Russian Land Tank

Sometimes what happens in the real world is more weird than what you make up for science fiction.

Take this Russian tank design from 1917 for example, this is a 1/35th scale model of the tank.

The drive assembly consisted of two 240 hp Maybach engines, one for each big wheel. The wheels themselves (designed by Zhukovskiy) had a T-shaped metal mid-section. A wooden overlay was then fastened to the shelf of the T-beam. The drive itself was very simple. Each engine drove an automobile wheels, who was in it’s turn pressed down (by means of a railway carriage spring) until it touched the wooden overlay of the big wheel, and by counterrotating, the automobile wheel transferred the energy from the engine to the big running wheel. (In case of over-heating, the driving wheels disengaged and protected the engine from seizing.) It was thought that the Nepotir should be able to reach a top speed of some 17 km/h – which was pretty impressive compared to other WW1 AFV:s.

The hull of the vehicle would have one top-mounted centrally placed turret, equipped with MG:s and/or light cannons, giving the Lebedenko a total height of some 12 meters. In addition to this, at the outer flanks of the hull, small MG sponsons was to be placed. There was also a small weapons turret placed underneath the belly of the beast.

The construction progressed pretty quick and at the end of July 1915, the Nepotir was ready for it’s first trials. Because of it’s weight and size, it was designed to be transported in sub-assemblies, to be assembled again before action at the front (like it was later envisioned for the huge German K-Wagen). This procedure was followed, and the sub-assemblies were transported to the testing ground, some 60 km from Moscow. At the re-assembly it was found out that the weight of the machine exceeded calculations with some 50%, due to the use of thicker metal. In August the test began in front of a high commission. It started well. The vehicle moved well over some firm ground, crashed a tree, but then went into a soft patch, where the small double wheel got stuck in a ditch. Soon it was obvious that the engines were to small, as they were unable to free the rear double wheel.

After this fiasco, two of the designers, Mikulin and Stechkin, worked on equipping the vehicle with more powerful engines, but this plan was never fulfilled. The military had decided against the project. It was simply too expensive, it had thus far cost some 250.000 roubles. Also the vehicle (and then primarily it’s wheels) was deemed to be too vulnerable to artillery fire, which probably was quite true. (And by this time both France and Britain were near to completing new types of all-terrain armoured fighting vehicles, running on caterpillar tracks.)

The Lebedenko stood there, bogged down, for the rest of the war, but was finally scrapped in 1923.

This is certainly something that would sit very well in a Victorian Science Fiction scenario. Also if you play alternative world war one scenarios then this would of course work well too, well it was designed for that war.

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One Response to “Russian Land Tank”

  1. Jesse Says:

    Excellent example i have only seen 1 other model of this tank and 1 photo great to see the unusual being built. Excellent model

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