Latest posts by The Maestro (see all)
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You notice how the Super Bowl is basically never held in cold weather these days? Either they put it in a dome, or else it ends up somewhere in the South where they don’t have to worry about cold weather. That’s kind of a shame, if you ask me. I like the unpredictability of weather – I think wind is a wonderful thing a lot of the time. Kind of appropriate, really, especially in light of the Wacky Weapon we’ll be looking at together this week!
THE SIZAIRE-BERWICK WIND WAGON
Country of origin: United Kingdom/France
Purpose built: Desert vehicle in northern Africa
Years used: 1915
What is it? In the First World War, a number of countries realized the need to protect their African colonies as conflicts escalated, and thus rushed to develop vehicles suitable for usage in the desert sand. This vehicle was a joint British-French effort known as the Sizaire-Berwick Wind Wagon, and only a single model was built, as a prototype for an Allied defence force in North Africa. The prototype was a basic truck bed, with a 110-horsepower Sunbeam airplane engine and propellor mounted at the rear. Due to the nature of desert sand tending to consume conventional vehicles, the engineers felt the large thrust-to-weight ratio of an airplane engine, in addition to the propellor, would be able to keep the vehicle from sinking into the sand dunes. The driver sat behind armor-plated walls and roof, and a single forward-facing Vickers machine gun was added as well.
Why didn’t it work?
- Despite having armor for the driver, both the engine and radiator of the vehicle have zero additional protection, meaning they could be easily immobilized by enemy gunfire. Seems sensible to make an armored vehicle that stops when shot at…
- Even though the propellor points backwards, sand is still kicked up absolutely everywhere, meaning that grit and dust still would have immobilized the engine on its own eventually anyhow. Not to mention the visibility issues for any vehicles behind the truck… and, realistically, probably for the truck’s own driver as well.
- Imagine being cooped up in a hot armored box in the middle of the desert without any air conditioning. If your enemies or your own truck didn’t kill you first, the heatstroke absolutely would have in the end.
- This vehicle weighed around 8800 lbs., making it almost four and a half tons, resting on a conventionally wide truck frame. If you’re gonna build something that heavy, you’ll need a much larger surface area for your chassis, otherwise you’re gonna sink in the sand, propellor or not.
What could make it better?
It’s fucked. It’s completely fucked. Just build a tank instead, guys. You’re embarrassing yourselves. Literally 12 months later, the Mark I tank was in action in the Somme, and in November 1917 at Cambrai, the British Tank Corps went and fucked shit up in a major way. 12 months from this monstrosity to that. Smarten up.
You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of how teams are always designed on potential. I like things with potential. Sure, this thing ended up sucking ass, but I can’t really fault the Allied armies for looking for something suitable for desert warfare. Sometimes you just need patience. Sure, Ty Detmer once threw seven picks in a single game against the Cleveland Browns, but we never gave up on the guy! Wait, we did? Ah, I see. Nevertheless!