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Soviet Army BT-1 (Christie Tank) by
Make:Soviet Army
Model:BT-1 (Christie Tank)
ModelDescription:The Christie suspension is a suspension system developed by Walter Christie for his tank designs. It allowed considerably longer movement than conventional leaf spring systems then in common use, which allowed his tanks to have considerably greater cross-country speed and a lower profile. The system was first introduced on his M1928 design, and used on all of his designs until his death in 1944.

Christie advocated the use of lightweight tanks with long range and high speed, designed to penetrate enemy lines and attack their infrastructure and logistics capabilities. His earlier designs in the 1920s were constantly hampered by poor cross-country performance due to limited suspension capability, and in the late 1920s he spent considerable time coming up with a better solution. The major problem he faced was the limited vertical space for springs to move in: for a 25 cm movement it might need 50 or 75 cm of vertical space for the spring and strut, and his small designs did not have room for them.

A British Cruiser Mk III with Christie suspensionThe solution was the addition of a bell crank, which changed the direction of motion from vertical to horizontal. The road wheels were individually mounted on a pipe that could move vertically only, at the top of which the bell crank rotated the direction of motion to the rear. Springs were mounted on the end of the crank, and could be as long as needed, lying along the inside of the hull. The result was a substantial increase in range of motion, from only some 10 cm in his original designs, to 25 cm on the M1928, 35 cm on the M1930, and 60 cm on the M1932. However, the most famous Christie-based tanks, the Soviet BT tank series and the T-34, used coil springs mounted vertically (on the BT) or at a slight angle from vertical (the T-34).

Another feature of Christie's designs was the "convertible" drive: the ability to remove the tracks for road travel, allowing for higher speeds and better range, and saving wear and tear on the fragile caterpillar track systems of the 1930s. In order to allow this, Christie used very large rubber-rimmed road wheels, with no return rollers for the tracks. As with many track designs with center guide teeth, dual wheels were used, allowing the guide teeth to run between them. By 1939, the Soviets found that the BT tank's convertible drive was an unnecessary complication which also occupied valuable space in the tank, and the feature was dropped in the T-34.

Rubber-rimmed road wheels became a common feature of almost all tanks, because they dramatically increased track life. Some Soviet tanks had to be produced with less rubber due to wartime shortages. The steel-rimmed wheels with only small internal rubber disc springs were unpopular with tank crews as contact with the metal track at high speeds set up harmonic vibrations that were noisy and unpleasant for those inside, and could cause damage to the T-34 itself by loosening parts. As rubber became available again, rubber-rimmed wheels were used in the most-loaded first and fifth positions. With increased rubber supplies in 1943, the steel-rimmed wheel was phased out from production, yet it remained in service until the VE Day.

Because large road wheels and "slack track" are characteristic of the Christie suspension, other designs with these features are sometimes misidentified as such. The real Christie suspension was used only on a few designs, notably the Soviet BT tanks and T-34, the British Cruiser tanks, including the A-13, Covenanter, Crusader, Cromwell and finally the Comet, as well as some experimental Italian designs.

Source: Wikipedia
Body type:Armored Tracked
Drive type:Tracked - 2 Tracks
Purpose:Military: Prototype
Added on:2009-02-08 19:21:04
Last updated:2009-02-09 13:58:06


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