of materials, etc. Much work is being done on improving the robustness of individual components. An example of this are the engine cylinders in the Armstrong-Siddeley 90 hp engine. Aside from these private design centers, there are state centers for experimental tank building, which are tasked with the creation of new secret prototypes, testing all new developments at tank factories, and representing the interests of the military directorate.

Printed December 19th, 1934
Director of the Experimental Kirov Factory Barykov"

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