Introduction: R/C Replica WW1 Tank

Picture of R/C Replica WW1 Tank

I wanted a remote control World War 1 tank.  So I made one.

This instructable is going to be more of a general process than a step by step as a step by step would be 50 pages long.  I am going to cover the process by which I tackled this project in the following categories:
-planning (super important!!!)
-building the track structure
-building the body structure
-detailing the whole thing
-putting in the servos to drive the tank
-finishing the tank

Here is what I used to make this  replica:
-MDF.  I used a number of sheets of 3mm MDF for the big flat parts of the tank
-3/16 steel rod for axles for the 56 wheels
-hundreds of small nails for rivet heads
-3 rolls of PLA plastic for the 3D printed parts
-lots of glue
-a plethora of patience

Tools used:
-drill press
-metal saw
-3D printer

Step 1: Planning

Picture of Planning

Planning planning planning.  The first thing I did in this project is to figure out what the heck I wanted the thing to look like.  For that I gathered as many pictures of the Mark IV tank from WW1 as I could. Just finding good photo reference for a vehicle this old can be tricky.

Then I found some line drawings of orthographic views of the tank.  This was a huge help!  I printed these orthographic views up in the exact size I wanted the final tank to be.  These line drawings would pretty much dictate sizes for everything.

Step 2: Building the Track Structure

Picture of Building the Track Structure

I figured the first thing to work on was the track structure.  This is the thin part of the tank that basically lets the track move around it.  I started by creating an MDF template of the track shape from my line drawing.  Design the basic MDF shape of the box structure and make will need 2 per side. 

After getting the sides cut out I simply attached them with blocks of wood to space them out according to the plans.

Now the fun part...I knew the tank needed a LOT of wheels on the bottom of the track assembly for the tank to roll on.  I modeled and printed all the rollers and geared wheels that would be built into each track assembly.  Using the 3/16 steel rod I bought, I cut out all the axles needed making sure to have enough for the other side as well.

This step took quite a while...probably 20 hours of work easy.

Step 3: Printing the Track

Picture of Printing the Track

The joys of 3D printing!

I modeled and printed test after test of a track piece that would interlock and be flexible enough to go around the geared wheels of my track structure.  After getting a piece I was happy with I just printed TONS of them.  using Nails I pinned them together.  After many days of printing I had enough pieces to go all the way around the track structure!

Now that I had two track structures complete I needed to build the body that would go between them.

Step 4: Building the Body Structure

Picture of Building the Body Structure

Using MDF I built a box in the shape of the body.  The shape was determined by the line drawing and pouring over numerous photo references.  I built the sides, top, and bottom using MDF and reinforced with blocks of wood where needed.  Once the box was constructed I attached the two track sides with regular old wood screws.


Picture of DETAILING!

now for the fun part.  You should have something that roughly resembles the WW1 tank of your dreams....the only thing missing is detail.  To get this detail I simply modeled the individual detail bits in a 3D package (I used Max).  I output the models in a printable format, printed them and glued them to the flat surfaces of the tank.  The white pieces in these photos were the printed bits.

A lot of the printed detail is actually the same piece printed over and over.  The strapping with fake rivets, the edge strapping...they are all the same piece just cut to fit and glued in place.

The detailing phase took a LONG time.  I just kept adding more and more detail wherever I could.  The 3D printed parts fit great and it is easy to simply churn out more pieces so I just kept adding.  you can never have too much detail!

As for the hundreds of rivets on the tank...I just used small nails.  Pre drill each hole (or else the MDF could break) and put in a nail....then dremel off the extra bit and you are good to go...repeat hundreds of times!

Step 6: Installing Servos

Picture of Installing Servos

To get the tank moving I decided to use two high torque servos as motors.  turning a servo into a motor is pretty simple...there are lots of faqs on the internet about the specifics, but the general process is to take the servo apart, glue the pot in place (this is what allows the servo to continue turning in a single direction).  Thats generally it!  Easy!

