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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a flying TANK! Experimental vehicles reveal the radical ideas of World War II engineers

The Antonov A-40 Krylya Tanka was a Soviet attempt to allow a tank to glide onto a battlefield after being towed aloft by an airplane. It was designed in 1940 by engineer Oleg Antonov

 Tanks designed in the 1930s to get heavy artillery behind enemy lines
Only design to reportedly take flight was T-34 tank that was also a glider
‘The flying tank is a machine to end war,’ engineer John Walter Christie told Modern Mechanics magazine in 1932
You might wonder what engineers were thinking when they came up with this idea.
In the run up to the Second World War, military chiefs wanted something that would get heavy artillery behind enemy lines.
What could be better, they thought, than using the power of a tank or the flexibility of a plane?

 The answer: A flying tank – a concept that was pursued by both the Americans and the Soviets during the 1930s.
In the U.S., engineer John Walter Christie designed a four-tonne self-propelled flying tank that could be used with a pair of wings.
The idea was the tank would use its own power to race down the runway to about 55 mph, then the tank engine would be switched to a propeller and the vehicle would take off.
‘The flying tank is a machine to end war,’ Mr Christie told Modern Mechanics magazine in 1932.
 ‘Knowledge of its existence and possession will be a greater guarantee of peace than all the treaties that human ingenuity can concoct.
‘A flock of flying tanks set loose upon an enemy and any war is brought to an abrupt finish.’
But engineering problems plagued the project and the vehicle never flew. The War Department and Mr Christie cut ties when he offered to sell his designs to the Soviet Union.
But the Soviet Union’s initial attempts were just as bad.
Gizmodo reports that when Soviet high command began looking into the issue, they decided to take an obvious route and simply drop tanks out of planet.
The problem was the tanks didn’t have any parachutes. Unsurprisingly, the idea didn’t work and the Soviet Union decided to strap tanks to TB-3 bombers instead.
In 1940, engineer Oleg Antonov came up with the idea to transform a 32-tonne T-34 tank into a glider.
His plan was to tow the tank, dubbed Kr'lya Tanka, behind a pair of ANT-20 planes, and then elegantly glide the armoured vehicle into enemy territory.
Whilst U.S. sources claim Kr’lya Tanka never left the ground, Soviet sources say a single successful flight was made in 1941 or 1942.


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