Soviet Schoolchildren v. Finland

You kids have it easy these days, with your internet tanks and plastic kits. When I was your age, back in the old country, we had to find different ways to scratch that tank itch.

wot is that

“A thought on developing a remote controlled land torpedo came to me this winter, during the fighting of the Red Army with the Finnish White Guards. I thought that, in order to destroy pillboxes, bridges, anti-tank fortifications, a machine must be created with massive destructive power. A land torpedo is such a machine.

It moves with great speed, 120 kph. Swamps and rivers are no obstacle. Thanks to its mobility, it is invincible. It is controlled remotely.

Infantry rides on top of the vehicle. 100-150 meters from the target, it dismounts, and takes up formation. The torpedo keeps moving forward, reaches its goal, and explodes, destroying the target. The nearby infantry can now spring into action.

The model of this land torpedo was constructed with the help of my classmates.

-Isaac Medvedev, Grade 8, 23rd School of the Smolninsk Region.”

The Red Army never built any such vehicle. The Wehrmacht experimented with remotely detonated mobile mines, but they were ineffective due to lacking the speed and maneuverability described in this boy’s project.

54 thoughts on “Soviet Schoolchildren v. Finland

  1. Some guys do have imagination… Your balls would have gotten ripped off by tracks if you were a grunt sitting on this thing. And 120mph on rough terrain? On this thing? With no suspension? It would be hard enough on a terrain enduro motorbike.

    • I’m fairly sure that even with advanced materials available today, it would be impossible to build a set of tank tracks that could survive the forces going through them at 120mph for very long…

      • It’s a “torpedo”, they are not reusable by definition :) . And with such light vehicle, it would be just reinforced rubber belts from ww2 tech – with advanced modern materials you can go crazy.
        The problem is no suspension and vehicle handling. Especially when holes in the ground are bigger than vehicle itself…

    • It’s *kilometers* per hour, not miles. Say what else you will of the Soviets but they most assuredly weren’t so backwards as to have been stuck with Imperial.

    • No no no, you have to look at the picture and think about this like a kid. It would only carry one guy, and he would be most likely be standing. That’s right, somewhere back in time a Russian 8th grader invented tank-surfing.

  2. Those were the good days, when first world children were worth something in this world. Now look at the 21st century. First world children are more pathetic and useless than show dogs, playing video games all day instead of getting jobs and helping society.

    • …you realise there’s LAWS against child labor in well-nigh all civilised countries, right? And then there’s the detail the jobs themselves don’t exactly grow in trees these days, what with having moved ocerseas and all that.
      (And the Soviet Block was never First World; it was the Second.)

    • You sure are a filthy elitist pig, sitting there on your computer having a job and all. Forgetting the important facts it’s the filthy politics you support that has made this world such as it is, not “lazy” teenagers also most teenagers aren’t lazy, just you who make a small number of teens to a big one because you to stupid to realize there are pretty many teens in the first world.

  3. I always wondered about the Goliath.

    Most books that mention them say they were ineffective. Yet for an in effective system they where produced to the end of the war and issued continuously, why waste all that effort and resources to produce a weapon system that doesn’t work?

    • Nazi Germany wasn’t exactly immune to MIC shenanigans you know, not to mention silly “pet projects” whose main merit was someone influental being enamored with them.

      The way those little buggers were, quite unsuccesfully, added into the Atlantic Wall defenses carries a certain hint of the military having had rather more of them than it actually wanted.

          • Both were a sad waste of men and metal. More normal artillery would be better. But then the germans always had issues with moving large pieces of artillery Usually they needed to be dismantled into 2-5 pieces (depending upon the artillery) to be shipped. The heaver stuff like the Karl-Geräts (size) took even more effort.

            • Karl-Geräts were at least useful for heavy siege work and while like any superheavy artillery piece a pain to shift around – that had changed little from the “fife musket and drum” days when the slow siege trains moved separately from the armies proper – not unacceptably so, unlike the gigantic railway guns which amounted to little more than gratuitious showcases of the ordinance engineer’s craft.

      • Zimmerite made sense. It ties in nicely with German Panzer development. If you assume that what you use this year, the enemy will be using against you next year, then it all makes sense.

        Still not buying the Goliath as a pet project, that just doesn’t ring true. I’ve seen pictures of troops taking delivery of entire truck loads of them in the later war. It might be that by its very nature once a Goliath goes off its very hard to tell on a battlefield, what just made that large explosion.

