If there is one constant motivator for innovation, it is finding new and exciting ways to kill people. Among other things, this leads to some strange tanks. Jalopnik readers have found the ten strangest.
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Since we restricted ourselves to tanks that have actually been constructed, we had to leave off a number of bizarre tank designs that never made it off the drawing board. Please let us know which incredibly strange armored vehicle designs from the past we left off this list in Kinja below.
And don't forget to fill us in on any strange tank designs penned for the future.
Photo Credit: Rheinmetall GmbH
This is the Antonov A-40, basically a 12,800-pound T-60 scout tank fixed to a huge glider. The idea was to tow it behind a plane and let it glide onto the battlefield. The 1941-42 prototype program never saw combat. We doubt it ever fired while in the air, which would've been beyond terrifying.
Leave it to Russia to turn rudimentary screw-drive technology into the wonderful ZIL-2906 and 4904 tanks. We described these things back in 2012.
built by Russian truck and presidential limo manufacturer ZIL. The idea behind screw-drive vehicles is that they can cover just about the most tortuous terrain imaginable. In other words, Russia.
The smaller 2906 was built in the ‘60s with the strict goal of recovering cosmonauts who land in Siberia. The two-and-a-half ton 4904 was built in '72, but at that point the Russians realized screw drive was hopelessly inefficient. After a few 4904s were built, the largest screw drive vehicles of all time, the project was scrapped.
Racing driver J. Walter Christie liked to go fast, and his lightweight tank designs were made to go fast, too. Christie is famous for developing a new kind of suspension for tanks in 1931, which Popular Science reported gave his prototypes the ability to go 104 miles an hour. We call bullshit on that, but the suspension design got sold to the Russians (and the Polish, as pictured above), where it was used quite successfully.
The British Army wanted a low-silhouette armored vehicle that could still shoot over obstacles. This one-man 1944 prototype, called the ‘praying mantis' was pretty much a dead end.
This is an M4 T10 mine clearing prototype built by the US. The original design featured engines built into the two front wheels, but the idea never went past this 116,000 pound 1944 prototype.
To make one of Stalinist Russia's Progvev-T Gasdynamic trawlers, all you had to do was take one of their trusty T-34 tanks and put a MiG-15 jet engine on top. The blast from the jet would uncover and detonate mines
This is the ominously-named Object 279, one of the last Russian heavy tank prototypes before Kruschev banned all tanks heavier than 37 tons. Built in 1959 at 60 metric tons, it was designed to withstand a nuclear shockwave. It resembles some kind of doom oyster.
This is the Appareil Boirault, or the Boirault Machine, built in 1915 by the French as a means of driving over the trenches of WWI's Western Front. There's a kind of armored vehicle that moves within a six-segmented track that goes over the top of the body. Slow, loud, heavy, and vulnerable, the project never made it into combat.
We don't know anything more about the famous "Kugelpanzer" than we did when we last wrote about it in 2012.
This round, single-person armored vehicle is on display in the Kobinka Tank Museum outside of Moscow. Kugelpanzer means "ball tank," and the one halfway-decent source of information online believes it to be a rolling reconnaissance vehicle captured in Manchuria in 1945 by the Russians, having been sent to Japan as part of a technology transfer with the Japanese.
We are extremely skeptical that this is anything but a dummy tank designed to confuse the enemy, or even just a fake, despite its similarities to the First World War's Hansa-Lloyd Bremen Treffaswagen.
If you have any more information on the Kugelpanzer, please let us know in Kinja below.