2006/03 LEM Working Paper Series

'Chariots of Fire': The Evolution of Tank Technology, 1915-1945

Carolina Castaldi, Roberto Fontana, Alessandro Nuvolari
Technological trajectories, Technological paradigms, Tanks.

We revisit the notion of technological trajectories by means of a detailed case-study of the evolution of tank technology between 1915 and 1945. We use principal component analysis to analyze the distribution of technological characteristics and how they map into specific service characteristics. We find that, despite the existence of differences in technical leadership, tank designs of different countries show a high degree of overlap and closeness along a common technological trajectory. In the conclusions, we speculate on whether this pattern can be explained by common heuristics that influenced the rate and direction of design activities or by doctrinal viewpoints influencing the development and use of tanks on the battlefield.

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