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Weapons of World War Two

Sonderkraftfahrzeug 302 Goliath

Sonderkraftfahrzeug 302 Goliath

In the afternoon of the 4th July 1943 the German troops started in the Kursk sector the Operation Zitadelle. During its progression it would be seen on the Russian plains the largest battle of armored elements developed during the conflict. Convinced, no without reason, of the importance of this encounter, both contenders put into the battlefield the latest findings of military technics, with the hope of obtaining with the victory the definitive supremacy on this field against the antagonist. Naturally, a battle between armored vehicles involves clashes that go far beyond the simple engagement between tanks, specially if it develops in a theater that because of its strategic importance has been provided with fortifications and field installations. The area of Kursk, for example, had been sown by the engineers of the Red Army with large minefields, on which the German Panzers would be soon stuck, suffering losses.

But these, which had anticipated eventualities of such kind, besides proceeding to the cleaning of the zone by means of traditional methods, either because of reasons of fastness or because of the difficulty of eliminating particularly dangerous minefields, resorted to a new invention: the minitank Goliath. It was a small, if not tiny, cable-guided tank, which was directed towards the mined area. Once arrived to the desired point it was exploded the charge that it carried, composed of 91 kilograms of explosives. This was more than enough to open a clean passage of 45 meters in width. In Kursk the Germans also used occasionally tracked vehicles Borgward, with an explosive charge of 450 kilograms, to which a remote control was applied. As it can be deducted, the Goliath had not been born, according to which many believed, as an antitank secret weapon, but as a simple demolition element to use in certain occasions. The desperate situation, the necessity of antitank weapons or the particular inventive of some commanders would make these vehicles to be employed also against the tanks, but this one would not be a role in which they would shine.

The Goliath, which would perform honorably their mission of minesweepers or obstacle destroyers, were not a faultless weapon. Built by Borgward, the B 1 (such was their denomination, whereas for the Wehrmacht would be SdKfz 302) reminded due to their silhouette the tanks of the Great War. Divided in two main compartments, a fore one for the explosive charge and a rear one for a coil of 700 meters of cable for the remote guidance, they could be moved by either electric or petrol engines. The remote control allowed to give very simple instructions to the B 1: "to the left", "to the right" or "explosion". Hence, once in motion it could not be stopped nor existed devices for changing speed or reverse direction. In the ones with petrol engine, to steer the control actuated on the transmission, as in a normal tank; in the electric ones, fitted with two motors fed by batteries, it was enough to momentarily stop the motor that actuated on the track of the side to which it was desired to turn.

The Goliath would be used, apart from in the Russian Front, also in Varsovia, always against static targets. But in Anzio and Nettuno they would be used also as antitank means, but with rather disappointing results. Their scarce speed (more or less the one of a man walking at brisk pace) and their vulnerability to light weapons would cause the destruction of a good number of B 1. Their last utilization in notable quantity would be in Normandy, and then, until the end of the war, they would be used only occasionally, and in the role that the situation demanded.

Year: 1943

Length: 160 centimeters

Width: 85 centimeters

Height: 60 centimeters

Total weight: 365 kilograms

Weight of the explosive charge: 91 kilograms

Propulsion: One gasoline engine or two electrical motors

Maximum speed: About 10 kilometers/hour

Operational range: About 700 meters

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