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Many World War II German military vehicles, initially (starting in the late 1930s) including all vehicles originally designed to be half-tracks and all later tank designs (after the ), had slack-track systems, usually driven by a front-located drive sprocket, the track returning along the tops of a design of overlapping and sometimes interleaved large diameter road wheels, as on the suspension systems of the and tanks, generically known by the term in German, for both half-track and fully tracked vehicles. There were suspensions with one (sometimes double) wheel per axle, alternately supporting the inner and outer side of the track, and interleaved suspensions with two or three road wheels per axle, distributing the load over the track. The choice of overlapping/interleaved road wheels allowed the use of slightly more suspension members, allowing any German tracked military vehicle with such a setup to have a noticeably smoother ride over challenging terrain, leading to reduced wear and more accurate fire. As a tracked vehicle moves, the load of each wheel moves over the track, pushing down and forward that part of the earth, snow, etc. under it, similarly to a wheeled vehicle but to a lesser extent because the tread helps distribute the load. Apparently, on some surfaces, this consumes enough energy to slow the vehicle down significantly, so overlapped and interleaved wheels improve performance (including fuel consumption) by loading the track more evenly. It also must have extended the life of the tracks and possibly of the wheels. The wheels also better protect the vehicle from enemy fire, and mobility is improved when some wheels are missing. But this complicated approach has not been used since World War II ended. This may be related more to maintenance than to original cost. Mud and ice collect between the overlapping areas of the road wheels, freezing solid in cold weather conditions, often immobilizing vehicles equipped with such track suspension systems. The torsion bars and bearings may stay dry and clean, but the wheels and tread work in mud, sand, rocks, snow and so on. In addition, the outer wheels (up to 9 of them, some double) had to be removed to access the inner ones. In WW II, vehicles typically had to be maintained a few months before being destroyed or captured, but in peace time vehicles must train several crews, over a period of decades.


An Artist and an Engineer design and build a Tracked Vehicle