Once I modified the two servos to act as motors I simply printed up a gear to attach to the servo.  Then I screwed the servo in place on the track assembly with the servo gear meshing with the geared wheel on the track assembly.

a receiver and battery attached and all that is left is to setup the radio to drive the servos.  I set it up so that the right stick controls the right servo, and the left stick controls the left servo.  Both sticks forward to go ahead, both back to reverse, and turning is somewhere inbetween....just like a real tank!

Step 7: Painting

Picture of Painting

I suck at painting.  Grey Primer?  Check!  That is the extent of my skill at I handed it off to some friends of mine who are AWESOME at painting...the result?  check the next page!

Step 8: Gazing at the Wonder of Your Steel Behemoth Come to Life!

Picture of Gazing at the Wonder of Your Steel Behemoth Come to Life!

Boom!  A good paint job really makes the project shine! 

the tank is capable of moving around via RC and looks great doing so!  I never would have been able to create this project without the capabilities of 3D printing...we live in an amazing time!


CaptainRex (author)2017-12-12

this is great, but where are the receivers for the tank (to make it rc) and how did you make a remote?

vinz3nt (author)2015-09-20

wow, fantastic, wish I had a 3d printer.
It's the same tank as the one in Indiana Jones and the last crusade.

Another cool tank to build is the Renault FT17, a ww1 1 seated tank.

TylerZ7 (author)vinz3nt2017-03-13

it's actually a two seater

popeye1231 (author)TylerZ72017-11-04

correct it had a driver and a commander with the commanders roles being loader, gunner ,and mechanic

MattW184 (author)2017-09-12

can you post your tank tread stl?

AndreD121 (author)2017-07-06


silverknight1944 (author)2016-11-18

I'm working on a 1/2 sized model using a zero turn ride on mower to power it. Just need some line drawings that I can read as the ones I managed to find are too blurry.

frijoles108 (author)2016-08-27

What scale is the tank?

Machines and Models (author)2015-11-12

Wow That's so cool! You should consider making the tank from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade I believe it's the Mark VII Because the Mark VIII Does not have the top turret Here is are some image's from the book I own "From Star Wars To Indiana Jones"

I don't know If It will notify you, but I can make you one. For about 150 EUR, unpainted or painted.

Kiwi464 (author)2016-05-31

whta about a female would you do one?

popeye1231 (author)2016-05-19

could you send me the 3d models used I would like to make this.

Gideon Rossouwv (author)2015-09-30

Wow! That looks great!

blackholeseeker (author)2015-01-09

Sweet!! I love WWI and WWii

manueldthomas (author)2014-12-17


since I noticed the post and your excellent work!!!. I have been looking for the orthographic views and believe me ...I can not find anything decent ...... and I usually find anything :) any help?



Tormentory (author)2013-12-15

I just used filament to hold my track pads together. My goal was to print the whole track but I did end up buying 8 bolts and lock nuts. You sure spent a lot of time on yours. It looks great. I have not finished printing all my track pads yet. Last Minuit I decided to upgrade them and add paddles that retract. I will post the new ones when i get them done.
Look up RC Tracks by Tory

8bitwood (author)Tormentory2013-12-16

making the tracks is a LOT of work. I've actually made 2 additional tanks since this one. A WWII T34 and I am working now on a T80. The T80 has 830 separate pieces for the tracks and 24 feet of wire holding them together. I'll have to put up an instructable on them...

agodinhost (author)2013-11-26

fantastic job man.

John and Debbie (author)2013-09-04

Amazing work! Are you thinking of selling the stl files for 3D printers?

berrymartin (author)2013-09-02

The Rc Replica WW1 Tank is something most people have probably never heard of, but enthusiasts of World War I history are likely to be quite familiar with this vehicle.

I have always been greatly impressed with this model, This is a fantastic little kit of a relatively obscure subject. Anyone interested in starting armor collection or interested in World War I vehicles would do well to take a serious look at this kit.

tezza the terra (author)2013-07-28

You must have really wanted one.
3D printing is amazing

wobbler (author)2013-07-06

Absolutely fantastic design and well executed construction. 3D printing is going to revolutionise model making and many other fields as well.

