Everyone’s talking about the quarterback revolution these days; it’s certainly a different landscape than what I was used to with Charlie Batch and Joey Harrington back in the day with the Lions. Sure, they talk about Russell Wilson and Marcus Mariota and Baker Mayfield and guys like that, and I guess it’s true that you don’t have to be huge to be effective necessarily. My boy Lamar started slow last week, but had a strong fourth quarter – even with the loss, I’m already looking forward to working with him next year – perhaps even as his head coach! Wait, scratch that – I get ahead of myself sometimes. Who knows what’ll happen there. At any rate, though, this week’s edition is about how size is most certainly a detriment on the battlefield. Let’s take a look at 1930s Czechoslovakia and their engineering ingenuity, or lack thereof.
Country of origin: Czechoslovakia
Purpose built: Strengthening the Czechoslovak army against skirmishes vs. Nazi Germany, Poland and Hungary
Years used: 1934 – 1944
What is it? A little mini-tank, or tankette, designed to be a cost-effective and easy-to-use method of infantry support in a variety of battle situations. The Tančík was developed in Czechoslovakia starting in 1930, after the army purchased a few British Carden-Lloyd tankettes, which had been decommissioned after the First World War. These tanks also came with a production license in order to improve upon the design and construct more. 70 of these tankettes were built in all, though they had very limited usage in combat situations, up until the 1944 Slovak Uprising. The Tančík really was tiny – it was just 8.86 feet long by 5.74 feet wide, and just 4.76 feet tall, weighed 2.3 tons, and had a top speed of 22 mph, and a range of 62 miles in on-road usage; the crew of two featured a driver and a gunner.
Why didn’t it work? Oh good God, so many reasons:
- The engine, a 1.95-litre water-cooled inline 4-cylinder Praga, making just 30 horsepower, was severely underpowered and prone to constant breakdowns.
- The line of vision was absolutely terrible – the driver could hardly see at all while driving.
- The steering was incredibly difficult, and the transmission, lifted from the Praga AN armored truck, was inadequate for the much heavier tank hull.
- The suspension was virtually nonexistent, which made negotiating off-road terrain extremely difficult.
- The bumpy ride meant that the driver, who had one of the two machine guns mounted in his seating place, had virtually no way of aiming it effectively when the tank went faster than six miles an hour. Also, the driver could only shoot his gun or drive the tank – not both at the same time.
- The driver’s machine gun was fixed in place, and couldn’t be aimed at all, other than by ensuring the tank was pointed directly at the target.
- There was no radio onboard due to lack of space, so the only way to communicate with other tanks was to have the driver literally stick his hand out of a hatch to give hand signals.
What could make it better? What is there to say? I mean, literally everything.
- Engine technology has clearly improved since the 1930s, but even a child could’ve told you 30 horses isn’t nearly enough.
- Perhaps consider a periscope set instead of a series of small slits for your driver?
- If you can solve the issue of driving and shooting at the same time, you could probably do away with one of your crew members, lightening the load and hopefully increasing speed/range.
- If your gun is top-mounted as opposed to front-mounted, it makes for a more versatile weapon if it’s on a swivel mount. Perhaps that means that the weapon itself is more exposed to damage, but this could also possibly be rectified with an additional cowling overtop the gun that could provide additional plating for protection.
- Maybe include an actual suspension system this time around? A tank is remarkably useless if it’s essentially forced to stick to flat, smooth areas only.
Anyways, here’s a video of this thing driving in the modern era. Doesn’t it just strike fear into your heart? No wonder the Nazis annexed the Sudetenland so quickly.
Still, put a few of these in your starting lineup and I’m sure you could run a few play-action plays effectively! Stick ’em in the slot and just let them get hit, but pile up the short yardage situations. They may be slow and small, but hell, New England still pulls that formula off successfully every year, it seems…