As the 19th century turned into the 20th century, Austro-Hungarian War Office came to realize that infantry may require help when charging into machine gun fire. Hand-held shields and knightly armor proved too heavy at thicknesses necessary to stop bullets, and infantry lacked firepower in any case. After several hours of partaking in beer drinking contests, a solution was found.
The new armored gun carriage (Panzergeschutzwagen) had an engine, a driver, a gunner atop the driver in a rotating turret, and little else. Tank was very slow, with road speed of 16 kph and crosscountry speed of 4 kph.
Shape of the new tank led to it being nicknamed Mulleirmerkampfwagen (Trashcan Fighting Vehicle). It proved very adept at driving across paved surfaces, but rather unstable when undergoing cross-country or cross-trench maneuvers.
General Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf was determined to fix all the flaws in the design. Several proposals were made to solve this, mostly centered around adding walking gear to the tank which it could then use to simply step over the obstacles. Second variant of the tank was thus designed, with several additional capabilities. Crew would help to propel the tank by means of turning hand cranks, and articulated legs were added to the tank in order to help it cross trenches. A scout variant of the tank was also designed. It was equipped with a hot air baloon that would, in theory, allow it to fly and reconnointer enemy positions.
There were problems, however. The engine was not very reliable, and the walking gear had a very disturbing tendency of breaking down.
Final blow came when demonstration was being held. For as of yet unexplained reasons, the vehicle went out of control. Screaming “Vernichten! Vernichten!”, the tank began randomly firing into the crowd of onlookers.
This event also doomed the later Burstyn Tank.
Note: while this is a joke post, Burstyn Tank – which in fact inspired this short article – was a real proposal and I will be writing about it someday.