In search of the perfect sphere
The idea of creating spherical tanks appeared long ago. Already during the First World War, the Sharotank were perceived as a completely adequate weapon, and the peak of interest in them came in the 30s – 40s of the 20th century. In most cases, work on them reached the stage of creating prototypes, and sometimes was completely limited to the construction of large-scale demonstration models. Nevertheless, spherical combat vehicles continued to excite the minds of engineers. And in our time, the "relatives" of the sharotank, who have lost a number of previous drawbacks, have come into use.
Before you start talking directly about the spherical fighting machines, it is worth making a brief history and understand where they came from. Oddly enough, the bike became the ancestor of sharotank. The first bicycles, which appeared in 1817, were very different from the current ones. They had neither pedals, nor a seat in its classical sense, but the bicycle itself was made of wood. As often happens with new types of equipment, at that time there was no common vision for the design of a bicycle.Something more or less similar to the modern bicycle appeared only by 1840.
The first bike of the modern layout is not so many years. It appeared in 1884, that is, two years later than the first car in the world. At the end of the 19th century, bicycles of various designs were produced, which did not immediately give way to the classic model, which had rear-wheel drive, chain drive, and wheels of the same diameter.
Hemming's Introcycle - the very first introcycle
Models with different wheel sizes were also quite common. Some of these bikes had a large rear wheel, which was driven. Others, on the contrary, had a large front wheel on which the pedals were located. Such a scheme, by the way, has not completely died: children's three-wheeled bicycles with pedals on the front wheel are still more than enough.
The top of the "discrimination" rear wheel is a design known as "penny-farthing." By the way, these outlandish devices were first called bicycles. The penny farthing had a huge front wheel and a tiny rear wheel.This bike looks unusual and seems uncomfortable, but from my own experience I can say that you get used to it very quickly. In addition, a similar bike developed a higher speed than its other contemporaries.
The disadvantage of these “two coins” (and the nickname “penny-farthing” directly hints at the British big penny and small farthing) was that with sudden braking the cyclist could easily fly through his head, which (given the height of the “penny” more than one and a half meters) nothing good ended up. In an attempt to solve this problem, a sensible idea appeared to put the rider inside the “penny”, and get rid of the “farthing”.
Otto Safety Bicycle, the first commercially successful device of this type
The exact name of the creator of what is now called a monocycle, or introcycle, is difficult to call. The fact is that in 1869, four such constructions were proposed as much as, quite different from each other. Most likely, the father of the introcycle was an American Richard Hemmings from New Haven, Connecticut. According to the book “The velocipede: it’s history, varieties, and practice”, published in April 1869, Hemmings created his apparatus back in 1867. The invention had a manual drive, which was rather a minus, and was made of wood.Nevertheless, the Hemmings Intro has all the features of its type of machine. The advantages of the design include the protection against dirt flying from the wheel.
In 1869, the second grandfather of sharotanks appeared - dicycles. Its creator was another American - William McKerahan from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its design was much more stable than the introcycle.
It dicykle became the first commercially successful ancestor sharotank. This was made possible by the activities of Edward Karl (Charles) Friedrich Otto. In 1879, he developed his own, very successful design dicycles.
A year later, the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), the future giant of the bicycle and motorcycle market, started producing them. In just four years, the BSA has released 953 dicycles of Otto's design, worth £ 13 each. The inventor himself founded the company Otto Safety Bicycle Co, which was engaged in the implementation of dicycles.
Otto continued to improve his work, but the popularity of dicycles began to decline. Already in 1883, BSA launched into production tricycles, which are much more stable and comfortable for driving. Edward Otto quickly realized the lack of prospects in his creation and switched to the development and production of more familiar bicycles.
Edison-Puton Introcycle, on display at the Technical Museum in Sinsheim, Germany
The rapid development of technology in the late XIX - early XX century and affected these specific devices. True, most of the patents, of which more than a dozen had gathered, did not contain any breakthrough solutions or radical changes.
In 1904, at the Milan Motor Show, a certain Garavagliya presented an introcycle equipped with an internal combustion engine. Thus began the era of the motorization of dicycles and introcycles, which have become especially popular in this version.
