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Moonraker

How were tanks transported?

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Moonraker

In the

 

Guy Martin's tank

 

thread I've just asked how it's moved around for its various appearances. Which prompts me to ask how were the original tanks transported within this country (and indeed from French and Belgian ports to where they were needed). Travelling under their own steam would have been ponderous and damaging to road surfaces. (I've read that in England they were only moved by road during wet weather.) A quick Google leads to little about tank transporting and just a few images of tanks on flat-bed railway wagons on the Continent.

 

IIRC the "Savings tank" that visited Salisbury did so by rail.

 

Incidentally, my Googling did lead to this copy of

 

TANKS IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918 by Brevet-Colonel J. F. C. FULLER, D.S.O.

 

No doubt others here on the GWF have previously linked to on-line copies, but I don't follow tank threads all that closely. Apart from the prewar Hornsby  Caterpillar, the Pedrail Landship and Savings and presentation tanks, I've yet to find any references to tanks on Salisbury Plain during the Great War period. (All these examples have been featured on the Forum.)

 

Moonraker

 

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Gardenerbill

During the Ypres campaign summer 1917 the tanks were brought up by train to rail heads behind the lines and then moved at night under their own power to tank parks in woods.

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johnboy

 think rail would have been the first preference.

wagons could be loaded from the side. driven on from the platform, Bear in mind the mpg of a tank and the fact that bearings for the tracks  probably needed greasing regularly.Think I have seen a pic of one on a low loader road trailer. Will post it if I can find it,

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Keith Woodland

Loading armoured vehicles, especially Tanks onto rail flats is a far from simple process. They have to be exactly centred so that the same amount of vehicle projects on each side of the rail wagon. They also have to fit within the gauge of the line. It may well be necessary to remove parts to get within the gauge. For instance with the Chieftain Mbt in the 1970/80s the searchlight had to be removed. Rail movement is also I believe a factor to be considered in the design of any Tank.

it would make no sense to design and produce a Tank that wouldn't fit onto rail transport. It should be born in mind that British loading gauge is smaller than that on the Continent.

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MerchantOldSalt
Posted (edited)

Moonraker

Several of the British Railway companies offered wagons for the carriage of tanks, some were successful but all suffered from overloading breakages, such that the Railway Executive Committee were asked to have a wagon designed specifically for the purpose, a Rectank.  This is explained in the attached exerts from the Railway Gazette Magazine and shown in the photos.

 

Just to show the longevity of WW1 equipment, two Rectank wagons turned up in Zeebrugge in the 1980s! Still in service with SNCF the French Railways if I remember correctly

 

There are many photos in the IWM collection of tanks on railway wagons, and in 1918 being shipped onto the train ferries at Richborough and Southampton.

 

TH

47.jpg

1 Loading tank onto Rectank wagon Railway Gazette 21.9.1920.jpg

2 Loading tank onto Rectank Wagon, note jacks Railway Gazette 21.9.1920.jpg

Railway transportation of Tanks Railway Gazette 21.9.1920.jpg

Edited by MerchantOldSalt

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