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
-metal saw
-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 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.


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 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
3D Printing Contest

Remote Control Contest

Second Prize in the
Remote Control Contest

Toy Contest

First Prize in the
Toy Contest