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The ‘Drones’ of 1930s: Unmanned Tanks That Were Meant to Limit Bloodshed

© Photo : vsetanki.comTT-26 Soviet remote-controlled teletank
TT-26 Soviet remote-controlled teletank - Sputnik International
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Apparently, the remote-controlled weapons designed and envisioned during the 1930s were intended for more humane purposes than the contemporary drones.

It is no secret that attempts to design unmanned remote-controlled combat vehicles date back to the first half of the 20th century.

For example, the Soviet Union produced and successfully tested several types of the so called 'teletanks' – battle tanks remotely controlled by radio – some of which even saw action during the Winter War.

© Photo : vsetanki.comA Soviet remote-controlled TT-26 teletank and a TU-26 control tank.
A Soviet remote-controlled TT-26 teletank and a TU-26 control tank. - Sputnik International
A Soviet remote-controlled TT-26 teletank and a TU-26 control tank.

Likewise, Nazi Germany also fielded several models of remotely-controlled demolition vehicles during World War II, some of which were designed to deploy timed explosive charges while others were meant to explode upon contact with the enemy.

© Sputnik . Ilya BogachevGerman Sd.Kfz.303 Goliath B-V (left) and Sd.Kfz. 302 Goliath B-III (right) remote-controlled demolition vehicles.
German Sd.Kfz.303 Goliath B-V (left) and Sd.Kfz. 302 Goliath B-III (right) remote-controlled demolition vehicles. - Sputnik International
German Sd.Kfz.303 Goliath B-V (left) and Sd.Kfz. 302 Goliath B-III (right) remote-controlled demolition vehicles.

But it also appears that many of those who designed these unmanned implements of war may have sought not only to improve their nations' armed forces efficiency, but to remove the human element from the battlefield thus limiting the casualties and hopefully turning the wars into contests between machines where nobody gets killed.

This excerpt from the April 1931 issue of the Radio-Craft magazine, uncovered by the author of Paleofuture blog, serves as an excellent summary to this point of view.

"Writers of war stories, peering into the future, predict an approaching era when fighting will be done by machinery under remote control. Guns automatically operated will fire from deserted fortifications and from tanks which contain no living operators. Airplanes without human pilots will observe positions through televisors, and drop projectiles guided from a post at headquarters, many miles away. The casualties will be solely among robots of steel and copper, whose orders are conveyed to them by radio, or other subtle signalling methods. Such is the picture which is painted upon the drop curtain which conceals the next war—if it be true that war has not been abolished along with the dips in the business cycle," the article's author said.

Of course, both the use of the remote-controlled tank bombs by the Nazis during World War II and the contemporary use of drones serve as a testament to the fact that those utopian dreams were just that – dreams.

Perhaps one day this future may come to pass, but it is highly unlikely that it will happen anytime soon.

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