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Remember Tucker the movie? the Tucker Tiger tank, a 114-mph tank

  • Ichingcarpenter (4151 posts)
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    Remember Tucker the movie? the Tucker Tiger tank, a 114-mph tank

    Preston Tucker died on this date in 1956, at the age of 53. We remember him for the car that bore his name, the legal battles that dogged him for years, and the slick-talking dreamer who cut years off his life trying to sell the world on a three-eyed dreamboat powered by a helicopter engine and whose only atonement in life was being played by Jeff Bridges.

    But Tucker also built an armored car.

    The year was 1937, as a breathless announcer shouts off-screen somewhere. Tucker, our intrepid adventurer, was laid up in an Indianapolis hospital after having his appendix removed. War was looming over the Atlantic. “What if,” thought Tucker, “I built a high-speed armored tank? Surely there’d be interest in that!”

    The result was the Tucker Tiger, a narrow combat vehicle that resembled a Bantam Jeep up front with a big wagon-like compartment. (Squint, and it looks kind of like an olive-drab Jeepster Commando.) It weighed in at 10,000 pounds (a full ton lighter than existing vehicles), was entirely bulletproof, featured air conditioning and the “Tucker Turret,” whose 360-degree powered dome later found its way from PT boats and LCM-8 Mike Boats to B-17 and B-29 bombers. And in true Tucker fashion, he became wrapped up in lawsuits for stolen patents.


    (One wonders if by applying “Tucker” to all of his inventions, Preston sought a lasting Trump-like reverence — or if things went wrong, the ignominy of the next “Acme” from a Tex Avery cartoon.)

    Just one prototype was built. Initially, Tucker had planned to sell to the Dutch, who wanted something to traverse muddy ground. In 1940 he attempted to broker a deal, but by then Holland was embroiled in its own troubles. Afterwards, he tried to sell it to the American government, but the film claims the Tiger’s top speed — which blew Army specifications out of the water — ran afoul of politicians, who believed, “at the time, it was the opinion that a combat car shouldn’t be driven over 35 miles per hour,” as the video above attests.


    videos here on the vehicle

    The 1948 Tucker car


    Unveiled in 1946 in a series of sketches, the Tucker Torpedo, as the sedan was called, hurtled into the future: With its swooping lines, the car appeared almost as if it were moving, even when standing still. “It was like the Star Wars of that period,” says Jay Follis, historian for the Tucker Automobile Club of America. It wasn’t only the sleek shape that resonated: The car boasted innovations including a third, centered headlight, which swiveled to light the way around corners; fenders that pivoted defensively when the car turned; disc brakes; a pop-out windshield (designed to eject during a crash, protecting passengers); a rear engine; and a padded dashboard.
    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-tucker-was-the-1940s-car-of-the-future-135008742/#qAuRxYzmMliS58mp.99
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  • Marym625 (28368 posts)
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    1. Thank you for this

    That’s some amazing stuff. That thing should be used now. The air conditioning and lighter weight should be reason enough.

    I have to see this again. Haven’t seen it since it came out. If I remember correctly, it was a really good movie

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  • happyslug (374 posts)
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    2. I can see why the Army rejected this "Tank"

    By the late 1930s, it had become clear that tracks were what was needed for tanks.  The reason for this was MUD,  In the Videos it is mentioned that each wheel had brakes that would STOP a wheel from spinning in mud but what if all four wheels were so stuck?   Mud was the MAIN fear of any tank crew and tracks would spread the weight of a tank over the length of any track. Wheels would only spread its weight over the two to three inches of the wheel touching the ground.  Armor Cars had been in use in 1914, but mud killed them for use in actual combat except as scout cars (and in Scout Cars NOT to go into combat if they could help it).

    Now, the video mentioned “Caterpillar” tracks could be installed, but that is the same type of track used in American Half Tracks of WWII.  In desert conditions such tracks worked well, in mud conditions it was found to be less effective.  The main problem is such tracks could only spread the weight of the vehicle only to a limited extent, not the full extent of tank tracks (Please note German Half Tracks were noted to be more effective in mud then US Half Tracks, for German Half Tracks were designed to have tracks, not trucks retrofitted with tracks.  Thus German Half tracks spread the weight of the Half Track over almost 3/4rds of its length, while American Half Tracks barely spread their weight over 1/4 of their length).

    That appear to be the MAIN reason for the rejection of the Trucker “Tank”.  Good in dry conditions but less than ideal in mud or snow.

    The second reason is the location of the main battery.  By the 1930s it had become clear that the best arrangement for a tank was the tank commander to be on top of the tank, riding with his head and upper body above the tank hatch (except when being hit by artillery, when it when such commanders would close their hatches). This was found to be the best way for the tank commander to see the battlefield and direct the fire of the tank weapons. The turret on top of the tank would force the commander to be the gunner and that was known to be two jobs to many on for one man.

    Notice I did not mention the 37mm gun, a standard tank gun of the late 1930s, but obsolete by 1940 and hopelessly obsolete by 1944.  In other tanks of WWII, the tanks were upgunned (or example the Panzer Mark III, was upgunned to a 50 mm gun in 1940 and then made into a self propelled gun in 1943 for then it could take a 75mm gun, the 75mm gun had no turret the gun was in the haul of the vehicle).  Tanks NOT able to be upgunned were converted to other weapons, being used to haul artillery or becoming self propelled artillery themselves (a lot of German Panzer Mark IIs ended up in these roles as did the US M3 Grant and Lee Tanks).

    My comments are on the general design idea NOT technical issues, i.e. the overall design as it was to be used, as oppose to the gun it was using being to small for actual combat.  I notice the turret was used in planes and PT boats, where the commander of the plane of boat was some place else on the plane or boat and I suspect the turret was the basis of the 50 caliber AA guns hauled in some half tracks during WWII.  The gun being to small could be fixed (the Israeli Army installed 20 mm AA guns on the turrets of its AA half tracks for use in the 1960s and 1970s for example) that the gunner and the tank commander were the same person could NOT be fixed.

    Please note, the problem of being a wheeled vehicle would have been made WORSE if a larger gun was decided upon later on.  The larger gun would require a larger (and heavier) vehicle and the problems of excess ground pressure do to being a wheeled vehicle would make it even a worse vehicle.  This problem is NOT unsolvable but requires someone to accept tactical limitations do to the use of wheeled vehicles.  The US Army has recently adopted a eight wheel vehicle with a 105mm gun for use in areas with roads (paved AND unpaved), such as in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq, to supplement but not replace tanks.  These vehicles use HUGE wheels NOT available in the 1940s, the size of the wheels increase the area the vehicle can spread its weight, and such vehicles have EIGHT of wheels, to further spread out that weight.  Tracked vehicles must have their tracks replaced about every 2000 miles, a wheel vehicle 20,000 miles and sometimes 50,000 miles, thus if you can keep your forces out of the Mud wheeled vehicles will sufficient, but if you have to go over bad terrain, you want tracks.   One of the problems that showed up in Iraq was US Forces having to abandoned their wheeled  vehicles when insurgents they were chasing ran into the desert sands (and by the world “ran” I mean actually running into the desert, US Forces had to follow on foot or call in Air Power in such situations).  The vehicle in question were Humvees, the sands were to much for them, especially once the US up armored the Humvees (Thus the US ordered some heavily armored trucks to replace the Humvees, but with additional wheels to spread out the extra weight of such vehicles_).

    Back to the Tucker “Tank”, it had several good points (it armor glass was one of them along with his design of the turret) and those points were used elsewhere, but in a tank the overall plan for the Tucker Tank was a failure, an interesting failure but still a failure.