Many moons ago, I posted up
a series of documents I found in the US National Archives, which didn't really fit into an article of their own. I've got a few more to throw at you. Sit back, relax, and prepare to be astounded and amazed. The Military: The Greatest Show on Earth!
With the recent launch of World of Warplanes, I guess it makes some sense to start in the skies. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the A-40, that idea the Russians had early in the war of strapping wings to a light tank and towing it behind a bomber. Literally, airborne armour.
Most people are also familiar with the idea of the M22 light tank originally going to be delivered by transport aircraft before they gave that up as a bad idea and just gave it to the Brits to put into gliders. This did not deter the US military, however, for by 1944, they were still talking about flying tanks. I append the entire folder as I found it. (All pictures below can be clicked on to expand)
Such thinking was not confined purely to the US, of course. The UK did also briefly mess around with the concept of strapping wings to a tank, but they sensibly ditched the idea before cutting steel. However, they came back to it. I extend my appreciation to player Xlucine, who dug up and sent information on "Project Prodigal", from the UK archives. This is somewhat similar to the "Fleep" concepts which went around, the Flying Jeep. At the very least, some form of limited flight for a scout car to get over obstacles. These are just a few of the myriad of proposals sent to the MOD.
US Army Soldiers are secure in their manhood. The Infantry Board reported that with respec to the Servi-Cycle Motor Driven Bicycle,
"That the final model (No. 5) was satisfactory forInfantry use by:
1. Cycle detachments of Infantry. 2. Airborne Infantry. 3. Parachute Infantry (subject to drop test)
That it has superior cross- country ability.
That the final model (No. 5) is capable of transporting 275 lbs. (soldier and equipment) crosscountry. In an emergency it may transport 500 lbs.(two soldiers) on normal highways
That the final model (No. 5) is a superior type ofvehicle for loading and transporting in an airplane."
Forgive me, but I would have too much pride than to ride into battle on these.
Not all were in agreement with Infantry Branch, however. Armored Force reported that "The Motor Driven Bicycle (Servi-Cycle) manufactured. by the Simplex Manufacturing Company, New Orleans, La, be considered as unsatisfactory for use by Armored Force Units."
Tank-Automotive Branch had a similar opinion. "It is concluded that the Servi-Cycle manufactured by the SimplexManufacturing Company, New Orleans, Louisiana, is not suitable for militaryservice either as an administrative or tactical vehicle."
If you're wondering why this did not progress further, the same report concluded that motor-driven scooters were considered preferable to motor-driven bicycles. I have not found Infantry Board's report on the motor-driven scooters to indicate why they were not selected for issueance to the troops.
The Army did, however, evidently consider the testing of such vehicles of great importance, and no time or effort was spared in making complete reports with full military testing efficiency on such vehicles. Sadly, the evaluation for all the following was that they "Be considered not suitable for military service in either a tactical or administrative role"
The Army was not giving up, though! Small vehicles must be better, so why not try a three-wheeled jeep?
One would have thought that testing such things would be a mundane and unexciting process. But no, much like their Air Force test pilot brethren, they take great risk so that soldiers may have the best equipment possible. The report indicates that this was not the reason why the vehicle never entered service, but I have my suspicions:
I think we'll leave it at that, I have to leave something for Part 3.
To close, this amusing shot. Exactly why this photograph was found in a folder for "Amphibious Gun Motor Carriage M18" I'm not sure, but I can't help but notice how many volunteers they got into the vehicle to see what would happen when one drives down a steep slope into deep water. They even seem to be enjoying it. Strange people, these testers.
To leave comments on this article, due to popular demand, I bring back the Bright Orange Button. I have decided to adopt it and call it Bob.