1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 65

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 65

Brussels, capital of the Netherlands

The king in the Netherlands — Fernando I, as he now titled himself, being the founder of his new dynasty — looked around the conference table at his closest advisers.

“We’re all agreed, then? We will take no advantage of the current civil conflict in the USE. Beyond, of course, using it to apply more leverage in existing negotiations over trade matters and minor border disputes.”

They’d decided on that term toward the beginning of the conference. “Civil conflict,” as opposed to “civil war.” There were important connotations involved.

The advisers, in turn, all looked around the table, gauging each other’s expressions.

Rubens provided the summary. “Yes, Your Majesty, we’re agreed. The benefits involved simply aren’t worth the risks.”

“Small benefits,” said Alessandro Scaglia, “with very great risks.”

One of the advisers wiggled his fingers. “I don’t disagree with the decision, but I don’t honestly think the risks are that great.”

“No?” said Miguel de Manrique. The soldier’s expression was grim. “Stearns might come back to power, you know. He’s bad enough, but what’s worse is that he’d only do so if Richter holds Dresden. How would you like it if she came back here, with a grudge to settle?”

Archduchess Isabella’s hand flew to her throat. “Oh, dear God. Nephew, listen to Manrique! None of your headstrong ways, you hear? King or not, I won’t have it. I want some peace and quiet in these last few months before I slip into the grave.”

Poznań, Poland

“The king is adamant, and the Sejm still more so. That’s just the way it is, young Opalinski. They’ll have no talk of a peace settlement.”

Stanislaw Koniecpolski shifted his shoulders under the heavy bearskin coat. Even for January, the day was cold, but the grand hetman wouldn’t be seen shivering in public. It was hard not to, though.

Lukasz Opalinski wasn’t even trying. He had his hands tucked into his armpits and was making a veritable stage drama out of shivering.

“Dear God, it’s cold!” he hissed. Then, tight-faced: “And I suppose they insisted once again that we had to sally from the gates and smite the invaders. Applying the brilliant tactic of a hussar charge through deep snow against rifled muskets firing from well-built fieldworks.”

Koniecpolski chuckled. “They did indeed. But there, I’m afraid, they are trespassing onto my rightful territory, and I am not legally obliged to listen to the silly beggars. No, rest easy, young man. There’ll be no idiotic sallies out of the gates of Poznań. We’ll stay behind these walls in comfort — using the term loosely, I admit — while the German shits freeze out there.”

He did another shift of his shoulders. A rapid succession of shifts, actually. Not an outright shiver, but certainly a close cousin. “Besides, there’s a bright side to continuing the war.”

Koniecpolski had his own hands tucked into opposing sleeves of his coat. Not wanting to expose them to the elements, he used a gesture of his head to point to the compound behind them. From their height atop one of the bastions, they had a good view of the now-largely-dismantled APC that Lukasz had captured from the enemy.

“You can be damn sure that one of Gustav Adolf’s demands — he’ll be inflexible about it too — will be the return of that APC. I’d much rather keep it for a while. Walenty tells me they’re making great progress.”

Opalinski smiled. “He’s not bragging, either. I’d say he was, except every day that goes by, Ellis gets more unhappy.”

Walenty Tarnowski was the young nobleman who was bound and determined to establish what he called “advanced mechanics” in the commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. Unusually for a scholar, he was quite willing to get his hands dirty, too. Koniecpolski had given him the assignment of studying the captured war machine to see if he could duplicate it — or, since that wasn’t likely, see if he could design a simpler and more primitive version of the device.

Mark Ellis was the American soldier they’d captured when they seized the APC. Under questioning, he’d claimed that he knew very little about the machine, being a civil as opposed to mechanical engineer. He’d also claimed he would refuse to talk under torture.

The latter claim was dubious, to say the least. The number of men in the world who would refuse to talk under torture was minute. The problem was rather that their talk was usually babble, and Koniecpolski saw no reason to think the up-timer would be any different. Besides, he had no desire to stir up American animosity toward Poland by mistreating one of their people. Sooner or later, after all, Poland would need to negotiate a peace treaty.

So, Tarnowski toiled on, day after day, with no help from Ellis. But he really was quite adept at this “advanced mechanics” of his. So who could say? The time might come — and much sooner than people thought — when Polish hussars would ride into battle on iron horses instead of fleshy ones.