        • Zimmerit was fine in principle but you’d think the glaring and persistent shortage of enemy magnetic mines for it to try to counter would of have prompted a rethought of the concept at some point…

          As for the Goliaths, I don’t really see how such pictures would in any fashion be mutually exclusive with the continued production of the things being chiefly down to cronyism…

          • They did discontinue Zimmerite after a while and the total lack of Magnetic weapons.

            One thing about hte Germans, I don’t seem to recall any really terrible weapons being issued, and continuously so. Cronyism doesn’t seem to fit. the politics. Yes individuals had their own separate power areas, and those were often competing. But Albert Speer ran pretty tight control over the Production in the second half of the war. Plus by putting out a massive amount of useless weapon you’re opening yourself to attack.

            As I said it doesn’t add up. Unless the Goliath wasn’t as utterly useless as people make out. Trouble is I lack data to make a call either way.

            • I don’t remember saying anything about “utterly useless”, it’s not very difficult to think of combat engineering scenarios where the little things would have been useful enough. But if they had enough of those lying around to try integrating them into static fortifications one has a reason to suspect there was a certain surplus of them.

            • Haven’t really read much about them, but something the size of a Goliath should have been very hard to detect in western Europe. Not to mention the bocage… The Springer and Borgward might have been a tad easier to spot though.

              Problem would have of course been that steering would have suffered as well in those conditions, but these things would have made for some nasty traps I’d imagine.

    • The Germans had a Corporate run industry, of course Corporations would try to make all kinds of crappy things just to earn a profit by selling it to the armies.

      Where as USSR also had a bunch of silly stuff mostly none of it went into production because it was a waste of time and resources when they already had effective weaponry that functioned.

  4. Just goes to show you how stupid this idea was when the Finns defeated the USSR during the Winter War while inflicting a casualty ratio of about 4.5-to-1, despite being outnumbered nearly 3-to-1 and having far less in terms of modern equipment by comparison. Seriously, the USSR had no excuse for losing that war, no excuse at all.

    • Since when was the losing participant the one who walks away with substantial and meaningful territorial gains?

      • They still were forced into a stalemate when everyting indicates they should have overrun the entire country. And besides, all of those gains were very nearly lost entirely by the next year (due to Operation Barbarossa).

        • Didn’t Stalin still consider Winter War a success, due to all the wood pulp mills in the ceded areas? They used wood pulp as an ingredient for nitrocellulose production, and the captured mills ensured sufficient gunpowder production in the USSR for the upcoming big war. Well, that’s something I once read somewhere, so take it with a grain of salt, or a mountain if you like.

          • I’ve heard that one too, and it sounds like bullshit if you ask me. As if the Soviets couldn’t build mills of their own as needed or had some kind of shortage of forest – and they sure seemed to manage right fine despite our recapture of the yielded territories in ’41, so can’t have been very important.

            No, the whole thing with Karelia was all about that standing obsession of Russian strategists, the security of St. Petersburg/Leningrad, which concern is as old as the city itself. The ’20 border was virtually in the suburbs of the city which obviously made the Soviets a bit uncomfortable. Do note the other relevant territorial concessions the Soviets walked away with: the scattered islands in eastern Gulf of Finland smack in the middle of the sea approaches to the Neva delta and the lease of the Hanko peninsula for fifty years, the base there serving to in combination with the Baltic possessions to the south to exercise control in depth over the Gulf sealanes. (This was replaced by a for all intents and purposes identical lease of the Hanko peninsula in ’45, which was close enough to Helsinki to also serve the purposes of intimidation should such be necessary.)

        • Only crude arithmetic indicated anything like that. The military reality on the ground was that besides the mind-bogglingly deplorable state of the Red Army in ’39 the terrain was well-nigh the worst possible for the kind of mobile mechanised warfare it was configured and trained for, whereas conversely the Finnish army was very much specialised for the conditions – the Germans later had very similar issues, and their showing in Finland was lackluster at best.
          Moral of the story: tanks an’ shit aren’t that hot in trackless forests.

          The Soviets obviously had far more reserves and were about to win by sheer attrition anyway (plus Timoshenko’s emergency reforms rather improved troop performance) but at that point the looming threat of Franco-British intervention drove them to the negotiation table. IIRC by that time the Finnish army didn’t expect to be able to hold on for more than a few weeks longer at best.

  5. The germans did have the remote control tracked mine… there is one in the museum at bovingdon… it was innefective due to remote controls in those days were wired so range was an issue, they were slow, got stuck and the soldiers hated using them.