For example, in 1910, the Frenchman Eric Edison-Puton built an introcycle with a De Dion engine rated at 3.5 horsepower. The device went quite well, although, of course, it had specific features. Like other introcycles, the Edison-Puton creation had problems with moving at low speeds. In addition, the driver of this vehicle should have developed driving skills. Dirt flew from the wheel, and no protection was provided from above. The disadvantages of the car turned out to be more than merits, so that the apparatus turned out to be a bold, but still an experiment.
“Aero-unicycle” by Alfred D’Harling
Introcycles and dicycles, despite the lack of commercial success, continued to remain quite popular. This was due primarily to their unusual appearance. The number of enthusiasts who tried to create a successful design, did not decrease. For example, in 1914, the inventor Alfred D’Harling of St. Louis built an introcycle with a propeller as a propulsion vehicle. This machine was one of the first to hit the popular science journal Popular Mechanics. The unusual apparatus was distinguished by high speed of movement - up to 107 km / h.
Prof. Christie and his car
In the same year of 1914 another development appeared, which already came close to the construction of a sharotanka. Designed by Professor Elsa Christie from Marion, Iowa, the unit was an introcycle with two extra wheels on the sides. The car had a kind of body, additional wheels provide lateral stability. Professor Christie created his car as a racing device. Equipped with the Liberty engine, the introcycle was supposed to develop a phenomenal speed of 400 km / h, but further development of the prototype, built in 1923, did not progress.
By that time, the design of such machines has gone a step further, and at the same time there have been developments for military purposes.
The first design, which with a stretch can be called sharotankom, made the Germans. And we are talking about the construction, and not just another patent. In 1916, Hansa-Lloyd received an order for the development of a combat vehicle, which was ready by February 1917. The car, which received the designation Treffaswagen, was a three-wheeled design, which, however, was strikingly different from the three-wheeled tank Lebedenko. The wheels with a diameter of 3.3 meters occupied a significant part of the volume of this 18-ton machine, completely closing the front of the hull from the sides. The wheels did not only play the role of an engine: there were machineguns at their ends for firing at the flanks. The engine was located in the tail section of the machine, where the tail wheel was mounted, with which the turns were made.
The gun mount and the driver's seat were located in the front hull sheet. The main armament of the Treffaswagen was a 20-mm anti-tank gun Tankabwehrkanone Becker M11. In the later version was planned to use a more powerful 57-mm serf gun Cockerill-Nordenfelt M1888, a number of which the Germans seized from the Belgians.By the way, the same gun was the main armament of the A7V tank.
Treffaswagen is on trial. This car was the only armed
Sharotank variant, which reached the test stage
Trials of the Treffaswagen took place from February 1916 to March 1917. A car with a crew of four had to compete with a heavier A7V. The brainchild of Hansa-Lloyd lost to a competitor, in October 1917 the car was dismantled. She entered the story as the only device close to the sharotank, which was not only built, but also seriously considered as suitable for adoption. Treffaswagen also became the only such machine, which installed weapons. In addition, it was the first such apparatus, made in a cylindrical pattern. The advantage of these machines was a higher stability, both in the longitudinal and in the transverse axis. And it was easier to manage them.
Trench Fighter Hugo Gernsbek
At about the same time that Hansa-Lloyd was developing his hellish car, on the other side of the Atlantic, the Sharotank theme began to be popularized. Its ideological inspiration was Hugo Gernsbek, an ardent popularizer of technical progress. On the pages of the magazine The Electrical Experimenter, published by him, various proposals appeared on various types of equipment, including military ones.Gernsbek is known as a science fiction writer (the Hugo Literary Award is also he), but he was also a talented engineer and author of dozens of inventions. It was he who first drew attention to the possible combat potential of introcycles: Gernsbek’s first publication on this topic was dated 1915.
