- 10.5cm leFH 18/40/2 L/28 (Sf) auf Geschuetzwagen III/IV
- 10.5cm leFH 18/6 auf Waffentrager IVb
- 120mm Gun Tank T110
- 120mm Gun Tank T57
- 120mm Gun Tank T77
- 155mm Gun Tank T58
- 1K17 Szhatie
- 40RBL78 MA Field Gun
- 44M. Tas
- 76mm Gun Tank T71
- 76mm Gun Tank T92
- 90mm Gun Tank T42
- 90mm Gun Tank T69
- A1E1 Independent
- AC II Cruiser Tank
- AC III Thunderbolt
- AC IV 17-pdr armed Sentinel Cruiser Tank
- ACEC Cobra IFV
- ACEC Cobra Tank – Cobra 25 and 90
- AGF’s ‘Improved Medium Tank’
- Ansaldo MIAS/MORAS 1935
- Ansaldo Turrinelli Testuggine Corazzata
- Antonov A-40
- APG’s ‘Improved M4’
- Armored Personnel Carrier T113E1 and E2 (Development of the M113)
- Armored Personnel Carriers T113 and T117
- Assault Tank, A33 “Excelsior”
- Batignolles-Chatillon Char 25T
- Begleitpanzer 57
- Black Prince, Infantry Tank, A43
- Calisi Trench Crossing Armored Car
- Cañón Autopropulsado de 75/40mm Verdeja
- Carro Celere Sahariano M16/43
- Carro d’assalto ‘Gussalli’
- Carro protetto trasporto truppa su autotelaio FIAT 626
- CCI tipo 37
- Chieftain Casement Test Rig (CTR) SPG
- Chimera 1984
- Chrysler ‘K’ (1946)
- Churchill Mk. III with ‘Ardeer Aggie’ Mortar
- CV90 Development
- Dovunque 35 blindato ‘Spa Dovunque 35 APC
- E9-9 Mechanized Flame Thrower
- Excalibur Light Airborne Tank Destroyer
- Fiat 3000 L.f.
- Fiat 3000 Nebbiogeno
- Fiat 3000 Tipo II
- Flame Thrower Tank T33
- FV215 Heavy Gun Tank
- FV3805 Centurion SPG
- FV4005 Stage I & II
- FV4010 & Malkara
- FV4201 Chieftain/90mm Gun Tank T95 Hybrid
- Gefechtsaufklärer Leopard (VK16.02)
- German Tank-based Railway Guns
- German WWII prototypes
- Gonsior, Opp, and Frank War Automobile
- Grille 17/21 Self-Propelled Guns
- Heavy/Assault Tank T14
- Holt Gas-Electric Tank
- IS-7 (Object 260)
- ISU High Power Gun Projects
- Italian Panther
- Kahn’s Obstacle Ball / Rolling Fortress ‘Tank’
- Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor
- Landsverk Lago
- Laupen 14t and Laupen 16t
- Leichte Flakpanzer IV 3 cm ‘Kugelblitz’
- Leonardo M60A3 Upgrade Solution
- Leone Main Battle Tank
Short history of AFVs prototypes.
Prototypes always have been there, and largely surpass production vehicles in diversity.
For each production armored fighting vehicle, there was possibly several prototypes. That alone give the scope of this matter…
In the traditional administrative and engineering process leading to the creation of new AFVs, the prototype often preceded the production vehicle. We can show this process in this example:
1-Wether it is because a model would be obsolete within a 10 years margin, or to answer a new need (in peacetime), army specifications are defined.
2-These specifications are submitted to industrial companies (in some cases, state-owned arsenal, consortium or industrial group)
3-If there is a competition, bidders have to submit their proposition in a specific timeframe
4-Designs are submitted and compared by an army commission
5-A shortlist of designs are retained
6-Prototypes are ordered
7-Prototypes are delivered, and tested
8-One prototype is chosen, often with modifications, and a contract signed for a future pre-production
9-A modified prototype is delivered, or pre-production vehicles
10-The final production vehicle is accepted, production is signed with a schedule.
11-The first production vehicles are delivered, training, supply, transportation and maintenance procedures are set in place.