8bitwood (author)wobbler2013-07-10

I totally agree regarding the treads. This was my first project using 3D printing...I knew I wanted to make a tank and so I charged in on making treads that would work...I ended up pretty far along before I looked and said 'yeah they work....but they don't look right...' by then it was a bit too late. Rather than go back and redo the treads on this tank I've moved onto a new tank project....a more detailed replica of a Russian T34. Fully modeled treads! Working suspension and hatches that all work... should be ready to show soon.

thanks for the comments!

katsmeat (author)2013-07-08

PS.... how did you mount the motors in the limited space in the track assemblies? Or did you put them in the main body and have some kind of drive going out to the sprockets?

Or was there space for the servos? Presumably if the speed was kept to a realistic slow crawl, small motors, geared down to low rpm, could be torquey enough.

katsmeat (author)2013-07-08
That is darn near professional. And being such a big scale (I'm guessing it's about 50cm long, about 1/16 scale) must make it hugely impressive, especially when crawling over stuff.

As a little bit of a WW1 tank geek, the single thing that detracts from it for me is that the tracks don't look right. This picture of a surviving Mark IV in a museum, shows the real thing. But from the research you obviously did, you must know perfectly well what the original tracks looked like; I assume practical issues prevented you making the model ones a closer match.

mammasboy (author)2013-07-05

:O that is ridiculous! it looks like it was made professionally! tops to you my friend, now all you need to do is mount a couple of bb guns in place of the main guns :D

sandeep lokhande (author)2013-07-04

Very Nice
Where I can get those Plastic link which are
working like belts 2

Do you mean the treads? I can post the STL files for the treads....if you look around thingiverse you can find some too.

Yes traders
also for servo motor

sandeep lokhande (author)2013-07-05

shrill onicill

cj8675 (author)2013-07-04

hey man awsome job if u want to mass produce them you can hit me up i have a shopbot cnc router and i think these would be a big hit in the local hobby shops. if this sounds interesting you can also text me at 2034892527

thegreat58 (author)2013-07-04

This is a great replica of a Mark IV tank, I play around with rc tanks and always thought the rc tank makers missed the boat by not offering WW1 tanks, Tanks like the MarkIV, the Ford, and the Renault were so cool looking. Great job, you may want to take a look at and have a look at their WW1 tank paper models for ideas.

Azzurro (author)2013-07-04

Indiana Jones! :D Coolness, great ins.

Gamer Guy (author)2013-07-04


vstarboy (author)2013-07-04

Do you have a video?

number8wire (author)2013-07-01

Awesome! Great job

8bitwood (author)number8wire2013-07-04

Ha! I'll have to get on that! Currently my time is taken up with building a scratch T80 RC tank.

redfoxtrystman (author)2013-07-01

Amazing and love it. You have so much talent it's crazy. Also would like to see the wall in the last pic it looks interesting

8bitwood (author)redfoxtrystman2013-07-04

The back wall is stained wood pixel art that I also make. I have an instruct able that shows a bunch of my artwork. Check it out!

pecker (author)2013-07-04

That is mighty impressive.
How many man-hours do you reckon it took to complete it?

8bitwood (author)pecker2013-07-04

I would say 50 hours of printing and 90 hours of assembly. I had to learn 3D modeling to make the pieces...that took some time!

tdawg1978 (author)2013-07-04

Almost like the tank in Indiana Jones ATLC! A little different shape and had a cannon for it's main gun.

Kaptain Kool (author)2013-07-01


SC_Lane (author)2013-07-01

Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's crazy good!!!!!!!

technovative (author)2013-07-01

'plethora of patience' = pleasing payoff :)

technovative (author)2013-07-01

Radical! It's the tank from Indiana Jones: and the Last Crusade.. minus the top gun turret. Fantastic design and craftsmanship.

excellent, great detail and well done on making it RC as well.

The nerdling (author)2013-07-01


justanothergeek (author)2013-06-30

Why can everyone make such badass things?!?

Phil B (author)2013-06-30

You did a really fine job. I saw one of these in real life at Ft. Knox's outdoor tank museum in Kentucky.

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