The Walker Program

Posted: February 6, 2010 in RPG
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Gordon, Mark III (by Kevin) - click for full view

Initiated by the Germans under the cover of an industrial construction machinery project, the first operational walker was actually tested by the British, on the northern Scottish moors late in 1940.  That walker was actually the first generation of the “Gordon”, powered by a pair of aircraft engines and with locomotion by way of outboard tracks taken from a Matilda tank.  The original Gordon Mark I was armed very lightly, bosting a single Vickers .50 mounted coaxially on the lower hull.  Crew consisted of two, a driver and a gunner.  The Mark I was quickly upgraded to a Mark II and III version, with the Mark III sporting a Boys Anti-Tank rifle in addition to the single Vickers.  There only being one gunner with two weapons, however, was soon seen as a detriment, especially when the Mark III’s began seeing service in Africa.

The next major upgrade came with the Mark V.  This generation of the Gordon now boasted two Boys rifles mounted just below the driver’s position on outboard nacelles.  Ammunition was limited to just three or four shots from each, but the advancement proved remarkably successful, especially with the addition of a second Vickers .50.  In this configuration, the driver gained the ability to fire one of the machine guns while the gunner retained the coaxial gun and also the fire control over the pair of Boys rifles.  The Mark VI in this configuration was very successful in the invasion of Italy.  Other specialized versions included armament such as flamethrowers or even mortars, in place of the machine guns or Boys rifles.

Schwarzbar varient (by Kevin) - click for larger view

The Germans didn’t ignore their own Walker designs however.  The most successful walker created under the German program at this time was the Genen Schwarzbar (Walking Black bear).  This was a true walker, with bipedal mobility.  The single crewman was both driver and gunner, controlling two outboard arms extending from the egg shaped hull, which were mounted with three rounds of Panzerfaust anti-tank warheads, above an MG 17 aircraft gun.  Later models had a FlaK 37 8.8cm gun mounted above the pilot’s compartment.  The gun utilized an ingenious rotating magazine which allowed the gun to reload automatically, with a capacity of 15 rounds.

The most innovative of the walkers produced out of any nations’s walker program was the American entry.  Not produced until late 1943 but fielded in enough numbers that it was in time for use in the Normany invasions, the American W-5B “Montezuma” incorporated two-legged walking as the motive means, and was armed with a heavily modified M1A1 Bazooka mounted on one shoulder and a single Browning .50 machine gun mounted in the “chest”.  This walker was the first of the truly anthropomorphic walkers, though, with the pilot seated in the “head”.  The machine was also equipped with two fully articulated arms, both ending in three fingered hands.  The left hand was useful for both grasping and punching, though not capable of fine manipulation.  The right hand was equally useful for this, but was also armed with a three foot long sharpened steel axe blade with a curved hook on one end, attached into the wrist joint.  Crews nicknamed this the “boarding axe”.  Where the walker crews of other nations were reluctant to get “in close” with enemy walkers and tanks, more than one Panther or Schwarzbar met it’s end in vicious close combat with a brash American in a Montezuma.

Many thanks to Kevin for the pictures!


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