Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Flying Elephant

The British also experimented with a truly heavy tank that would actually be protected against shell fire and might have been decisive. Designed by Tritton in 1916 and named the “Flying Elephant,” this behemoth weighed in at some 222,600 pounds (111 tons) and was powered by two 120-hp Daimler six-cylinder engines. The engines drove both outer and inner tracks, the latter located near the center line of the hull to prevent “bellying,” whereby the tank would become caught on higher ground between the two outer tracks. The Flying Elephant was 10 feet high, nearly as wide, and 29.5 feet long. It had 2-inch side and 3-inch frontal armor protection, a crew of eight men, and was armed with a 57mm forward-firing gun and six machine guns firing to the sides and rear. This promising design never saw service in the war. Ready for testing in January 1917, it was abandoned because of its high cost, the demonstrated success of the Mark I, and the promise of the Whippet. Truly heavy tanks that would be capable of withstanding shell fire were left to the next war.

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