Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Antarctic Snow Cruiser

The snow cruiser is a special vehicle with a design carried out from 1937 to 1939. The chief engineer responsible for its creation was Thomas Poulter. The special transport was intended to simplify transportation processes through the snow-covered and icy Antarctica territories. Studying the official materials on this topic, you can find other names for this unusual machine, for example, Turtle, Penguin, or Penguin-1.

Snow cruiser as a mean of Antarctica conquering

Initially, the Snow Cruiser was created by the United States with the aim of the Antarctica territories conquering. On the eve of World War II, this continent attracted the attention of many countries. The United States, in particular, its elite, did not stand aside. Thomas Polter and a team of scientists from their Institute of Technology (Chicago) were the machine’s creators. Its dimensions were shocking (the car was 5 meters high and 6 meters wide). Massive pneumatic tires might surprise even modern people.

Owning such a vehicle, which was estimated at that time in the amount of 150 thousand dollars (today it is equivalent to 2.8 million dollars), the United States could safely claim to defend part of the territories in the polar region. The car could solve not only transport issues. It also housed a mobile scientific laboratory, making it possible to carry out various research works in the field conditions. The massive weight of the structure and its impressive dimensions allow transporting huge fuel volumes (both diesel and aviation).

The presence of a diesel-electric device provided sufficient technique power. It included two 150-horsepower diesel engines (Cummins H-6). Both were responsible for setting in motion the generators that supplied power to the electric motors. In fact, it was the first successful use of a diesel-electric hybrid in such a large car.

The snow cruiser exploitation in Antarctica

The unique design of the snow cruiser made it an ideal vehicle for challenging and sometimes dangerous climates such as Antarctica. When any obstacles appeared, the front wheels retracted under the overhang of the body. The rear wheels were in maximum contact with the surface to ensure that the front car part is moving. The same was repeated for the rear wheels. This was the uniqueness of the technique. The car had a steering system that extended to all four wheels with two levers. As a result, it was possible to perform a turn with a 9-meter radius.

Technological difficulties and breakdowns occurred with this car even before it appeared on the mainland. The Snow Cruiser left America on November 15, 1939, aboard the North Star ship. Having reached the continent, the car team realized that Goodyear’s treadless tires were a lousy idea (technologists used to think treads would interfere with snow ride). The specialists began to fix the problem on the spot by winding chains on the rear wheels of the machine. This improved the efficiency of reversing but did not entirely eliminate the traction problem. The first long trip was 150 km.

Funding for further improvements of the Snow Cruiser has stalled due to the World War II oncoming. Later, the cruiser was found twice. The HighJump expedition (1946) found the abandoned equipment but made no attempt to refine and starting its engine. 12 years later, under several meters of snow, the car was found again. In 1958 expedition dug up the car and even got inside it. Here, the researchers found the logbook and newspapers of its first team. The world conflict still hindered the idea of restoring the car to be realized. After that, the car was lost among the eternal ice.

Despite the technological troubles, the Snow Cruiser was a truly innovative marvel. It demonstrated the desire of people to explore new territories and the aspiration to create new transport means.