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It's a Plane! It's a Tank! It's Both!

Article #115 • Written by Greg Bjerg

Sergei Anokin must have been one of the bravest men in the Soviet army of World War 2. He is the only pilot to ever fly, or drive, the Antonov KT-40 Flying Tank.

The KT-40 was a Soviet T-60 light tank fitted with cheap wood and fabric wings. It was designed to glide into fields behind enemy lines. The KT kryl’ya tanka, (Tank Wings) was designed by the Antonov Bureau in 1940 and amazingly one working prototype was completed.

The twin boomed biplane wings were attached to the tank turning it into an armored glider. Heavy bombers would tow the tank to its destination and then release it as a nasty surprise for German troops. Supposedly elevating the gun for elevator control and rotating the turret for roll control maneuvered the KT-40. It had a crew of two, a tank commander and a driver/pilot.

In its only flight, the weight and drag of the tank caused its TB-3 tow plane’s engines to overheat very badly and the glider had to be released earlier than planned. Anokin flew the tank over a small, rough field and started the engine.

He then engaged the drive mechanism and sped up the tracks before making a smooth landing. He detached the flying surfaces and drove back to base where he gave the KT-40 an enthusiastic review.

But despite the technical success of the test, the flying tank was not to go into production. The Soviets lacked a plane up to the task of towing the heavy KT-40. Also the T-60 tank wasn’t much of a tank. In order to lighten the tank sufficiently and get it off the ground, it was allowed very little armour, and had to be stripped of most of its armament and fuel. Such a poorly equipped tank wouldn't have survived long against most German tanks.

Article written by Greg Bjerg, published on 10 February 2006. Greg was born and raised in Iowa and graduated with a degree in Journalism from Drake University. Sadly, he passed away on 20 March 2011.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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27 Comments
Bucky
Posted 10 February 2006 at 05:31 pm

Now THIS is why I read DI! This is really cool. The pictures look ridculous! It's too bad these machines were unsuccessful; I'd love to see a picture of dozens of flying tanks gliding down out of the sky.

I wonder if someone could make a Flight Simulator model of this aircraft.


MaddMan
Posted 10 February 2006 at 07:22 pm

I've read about this before, but I never knew they actually flew one. Here's a link with a bunch of similar inventions.

http://www.somethingawful.com/booklist/index.htm


Marius
Posted 10 February 2006 at 09:10 pm

There is still a flying tank today, it's called the AC-130 Gunship.


RandomAction
Posted 10 February 2006 at 09:23 pm

It looks like something from a steam punk novel. Lovely.


karphi
Posted 10 February 2006 at 10:00 pm

Crazy Soviets and their get-victory-quick schemes. I love the green camo on the wings. Y'know, so nobody will notice the WINGED TANK coming at you.

It's actually amazing it took humankind less than 4 decades from the first heavier-than-air controlled flight, to put a tank in the air, and just a few more to land on the moon.


RichVR
Posted 11 February 2006 at 01:28 am

Just registered. Long time reader. Damn Interesting is at the top of my favorites list for articles just like this one. Thanks for the great material.

When I was younger, back in the Jurassic Period, I read a book on the Nazi Antipodal Bomber. It scared the crap out of me.

This scares me slightly less. :)


RichVR
Posted 11 February 2006 at 01:31 am

Marius said: "There is still a flying tank today, it's called the AC-130 Gunship."

I believe the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka Warthog) fits the flying tank moniker a bit better. But the AC-130 is right up there. So to speak.


Marius
Posted 11 February 2006 at 07:21 am

RichVR said: "I believe the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka Warthog) fits the flying tank moniker a bit better. But the AC-130 is right up there. So to speak."

I actually debated that with myself, but while the Warthog is a big, flying gun, the AC-130 is a lot of big, flying guns so it won the argument. ;-)


mHagarty
Posted 11 February 2006 at 12:56 pm

Hilarious.


Scott Bowers
Posted 14 February 2006 at 07:46 am

Very cool! The Military Channel (or was it Discovery?) had a program on that featured some of the more out there technology used in WW2. They had the flying tanks, the sumbersible planes, and the skipping bombs. One of the coolest things they showed was a huge conventional bomb developed by Brittian (and the same guy who made the skipping bombs) that was used to take out hardened bunkers. This thing was so large that it couldn't fit in the belly of a Landcaster bomber, so the planes had to have their bay doors removed and the bomb just hung under the plane. If I remember right, that bomb held the record for the largest conventional explosive device until the MOAB was developed.


davida
Posted 14 February 2006 at 10:54 am

Wow..this is cool and very applicable today. We have the ability to "drop" tanks but have to "ready" them for battle but this is like a real time thing....meaning, it glides in and starts fighting right away. I wonder if they could fire the gun while in flight? That would surely crash it. Interesting...well, Damn Interesting I mean.