***

Gloomily, Mark Ellis listened to Walenty Tarnowski’s depiction of today’s results. This morning’s results, rather. The nobleman had all afternoon to ferret out still more knowledge.

They’d gotten in the habit of eating lunch together. Perhaps oddly, given the way they’d started, the two men had gotten to be on very cordial terms. You could even say they’d become friends, in a way.

Mark still insisted he would say nothing, nothing, nothing — subject him to what agony they would! To which Walenty replied that he was a student of advanced mechanics, not a torturer. And besides, Mark had nothing to say anyway, being a mere civil engineer. The ritual insults exchanged and mutual honor upheld, they’d then proceed to have the sort of pleasant chats that young men will have when they’re in relaxed and convivial company. Walenty, being a Polish nobleman, called it “intelligent conversation.” Mark, who fancied himself a West Virginia hillbilly, called it “shooting the shit.”

In truth, Mark Ellis was very far from being a hillbilly, unless you chose to slap the label on any and all West Virginians — which would certainly be objected to by at least three-fourths of the state’s population. He had three years of college, just for starters, where any self-respecting hillbilly would only grudgingly admit to having graduated from high school. The one and only characteristic he shared with hillbillies was, ironically, the one he insisted to his Polish captors not to possess — he was, in fact, a very good auto mechanic.

So he knew, better than most people would, just how much progress Walenty was making. It was pretty astonishing, actually. Mark still thought there wasn’t much chance the Poles could produce a functioning armored fighting vehicle of their own, not for a number of years to come. There were just too many technological obstacles to overcome — many of them ones which not even the USE could handle yet.

But that would be the only reason they couldn’t, not lack of knowledge. Walenty Tarnowski already knew why an automobile or truck worked, front to back, and he’d soon be able to teach anyone with mechanical aptitude all of the basic principles involved in creating a damn tank.

Luckily for the USE, which had started this stupid war thanks to that idiot Gustav Adolf’s medieval dynastic fetishes, the Poles simply didn’t have the industrial base to make a tank, regardless of how much knowledge they had.

But how long would that remained true?

“So much for dumb Polacks,” he muttered, after Walenty left to go back to work on the APC.

Mark got up and went to the window that gave him a view to the west. “Come on, guys. Quit screwing around and sign a damn peace treaty, will you?”

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43 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 65

  1. dave o says:

    Polish tanks. I assume internal combustion engines. Needed: Iron mines. Steel production. Ability to make large castings for engine blocks etc. Machine tools and shops. Oil wells.Refineries. If gasoline, ceramic technology for spark plugs. Bearings.Smokeless powder. And on and on and on. Much earlier Flint wrote about making machines to make machines. He was right then. But he seems to have forgotten it now. It’s possible that with a lot of government support to bring modern (mostly 19th century and first of 20th century) technology. But it isn’t happening any time soon. And that’s ignoring Polish culture and politics. Maybe Koniecpolski is rich enough to fund all this development himself. If he isn’t. . .

  2. Ed says:

    Why do you say Eric has forgotten about needing machines to make machines? Its not like Koniecpolski is anywhere close to a production line of Stalin IIs yet.

    Quote: “there wasn’t much chance the Poles could produce a functioning armored fighting vehicle of their own, not for a number of years to come.”

  3. papertiger says:

    Sometimes I am glad that G2 is out of commission. The Dane Prince and G2’s daughter seem to have more sense. The whole eastern front seemed a pretty stupid move for G2 to make and his approach to the Poles seems woefully inadaquate for a “brilliant” general. I always wondered if Eric was somehow balancing out the scales so that it did not seem that the serendipity factor got too high on the USE side of things.
    OR
    Was the whole Eastern Front just a set up for the Saxon Uprising and a more rapid transition to a more republican form of government more limits on the monarchy?

  4. Johnny Davis says:

    @1. I doubt any tanks made in this timeline will be internal combustion. I imagine external combustion engines would be easier to make- stirling cycle engines might be the most commonly used engine in this universe.

    Not only that, but the Poles have almost certainly heard of blitzkrieg. Seeing themselves as armored cavalry blitzing other nations into submission is probably a popular concept. It might not happen now, but in 35 years, I could see industry expanding to the point where tanks are possible. The nice thing about an aristocracy is that they can take the long run.

