Documetary about the Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Originally published at: Documetary about the Antarctic Snow Cruiser | Boing Boing


I love this thing. It’s got such a Doc Savage vibe going for it. The smooth tyres thing is, iirc, because no one at the time made a true that size with treads.


It’s a great video about an absolutely insane idea they built, drove hundreds of miles across country causing massive traffic jams, and then transported to the arctic. After which, they barely used because smooth tires don’t work well in snow and ice apparently (who knew!). /s It’s so… pulp looking. I love this thing.


Does the Caterpillar 797 come in a camper version? (14.5M long, 9M wide, 254,000 kg.)


I am pretty sure this was used in a Clive Cussler novel, and one of the things they did was cut treads in the tyres with chainsaws.

Can’t remember which novel it was though

I could definitely see one of these going horribly wrong in an episode of Thunderbirds (naturally it would be nuclear powered and extremely fragile).


Yep. Thunderbirds is exactly what came to my mind, too.


There should be an appropriate Russian Reversal for this… but I just can’t think of one. There is, though, a joke from the film Chernobyl, one that reflects dicey outcomes when it’s come to certain big, Russian machines (yes… there’s a history): “What’s as big as a house, burns 20 liters of fuel every hour, puts out a shit-load of smoke and noise, and cuts an apple into three pieces? A Soviet machine made to cut apples into four pieces!”



Nation and Alley!

Few will go there…
and see the HORROR!!

Will go there in my dreams.

The critiques about the tires on this machine always oversimplify and make the designers look stupid unfairly. They actually had data from scale models which suggested that smooth rubber would stick better in snow and ice. It didn’t turn out to be true and they didn’t have time to test it at full scale, but it isn’t the obviously stupid decision that it appears to be. It made sense with the information and development schedule they had.

You have to remember that tires were still pretty new in 1937 and not a lot was known about how to design and build them for different conditions.


Did they find any cryogenically preserved super-soldiers inside?


Wrong hemisphere. But maybe they’d have better luck looking in that B29 that was frozen up North.


There’s always Captain South America.


I don’t know about snow, but vehicles designed for use on sand (and grass) often use only very gentle treads so as to compress the ground evenly and not ‘dig in’.

The snow cruiser tyres would probably have worked just fine on fairly level terrain, but hauling 34 tons up a gradient, not so much.

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