Heavy Tank, TOG

The TOG I Heavy Tank was a design for a massive tank that was developed by a group of tank experts from the First World War. Despite several years of effort and tests on the sole prototype very little came of their efforts.

In the summer of 1939 Leslie Burgin, the newly appointed Minister of Supply, met with Sir Albert Stern, the secretary of the Land Ship Committee and a key figure in the development of the tank during the First World War, to discuss what sort of tanks might be needed in the increasingly likely war with Germany. On 5 September Sir Albert was asked to form a committee to carry out the same task. Stern managed to gather a distinguished group of colleagues. Amongst them were Walter Wilson (engineer, gear-box expert and joint inventor of the tank), Sir William Tritton (Joint inventor of the tank and chairman of Fosters of Lincoln, the company that built the first British tanks), Sir Harry Ricardo (an important engine designer during both World Wars), Ernest Swinton (Army Officer and joint inventor of the tank) and Eustace Tennyson D'eyecourt (Director of Naval Construction for the Royal Navy 1912-1924). In October 1939 the committee was officially named the Special Vehicle Development Committee of the Ministry of Supply, but for obvious reasons it became known as 'The Old Gang', and their two designs as the TOG I and TOG II.

The Old Gang was given a general specification to work with. The new tank was one of a series that was designed to cope with the possibility of something resembling trench warfare, along with the Shelled Area Infantry Tank A20. It would be slow, with a speed of only 5mph, and short ranged (only 50 miles). It was to have all-round track, be able to cross heavily shelled areas and be armoured against 47mm and 37mm anti-tank guns and 105mm howitzers at 100 yards. It was to be armed with a field gun in the hull front and carry 2-pounder guns in sponsons and Besa machine guns. Ideally it would be diesel powered.

The first design was drawn up by Tritton's company Fosters in December 1939. Power would be provided by a Paxman-Ricardo 450hp V12 diesel, up-rated to 600hp. An electric transmission system was chosen, where the diesel engine powered two electric motors, one for each track. When power was reduced to one of the tracks, the tank would turn in that direction. The TOG was a very old fashioned looking tank, very clearly resembling a First World War rhomboid tank.

The design was soon changed to carry a 2-pounder gun in a Matilda II (A12) turret. A French 75mm howitzer was chosen for the hull gun, and the mounting from the French Char B tank was used. This made the TOG I a very heavily armed vehicle for its time.

Work on the prototype of the TOG I began in February 1940 and its first trials took place on 27 September 1940. The first official demonstration of the massive vehicle came on 6 October. By this point Churchill had come to power, and his relationship with Stern was fairly poor. The war situation had also changed - the German blitzkrieg had ended any chance of a muddy stalemate between the Maginot and Siegfried Lines, and the slow heavy TOG I was no longer needed. Despite that work continued on it for several years, although the development of the Churchill Infantry Tank (A22) meant that the British Army actually had a slow moving, heavily armoured infantry tank.

In early tests the electric transmission proved to be a failure. The motors were put under too much strain, and burnt out during the tests. These lasted until June 1941, and then stopped while a new hydraulic transmission was developed. With the new system the tank became the TOG IA. This system, which wasn't ready until May 1943, was also a failure, as there was too much time lag within the hydraulics. A basic problem was that the TOG was three times longer than wide, making it very difficult to steer.

The TOG IA was moved to Chobham early in 1944, and then disappeared, presumably scrapped as obsolete.

Production: 1
Hull Length: 33ft 3in
Hull Width: 10ft 3in
Height: 10ft
Crew: 8 (driver, commander, gunner, loader and up to four sponson gunners)
Weight: 142,320lb combat weight (64 tonnes) (Sponsons and armour never installed)
Engine: 600hp Paxman-Ricardo V12 diesel
Max Speed: 8.5mph road, 4mph cross country
Max Range: 50 miles road radius
Armament: One 6-pounder (77mm)
Armour: 25-75mm

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 June 2017), Heavy Tank, TOG , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_heavy_tank_TOG.html

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