The ninth installment of Towards the Tank, David Fletcher reveals the first caterpillar tracks, developed by inventor and educationalist Richard Edgeworth.
Richard Edgeworth came from an Anglo Irish family, he outlived four wives and made a name for himself in a variety of fields. He is credited with inventing the Caterpillar track, or as he called it ‘a cart that carries its own road’.
However the descriptions we have of it are at variance and it is difficult to get a clear picture. Edgeworth says that he began working on the idea in 1770 and kept it up for forty years; since he died in 1817 that means he was still working on it to within a few years of his death.
Since we do not know what it looked like or how it worked we can only guess and the most likely guess is that it worked on the same sort of principle as Boydell’s footed wheel rather than a loop of crawler track as we know it.
His other inventions included a turnip cutter, a velocipede (cycle), various sailing carriages and a peramulator (a machine to measure land).
Read Part 8 on Siege Engines here.