"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"The Tale of the Tanks" by Dr. Seuss

"Don't You Mess With Cupid".
This image is to die for. It's got everything a tank picture should have, fleeing, panicked soldiers, even one crushed under the tracks but the show stopper has got to be the pincer. Where the hell did that come from?
So, this "artist's rendering" must have been put together by someone who obviously never actually saw a tank.
To be fair, it was fairly up-to-the-moment.
According to the caption, the card was cleared by the censors just a few weeks after the first-ever-in-the-history-of-the-world tank action on the Somme.
Apparently the secret wonder-weapon was actually pretty secret.
Given what the tanks really looked like, it's easy to see why the censors saw this picture as harmless.

See, no giant pincer on the bow of the Mk 1 pictured above.
But what of this odd thing with the huge pincers on the front immediately forward of a single wheel and those man-crushing treads in the rear?
We've seen this configuration before, here in the form of the Holt Artillery Tractor.
We're also aware that the Americans, even though never produced a tank for the Great War effort, were hard at work in R&D.
And not all were as doomed-to-failure as the Holt (There's that name again) 150 ton Field Monitor. Engineers in the U.S. took the French F17, acclaimed "best tank of the war" and, in converting it for a different power plant improved it in the process.
Among the folks tinkering with the concept of the armored tractor - and the giant contracts that would flow forth from it - was the C. L. Best Gas Traction Company of San Leandro, California.
A different company from the original and, better-known, Best Manufacturing, and started by the son of founder Daniel Best, it was formed in 1908 when Holt acquired the parent company.
In competition with Holt in Stockton, they produced gasoline-powered, agricultural machinery until the two firms merged in 1925 to form Caterpillar.

This is a Best 75, the direct counterpart to the Holt Artillery Tractor. It's got far nicer lines, I think.
It provided the platform for some experimentation during the wartime years.
Next up: The earliest effort, 1916, which fits with the date on the post card.
This image came from the excellent website, Tanks! where, in spite of being cropped so tightly, the caption states that, at the front of the beast - right side of the picture - was mounted a "wire-cutter".
Could this be, methinks the origin of the horrific appendages imagined by the feverish postcard artist?
Next photo: The second - and final - model from 1917.
By this time the British tanks were kind of showing the way so nothing ever came of the armed Airstream trailer with the blistering top speed of 3mph.

It's important to me that no one feel left out.
Above, a Holt 75 tricked out in a similar fashion.
I've always wondered about the efficacy of the front steering wheel on a tracked vehicle although I suspect that some braking of the tracks helped move the monster around corners as well.
In any case, it seems that our postcard artist took some liberties but wasn't completely off the mark.
How about a movie?
A Best 75 showing off its stuff.

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