Gyroelectric fighter and its device
Particularly interesting are the two projects of Gernsbek. The first, called the "trench fighter", was a dicycling, in the center of which was located the cabin. Inside it there was a power plant, a fighting compartment, as well as a control compartment. With the help of such a “damn wheel”, Gernsbek offered to clean trenches from enemy infantry. Exactly one year later - in February 1918 - material on the second invention was published. "Gyroelectric fighter", as he was called Gernsbek, was an introcycle. The number of wheels in it was reduced to one, inside it was a cabin with a power plant and a control compartment. Armament in this car, the inventor made the side sponsons. "Gyroelectric fighter" was already very close to sharotanku.
"War Machine" Arsen Pare, the first full sharotank.It was never built
but the principles implemented in the patent have become characteristic of such machines.
The first full-fledged sharotank was the project, which was patented by Arsene Pare from Brockton, Massachusetts. He filed an application for the invention under the name “War Machine” on May 1, 1917. Before Pare, all the inventors offered all kinds of vehicles that, at best, could act as dual-purpose vehicles. The "war machine" was originally created solely for the conduct of hostilities. Even outwardly, the invention resembled quite a military object - a giant defensive grenade. It was a spherical shell, inside which another sphere was hidden. The movement was carried out with the help of wheels that rolled on the inner surface of the outer shell and made it rotate in the right direction. Internal units were placed as low as possible so that the center of gravity of the machine was low from the ground. The “war machine” could also swim: many other projects of the sharotank were amphibians.
The Pare project itself was a weapon: according to the idea, the car could ram buildings and other objects.It also provided for hatches through which it was possible to throw charges of explosives.
Frank Lotherbour's fighting machine, which could also be used as a peaceful tractor
The weapon itself was also a “tractor”, proposed in February 1918 by another American, Frank Lawterb. In terms of its design, the "tractor" of Lauterbourg occupied an intermediate position between ice rink tanks and cycling tanks. The rollers occupied almost the entire side surface of the machine, forming an additional shell. To improve grip, grouser was applied to the working surface of the rollers. Since there were two skating rinks, the turn was “tanked”, so that the “tractor” of Loterbur did not have a major drawback of cylindrical machines — poor handling. To ensure longitudinal stability between the rollers, a “tail” with a wheel was attached. The sides of the machine were given a convex shape to improve projectile resistance. If necessary, the two devices could be connected end parts with each other.
Most of the projects were created in the United States, but in other countries worked on similar machines.Several patents for similar military equipment were issued in Italy. The most interesting example here was the “Monocycle Machine”, which was patented by Carlo Pomilio from Rome. It was an introcycle, part of the body which protruded beyond the wheel. Peace option was not provided: "The machine-monocycle" was albeit unusual, but the tank. The casemate installations of the guns were provided in front and behind, and the guns were also located on the sides. In theory, the design developed by Pomilio should have had high permeability, but no one began to build it: it was very unusual. And the end of the First World War significantly reduced the budgets of military developments.
Sharotank Alber Mobare, 1926
In the 20s, interest in spherical combat vehicles waned. Almost the only device of such a design, for which the patent was obtained during this period, was the “War Machine” (June 1926). Albert Mobar from France patented an ellipsoidal design. Inside the main body on the axles mounted platform, on which were the driver's seat, power plant and other units. There was no armament on Machine de guerre: it could only crush the enemy. Prior to the project, it also did not come.
Body maximum bounce
A return to the topic of the sharotank occurred after a new flash of interest in introcycles and similar machines. The catalysts of interest were the creations of the English engineer John Archibald Parves. The inventor, who received his doctorate at 30, was engaged in optical devices, but by the beginning of the 30s he abruptly changed his specialization and began work on creating an introcycle that could compete with automobiles.
The most perfect of "Dynasfer", who had a car steering wheel
Parves filed an application for invention back in September 1930, but his works were truly declared in 1932. "Dynasfera", as its creator called the car, was a huge wheel assembled from metal hoops. Inside the wheel there was a frame on which the engine and other units were attached. To protect the driver from dirt flying from the wheel, a special carport was installed.
In general, Parves offered introcycle quite traditional design. The size was unconventional: the first model of "Dynasphere" had a diameter of more than two meters. The electric motor installed in the car allowed it to reach speeds of up to 48 km / h.