Of course this example is far from being the usual systematic process. In fact, in many cases, there is only a single possible contractor, often with a galaxy of subcontractors and suppliers. The process could be shorter, without pre-production vehicles, or even without prototypes (in particular in case of war where the process is dictated by emergency)
For Elie P. Aghnides, the hemispherical wheels of his Rhino prototype built by Marmon-Herrington in 1954 was the ideal propulsion.
A prototype, What for ?
Wether it is to compare real scale designs (there is a wide margin between a paper project and the real thing !), or to test a model before hitting production, prototypes are a necessity and no industry could avoid it. A customary practice for the civilian or military market, before being used any product must be thoroughly tested. It’s even more true for a military vehicle compared to a civilian vehicle, since what is asked in terms of ruggedness, utility and characteristics far outclass any civilian vehicle. Armour, to start with, “true” all-terrain capabilities, special features (like cable roller, central inflation system, infrared vision, NBC protection, smoke mortars…), not speaking of main battle tanks requirements.
Vickers-Carden-Loyd Utility Tractor
A German wheel-cum track prototype
Tank Encyclopedia’s prototypes
When starting this serie of AFVs back in 2011, nobody really had a clue this list will grew this far, but soon some prototypes of particular interest just stand out, surpassing many production vehicles by their unmistakable “historical landmark” characteristics. That pushed us recently to include those, each with a standalone post and category. And we will alternate between the famous and the obscure, from all eras.
The rare Baker 4×4 “Jumping Tank” Armored Car.
Such was the “Little Willie”, one of the very first tank depicted in this online museum. It was indeed a crucial step (to help test and eliminate options rather than validating a concept straight from the blueprint) towards the first operational tank of ww1 -incidentally also the first operational tank ever. The 1930 Christie Tank (not yet treated) is another landmark, that validated several concepts for “cruiser tank”, the most important being the large coil springs later called “Christie suspensions”, the other one being the use of an aviation engine for extra power.
Minenraumer, experimental ww2 German land minesweeper.
Some prototypes tested hybrid concepts (like the wheel-cum track system) that helped eliminate the prospect of a viable track/wheels design for good. There were far more imagination at work and diversity in the interwar and even at the beginning of ww1 in this matter. But once the cold reality of statistics went in, mass-production of “good all around” already well proven solution had the utmost priority. Prototypes are indeed more often a “peacetime hobby”, when process could be much longer. Without any serious battle test, all contemporary MBTs today remains largely untested, but each of those undergone quite long process of evolution. The record probably goes in that matter to the Indian Tank Arjun, which conception process exceeds twenty years !
After the pedrail concept, let’s screw it up a bit !
Screw-propelled prototypes (which were also amphibious) were another breed of experiments that never made it, largely tried by USSR.
It is generally accepted that such a long process would render any design obsolete given the advances of technologies. It’s not that obvious today, the M1 Abrams for example earliest studies goes back to the fall of the 1960s, and the first prototype was tested in 1978, that’s nearly forty years old. Despite of this it’s still active today because the core concept was right and left room for modularity and improvements on the long run. The same could be said from the T-72, even older, because the external envelope could receive all sorts of upgrades.
Many prototypes were also costly private ventures, expecting a possible state purchase of tailored for exports, and sometimes proved just too ambitious or not released at the right timing.
That’s the case of the unfortunate Brazilian companies Engesa and Bernardini, both of which experimented with ww2 vehicles radical upgrades before embarking on much more ambitious and risky main battle tanks, the EE-11 Osorio and TB-3 Tamoyo. The financial burden of such programs, born from confidence alone, ended in pure waste and the companies gone bankrupt.
Stories like these are legion, and we will treat all these prototypes in turn, one per week. Perhaps we will not cover all of these, but there will be at least entries (if not photos and data) in the corresponding nation’s pages.
- Little Willie
- T-34 Prototypes: A-20 & A-32
- Type 4 Chi-To
- Panzer VIII Maus
- German WWII prototypes
- CCI tipo 37
- Type 5 Chi-Ri
- Type 5 To-Ku