  5. Bret Hooper says:

    @1 Dave O: You write “Much earlier Flint wrote about making machines to make machines. He was right then. But he seems to have forgotten it now.” It does not so seem to me: Just because Walenty Tarnowski is naive enough to think that one of these days he will be able to produce working APCs does not mean that EF thinks so too. Tarnowski is hardly the first downtimer in 163x to bite off more than he can chew; consider G2A’s invasion of Poland.

  6. Fry says:

    I wonder if they know about steam power… and gotten details on the various steam engines in USE… to fit under that armored fighting vehicle…

  7. ET1swaw says:

    @6 Fry: Steam- or ICE- powered ‘war wagons’ being worked on in Bohemia is canon and Slush has one in Denmark.
    Only Russia, Burgundy (Bernhard’s sandbox), the Swiss Confederacy, and Austria-Hungary have yet to be heard from on taking advantage of USE civil unrest and G2A’s unhealth. Kalmar Union and Bohemia are allies; Bavaria is attacking; France and Spain with their own internal unrest; Russia only borders on Swedish territory; and the Rhine is its own arena. I am suprised that Poznan is still the only ‘PLC vs G2A’ front covered, but I guess that leaves more room for GG stories.

  8. ET1swaw says:

    Austria-Hungary only shares a very narrow border with the USE (south of Salzburg, north of Venice; with province of Tyrol). In order to attack Oberpfalz or other provinces they would have to go through Bavaria, Bohemia, Archbishopric of Passau, or the PLC. Russia OTOH borders on Finland and all the Swedish Dominions except Swedish Prussia and in OTL took them from Sweden.

  9. Stanley Leghorn says:

    Really wonder if any reference materials to the Doble brothers made it through the ring of fire. They had a functional steam powered car engine that could be used in light armored fighting vehicles. OTOH, taking a steam locomotive and converting it into a land juggernaught ala H.G. Wells might not be impossible. Not in any large numbers, but possible.

    But not for a while, and much longer outside of Germany or China, both of which have heavy metal working skills.

  10. johan says:

    @8 ET1swaw: And if Butterflies in the Kremlin (I know that they are rewriting it so this might all be moot, but I doubt it) is anything to go by, their modernisation and industrialisation might result in Sweden losing their dominions early. Provided Russia is not scared of the USE. If I were the king of Sweden I would make the fact that they don’t have direct access to the baltic as painless as possible. So no stifling export taxes to use the Baltic ports. I’d try to encourage them to expand south, into the Black Sea and make an enemy of the Ottomans instead.

  11. dave o says:

    I didn’t mention in my first post the question of what the Polish tanks are going to be armed with. Early tanks (WWI) were armed mostly with machine guns, some with small cannons. Down-time they are using small arms in the converted coal trucks, but these are clearly stopgaps. Another long hard development process. I also didn’t mention the lack of craftsmen in Poland. Knowing how to build tanks or anything else complicated is the easy part. Having the skills to do it is a lot harder.

    People who suggest steam power have to realize that it must be oil fired. Coal is simply not practical in a vehicle of reasonable size and weight. And I don’t think steam is all that practical anyway. What do they do with all the waste heat? Look up crew experiences in early tanks. One very important factor limiting their use was they were too hot for the crews to endure. Anyone who has modern tank experience is welcome to say whether this is still a problem.

    #5 Bret: I don’t think Flint would have introduced Polish tanks if he didn’t intend to introduce them somewhen in the near future. But you may be right.

    #7 & 8 ET1swaw: I assumed that Austro-Hungary had already been taken care of with the Turkish threat. I would think Russia is more likely to attack Poland than Swedish territories. Downtime WWI anyone? Bernard is a possibility, but there’s already a army facing him.

  12. stoicheion says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwacha

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_wagon

    Within a century, HORSE drawn “armored” vehicles will be used in the real world. A large obstacle to any technological progress is knowing it can be done. Once a theory is proven, everything else is mostly engineering.
    Humans of the era could work steel. It isn’t very good steel by modern standards but steel it is. Most ICE’s are cast iron, or at least the first ones were.
    Any competent mechanic, given the resources of a kingdom, could build a working ICE in 6 months. Mass production would take a few years.
    It’s really not that hard. Bearings and spark plugs would be the bottleneck. Although Fiat doesn’t use bearings in some of their engines, or didn’t back in the 60’s and 70’s.
    Milage would be measured not in fuel but breakdowns.

    Sort of like National Socialist Workers Party tanks in late WW2. Or the vaunted T-34, which was shipped to the front with spare transaxles strapped to the rear deck.

