Before World War II, the United Kingdom aimed to improve armored warfare in anticipation of scenarios similar to those in World War I where trenches were essential in combat. To achieve this, the British developed a set of tanks called the TOG series that prioritized the capability to cross trenches. The intention was to change the battlefield significantly.

Genesis of the TOG Tanks

In July 1939, the “Future World War Tank Design” was created by the Special Vehicle Development Committee. Sir Albert Gerald Stern led the committee, with assistance from the TOG founders. The tank was named after its founders’ initials. The committee chose Sir William Triton, who was famous for creating the world’s first tank through William Foster and Company, to design the tank.

The TOG Heavy Tanks

The TOG tank was designed to be a versatile war machine, capable of navigating difficult terrain and withstanding attacks. Its armor was strong enough to withstand 47mm anti-tank guns and 105mm howitzers from a distance of 91 meters. The tank’s main gun was impressive, able to penetrate 2.1 meters of reinforced concrete. The tank was also equipped with four 7.92mm Besa machine guns, strategically placed to defend against infantry attacks.

Additionally, the vehicle had four 51mm smoke grenade launchers. Although the tank was initially designed to have two 2-pounder broadside guns, they were never installed, and the design was eventually scrapped.

Evolution of the TOG 1 Prototype

In December 1939, a wooden model of the TOG 1 prototype was constructed by William Triton. Notably long, the tank was engineered to excel in trench-crossing capabilities while also serving as a troop transport vehicle, complete with body side doors. 

Wide tracks were fitted to support its considerable weight, reducing the tank’s pressure exerted on the ground. Intriguingly, the suspension system did away with traditional springs.

The TOG 1 borrowed the Matilda II turret for its turret, while it mounted a 75mm howitzer borrowed from the French Char B1 heavy tank on the front of its body.

Revamping for Efficiency: TOG 1A

During the design process, it became evident that the overhead crawler track design was outdated. Consequently, in June 1940, a significant overhaul was undertaken, culminating in delivering the TOG 1 prototype in October. 

The TOG Heavy Tanks
TOG-1 Tank

Due to its colossal weight, an internal combustion engine alone couldn’t suffice, leading to the adoption of a diesel engine-generator combination powering two electric motors, each driving one of the tank’s tracks. Steering was achieved through a potentiometer connected to the steering wheel, which modulated the voltage supplied to the motors for differential steering.

 However, the Hydraulic Drive Engineering Company later replaced this system with hydraulic transmission in 1943, marking continuous efforts to refine the TOG 1. The final iteration, known as the TOG 1A, was produced. Despite these improvements, persistent issues plagued the tank, eventually leading to its abandonment and relocation to Chobham.

TOG 1: By the Numbers

  • Weight: 81 tons
  • Length: 10.1 meters
  • Width: 3.1 meters
  • Height: 3 meters
  • Crew: 8 members (commander, gunner, loader, driver, 4 broadside gunners)
  • Armor: 62mm
  • Armament:
    • 75mm hull-mounted howitzer
    • 1 2-pounder turret gun
    • 4 7.92mm Besa machine guns
  • Engine:
    • Paxman-Ricardo 12TP diesel engine, producing 600 horsepower
    • 2 English Electric generators
    • 2 English Electric motors
  • Maximum Speed: 14 km/h

TOG 2: The Heir to the TOG Legacy

Building on the foundation of the TOG 1, the TOG 2 was conceived to navigate the challenging terrains of northern France, including swamps, craters, and trenches. Departing from the overhead crawler design, side doors were introduced above the tracks. Orders for the TOG 2 were placed in 1940, and the tank was delivered in October of the same year.

Field testing commenced in March 1943, including a model turret and a 6-pounder dummy gun. While plans initially called for side guns, they were ultimately deemed impractical and were abandoned in favor of a simple turret and a 16cw anti-tank gun. 1942 the tank was further upgraded with the turret and 17-pounder gun borrowed from the Mk.VIII Challenger tank.

TOG 2: Engineering Triumph

In May 1943, the TOG 2 underwent testing with an improved torsion bar suspension system, which, much like its predecessor, did away with traditional springs. Although the test results were promising, further development ceased. An alternate proposal, the TOG 2 (R), featured a shortened body length of 1.8 meters. The TOG 2 remains a silent sentinel, resting peacefully at the Bovington Tank Museum.

TOG 2: Technical Specifications

  • Crew: 6 members (commander, gunner, 2 loaders, driver, co-driver)
  • Armor:
    • Turret: 114mm front, 76mm side, 50mm rear
    • Body: 76mm front and sides, 50mm rear
  • Armament:
    • 17-pounder gun
    • 1 7.92mm Besa machine gun
  • Engine:
    • Paxman-Ricardo 12TP diesel engine, outputting 600 horsepower
    • 2 English Electric generators
    • 2 English Electric motors
  • Power-to-weight ratio: 7.5
  • Suspension: Torsion bar
  • Range: 80 kilometers
  • Maximum Speed: 13.7 km/h

Legacy of the TOG Tanks

In the annals of military history, the TOG tanks stand as a testament to British innovation and determination during a tumultuous era. These heavy tanks, with their unique designs and capabilities, represent a chapter in the evolution of armored warfare. While their operational utility remained limited, the TOG tanks remain cherished relics, preserving the spirit of innovation that defined an era dominated by the tumultuous winds of World War II.