Marty Mornhinweg’s Wacky Weapons: The Sizaire-Berwick Wind Wagon

The Maestro
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The Maestro

The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn’t in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
The Maestro
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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

i09
[source]

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!

Information for this article taken from here, here and here. Banner image by The Maestro.

The Maestro
The Maestro
The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn't in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
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Beerguyrob

Sorry – I thought I was going to be reading about a wind wagon train. 2/10
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Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Dear Marty,

I need a weapon that can destroy the racoon that has begun stealing my precious blood oranges. Do you have anything you can recommend?

Yours,

ENRAGED IN LOS ANGELES

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Arm your cat

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

My cat already savagely attacks me for no reason whatsoever; you think I’m going to give her more weapons to do so with?

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Yes

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Well done.

Back in the days when desert fighting was FUN:

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

OK, Tobruk was not really fun, but…..

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Wind wagon? I’m intrigued.
–Brian Kelly

King Hippo

It seems like sommet a military contractor would deploy on a dare/lost bet.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
ballsofsteelandfury

The exposed wheels on an armoured vehicle are also a nice touch. I mean, why bother with armor at all at that point?

Sharkbait

I believe the thinking was bullets only pierced soft fleshy things.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

THAT is what you came up with??

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh