Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The World's First Caterpillar Track (1908, UK)

(The only surviving materials of this title feature German intertitles).
Mud has defeated many a conquering army. In the days of horse-drawn transport or ponderous and hugely heavy steam-powered engines, R. Hornsby and Sons nippy little petrol-driven caterpillar track must have seemed like the technological development of the century.
In this promotional film, shot in Grantham, Lincolnshire and delivered by the company in a spirit of optimism reminiscent of an edition of 'Tomorrow's World', the little vehicle is put through its paces, making light of its load over clay, mud, soft sand, marshy land and streams. It leaves the horse-drawn load stuck in a bog, and ends the display turning gleefully on the spot in a celebration of manoeuvrability.
7 or 8 years later, could years of trench warfare have been shortened if the engineers had been encouraged by the British military? (Bryony Dixon)

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