Tag Archives: 1910s

Tsar Tank

Russia, currently undertaking a humiliating withdrawal from occupied Kherson in Ukraine following their illegal invasion, haven’t always been the scumbags of Europe. In fact, the Russian T34-85 Tank made one of the greatest contributions to saving Europe from the last set of scumbags intent on invading their neighbours.

Prior to the success of the T34-85 however, Russia’s tanks were a little more… experimental. Looking like a cross between something from Battle Bots and a child’s tricycle, this is the Netopyr or ‘Tsar Tank’, a 60ft long 1914 prototype armoured vehicle, crewed by ten personnel and powered by two 240bhp Maybach engines taken from a captured German airship, one for each enormous front wheel.

Those wheels measured almost 30ft in diameter, and were followed by a 5ft rear wheel, in-between which was a 26ft hull festooned with cannons. The idea was that the Tsar Tank could traverse large obstacles thanks to the massive front wheels, although little thought seemed to be given to the much smaller rear one.

This promptly got stuck in soft ground during the tank’s first test run, and even the most powerful engines of the time couldn’t get it out. Various extractions failed too, and thus the tank was left in-situ for a further 8 years before it was finally removed and scrapped.

Still, it looked bloody awesome, and so too does TLCB favourite Sariel’s spectacular recreation of Russia’s 1914 engineering failure. Propelled by two Power Functions motors, with a further three operating the various cannons, Sariel’s replica looks every bit as mad as its 60-ton counterpart, and there’s lots more to see at his ‘Tsar Tank’ album on Flickr.

Click the link above to take a look at easily the weirdest vehicle you’ll see today, and here to watch it in action, where it is – frankly – every bit as rubbish as the real thing was over a century ago.

Prussian Journey

Today’s beautiful brick-based image comes from previous bloggee Pieter Post, who – in collaboration with two other builders – has created this gorgeous Prussian P8 steam locomotive, tender, prisoner car, post and luggage car, and passenger coaches, along with the stunning heather-landscape in which it is pictured.

Produced for a Lego train show in the Netherlands, Pieter and his compatriots’ 1920s steam train includes a BuWizz bluetooth battery powering bespoke LED lighting and three L Motors concealed within the tender and boiler driving custom wheels.

Full details can be found and Pieter’s photostream and you can traverse the heather on board his Prussian P8 steam locomotive via the link in the text above.

Crazy Cat

This magnificently obscure vehicle is a 1910s Holt 75hp Caterpillar, a part-track tractor produced by the company that would later become the world-renowned Caterpillar brand. Powered by a 23 litre 4-cylinder gasoline engine, and weighing 10 tons, the Holt Caterpillar was quite fantastically slow, but was reliable and could haul almost anything almost anywhere.

With war raging in Europe and limited photos of the newfangled British ‘tanks’ operating in the mire, Holt even converted one of their 75hp Caterpillars into a ‘tank’ as a PR exercise to parade to U.S citizens with the phrase ‘America First’ painted on it, dubiously attempting to take credit for something they had nothing to do with. Make your own Trump link…

This charming replica of the Holt 75hp Caterpillar (in conventional tractor form) comes from previous bloggee Nikolaus Löwe (aka Mr_Kleinstein), and includes BuWizz controlled drive and steering, as well as accurately reflecting the bizarre exterior of the original.

There’s more to see of Nikolaus’ Holt 75hp tractor at his photostream via the link in the text above, and if you think this is weird here’s a bonus link to the ‘tank’ version, which might just be the oddest thing you see today….

Blue and Steamy

No, not your Mom’s old movies, but this rather lovely steam tractor by Flickr’s Nikolaus Löwe. Working ‘chain’ steering, a spinning flywheel, and other old-timey steamy things are all included, and there’s more to see at Nikolaus’ photostream. Click the link above for more steamy blue action.

Show Your Metal

This astonishing creation is a the uncovered airframe of a First World War Sopwith Camel F.1 fighter, and it’s not quite, entirely, all LEGO.

But it is wonderful, and the use of supporting metal throughout not only replicates the structure of the real biplane, where wood and canvas were tensioned by wires, it proudly showcases the metalwork that is doing exactly the same job for the plastic bricks surrounding it.

Builder Crash Cramer details how and why the metalwork is used, including for the functional control surfaces which are steered via the cockpit, at his Flickr photostream, where a host of beautiful images are available to view.

Join us in taking a closer look via the link in the text above.

Royal Württemberg

This is not a car. It is in fact a Prussion G12 steam locomotive, depicted here in Royal Württemberg livery (and in a wonderful snowy scene) by Flickr’s Pieter Post.

Around 1,500 G12’s were built between 1917 and 1924, when it became one of the first standardised locomotives in operation across Germany.

Pieter’s beautiful recreation of the G12 utilises a slew of third-party parts to maximise the realism, with custom valve gear, tender wheels, LED lighting, and a BuWizz bluetooth battery powering the LEGO L-Motor that drives the wheels.

The result is – as you can see here – spectacular, and you can check out the full description of both Pieter’s Prussian G12 build and the real steam locomotive at his photostream.

Click the link above to take a winter’s journey across 1920’s Germany.

Aaaawingadingadingadinga…

TLCB doesn’t care much for old-timey wingadinga type cars. Nor brown cars. This is both.

Despite those drawbacks though, it is wonderful, being a 1915 Saxon Model 14 from previous bloggee _Tyler, who has both built and presented his model superbly.

It’s also a car that featured in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (albeit incorrectly, being as it was set in 1912), hence the moustaches and headgear as equally old-timey as the car.

See more at _Tyler’s photostream via the link above. Aaaaawingadingadingadinga….

Steam Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’*

It’s been over a hundred years since steam rollers were built, and yet in TLCB’s home nation we still call road rollers ‘steam rollers’ over a century later. No we don’t know why either. Anyway, this one is a steam roller, being effectively a giant kettle with a big metal drum attached to the front, powered by burning lumps of fossilised wood.

It comes from previous bloggee Nikolaus Lowe, who has done a tremendous job building this beautiful and fully functional Model Team/Technic c1910 steam roller, complete with working rope steering, rear ripper, drivetrain pistons and valve gear, and even the weird centrifugal spinning thingy that steam-powered vehicles always seem to have, the purpose of which remains a mystery.

A wealth of superb imagery is available to view at Nikolaus’ ‘Steam Roller’ album on Flickr, where you can also find details on how to vote for this model to become an official LEGO set. Click the link above to go rollin’.

*Today’s loosely related title song!

Beast of Turin (Probably)

The inline four-cylinder petrol engine is the most commonly fitted engine to cars the world over. The optimum balance between smoothness, power, efficiency, and er… cheapness, the inline-4 needs only one cylinder head, there are always two cylinders going down as two go up, and when mounted transversely it takes up little space.

Despite all those worthy attributes however, these days the inline 4-cylinder can be seen as a bit dull, despite the efforts of the world’s best engineers to liven it up. Back in the earliest days of motoring though, it was anything but.

Bentley’s amazing ‘Blower‘ racing cars used 4-cylinders, and so too did Fiat, who – in 1911 – fitted a four-cylinder engine to their S76 World Record Car of twenty-eight litres capacity. The result was quite fiery, and allowed the ‘Beast of Turin’ to hit an unofficial top speed of over 130mph.

It’s this car that Joe Maruschak‘s ‘Vintage Race Car’ most closely resembles, itself being fitted with a working 4-cylinder engine utilising LEGO’s suitably vintage square pistons and featuring pushrod-operated valves.

A hidden Power Functions motor brings Joe’s creation to life and there’s more to see of his mighty 4-cylinder racing car on Flickr via the link above.

Meet the Fokker

Are three things better than two? Engines? Yes. Beer. Yes. Stool legs? Yes. Wings? Er… no, probably not. However, whilst the triplane idea was abandoned by 1920, it was a widespread aeronautical design before then, being used by pretty much every plane-building nation of the time.

Most notably triplanes were the mainstay of the German Air Force in the First World War, with aircraft such us this extravagantly painted Fokker Dr.1. used extensively (and successfully) throughout the conflict.

This superb small-scale recreation of the Fokker Dr.1 – made famous by the ‘Red Baron’ Manfred von Richthofen – comes form Flickr’s Henrik Jensen, and there’s more to see at Henrik’s ‘Fokker Dr.1’ album via the link above.

Mr. Kleinstein’s Steam Powered Amusements

Today at TLCB we’re trumpeting this glorious traction engine and trailer built by previous bloggee Nikolaus Löwe (aka Mr_Klienstien), who has opened up his own steam-powered amusement arcade!