  13. wyrm says:

    @9 Stanley Leghorn

    There is a third major location of metal working skills – Southern England. In the Weald of Kent there is a unusual type of limestone that, combined with the local ironstone deposits, produces peculiarly high quality (i.e. not likely to shatter when subjected to gunpowder explosions) iron. Until the mid eighteenth century, they produced all the cannon for the Royal Navy (and, “illegally”, foreign navies) At the time of the Ring of Fire, there were over 200 smelters operational in the weald, producing cannon and other military materials for the Deptford, Greenwich, Chatham & Sheerness dockyards, and Woolwich arsenal.

    (Although iron produced using coking coal undercut the prices of the Wealden forgemasters by the end of the 17th century, the superior metallurgical properties of Wealden iron justified its use in weapons until the mid 18th century.)

    I suggest that this area is at least equal to the Germanies at the time, especially since any tank-like machine built downtime is likely to need high quality iron for boilers.

  14. MikeyMikeMikey says:

    Quoted from dave o: “I don’t think Flint would have introduced Polish tanks if he didn’t intend to introduce them somewhen in the near future. But you may be right.”

    Not necessarily. Flint also introduced Danish diving gear and even a prototype submarine, and so far that never went anywhere. Ferdinand III has a fancy sports car, the mechanics who maintain said car, and several American defectors — which is far more technical knowhow than the Polish have — and any project of theirs isn’t going to be putting out anything too fancy anytime soon either.

  15. Cobbler says:

    @ 1, Dave O: Smokeless powder? Do you mean some sort of cordite?

    It’s been a long time since I rebuilt a car engine. But I don’t remember using gunpowder—smoky or smokeless—anywhere in the process.

    Or is the smokeless powder for mining? Old fashioned gunpowder works for that. Dynamite would be better, but black powder doesn’t require an extra R&D project.

  16. Peter says:

    I think all the references Eric has made to various tech toys in Denmark, Austria, Poland, etc. really serve only three purposes: 1) Lay groundwork for future stories, 2) show how concentrated effort can produce one or two advanced items, at large cost, but is not the same as mass production, 3) demonstrate the incomplete grasp of industrial realities of many national leaderships – a weakness that Mike Stearns planned for and will exploit. Poland’s investigations are actually somewhat practical, in that it is not unreasonable for them to build the skills and facilities they would require. (It would take over a decade by the most generous estimation I can imagine, but it’s not unreasonable.)

  17. Doug Lampert says:

    @11, An Abrams has an air-conditioner built in, the main purpose is to help cool the engine, but it is supposed to also cool the crew compartment since the US Military thinks a crew NOT in serious danger of heatstroke functions better than one that is.

    I’ve never been in one, but I’d guess they’re still uncomfortably hot but not unbearably so.

    I agree that steam is a lousy idea for tanks. The power to wieght ratio sucks and even IC engines had real trouble with that. I do think Flint is perfectly capable of introducing something that he doesn’t plan to use for years. You are aware that he spent DECADES working as a professional machinist? It is VERY unlikely that he’s suddenly forgotten just how hard costructing decent machine tools or well fitted cylinders and bearing is.

  18. jeff bybee says:

    one question came to mind. in making engine blocks they are cast iron and then left outside to weather for a year or two to allow stresses to settle down before they are machined. does anyone know how long it took them to start doing this? I recently read that bmw is making race engines out of used (iirc 60 ,000 mile) engines because the couple years of use work out the stresses left over from casting so when they remachine them they can cut them thinner wall with out worrying about the metal snaping under high rpm stress.

  19. Rick Elleman says:

    Personally I find the thought of Polish Hussars on motorcycles MUCH more worrysome than Hussars in tanks…

  20. dave o says:

    #13 Cobbler: Yes I mean cordite or one of the other guncotton based propellants. Without it, imagine how quickly the guns will foul. Whatever kind of guns.

    #15 Doug: An additional problem with steam; they would need to condense and recycle the water, or depend on having convenient water tanks wherever they go. And I knew about Flint’s history, I just think he’s lost sight of it because it makes a “better” story. But I admit, I might be wrong. I’m waiting for another microwave oven project to show up. Maybe Polish tanks are it.

    #16 The stresses in cast iron can be relieved by reheating it. I think the result is called annealed cast iron. The process is being used for woodworking tools now. It might be too expensive to be practical for engine blocks. Or only work successfully on smaller castings.