The second model, which became the most famous, had a number of differences.To reduce weight, Parves made a wheel combined: sheathed a metal base with leather. The car with a wheel diameter of three meters weighed only 450 kg. In the movement of the second sample "Dinasfera" led a 2-cylinder engine from a motorcycle Douglas.
The third sample, designated "Dynasfera 5", was even larger. The number in the title meant that the car was five-seater. If the first two samples were controlled by tilting the driver in the right direction, then “Dynasfera 5 ″ had an ordinary car steering wheel. It was planned to make an 8-seater car, but it remained a project.
Illustration from the article about "Military tank on one wheel." Later she will often flicker in documents.
“Dinasfera” did not become commercially successful, but thanks to it they started talking about introcycles again. The beginning of the 30s was the time of the renewed arms race, but at the level of experiments. In November 1933, Popular Science magazine published a note entitled "One-man-operated military tank on one wheel."
It was dedicated to the invention under the name “self-propelled machine”, a patent for which was obtained by Angel Garcia Gutierrez from Terrytown, New York.At first glance, there is nothing special in the design of the “self-propelled machine”. All the same big wheel, inside of which there was a frame with an engine installed on it, a tank, a seat, a steering wheel and other units.
But the Gutierrez introcycle was armored, and even armed. On both sides the car was covered with an armored body. On the sides there were access hatches and portholes. In addition, a machine gun was attached to each side wall in a movable ball mount. Interestingly, Gutierrez decided to make his car amphibious. The armor case was supposed to have buoyancy, the additional stability on the water was given by the fairing of small wheels located on the sides of the machine.
That was the invention of Gutierrez in the patent. In fact, this is an armed introcycle with a closed hull.
In metal, the brainchild of Gutierrez was not implemented, but this publication was noticed not only in the United States. The Directorate of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army even received information about the allegedly launched mass production of such a machine. This news became a catalyst for the development of similar machines both in the USSR and abroad.The authors of some of the cars that were already offered during the Second World War directly pointed to the development of Gutierrez as an example to follow.
The illustrations of "tank-rolling field", which became the classic images of sharotankov
All the same magazine Popular Science gave the world another car that has become a world classic of sharotanks. A short article appeared in the June 1936 issue, entitled “A new military tank resembles a rolling ball”:
“Rolling on the ground like a huge ball, a high-speed tank-tumbler was proposed by the inventor from Texas as a new addition to modern military vehicles. A hollow spherical cabin of steel is enclosed inside a rotating shell of two halves with concentric lugs. Prisoners in the internal field of transmission, driven by a motor, roll the tank on the ground. Steering is carried out by changing the speed of one of the rotating shells. Machine guns shoot from a motionless cabin through the central slots and armored towers on the sides. The heavy engine, located on the floor in the center of the cabin, gives the tank stability and protects it from side rolling.The inner shell can be sealed to protect against poisonous gases, while the power plant is completely closed to minimize the danger from exhaust gases. The inventor claims that the spherical shape of the tank represents the least possible target for enemy bombs and shells, and everything, except direct hits, would ricochet to the side. ”
For greater persuasiveness, the note was supplemented with a colorful image of a sharotank, bristling in all directions with machine-gun barrels. The same machine editorial board Popular Science and made on the cover of the room, and there the unit has become even more formidable. If in the picture for the article the mechanic-driver serviced the machine gun, then a gun appeared on the cover instead.
These drawings made an indelible impression on readers, among whom were military experts and engineers. Soviet experts quite seriously believed that a sharotank was built from the cover and even experienced.
So Richardson's “battle ball” actually looked like
In reality, the combat vehicle was only a part of the “AutoShield and Armored Ball” invention by Andrew Richardson from Lubbock, Texas.Richardson filed an application back in June 1932, and endorsed it in March 1936, then she caught the eye of the popular Science.
