In my fantasy world as in the real world, the concept of the tank has been around since the development of the casemate ironclad warship.  Early designs were dubbed “land ironclads,” though none of them were ever built, much less used in combat.  Naturally, that’s not good enough for a steampunk such as myself.

Below is a concept from the mind of Eduard Boyen (about whom I could find no information, not even the year of this invention), a steam-powered casemate-armoured vehicle with two gun decks.  I decided to use this as a base for my own land ironclad, the Karadenian Iron Turtle.


The Iron Turtle originally started out as a small vehicle, with a hull resembling an upside-down boat, and armed with a single gun.  It was essentially a carbon copy of F.R. Simms’ own armoured car, built in 1902.  Developments in engine and transmission technology eventually allowed the contraption to blimp to an enormous size.  Below is the final version of the iron turtle, which was also the only version to see combat.

Iron Turtle 1Iron Turtle 2Iron Turtle 3Iron Turtle 4

The iron turtle was the most powerful tank on Rossbera at the time of its development.  However, while it had sufficient armour to shrug off attacks from all but the heaviest field guns, it was not as mobile as the Taressimian trench tank.  The low-hanging armoured skirt tended to get stuck when the tank attempted to cross deep craters in the terrain.  Because of the constant shelling during the Battle of Shiamazdu, the iron turtles frequently found themselves immobilised, and so acted as armoured gun towers instead of offensive vehicles.  Head-on attacks were not effective against iron turtles, but there were plenty of other ways of defeating them, including using infantry to sneak up close and toss grenades into the gunports.  In short, the iron turtle did not live up to its potential.

The only other armoured vehicle that the Karadenian Empire possessed at the time was an armoured war wagon, affectionately nicknamed the “little box turtle,” as it was very boxy, and served alongside the much larger iron turtle.

War wagon 1War wagon 2

Like earlier horse-drawn (Rossberans used dostrops, not actual horses, but the two animals look very similar) wooden war wagons, the vehicle itself had no permanently mounted weapons, but was basically a mobile pill box.  There were provisions to mount heavier weapons than could be fired by hand, such as heavy machine guns and autocannons, but nothing specific was intended with this design.  As you can probably see, the crew would enter through a small hatch at the vehicle’s rear.  The vehicle was a bit cramped for the gunners, admittedly, and the rear gunner had to fire from a prone position the entire time.  The little box turtle had very thin armour, and could not protect the occupants from anything heavier than anti-personnel weapons, but it was cheap to produce and augmented infantry capabilities enough to demonstrate that mechanised warfare was the way of the future.

The Karadenian forces ultimately won the Battle of Shiamazdu, but not thanks to their armoured vehicles.  Emperor Plutus was satisfied with the result, and believed that such a victory would keep Taressim at bay.  His brother, however, disagreed, and began making preparations for a massive counterattack.  Interrogation of Taressimian POWs revealed that the trench tanks were too narrow to be very stable, and many had flipped over while crossing the Kraichis Desert.  As you might be aware from my last post, trench tanks have their turrets on the sides, mainly because a turret on top would make the tank even less stable than it already is.  Neither iron turtles nor war wagons could cross the desert, the former because of the armoured skirt and the latter because of the narrow tracks.  However, trench tanks were clearly capable of crossing the desert, and the Karadenian forces managed to capture a few in fairly decent condition.  In order to make them more stable, they were taken apart and widened, which also made room for another turret on top, with the added bonus of not compromising stability.  The result was called the sand crab, and had more than twice the armament of the original Taressimian design.

Sandcrab comparison

The name doesn’t come from the original design, but from its later derivative (which I haven’t finished yet), that had much larger side turrets and more powerful 17-lb howitzers.  The 17-pounders stick out like crab claws on this absurdly wide vehicle, which was meant to cross the desert and give Taressim a taste of its own medicine.  By the time that the campaign finally began, the Karadenians had made several smaller armoured vehicles based on the design as well, which were faster and far cheaper to produce than the sand crab.  I can’t show you those just yet, since I haven’t dreamt them up.  Anyway, I’m cutting this post short, because I have nothing else at the moment.  I’ll leave you with this:

Tanks 1

A comparison of the sand crab, little box turtle, iron turtle, trench tank, APC, and yes, that’s a Gadfly Gun in the background.  As you can see, it’s bigger than anything else.  By the way, I almost forgot: the war wagon and iron turtle are both available in my Shapeways shop.  I have yet to validate the sand crab.


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