    #9 Stanley: My grandfather was licensed to drive gasoline, electric, and steam powered cars. He started as a stableboy and became a chauffeur in his 20’s. He rather liked electric cars, – no broken arms starting them, but didn’t have one single good word to say about steam powered ones.

  21. Doug Lampert says:

    @18 I’d assume an open cycle for a steam tank. Power to weight is KING for a tank engine, and the condensor is a killer there. I think you need noticably less than 20 gallons of water per gallon of gasoline. I know which one of THOSE I expect to have more trouble with in 1636 or whenever…. And throwing away the steam reduces the heat problem from insane to mildly annoying.

    Mind, since I’m not using DISTILLED water I’m going to get interesting build-ups inside my equipment on an open cycle steam engine. Can’t be helped.

    Your power to weight still sucks, you still need to wait to build up steam prior to moving, you need to construct a boiler tank that can hold the pressure, and you’re still asking for any damage to make the boiler go BOOM!

    But I think the Poles are just getting a kick start on their mechanical engineering program. Railroads or ships should come long before tanks and need the same basic engine tech, so the choice isn’t “pointless diversion of effort or they have a WWII blitzkrieg in 2 years”, there’s a real possibility of “in 3-5 years the Polish navy is building screw powered ships and they’re first short strech of rail is on-line while the telegraph and radio give them decent comm.

  22. johan says:

    @9 Stanley Leghorn: There is a story in the GG’s about David Bartley’s stepbrother (the son of his mother’s down-time husband) using a prototype steampowered car/wagon/couch/whatever to drive from West Virginia County to Madgeburg and starting a steam car factory there not too long after Madgeburg industrialisation began.

    All this talk of Blitzkrieg got me thinking, how likely is it that this timeline will experience the kind of bogged down WWI-esque trench warfare that we had OTL?

  23. Cobbler says:

    @ 18, Dave O: Of course! Thanks.

    I was thinking mechanization, not munitions. Trying to imagine how you sized a cylinder with explosives.

  24. Stanley Leghorn says:

    History channel is a must for these discusions. A replica of Leonardo’s giant hat tank was built, armed with 1 pounder black powder cannons, and they were fired in one volley. Would have blown out the eardrums of the crew, but most of the smoke ended up outside the “tank”.

    OTOH, steam is much easier to do for a vehicle than IC. Given the starting points, I expect steam trucks LONG before the metal for engine cases to be good enough to handle the much higher pressures needed in an IC engine. At least in large production runs.

  25. Railroads. Get your horse cavalry to the right location without wearing the horses. Have an industrial revolution, on a military revolution.

  26. Ken says:

    You could make a steam powered tank. Early steam engine cars were very fast compared to contemporary battery or gasoline engines. The problems were needing lots of water and taking time to heat up the water before you were able to go (do you want to wait more than 15 minutes heating up the water before your morning commute)? So what if the tank is slow, say it can only go 15 mph or so. If the tank can’t go hundreds of miles before needing more water that is not such a big deal if the other side does not have tanks. I could see a steam powered tank being able to go 10 or 15 mph and have a range of say 50 miles at least. They will be going up against horses and perhaps the armored converted mine trucks (which are faster but have inferior armor and firepower. Fighting in the summer would suck with the heat in a tank but Germany, Sweden and Poland are fairly northern, cold European countries. The hot summer is only 2 or 3 months long at most.

  27. cka2nd says:

    @10 They’re re-writing Butterflies in the Kremlin?!? I loved that series and really miss it. Do you have any more information? I haven’t yet taken the plunge into Baen’s Bar, but is that the best place to get the inside dope on Gazette stories (and in my case, at least, beg for more of my favorites)?

  28. dave o says:

    #26 Ken: Tanks, and especially early tanks break down a lot. In the 1918 offensives, about half the tanks broke down within a few miles. WWII tanks were more reliable, but they still broke down a lot. And do you really think that the Poles could create a tank force while the USE sat on their thumbs and did nothing?

  29. johan says:

    @27 cka2nd: IIRC they’re gonna release it as a full-fledged novel and decided to rewrite some parts and flesh out others and add and so forth. I don’t know all of it but I think they had to put the series on hold because Gorg Huff got a heart attack. At least I think so. If anyone could shed more light on it I’d be grateful.