As the name implies, there were two projects at once. The first of these was a spherical car, which had a much more original design than the "Dynasfera". The basis of the car was the inner body of a streamlined shape, equipped with doors. Inside it was a cabin for four people, an engine, controls and other units. A shaft passed through the center of the body, on which the external body of a spherical shape was attached. Unlike the inner shell, the outer shell was not completely closed: it had a truss structure, with several “wheels” with rubber bands. The turns should have been made by displacing the inner frame of the Avtoshara relative to the central axis in one direction or another. The design of the car had a completely finished look and had chances for construction in metal. But that never happened.
Together with the combat vehicle, the designer offered a spherical car
The second project, which caused so much noise in the press and the scientific community, looked more conceptual.Richardson's “armored ball” was radically different in its design from Avtoshar, and they had only one form in common. If a spherical car was developed according to the concept of a monocycle, the sharotank was a dicyclic: Andrew Richardson was the first to choose such a scheme for a spherical fighting machine.
Like the creation of Gutierrez, the "armored ball" was conceived as an amphibian. The general form of the machine from the patent repeated the one depicted in Popular Science. Hemispherical thrusters were attached to the inner spherical body. To improve off-road terrain, propulsion units were equipped with lugs, they also served as blades when driving through water. Thanks to the use of the dicyclic scheme, the Armored Ball was able to turn in place. There is no armament on the scheme from the patent, although, judging by the description, it was still supposed.
One of the patents of 1940–41 for sharotank. As is the case with the car
Richardson, before the implementation of this project in the metal it did not come
Richardson did not begin to build a “battle ball”, although he, of course, strongly encouraged the Sharotank theme. One of the advantages of such a scheme is called a significant probability of a ricochet of shells in contact with the body.That's just the disadvantages turned out to be much more. In addition to problems with sustainability, sharotank was very cumbersome. Although the length of such a machine should have been small, even a single sharotank, if built in an armed version, would have a diameter of at least 2–3 meters. If the car received a full-fledged crew and weapons more powerful than a machine gun, the diameter increased even more.
In addition, the installation of weapons in sharotank was accompanied by a number of problems. The gun received a limited sector of fire, and about the rotating tank turret should be completely forgotten. These problems have become an insurmountable barrier for sharotankov. In the United States, they did not build like this, although during the Second World War the number of proposals and patents exceeded a dozen.
Kugelpanzer at the Patriot Park Exposition
At least the Germans decided to build at least an experimental model of sharotank. In the park "Patriot" is a strange machine, known as Kugelpanzer, or "ball-shaped tank" (a detailed photo-review of this machine here). The name is extremely conditional. It is not even known who developed and built this thing, the version that it was created by the Krupp concern is not confirmed.According to the popular version, this is supposedly a car for observers. But inside the place is barely enough for the motor and one rider. Most likely, this is an experimental model for demonstrating the principal possibility of building devices according to the proposed scheme: judging by the form, Kugelpanzer arrived from the Kummersdorf landfill.
Now there are no units inside, but it’s known how the car was arranged. The device was set in motion by a two-cylinder motorcycle air-cooled engine. Its capacity was enough to accelerate a 2.5-ton car to about 10 km / h. The drive to the wheels was carried out using a gear transmission. For turns used tail wheel, which went to the thrust from the bottom of the hull. The engine and other units, as well as the driver's seat were mounted on a platform located at the bottom of the machine.
The composition of the internal equipment can only be guessed, because, as already mentioned, the internal units from the machine have long been removed. There is only one thing to say for certain - the matter didn’t go further than the manufacture of a prototype. Other dreamers add weapons to Kugelpanzer, but such a design would hardly have overcome the stage of the prototype.The scheme chosen by the creators had a significant drawback: the tail wheel on soft ground would serve as an anchor.
Grand Panjandrum, the only relative of the sharotank who
publicly tested during World War II
Another country in which they decided to build an analogue of a sharotank was the United Kingdom. In the British Ministry of War, proposals for spherical fighting machines came different, and they implemented a completely wonderful idea in the metal. However, at first it seemed quite rational. This is a “big shot” (Grand Panjandrum), the brainchild of the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development (DMWD for short). The device, developed by Neville Shut, consisted of two wooden wheels with a diameter of three meters, between which was attached a cylindrical body filled with explosives. The device moved with the help of powder rockets placed on wheels. The goal for the Grand Panjandrum were to be German fortifications on the Atlantic Wall.
