Panzerkampfwagen IV with Hydrostatic Drive

Photo courtesy of George Bradford

Every major German tank of World War II shared essentially the same design architecture. The engine was in the rear, but the drive sprockets were at the front. Therefore power was transmitted via a drive shaft through the fighting compartment (frequently under a turret basket). The major drawback of this system is that it raised the silhouette of the tank to allow for the drive shaft.

Zahnradfabrig Augsburg built this particular Panzer IV. The design had no gearbox, and was not a liquid drive. Rather the "Thoma" drive allowed the primary Machbach HL 120 TRM engine to power two high-performace oil pumps which in turn powered two oil engines.

The results of the German tests on the vehicle were lost during the war. After the war, the vehicle was taken to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds to be tested by the U.S. Army (as they were working on their own hydrostatic drive project). The vehicle remains at the Aberdeen Proving ground today.

Photo courtesy of George Bradford

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