  30. dave o says:

    #12 Stoicheion: I took the trouble to look up your wikipedia references. The Hwacha (pl?) were a Korean rough equivalent of the volley gun. Actually more like a Katyusha rocket. Not an armored vehicle. The war wagons weren’t used within a century, they were used by the Hussites a century previously. They had become obsolete by the time of the ROF. Horse drawn armoured vehicles will fare very poorly indeed against troops armed with rifles. Dead horses don’t move.

    “A mere matter of engineering.” NONSENSE. The theory is the easy part. Building the damned things is the hard part. You and a lot of other people have an exaggerated notion of the ease of developing the skills to do new stuff. There is a reason why apprenticeships are still required for machinists. Yes, skilled craftsmen in the 17th century can do wonderful work, although very slowly. But there aren’t a lot of people who have the skills, and it takes a long time to acquire them.

  31. Jeff Ehlers says:

    @30: Before you pick apart someone’s post, better make sure you read it properly.

    He wasn’t talking about using horse-drawn war vehicles against the USE, he was talking about the fact that the concept of armored vehicles was already known and the only new part would be the engine. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make armored vehicles that would be effective in warfare, they just have to figure out how the internal combustion engine works (and they have one that does work, so it’s a matter of investigation rather than supposition), so that they can use it without horses.

    Also, it really is just a matter of engineering once you have a known quantity that has been proven to work. Developing something new usually consists of trying out numerous variations of things that might work to find what actually does. What you missed in your response is that that only holds true if you don’t already know it works.

    The first person to develop something new usually takes a lot of time, effort, and money to do so. The second person takes a fraction of all three because they know it works. It’s even easier than that if they have something to reverse engineer or at least examine.

    It will still take actual time to build, no matter what else happens. But it will take much less time to build something that’s based on something that definitely does work, than it will to build something that you think should work but can’t even test until you actually build it.

  32. dave o says:

    #31 Jeff: I quote from #12 ” Within a century horse drawn “armored” vehicles will be used in the real world.” Then I quote from your post: “He wasn’t talking about using horse drawn armored vehicles against the USE. . .” Exactly who was misreading Stoicheion?

    Reverse engineering is a help. It is NOT an answer.Knowing how an engine is designed tells you almost nothing about what materials are suitable, how the machining was done, how you can build the tools to do the machining, where you can find people who can do the work, and much else besides. Anyone can find out how to build an atomic bomb, but so far, no one has built one in their basement. Come to think of it, Iran with the full resources of a nation has been working on one for years, decades even. Nor is this the only example. With large engineering staffs and complete knowledge of how one works, it takes car makers a year or more to design and build a new model. The knowledge exist. Applying the knowledge is, as I said, the hard part.

  33. dave o says:

    So far all of the discussion has been about the engines for a tank-like vehicle. Actually this sounds more like an armored car than a tank. Without a lot of paved, or at least graveled roads, such weapons won’t be a lot of use except in dry weather. No one has mentioned tracks. These present an entirely new set of design and construction problems. The Poles have no example of tracked vehicles. And tracks aren’t the easiest thing in the world to build.

    And an additional comment on reverse engineering. Okay, now you can build an engine. What design features do you want in the vehicle it propels? There isn’t enough technical data in general reference works to help there, so you have to go back to building a test model and seeing if it does what you want. A few or more than a few years later, another, and probably a few more. Now you have run into the problem of financing all of this. Down-time governments don’t have a lot of spare cash, and do have a lot of people who don’t want to be taxed. Gee! We were making good progress until the tax revolts ruined everything.

  34. Military power is a projection of economic power. If Poland wants to compete with the U.S.E. militarily , they need to build elementry schools and rail roads.Pouring money into weapons projects is an exercise in futility.

  35. Stanley Leghorn says:

    @34 No arguement with you priority, but we still have to throw bake sales to finance school activities while the Military gets billions for paperwork.

    Notice that China is not relying on economic power, but is beginning it’s own arms race with the US, expecting us to pay via WalMart for all the toys they plan to use against Taiwan.

  36. Kurt Winn says:

    Building a steam tank or armored car may be more practical than an IC version with the technology available at the time. With a flash boiler there is no long wait for steam and the efficiency is much greater. By using the steam twice (a high pressure and low pressure cylinder) as mentioned in one of the gazette stories dealing with sabotage at the power plant efficiency can be improved even further. With greater efficiencies less fuel and steam is needed making condensing and reusing it more practical.

