Tank Heavy, TOG II* (E1951.49)

Tank Heavy, TOG II*
vehicle info
Precise Name
Tank Heavy, TOG II*
Main Utility Type
Country of Use
1941, William Foster & Co. Ltd., United Kingdom
World War 2
location in the museum
The Heaviest Tank in the Museum
This enormous tank was designed on the premise that World War II would evolve in the same way as the First World War. Some believed that existing tanks would not be able to deal with such conditions, and one of the most influential was Sir Albert Stern, who had been secretary to the Landships Committee in the First World War. In company with many others involved in tank design in 1916, including Sir William Tritton, Sir Eustace Tennyson D'Eyncourt, Sir Ernest Swinton and Walter Wilson, Stern was authorised by the War Office to design a heavy tank on First World War principles.

Two prototypes were built, both known as TOG for The Old Gang and they were even manufactured by the company that built Little Willie and the first tanks in 1916, William Foster & Co. of Lincoln. TOG I was very much like a big World War 1 tank with a turret on top. It was later scrapped. TOG II was a much more original design. It has two remarkable features, apart from its great size and weight. Firstly there is no gearbox or mechanical transmission. The huge Paxman-Ricardo V12 diesel drives two generators which power two electric motors which drive the tracks. The tracks themselves, after passing around the sprocket and idler, drop down below floor level in a tunnel to create more space in the engine and crew compartments - an idea which is virtually unique to this tank.

TOG II was completed in 1941. It was so heavy they could only weigh half at a time. The original plan was to fit machine-gun sponsons (another World War 1 idea) where the side doors are and the tank carried four different turrets between 1941 and 1945. In practice the ideas of The Old Gang were wrong. In reality tanks needed to be smaller and more mobile. Yet TOG II is even bigger and heavier than the German Tiger, proving that Britain could have produced heavier tanks had it wished.

The TOG Committee was set up in September 1939. Members had been mainly concerned with World War 1 tank design. The first specification was very similar to early heavy tanks. This was varied over several months to produced TOG 1, 1A, 2 and 2A. Project abandoned in 1944.

Precise Name: Tank, Heavy, TOG II*

Other Name:


Weighing 80 tons the TOG II* is the heaviest tank in the Museum. It is one of those impracticable freaks that the military procurement process occasionally produces.

At the beginning of World War II (September 1939) some military officers and engineers thought that the new war would evolve in the same way as the First World War. The war would be static, with the opposing armies occupying two lines of trenches running from the North Sea coast to the Swiss border, separated by a ‘no mans land’ swept by artillery and machine gun fire.

Sir Albert Stern, Secretary of the Landships Committee during the First World War, believed that the sort of tanks being produced in 1939 would not be able to cope with these conditions. In company with other engineers involved in tank design in 1916, including Sir Eustace Tennyson D’Eyncourt (Former Director of Naval Construction), Sir Ernest Swinton and Walter Wilson, Stern was asked by the War Office to design a heavy tank using World War One principles. The group was called officially called ‘The Special Vehicle Development Committee of the Ministry of Supply’; unofficially it was known as the TOG committee (TOG: The Old Gang). It began work in September 1939.

The first design resembled an enlarged World War I tank with a Matilda II (See E1949.353) turret on top and a French 75mm gun mounted in the front plate of the hull. Fosters of Lincoln built a single prototype and trials started in October 1940. It was powered by a Paxman-Ricardo diesel engine and had an electric final drive. The electric drive burnt out and was replaced by a hydraulic drive; this also failed and the vehicle was scrapped.

In the meantime the committee was designing a larger vehicle of great size, the TOG II. Its most original feature was the diesel electric transmission where the V12 diesel engine drove two electric generators, which powered two electric motors, which drove the tracks. There was no gearbox or mechanical transmission. (Ferdinand Porsche installed a similar system in one of his unsuccessful prototypes built for the German Army.) The tracks, after passing around the front mounted idler dropped down below floor level to create more internal space, an idea thought to be unique to this tank.

Fosters completed the single TOG II prototype in March 1941. It was so heavy that it was only possible to weigh half the vehicle at a time. The design specified machine gun sponsons on each side where the side doors are, like a British World War I tank. These were quickly abandoned. The tank was fitted with four different gun turrets between 1941 and 1944, ending up with the type of turret designed by Stoddart and Pitt for the A30 Challenger Heavy Cruiser Tank (See E1987.9). This mounted a 17pdr gun, making the tank a TOG II*. The TOG II’s great length made it very difficult to steer and combined with its weight and low power weight ratio (7.5hp/ton) made the tank cumbersome and unwieldy.

In reality ‘The Old Gang’s’ ideas were wrong; tanks needed to be smaller, agile and more mobile. The TOG II was finally abandoned in 1944, although the A22 Churchill (See E1949.339) had been adopted as Britain’s standard heavy infantry tank long before.

Summary text by Mike Garth
Full Tracked
Gun - 17 Pounder Gun
Armament - Main Weapon Type
1 x Machine Guns (Besa)
Armament - Secondary Weapon Type
Paxman Ricardo 12 cylinder
Torsion spring
Diesel electric
Vehicle Statistics
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