Tests of the device were held at the confluence of the people, so that the Germans would surely know about them, and were filmed both in the photo and in the video. True, no good trials are not over. Shooting turned out very spectacular.The missiles installed in the wheels were broken off from the bindings, after which the Grand Panjandrum became completely unmanaged. And although it did not go beyond testing, the “big shot” has entered the history.
Patent Eli Anghnidesa on a spherical fighting machine
The most successful inventor sharotankov turned out to be Eli Aghnides. Born in Istanbul, an engineer realized his talents in the United States. Aerator Aghnidesa is still massively distributed in plumbing, and in the field of filter creation, the inventor has achieved great success.
Engaged in military development engineer prompted the outbreak of the Second World War. The application for the invention he filed in May 1942. The apparatus proposed by Aghnides was an armored vehicle made according to the ball-cyclic scheme. The spherical hemispheres had fins to increase adhesion to the ground, and the fins served as blades (the machine also had to float). A significant difference from the Richardson sharotak was the presence of small wheels in the fore and aft parts of the central section, which prevented the body from turning during movement. The driver, who was located in the nose of the car, also served as the shooter: he was firing from a machine gun, which was in a ball mount.
The development of the construction of sharotank Aghnides."Wheels" in a slightly modified form migrated to the Rhino
The model of the Aghnides military vehicle hit the stanitsa of popular science publications, but the metal was not built in the metal. Nevertheless, the works were not in vain. The inventor began to develop the design. Rhino, a very unusual car, was built by Aghnides together with Marmon-Herrington. Brutal-looking unit had an impressive maneuverability. Its hemispherical wheels are nothing more than the development of a sharotanka propeller. Rhino remained an experimental machine, but it turned out to be an example of a completely successful use of a sharotaking propulsion device.
This was how the device of construction of Frank McLaerty should have looked.
In the United States, work on sharotank was mainly conducted on paper. It is not surprising that some creators of such machines offered such cars abroad. One such project was the Frank McLaerty war machine. Remotely resembling a Lebedenko tank, the device was made according to a fundamentally different scheme. The basis of the car were two huge wheels, individually great reminiscent of a classic introcycle. Inside each wheel was a separate power unit located below the center of gravity.The engine and chassis elements were mounted on the frame and had a cushioning. Another feature that gave birth to the birthplace of Frank McLaerty with sharotank was the installation on the outside of each of the wheels of the gun mounts. The inventor filed a patent application in February 1942, and in January 1944 offered such a machine to the Soviet military. In the Main Armored Directorate of the Red Army (GBTU KA), the project was reviewed - and the American refused. In the department of inventions of such good enough.
Appeared too early?
The history of sharotanks looks like a strip of continuous failures. You should not be surprised at this: many technical solutions first come to a standstill, successful practical implementation often does not occur immediately. The most interesting of these modern machines is GroundBot, created by the Swedish company Rotundus in 2008. In a spherical apparatus, equipped with two cameras in hemispherical transparent caps, the familiar outlines of a balloon cannons are easily guessed.
The GroundBot body is equipped with lugs, thanks to which the spherical machine can safely roll in the sand and snow and climb the ramps.To top it all, the device also swims relatively well. True, we are not talking about full-fledged combat operations: GroundBot and the American GuardBot, similar to it, were created for patrolling and surveillance. However, the interest in this development also waned.
GroundBot, the most famous of today's sarotankov
There is another relative sharotanka, which is quite well. His name is Segway. Yes, it is built on the same principle. Thanks to the gyro system, the Segway possesses the necessary stability, so that a number of flaws in the Sarotank are eliminated. Its other version is a hoverboard. Segway is used, including by the police, so with a certain stretch, but it can be said that the sharotank did fall into the hands of the security forces. Anyway, it’s too early to put an end to the history of spherical combat vehicles.