Ten Strange Cars

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A steam powered armoured car? Really

The Royal Page Davidson Armoured Car was not meant to be a joke. As commandant of the US Northwestern Military and Naval Academy Mr Royal Page Davidson was a pioneer of armoured military vehicles, years before the British brought the first tanks to the Western Front in France. In 1898-1901 he designed, and had built, a scout vehicle; apart from the driver it could carry passengers, facing to the rear, and there was storage space under the carriage area. Initially a petrol driven engine was fitted; this proved unreliable however and it was replaced by a boiler attached to a more robust three cylinder, six horse power steam engine. A front, detachable metal shield was provided to protect the driver and passengers, and armour protected the engine and boiler.The car was fitted with a Colt .223 calibre machine gun which could rotate a full 180 degrees, firing a maximum of 480 bullets a minute. The effective range was 2000 yards.

Unfortunately the vehicle had problems in climbing hills, because of water level changes, which greatly limited it's value for it's chosen task of scouting, and so it was not put into full scale production. However, further development led to the production of the first American fully armoured cars.

There are no records surviving of the comments of the riders who were expected to fire up the boiler, wait for a head of steam to rise, then dodge bullets and shells whilst sitting on a boiler full of superheated steam, all in the middle of a battle.

Two prototypes were produced; one of them can still be viewed at the Chicago museum of Science and Industry.


royal Page Armored Car

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