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"British Experiment in Tank Radio Control" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on a British experimental radio-controlled tank was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 1, June 18, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The British have adapted a system of radio control to operate on a tank. The project is successful but still entirely experimental.

The British have applied radio control to aircraft ("Queen Bee"). The Admiralty has also placed it on motor launches. Now it has been extended to the tank, experimentally. A U.S. observer accompanied by a British Junior Officer, saw and operated a Matilda tank equipped with radio control.

The tank had been stripped of its turret for ease of accessibility, and various devices had been added to operate the vehicle with push buttons. There were two engine speeds available. The gears were selected automatically according to speed of the vehicle and position of the throttle (similar to Oldsmobile hydromatic selection). Braking and turning were operated by compressed air on pistons. The tank would reverse and turn while reversing.

The radio control consisted of two standard Number 19 sets, and was operated by impulses in two separate tones. The set in the tank controlled the push buttons and hence the tank. The control was mounted on a truck, though it could have been on another tank if desired. On the top of the control radio was a control box with three levers and a switch. The positions of these levers regulated the behavior of the tank. The switch set off a smoke candle on the tank.

While there are a few changes to be made in the apparatus, it functioned very well. Its range is claimed to be three miles, though it is advantageous to the controller to observe its actions to avoid obstacles. It could, of course, be controlled from an airplane.

Only the experimental model has been produced. So far it is a "toy" but as soon as it is perfected it will be presented to the War Office for decision as to whether or not it will be used, and what uses it will be put to. It has been suggested as a decoy, smoke or mine layer, mine field clearer (coupled with use of "Snake" or other device), demolition bomb (similar to the Beetle), etc.

(M/A Report, London, No. 48034.)


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