his must be the first attempt of Russia to show its great power through a behemoth of a tank (if you would classify this monstrosity as a tank). In 1912 there was high tension between many different nations within Europe. Since they have won the Persian constitutional revolution, which was a war that lasted from 1905 to 1911 they knew that there was a need for a fearsome weapon that would scare future Enemies so that they would not have to fight so vigorously.
As 1913 approached, the tensions were getting quite intense between the head nations of Europe at the time (France, the British Empire, Germany, and the Russian Empire). It was time to prepare for the next war, which would follow to be the Great War or in other words World War 1.
The idea of the tank was that it could surpass any type of terrain, even lakes and rivers so apart from the enemy fire there was nothing stopping it, even mines were quite obsolete because of its steel huge wheels. These huge wheels were also supposed to solve the problem that Railtrack tanks had, which was being damaged too easily, therefore, incapacitating the armored vehicle.
4 brilliant engineers from the Russian Empire have worked on this tank by the names of Nikolai Zhukovky, Alexander Mikuli, Nikolai Lebedenko, and Boris Stechkin. After coming up with the blueprints, a small-scale version of the tank was built to show the Tsar of the Russian Empire ( Nicholas II of Russia), who was actually the last Tsar to have ever lived. The Tsar was very impressed by the strange design of the tank and its functionality (at least the idea at a small scale) therefore, the engineers got the approval to go through with the first prototype.
As the Tsar was the one sponsoring the project, they decided to call it ‘the Tsar tank’. After all, it is the least he could receive after investing 250,000 roubles which would be the equivalent of 30 million US dollars today.
The dimensions of the prototype were 18 meters long, 9 meters high, and 12 meters wide. The two gigantic steel wheels were to be powered by a 240-horsepower Maybach engine each. This would bring the monstrosity to a top speed of 11 miles per hour which was not so bad taking into consideration the 60 tones of steel to be pushed through any terrain.
The tank was planned to have three 50mm cannons on the top turret, two 60mm cannons on the sides of the hull, and another 50mm cannon at the bottom turret of the tank. Additional machine guns were to be added on every side of the tank hull to make sure that no infantry got close enough to bomb the tank or the tank wheels, to be more specific. The tank was planned to be manned by a crew of 10 in order to be used to its full potential.
Once the prototype was finished in 1914, it was shipped to Moscow to be demonstrated in front of the commission. Sadly the very much anticipated Tsar tank got bogged down in the middle of the demonstration from many unseen technical difficulties. With the coming of the first world war, the project was dropped so that the engineers could concentrate on making more efficient armaments for the war.
Now I know that most of you are asking if it would have actually been efficient on the battlefield. The main problem or flaw in the design of the tank is the distribution of power to the huge wheels. Taking into consideration that we are talking about 1914, two 250-horsepower engines were a huge deal, and in theory, they should have had the power to push 60 tonnes. However, as the weight was distributed mostly on the rear wheel, it was very difficult for the front wheels to pull the weight.
The second huge flaw that was not thought about was that because of its large size, the tank would be a very easy target for artillery and could be destroyed with a few volleys. I believe that the engineers focused more on the psychological effect of intimidating the enemy with the size of the tank. As armored warfare was still a fairly new concept, most infantry soldiers would not know how to react against them.
The tank was abandoned in Moscow and scrapped in 1923.