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This was a self-appointed challenge to myself, to design the worst tank ever. I'm almost there.
Designed by the same team of slightly insane Vulpesant engineers who would later spearhead the CLIMBER [link]
project, the Kleedech (old Vulpesanti for office) was intended to be a forward command and heavy fire support vehicle. Designed by the Concentric Armament Workshop as sort of a mix between armored train and battleship, the Kleedech was nearly seventy feet long, twenty feet high and the same in width. She was fully articulated, and able to drive over even the softest and roughest terrain. Or at least she was intended to be able to.
The design was solid and sound on paper, the experienced engineers designing her had been given as many liberties and nearly unlimited resources to build the vehicle. The only stipulation was that it work, and work well. When the vehicles body was laid down in the factory workshop, it was too long to be built end-to-end. So the engineers cut a hole in the wall, with the forward section of the tank being assembled on the cafeteria floor. Once all of the vehicle's segments were connected by the heavy articulating sections, they found it to be too heavy to be driven by the two engines mounted in the rear compartment. A third and fourth engine were installed in what was originally a war-room in the middle section, which gave the vehicle enough power to trundle out of the workshop and across the yard to the armory, where its three turrets were added. Thirteen pintle-mount machine guns were fixed to the main turrets and hull for infantry engagements, and a periscope capable of elevating ten feet was installed over the number 2 turret. Side-to-side steering was accomplished by not only differentially adjusting the speed of the tracks, but by articulation the vehicle to one side or the other. When ascending hills or driving over rough terrain, her up-and-down articulation was allowed to flex freely, while it could be made rigid to cross wide trenches or craters.
The Kleedech was crewed by eight engineers who spent the majority of their time in the rear segment which housed the engine and drive mechanisms. As the three segments were connected via articulating sections, they had easy access to to secondary engines in the middle compartment, as well as the forward drive wheels and various hydraulics that pivoted the body segments. Along with these engineers were nine turret crewmen, who would aim, fire and load each of the three main turrets guns. Each turret had its own commander, and operations of the vehicle were overseen by a pair of war-marshals. She was driven by a driver and navigator who sat in the forward compartment, and would command the vehicles engines along with the mechanisms to adjust articulation. The Kleedech was originally intended to be able to carry a contingent of 36 fully armed and equipped troops, but with the numerous modifications the vehicle needed to simple be able to move under its own power, that number was cut down to 12 moderately equipped commandos, with their quarters being split between the front and mid sections. All crew members were trained on the usage of the hull-mounted machine guns, and turret crews also received basic engineering training to be able to aid the vehicles mechanical crew in its maintenance and operations.
With that said, the vehicles overall design post-construction was an abject failure.
Even powered by four of the largest military vehicle engines available at the time (pre Great-War, pre Latitude-Wars) the Kleedech was incredibly slow. Due to her complex nature, she was so prone to mechanical failures that she quickly reduced her well-trained crew to near madness within the first week of trials. During fire testing, a firing a full barrage from her main guns caused a number of control elements to come loose, rendering the vehicle undriveable. She was brought back to life three hours later, and limped back to the hastily constructed maintenance shed where it was discovered that her articulated nature was putting an unpredictable amount of stress on her forward and rear drivetrain. The hydraulic motors used to turn her drive-wheels were replaced with even more robust models, and every element of the powertrain was inspected with many being reinforced or replaced.
Another major issue was uncovered during maneuverability trials. Due to the unique method for steering the Kleedech, the inside track while turning will always be shorter, and its slack would need somewhere to go to avoid derailment. The designers had planned for this, and included a well where the excess track would droop into. They expected the weight of the unsupported track links to simply pull themselves down into the well, but discovered differently during road trials. Taking a large corner at low speeds, the tracks did indeed droop down into the well, but due to their dual-axis articulation, they twisted as they did so, and the entire inner track seized up, causing the whole vehicle to grind to a rapid stop. Many of its road wheels on both sides were damaged, and the motors driving the inner track were torn loose from their mounts. Repairs, redesign of the tracks, manufacturing and reassembly took four weeks, while the commission overseeing the project looked on, growing increasingly frustrated.
With the all of its known major flaws ironed out, the Kleedech went through another comprehensive series of trials, where the vehicle performed in a generally underwhelming manner. It was still slow, broke down frequently, and the cramped quarters the crew faced made most of them regret volunteering for the project. The oversight commission deemed the Kleedech project a success, as they'd developed a number of new technologies and techniques during it, but the vehicle itself was still considered a failure. However, due to the affluence of the lead engineer, the Kleedech was not scrapped as most other failed projects would be, but remained at the Concentric Armament Workshop as their unofficial mascot. She was kept in good maintenance, and during the Latitude Wars six years later, she was moved into position in the nearby city of Gelosse to act as a defensive gun emplacement. She remained there till the end of the war, as the city only saw a few light skirmishes and bombing raids.
This is a WiP, and it's supposed to be terrible. More to come!