Thursday, July 21, 2011

From Christie to T-72: the evolution of the M1931

In this series, I shall explore the evolution of the Christie suspension tank from the M1931 to the T-72 and beyond.( Note: although all Soviet tanks after T34 were not equipped with the Christie suspension, most were descended from the T34 design, which did.) I will examine some tanks outside of the Soviet family tree, but mostly I shall focus on the Russian machines. But before examining these and other vehicles, I shall explain the background for these inventions. The military world of the 1920s was a strange place. The First World War had only just ended, and Military theorists were still trying to get some meaning out of that war's battles. How to break through an enemy's trenches, for instance, was still up in the air for most people. The proper use of, even definition of, the tank was not clearly defined, especially in countries with little or no wartime experience in their use such as the United States. In that time, there were two main theories on how to use tanks: the British one and the French one. The French treated them as mobile artillery platforms for use in support of the infantry, while the British treated them as the next level of cavalry, with heavy and light vehicles. But a universal concept of both theories was the idea of multiple turrets. In the United States, however, these theories had almost no meaning, namely because the US had little or no tanks! Even the Russians had a more solid program for the type. Many inventors, like J. Walter Christie, thought up their respective designs, most of them failures. But one of them was a triumph, if not in the US, then in foreign countries. This brings us to the subject of my next post.

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