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November 06, 2006


Nope, not clothes. Nor the Terran Overlord Government, either.

In the early part of WWII, most British tanks sucked for one reason or another. A part was the armament, pretty punky in comparison to the people they were fighting, and their engines weren't the best (not for nothing is a brit mechanic called a "fitter", and they made their tracks out of softer steel, so they wore out quickly. In other words, they didn't design very good tanks. They had two major types of tanks - "cruiser" tanks, which were the breakthrough follow-up - cavalry on tracks, which were fast and lightly armed (heh, FCS, anyone?). The other was the "infantry" tanks, which were slow, better armored, and... poorly armed.

By the end of the war, they were doing better, with the Comet series and the new Centurion tank coming into being.

Mind you, the US wasn't doing much better. Anyone remember the M3 Lee? And the M4 "Ronson" Sherman wasn't a generation-jumping improvement...

So, the Brits were desperate for ideas. And while they were looking forward, the also decided to look backwards. The tank pics I put up over the weekend, is indeed the tank from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. What I was expecting, but didn't get, was some grognard to hazard that it was a TOG1 or TOG 2, the products of the Special Vehicle Development Committee, better known as "The Old Gang."

Sir Albert Stern, head of the Tank Supply Depot in World War I, was tasked to form a design team in July 1939. Other members of the committee were Sir E. Tennyson d'Eyncourt, General Swinton, Mr. Ricardo, and Major Wilson. They were all about building a heavy tank that could carry infantry (Merkava, anyone?) and brushed off the old Mark VIII drawings and did some updating.

The prototype TOG1 was completed in October 1940 and had a hull-mounted howitzer and a Valentine II turret on it, very similar in concept to the Churchill.

TOG 1 tank

But that wasn't enough! Oh no! Then came the TOGII! Which dispensed with the hull-mounted howitzer but stuck a spanking huge turret mounting a 17-pounder. Both of these things steered like underpowered freighters with a full load.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the TOGII!!!

TOG II tank at Bovington

Much as I'd like to tell you that was an adult in front of the tank, it's a little girl. Still, the thing's *huge*.

The TOG 2 weighs 80 tons, is 33' 3" long, 10' 3" wide, and 10' high. Crewed by six men, it could rush across the battlefield at a breathtaking 8.5mph. Whew! Be still my NASCAR heart! Those doors are for the infantry to get in and out of the behemoth as it trundled over the trenches the Old Gang were sure were going to define this second bout of intra-Euro fratricide. Powered by twin diesel-electric generators this is the ultimate expression of World War One tank - it would have been quite at home at Cambrai - but wasn't ready for things like, oh, Gazala, El Alamein, much less facing german armor in Normandy and beyond.

The success of the Churchill put paid to these monsters. Not that the Churchill didn't share a lot in common with them...

Comments on TOGs
MajMike briefed on November 6, 2006 08:44 AM

oh man, see what i miss when i have a drill weekend!

shoot, now i gotta go and scroll back to see all the panzer yummieness.

J.M. Heinrichs briefed on November 6, 2006 06:21 PM

That's because someone did look up The Old Gang, to confirm that was not the correct answer. Neither was the "[deleted cuz I'm gonna use that sometime]" ...


Sgt. B. briefed on November 6, 2006 06:28 PM

I was going to hazard a guess at the TOG series, but I didn't think that the prototypes had survived... I was willing to venture a guess that it was a Mk1 with a Hollywood turret (the barrels coming out of the sponsons didn't look small enough to be the "female" version...

Sneaky fellow, Sir John...

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 6, 2006 06:36 PM

Like I was gonna get you on something like that... sheesh.

And *now* I have to wait a few months before I can use [deleted].

And you're disqualified when I do run with it!


Fodder briefed on November 6, 2006 09:10 PM

Although I am obviously in over my head with the gang at this site, I gotta say that is one of the dumbest armor ideas I've ever seen built.

I won't bore you experts with my civilian opinions but the more I learn the more amazed I am the Brits hung on until us Yanks got involved for real.

Thank goodness my father served in American fleet boats out of Pearl, at least they had a chance and he survived it (stop with the Civil War jokes).

J.M. Heinrichs briefed on November 6, 2006 09:45 PM

Snicker ...


J-P briefed on November 7, 2006 01:02 AM

"Powered by twin diesel-electric generators this is the ultimate expression of World War One tank..."

...just in time for the second world war.

You know, I'm still amazed that we aren't speaking German.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 7, 2006 06:20 AM

Fodder - but the quickest way to learn to swim is by swimming with these sharks.

At least in these waters.

They'll never bite off more than will grow back...