Goliath tracked mine

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Goliath Sd.kfz 302
Sdkfz302elektr.jpg
An SdKfz. 302, displayed at the Deutsches Panzermuseum, Munster (2005)
Type Demolition vehicle
Place of origin Germany
Service history
In service 1942-1945
Used by Nazi Germany,
Production history
Designed 1942
Manufacturer Borgward and Zundapp.
Produced 1942–1944
No. built 7564
Specifications
Weight 370 kg (820 lb)
Length 1.5 m (4.9 ft)
Width 0.85 m (2.8 ft)
Height 0.56 m (1.8 ft)
Crew one remote operator

Armor 5mm
Main
armament
60 kg (130 lb) explosive charge
Engine Two Electric Motors
2 x 2.5 kw
Operational
range
1.5 km (0.93 mi) on-road; 0.75 km (0.47 mi) off-road.
Goliath Sd.kfz 303
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-053-53, Sprengpanzer "Goliath".jpg
An SdKfz. 303, the petrol powered version of the Goliath
Type Demolition vehicle
Place of origin Germany
Service history
In service 1943-1945
Used by Nazi Germany,
Production history
Designed 1942
Manufacturer Zundapp and Zachertz
Produced 1943–1945
No. built 4929, both the model a and model b
Specifications
Weight 430 kg (950 lb)
Length 1.69 m (5.5 ft)
Width 0.91 m (3.0 ft)
Height 0.62 m (2.0 ft)
Crew none

Armor 10mm
Main
armament
100 kg (220 lb) explosive charge
Engine Zündapp SZ7 / 2-cylinder
12.5hp
Operational
range
12 km (7.5 mi) on-road; 7 km (4.3 mi) off-road.

The Goliath tracked mine - complete German name: Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath (Sd.Kfz. 302/303a/303b) - was a remote controlled German-engineered demolition vehicle, also known as the beetle tank[1] to the Allies.

Employed by the Wehrmacht during World War II. It carried 60 or 100 kilograms (130 or 220 lb) of high explosives, depending on the model, and was intended to be used for multiple purposes, such as destroying tanks, disrupting dense infantry formations, and demolition of buildings and bridges.

Development[edit]

During and after World War 1, a number of inventors devised small, remote-controlled, tracked vehicles intended to carry an explosive charge. During the war, the French developed two vehicles. The Crocodile Schneider Torpille Terrestre carried a 40-kilogram (88 lb) explosive charge and saw limited combat use in June 1916. However, it performed poorly as was eclipsed by the first tanks, then being introduced.[2] The Aubriot-Gabet Torpille Electrique was driven by a single electric motor powered by a trailing cable. This vehicle may have been steered by clutch control on it's tracks, although early versions may have lacked steering.[2] This may not have mattered as its task was simply to cross No man's land to attack the long trenches of the enemy.[3] The Wickersham Land Torpedo was patented by American inventor Elmer Wickersham in 1918[4] and in the 1930's, a similar vehicle was developed by the French vehicle designer Adolphe Kégresse.

In late 1940, Kégresse's prototype was recovered by the Germans near the Seine; the Wehrmacht's ordnance office directed the Carl F.W. Borgward automotive company of Bremen, Germany to develop a similar vehicle for the purpose of carrying a minimum of 50 kilograms (110 lb) of explosives. The result was the SdKfz. 302 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug, ‘special-purpose vehicle’), called the Leichter Ladungsträger (‘light charge carrier’), or Goliath, which carried 60 kilograms (130 lb) of explosives. The vehicle was steered remotely via a joystick control box. The control box was connected to the Goliath by a 650-metre (2,130 ft), triple-strand cable attached to the rear of the vehicle. The cable was used both for control and for transmitting power to the electric driven version. Two of the strands were used to move and steer the Goliath, while the third was used for detonation. Each Goliath was disposable, being intended to be blown up with its target. Early model Goliaths used an electric motor but, as these were costly to make (3000 Reichsmarks) and difficult to repair in a combat environment, later models (known as the SdKfz. 303) used a simpler, more reliable gasoline engine.

Service[edit]

German soldiers with a Goliath and its remote control, Russia (April 1944)

Goliaths were used on all fronts where the Wehrmacht fought, beginning in early 1942. They were used principally by specialized Panzer and combat engineer units. Goliaths were used at Anzio in Italy in April 1944, and against the Polish resistance during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. A few Goliaths were also seen on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, though most were rendered inoperative due to artillery blasts severing their command cables. Allied troops also encountered a small number of Goliaths in the Maritime Alps following the landings in southern France in August 1944, with at least one being used successfully against a vehicle of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.

Although a total of 7,564 Goliaths were produced, the single-use weapon was not considered a success due to high unit cost, low speed (just above 6 miles per hour (9.7 km/h)), poor ground clearance (just 11.4 centimeters), the vulnerable control cable, and thin armour which could not protect the vehicle from small-arms fire. The Goliath was also too big and heavy to be easily man-portable.[5] Mostly, they failed to reach their target although the effect was considerable when they did.[5]

Large numbers of Goliaths were captured by the Allies. Although they were examined with interest by Allied intelligence, they were seen as having little military value. Some were used by the United States Army Air Force as aircraft tugs, although they quickly broke down as the disposable vehicles were not designed for sustained use.[5]

The Goliath did help lay the foundation for post-war advances in remote-controlled vehicle technologies.

Romanian version[edit]

During 1944, Romania designed and built its own model of remote-controlled tracked mine, known as "Romanian Goliath", due to lack of information about its actual name. However, it was markedly different from its German counterpart. The few surviving photos show that the vehicle had no armor, and it is not known if that was ever changed. It did have some logistical improvements, however, as the Romanian-designed chassis allowed it to cross trenches and craters much better than its German counterparts. Little is known about the stats of this Romanian vehicle, aside from the fact that it never went beyond the prototype stage and that it weighed about two tons.[6]

Surviving examples[edit]

Goliath 303a captured by the Polish troops during Warsaw Uprising on display in the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw
A Goliath 303 displayed at the Bovington Tank Museum

Surviving Goliaths are preserved at:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Defense against the German Goliath was reenacted in the 1957 Polish film Kanał, documenting the final days of the Warsaw Uprising, the TV series Kolumbowie and the 2014 film Warsaw 44.

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Goliath Demolition Tank on YouTube
  2. ^ a b Everett and Toscano (2015) p.412
  3. ^ Everett, Bart (February 19, 2017). "A Brief Early History of Unmanned Systems". Mechanix Illisttated. 
  4. ^ US patent 1407969 
  5. ^ a b c Everett and Toscano (2015) p.489
  6. ^ Romanian Goliath (Russian)
Bibliography
  • Chamberlain, Peter, and Hilary Doyle (1999). Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, 2nd ed. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-214-6.
  • H. R. Everett; Michael Toscano (6 November 2015). Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-02922-3. 
  • Gassend Jean-Loup (2014). Autopsy of a Battle, the Allied Liberation of the French Riviera, August September 1944. Atglen PA: Schiffer Publications.
  • Jaugitz, Markus (2001). Funklenkpanzer: A History of German Army Remote-and Radio-Controlled Armor Units, trans. David Johnston. Winnipeg, Manitoba: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-921991-58-4.
  • Jentz, Thomas L. Panzer Tracts, No. 14: Gepanzerte Pionier-Fahrzeuge (Armored Combat Engineer Vehicles, Goliath to Raeumer). S. Darlington, Maryland: Darlington Productions. ISBN 1-892848-00-7
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1957). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II vol. 11. Boston, Mass.: Atlantic Monthly Press. 

External links[edit]