Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Jump Around

In the book release last year, The Dark Age of Tanks, I talk of the UK's Ground Air Scout Car (GASC) projects. These were attempts at wheeled vehicles that could jump, hover and even fly for short distances. The idea being that the ability to jump over obstacles and hover over difficult terrain would give your reconnaissance vehicles a massive mobility increase. Think about a small jeep or similar that can not be stopped by road blocks, woods, rocky or soft ground, even swamps could be crossed with ease. The sheer amount of mobility you would then have. Now consider the equivalent of a Ferret armoured car that had the same level of mobility and the utility of that.

That was what the British were looking at. The plan was to start with a softskin akin to a Jeep as that was easiest to do. Then when that enters service the technology could be developed over time, leading to heavier and heavier vehicles entering service as the technology got more powerful and efficient. The ultimate goal was to have an MBT with the same level of mobility, actual hover tanks. Time wise this project was started in the early to mid 1960s, with an in-service date of the first vehicles as 1975. Image in that had happened, and where our AFV's would be now.

To study the subject several firms were approached with a fairly open ended specification and these firms submitted designs. Some went a bit further with their designs. A few weeks ago one of you lot, Waqas Ahmad, contacted me to ask more about he GASC designs. Leafing through the files on them I realised I had several designs I'd not included in the book, as I had only focused on the two that nearly went into service, not the speculative designs some companies submitted.

As I have been having a bit of a busy time of late (note: this is set to continue) writing time is limited. Thus it seemed like a quick and easy article, so here we are!

 First we should look at the US Army, who were also thinking along similar lines, although their work was based more around VTOL aircraft. These were certainly seen by the British (as all these pictures came from UK files) but did not really match what the UK was thinking.

First in the British entry is from Bristol-Siddley:

The next idea was, I think from Handley Page, and they went with a similar style design albeit much larger. They were suggesting a logistics design (Note: the plans for this one were so large scale I had trouble taking this photograph!):

This big beastie was estimated to weigh in at 4.5 tons, with a 1.25 ton payload. It had a 50 minute endurance and a range of 100 miles. To achieve all this it was powered by six 1,000hp engines. However, it was too big for what the War Office wanted.

In he end, of the seven or so designs that were submitted they went for the P.35 from BAC:

At current no one has found the other plans so I can't show you them. The life of the P.35 is covered in detail in my book, including armoured and anti-tank versions. In time it was cancelled, and in an attempt to see if anything could be procured they turned to Rubery-Owen Ltd, who designed a vehicle called 'Clodhopper'. This actually looked like a proper sci-fi vehicle:

This design never went anywhere as the submission was stated to have the 'air of the wild inventor about it', which is true it really does. When you read the brochure they submitted it seems like the worst of the crazed individual's designs that we've all seen stating their design 'will win the war'. With this final spurt the entire idea fizzled out.


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