  37. MM2-SSG says:

    I spent 9 years in the Navy as a Machinist Mate or steam plant mechanic. I retired from the Army National Guard as an XM-70/early M-1 Tank Commander. Even back to the early M-60, the earliest tank that I was a crew member for, the tanks were equipped with heaters not AC units. They did have strong vent fans. Part of training was simulated NBC. That required NBC suits and closing up the tank. Even in the Ft Hood Texas heat we didn’t shut down training until the temp equivalent was over 105 F. I do remember one very cold day in Idaho where I nearly froze my tail off. To the best of my knowledge overheating the crew because of the engine hasn’t been an issue since the engine was put in a separate compartment prior to WWII. I do believe from what I’ve read, that more modern versions of the M-1(M-1A1 etc) do have AC.

    As to range requirements, roughly 11 man hours maintenance is required for one hour of M-60 operation. A road march of 20 miles or so is a big deal and you do start to have losses from break downs. When at all possible tanks are placed on big trucks and hauled to where ever they go.

    Working around steam engines is very hot work. Early steam engines are very high maintenance equipment and I don’t believe that It would be that practical to separate the steam engine from the crew portion of the tank hull. So, I don’t think that a steam powered tank is that practical unless it can operate for an hour or more unattended.

  38. dave o says:

    #37 MM2-SSG: Thanks for your contribution. It’s great to have someone with actual, real, experience contribute to this discussion.

  39. MM2-SSG says:

    dave o

    Thank you. A couple more thoughts that are out of the range of personal experience. WWI tanks had large crews, the German A7V had a crew of 18. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A7V I suspect that most of the crew members were there for the required maintenance. On maneuvers our crew of four was working constantly to keep our tank operational Four hours sleep was a luxury and this was in a National Guard “Summer camp.” Most people just don’t understand just how much maintenance is involved in military equipment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanks_in_World_War_I is also interesting.

    http://www.amazon.com/Panzer-Battles-Major-General-von-Mellenthin/dp/1862274592
    is naturally still the Bible

  40. Willem Meijer says:

    The few APC’s there are were based on rebuilt coaltrucks and the like, with means the have retained the ability to move themselves over longer distances. Anything newly built will be much les versatile. Imagine someone builds a tank, or an APC from scratch. How will he get the blessed thing to the front? Drive it there (and do continuous maintenance all the way)? Without a rail network or those handy low-bed trailers tanks even now barely move off the training-grounds.

  41. Willem Meijer says:

    By the way: I boubt that Fernando will call himself ‘Fernando’. That’s Spanish, and would be less acceplatble to the locals than the ‘Ferdinand’ the locals (both Dutch- and French-speaking) would use.

  42. MM2-SSG says:

    Willem Meijer

    I agree. Some sort of a steam powered German A7V could conceivably be constructed at enormous expense. The thing could be powered by an attached steam tractor pushing from behind. It would essentially be a limited “mobility pillbox” with a operating range measured in hundreds of yards.

    The “war wagon” concept was over two hundred years old at the time and used during the Hussite Wars around 1420. Steam power unless operating at very high temperature and pressure is very heavy and fuel inefficient. I think that any usable tank will require something like the 1917 Mercedes D.III engines used in the Fokker D-7. Note the American M-48 used gasoline fueled aircraft engines up until the M-48A5 that used a specially designed diesel drop in replacement. Also note, my unit had replaced it’s M-48 when I joined. I have no personal experience on an M-48. My statements are based on what people in my unit told me and what I have read.

  43. m says:

    about “Fernando”: of course you are right that in Europe, names got translated. He would have been “King Fernand” or “King Ferdinand” in real life.
    Unfortunately, here we see an american cultural setting at its work: as a multi-cultural mix of immigrants, USA people are used to mames being spelt precisely as they were in the baptismal record which was inputted into a computer database somewhere in the american social security system in the 1970s. Consequently, any american writer seems to have deep trouble in gathering that cultures elsewhere authentically, as well as even theirs in the 1700s or so, translated first names all the time.

    Funnily enough, the genuine historical “don Fernando” highly likely was baptized in latin and got a record in latin about his baptismal in early 1600s, i.e it probabliest read “Ferdinandus” at the time. But that “don Fernando” was simply sourced by american writers for their needs from anachronistic spanish-written biographical material of the 1900s or so…. Now it looks like “the USA social security computer database” at work here, simply cannot adapt to genuine european and 1600s translations.

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