R/C Replica WW1 Tank

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Introduction: 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
-dremel
-drill
-metal saw
-xacto
-3D printer

Step 1: 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

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 4...you 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

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

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.

Step 5: 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

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

I suck at painting.  Grey Primer?  Check!  That is the extent of my skill at painting....so 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!

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!

3D Printing Contest

Finalist in the
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Second Prize in the
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First Prize in the
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    51 Comments

    Is there anyway of getting the stl files? I am going to build one in scale 1:6.

    Regards

    Torben

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

    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.

    2 replies

    it's actually a two seater

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

    can you post your tank tread stl?

    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.

    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"

    Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 3.56.24 PM.png
    1 reply

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

    whta about a female would you do one?

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

    hello

    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?

    thanks

    manuel

    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
    On Thingiverse.com.

    1 reply

    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...

    fantastic job man.
    congrats!

    Amazing work! Are you thinking of selling the stl files for 3D printers?
    Cheers,
    John
    www.essex-armoured-soldiers-museum.ca