indra c
Posted 15 February 2006 at 01:57 am

While looking up the AC-130 Gunship I came accross one aesthetically challenged flying machine, the beluga. Here's a link to a photo :

http://www.airventure.de/ila2000pics/ila2000beluga_1.JPG

Haven't figured out how to make links yet. You can call me dumb@$$ if you feel the need.


indra c
Posted 15 February 2006 at 01:59 am

Referring to my previous comment about making links ---> I really am one dumb @$$ ! hahaha


ChickenHead
Posted 13 July 2006 at 01:59 pm

Marius said: "I actually debated that with myself, but while the Warthog is a big, flying gun, the AC-130 is a lot of big, flying guns so it won the argument. ;-)"

Agreed - something about a plane with a 105mm Howitzer sticking out of its side earns it the title of "flying tank".


scamp
Posted 24 October 2006 at 01:22 pm

Cool!!

Them would really help fight them paki's!!


another viewpoint
Posted 25 December 2006 at 09:25 am

...LOOK...up in the sky...it's a bird, it's a plane...no...it's a flying tank!

Obviously someone's borscht must have been spiked with they thought of this. Imagine trying to do this with an M1 Abrams tank? Even dropping one out of the back end of a C5 transport, it would likely drop like a rock.

An armored glider...made of cheap wood and fabric wings? Probably wouldn't be able to withstand a direct hit from a popcorn fart.


Nonesuch
Posted 25 December 2006 at 05:43 pm

"

An armored glider…made of cheap wood and fabric wings? Probably wouldn't be able to withstand a direct hit from a popcorn fart."

Very good comrade, now grab the vodka and let us hit the redesign tables so we can come up with an armored gliding popcorn fart machine... maybe with the right marketing we can get it to the stores by next year this time... Merry Christmas ,DI ,DI readers and subjects all :)


JPF
Posted 25 December 2006 at 09:44 pm

I saw a demonstration at an airshow (I think it was at Abbotsford, B.C., maybe in the early 70s) where a large transport plane made a low pass - about 20 feet above the airstrip as a tank was pulled out the back of the plane by a deployed parachute. The tank dropped to the surface in a cloud of dust and came to a fairly quick stop, restained by the parachute. I don't think the tank was manned, the crew was intended to come in on parachutes of their own.


Dr. Evil
Posted 26 December 2006 at 03:53 am

plane + tank = plank


Techno-Kid
Posted 29 December 2006 at 08:57 am

I don't know what a popcorn fart is but I laughed pretty good anyway.

People interested in this should also check out MY TANK IS FIGHT - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Tank_is_Fight!


sulkykid
Posted 30 December 2006 at 10:19 pm

another viewpoint said: "… An armored glider…made of cheap wood and fabric wings? Probably wouldn't be able to withstand a direct hit from a popcorn fart. "

I think that the strength and durability of wood and fiber are well proven:, e.g.:
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=711


Sir Osis Of Liver
Posted 26 January 2007 at 05:03 pm

JPF said: "I saw a demonstration at an airshow (I think it was at Abbotsford, B.C., maybe in the early 70s) where a large transport plane made a low pass - about 20 feet above the airstrip as a tank was pulled out the back of the plane by a deployed parachute. The tank dropped to the surface in a cloud of dust and came to a fairly quick stop, restained by the parachute. I don't think the tank was manned, the crew was intended to come in on parachutes of their own."

It was called LAPES - Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System. Developed by the Americans in Viet Nam and used by the CAF for many years, until it was abandoned after several lethal crashes. If it would fit in a Herc, you could drop it within feet of wherever you wanted it, and the plane didn't have to land. It was designed for delivering loads precisely during combat operations. It's impressive to watch from the ground, but it was even more impressive inside the Herc to watch a dozer disappear in a second or two. Just a whoosh and it was gone.


123DeathSaint
Posted 02 March 2007 at 08:02 am

whoa dude that is aawsome.I wonder if it ways as much as a BUFF(Big Ugly Fat Fellow or B-52 bomber)

Its all wierd lookin.but all cool lookin.n stuff.Those crazy soviets jeese!o wait im russian.Niet!


KABOOOOMMM
Posted 20 April 2007 at 10:39 am

O.o tanks shouldnt fly but this tankplane could have won the cold war


KABOOOOMMM
Posted 20 April 2007 at 10:44 am

Dr. Evil said:"plane + tank = plank

i want a plank imagine flying 2 school then ur teacher gives u a f. met my plank>:)


monkforhire
Posted 13 May 2007 at 09:27 am

Those sneaky Reds! sometimes I wish the US and Russia had ganged up against the rest of the world instead of each other. Could you imagine what might have been? Go on, spend five minutes thinking about it.


Alx_xlA
Posted 29 September 2007 at 03:32 pm

123DeathSaint said: "whoa dude that is aawsome.I wonder if it ways as much as a BUFF(Big Ugly Fat Fellow or B-52 bomber)"

Actually, BUFF stands for Big Ugly Fat Fucker. Get it right. Also, the spellings are 'awesome' and 'weighs'.


END OF COMMENTS
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