Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor

The Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor was a prototype developed from an agricultural utility vehicle to destroy the positions and barbed wire barriers on the Western Front.

The Killen-Walsh Manufacturing Company was based in the US and produced tractors and agricultural vehicles until the beginning of the First World War. In 1914, the name was changed to Killen-Strait, so that the newest tractor Strait's Tractor can be built and sold under this name. This model had a 30 hp four-cylinder engine with which two to three 14-inch plows could be pulled. In the rear, two wooden tracks were mounted, in the front area a chain was mounted for control.


Straits agricultural tractor with attached sun roof


After the First World War broke out in Europe and the front in the west solidified after the race to the sea and the movement war came to a standstill, was looking for ways to destroy the positions and the barbed wire locks of the enemy. So a model of the tractor was shipped on 30 June 1915 from the United States to the United Kingdom to present it to the British Ministry of Defense. Alongside Winston Churchill, the 1st Lord of the Admiralty and Minister of Munitions were, among others, the future Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Duke of Westminster, Sir Frederick Black (Director of Ammunition Supply), Major General Sir Ivor Phillipps, Major General Scott-Moncrieff, Col Holden and Brigadier General Louis Jackson in attendance.


Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor during the demonstration in Wormwood Scrubs, June 1915


The Killen Strait Armoured Tractor was outfitted with a Royal Navy torpedo net wire cutter on June 30, 1915 at the end of two protruding metal bars at Wormwood Scrubbs. Clearly visible are two wire cutters at different heights


The vehicle was fitted with two metal bars that protruded over the vehicle in the front area. To these was attached a device which was to cut barbed wire. At the demonstration, however, this worked only with a wire that was stretched directly in front of the tailor, the wire was at a different height, this was not cut.

Even attaching a chassis on the chassis could not convince the British military leadership. Although this protected the crew and could have mounted a revolving tower with machine guns on the chassis, the height of the vehicle would have made it an easy target for enemy shooters.


Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor with body


After the rejection of the military leadership of the prototype was only used in the RNAS Barrow Airship Station as a tug.





Data sheet:


Designation: Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Year: 1915
Number of pieces: 1 prototype
Armament: none
Maximum speed: 4 miles per hour (6.44 kilometers per hour)
Engine: Four-cylinder 4 1/2 inch x 5 3/4 inch bore and hub Waukesha with 30 hp
Mass: 4.309 Kg



Drawing of the planned Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor with tower for use in the RNAS 501 Armored Car Squadron






You can find the right literature here:


British Armoured Car Operations in World War I

British Armoured Car Operations in World War I Hardcover – October 12, 2016

Readers have come to expect a level of detail and critical rigor from the established military historian and author Bryan Perrett. They will not be disappointed at all here by this new publication. Focussing predominantly on the British armored car units of World War One, it also untangles many fascinating strands forming the history of modern warfare. Full of detail, it acquaints the reader with the complete history of the armored car, from invention onwards, setting the history of its Great War service career firmly in context. Well written in an accessible style, this publication serves as an impressive tribute to the armored car, one of the most effective weapons utilized by the allies during the course of the Great War.

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British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939 (General Military)

British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939 (General Military) Hardcover – August 23, 2016

When British soldiers charged across the Somme in September 1916, they were accompanied by a new, revolutionary weapon--the tank. After a stuttering start, armored behemoths such as the Mark IV, Mark V, and Whippet Tank played a crucial role in bringing World War I to an end.

Marking the centenary of their battlefield debut, this comprehensive volume traces the design and development of the famous British weapon system, from the initial concept of a steam-powered tank during the Crimean War, to the role the British military played in creating the infamous German Blitzkrieg tactic of World War II. Bolstered by historic photographs and stunning illustrations, author David Fletcher brings us the thrilling history behind British tanks of the First World War.

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The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (New Vanguard)

The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (New Vanguard) Paperback – April 17, 2012

The first Rolls-Royce armoured car was a privately owned vehicle fitted with a machine-gun and a limited amount of armour plate at a dockyard in France. It was used by a squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service in Flanders in 1914. Backed by First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill more and better versions followed until, by 1915 there were about 100 of them which were then handed over to the Army. "They searched the world for War" as Sir Albert Stern said of them and before long there were Rolls-Royce armoured cars operating as far apart as German South West Africa, the Western Desert, Gallipoli, all over the Middle East and the north west frontier of India.

All of them used the classic 40/50hp Silver Ghost chassis. They were fast, silent and reliable but above all strong. "A Rolls in the desert is above rubies" said Lawrence of Arabia and the Duke of Westminster would have agreed with him following his famous raid to rescue the kidnapped crew of the steamship HMS Tara. At least one car accompanied the adventurous MP Oliver Locker-Lampson on his adventures in Russia.

After the war, unable to find a better model the War Office simply copied the original Admiralty design with minor improvements. If that was not enough the Royal Air Force also acquired some to support their operations in the Middle East. A new design with a larger body and dome shaped turret also appeared for service in India. They also served in Ireland and even, briefly in Shanghai.

The 11th Hussars still had Rolls-Royces in Egypt when the war against Italy began and the youngest of these was over fifteen years old when they went into action, but after that their numbers dwindled as newer vehicles came along. But then history repeated itself. Britain was threatened with invasion and a new army of veterans was raised to assist with defence. Some battalions built home made armoured cars, on private chassis and at least three of these were based on Rolls-Royces.

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Armoured Warfare in the First World War (Images Of War)

Armoured Warfare in the First World War (Images Of War) Paperback – March 17, 2017

A hundred years ago, on 15 September 1916, on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme, the tank made its debut on the battlefield. The first tanks were crude, unreliable, vulnerable weapons, but they changed the character of land warfare forever, and Anthony Tucker-Jones's photographic history of these pioneering armored vehicles is the ideal introduction to them.

In a selection of over 150 archive photographs he offers a fascinating insight into the difficult early days of this innovative new weapon, describing its technical history and its performance in combat. While the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 is often held up as the first large-scale tank battle, tanks had already served at Flers-Courcelette on the Somme, during the Nivelle offensive and the battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

His book shows that the development of the tank was fraught with technical obstacles and battlefield setbacks. It was invented by the British and the French at almost the same time to help break the deadlock of trench warfare, and the British deployed it first in 1916. Belatedly the Germans followed the British and French example. The initial designs were continuously refined during two years of intense warfare. Finding the right balance between power and weight, getting the armament right, and working out the best tactics for tanks on the battlefield was a tricky, often deadly business.

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