Failed Military Machines: Bizarre 20th Century Flying Tanks

In the period between World War One and World War Two, the entire world seemed intent on improving and revolutionizing military technology. One of the strangest concepts was the flying tank: essentially a regular tank with removable glider wings, it was every bit as impractical as it sounds. This wasn’t just a silly dream, though – there was a justifiable reason to put wings onto one of the heaviest, sturdiest military vehicles.

In war, soldiers are often air-dropped into enemy territory, but for obvious reasons it’s difficult for their vehicles and heavy equipment to be dropped with them. Several countries figured that if they could develop a tank that would fly or could be air-dropped into a war zone, they would get the upper hand in the battle. Experimentation with winged tanks continued for several years and spanned the entire globe, including America, Russia, England and Japan.

Many models were attempted: some featured detachable glider wings and some were towed behind or under heavy bombers and dropped with parachutes attached. All were working toward the same goal of combining the two most important (at that time) machines of war: the airplane and the tank. Some of the initial test runs of various winged tanks were successful, but eventually the idea was scrapped. Its death was due to many factors, including the limitations of the materials available at that time. But thanks to larger, stronger, more powerful planes, tanks can be airlifted to where they are needed today.

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See more in Epic Failures or under Vintage & Retro. April, 2010.