One day Alexander Porokhovshchikov observed recruit exercises.
“Looking at the soldiers running in a file, I thought: it would be pitiful to attack under the fire of the enemy’s machine guns. What if you instead of defenseless sending people to trenches under a rain of lead bullets, we put them in an armored vehicle armed with machine guns? I contemplated a design that would rely on circular tapes or tracks of tractor type…” Right at the beginning of the First World War, in August 1914, Porokhovshchikov submitted his design of a track-mounted combat vehicle to the Chief of Staff’s headquarters. Almost 10,000 rubles were appropriated to construct a field-test vehicle, set up a vehicle repair shop and retrofit the barracks of the Nizhny Novgorod Infantry Brigade that was sent to the frontlines. On May 31 (under the Gregorian calendar) 1915, the Vezdekhod tank left the workshop for field testing.
The tank traveled at 25 kilometers per hour through deep sand although it performed poorly in loose snow during the winter.
Military history researchers argue today whether Porokhovshchikov’s tank was a real tank with weapons and armor. Some suggest that an armored vehicle proposed by the son of the scientist Mendeleyev, engineer Vasily Dmitriyevich, be instead considered the first Russian tank. But Mendeleyev’s super-heavy tank remained a blueprint, although it is alleged that the engineer had anticipated many technical solutions decades ahead. Nor had Porokhovshchikov’s design live up to a battlefield-ready design with the multilayered armor proposed by the designer. The top brass procrastinated, and there a revolution struck… That’s why there were no Russian tanks before Soviet tanks came up. And the British have the priority claim – their tanks were the first to engage the enemy at Somme River battlefield in September 1916.