Frogger, Time Crisis, and Sega Rally probably aren’t included, (and we’re not really sure what a steam powered amusement might consist of. Well, we had some ideas but they’re definitely not right), but you can see more of the beautiful traction engine that would power them along with the trailered living accommodation that accompanies it at Nikolaus’s ‘Showman’s Engine ‘ album on Flickr.

Click the link above to let one rip!

Book a Service

The lovely vintage workshop scene was discovered by one of our Elves on Flickr today, and whilst it doesn’t feature any racing stripes it does use no less than sixteen LEGO train track switch pieces throughout the build. See if you can spot them with a trained eye* hidden in Mrs. Miller’s library van and the garage surrounding it courtesy of Jonas Kramm. Click the link to switch* over to Flickr.

*Hah!

Hot and Steamy

Now that the title has pulled in a few people expecting to see something rather different, here’s a traction engine. This Case steam tractor comes from Nikolaus Löwe (aka Mr_Kleinstein) of Flickr, and not only does it look rather wonderful (unless you’re here hoping to see something else of course), it features remote control too, thanks to LEGO’s ace Power Functions system. Head to Nikolaus’ ‘Case Steam Tractor’ album via the link above to see more.

Stop! Hangar Time

War isn’t won just with planes, tanks and ships. Behind the scenes a huge machine needs to operate to keep the frontline moving, from medical care to mechanics and cookery to construction.

With shifting territory and short aircraft ranges in both world wars, runway and hangar building was as important to the war effort as the aircraft that used them. Often overlooked by Lego builders we have two builds today that recognise the behind-the-scenes heroes of the Allied victory in both wars.

First above (above) is Dread Pirate Wesley‘s superb First World War diorama, set somewhere in Northern France and featuring wonderful SE5a and Sopwith Camel biplanes alongside a brilliantly recreated canvas and wood hangar. It’s a stunning scene and one that you can see more of via the link to Wesley’s photostream above, where you can also find a trio of German Fokkers ready to meet the British fighters in the skies over France.

Today’s second wartime hangar (below) jumps forward around twenty-five years to the Second World War, with the canvas and wood replaced by concrete and tin, and the biplanes by the far more sophisticated Supermarine Spitfire, very probably the greatest fighter of the conflict. Builder Didier Burtin has curved LEGO’s grey baseplates under tension to create the impressive hangar, equipping with everything required to keep the pair of Spitfires airworthy.

There’s more to see of Didier’s beautiful Second World War diorama at his photostream via the link above, where you can also see what happens when a part fails on a 1940s fighter plane, and therefore why the heroes behind the scenes were as vital as those in the cockpits.

Chilean Aviation Pioneers


Luis Peña may have created the most niche Lego category of all time, and there are some bloody niche ones out there already. These three marvellous contraptions from the early days of flight come from his ‘Chilean Aviation Pioneers’ album, celebrating the first men to get airborne in Chile.

The Bristol M1.C (below) was Britain’s first combat monoplane. It was also Chile’s, as Britain delivered 12 M1.Cs to the country in lieu of two battleships that Chile had ordered from the UK, but that were commandeered by the Royal Navy to fight in the First World War before they could be delivered.

In South America the M1.C became the first aircraft in history to cross the Andes Mountains, whilst in Europe it became a successful air-racer after the war, back in the days when air racing was a thing. Just one example survives today, residing in a museum in Australia.

Luis’ second Chilean Aviation Pioneer (below) is the French-made Voisin Cellular biplane, which became the first plane ever to fly in Chile when it was piloted by César Copetta in 1910, some twenty year before the formation of the Chilean airforce.

Like the Bristol above the vintage aircraft has been superbly recreated in 1:40 (roughly mini-figure) scale, including the the guide wires, spindly wheels, and wooden frame and wing struts.

Luis’ Final Chilean Aviation Pioneer is the 1909 Blériot XI (below), a French design that became the first aircraft ever to fly across the English Channel, as well as the first heavier-than-air aircraft to be used in war, when it was deployed in Africa in 1910. The Blériot also became the first military aircraft to fly in Chile, in the hands of Captain Manuel Ávalos in 1913.

As wonderfully constructed as Luis’ other aircraft there’s more to see of the Blériot XI, plus the Bristol M.1C and Voisin Cellular and Luis’ ‘Chilean Aviation Pioneers album’ on Flickr. Click the link above to go flying over Chile sometime in the early twentieth century.