I Love It When Fiddly Bits of History Come Together

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Tuckerfan, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    About 15 years ago, I stumbled across images of a magazine article written in the 1930s which described the insane concept of a flying tank. Yes, that big thing which lumbers around battlefields, crushing everything in its path, and getting all shooty with its big boom stick. These weren't tanks that were loaded into the cargo holds of giant planes and flown to someplace and dropped via parachutes. Nope, these tanks had wings and propellors and were supposed to fly to a combat area, land, strip off the wings, and then start wreaking havoc. At speeds of close to 120 MPH. The designer of them was a guy by the name of J. Walter Christie.

    Hmm, sez I. That idea sounds really familiar. Tucker wanted to build a high-speed combat car that could go that fast. Sure sounds like those were complimentary weapon systems. Later on, I find out that the story about how the American Bantam Co. developed the first prototype Jeep in less than 90 days is bullshit, and that racing legend (and Tucker's mentor) Harry A. Miller had a prototype of the Jeep running around the Bantam factory in the early 1930s. That's enough to put Tucker and Jeeps together, since I always thought it was weird how much Tucker's Combat Car/Tiger Tank resembled Jeeps. Then I find out that Harry Miller was helping design his flying tanks. So, it all makes sense. Christie has this vision of a modern, highly mobile, military and is building concept vehicles to help convince the military.

    There it all kind of sits in the ol' noggin. Until I decide to read "Patton: The Man Behind the Legend" by Martin Blumenson. On page 121, there's a brief mention of Patton, in 1919, describing his ideas of mechanized warfare to J. Walter Christie. Patton maintained contact with Christie and even helped finance some of his projects. All of which means, that high-speed, air deliverable tanks, Jeeps, and MRAPS can trace their origins to General George S. Patton. Kind of impressive, and he laid the groundwork for it in 1919.
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  2. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    The American Bantum Company was actually started and owned by Austin Cars UK. As a side note they submitted a prototype to become the first military Jeep and the government told them and Willys to work together so that the original Jeep was actually half American and half British. Land rovers are still better though I liked the two Jeep Chomanches I have had.
  3. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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  4. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    "Fiddly bits"? :unsure: I think that's what Gary Glitter got in trouble for! Anyway interesting thread! Yeah Patton was quite an "outside the box" thinker.
  5. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Actually, by the time they were building the Jeep they were no longer connected to the British company (it took a lawsuit to settle the matter over if they could still use the Bantam name). And the first Range Rover prototype was literally constructed from Jeep parts in a barn shortly after the war ended.
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  6. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Oh, and the guy who described watching Harry Miller driving a military four-wheel-drive prototype vehicle around the Bantam factory? Eddie Offutt. He was integral to Tucker building his car, and was driving the one that rolled at Indy. I think that we can safely say Patton had a hand in designing the Jeep and laid the groundwork for things like the MRAP.