J. Walter Christie

J. Walter Christie

J. Walter Christie

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John Walter Christie (May 6, 1865 - January 11, 1944) was an American engineer and inventor. He is best known for developing the Christie suspension system used in a number of World War II-era tank designs, most notably the Soviet BT and T-34 series, and the British Covenanter and Crusader Cruiser tanks, as well as the Comet heavy cruiser tank.

Early life and career

Christie was born in the Campbell-Christie House in New Milford, New Jersey on May 6, 1865. He started working at the age of sixteen at the Delamater Iron Works while taking classes at the Cooper Union in New York City. He eventually became a consulting engineer for a number of steamship lines and in his spare time did some work on early submarine designs. Following the Spanish-American War he developed and patented an improved turret track for Naval artillery.

At the same time he was working on designs for a front-wheel-drive car, which he promoted and demonstrated by racing at various speedways in the United States, even competing in the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup race. His car was knocked out of the race by a collision with Vincenzo Lancia who was at the time leading the race in a Fiat. Lancia was enraged, but presumably noticed the Christie car's vertical-pillar coil-based independent front suspension: the then unusual configuration subsequently turned up on the Lancia Lambda.

In 1907 he became the first American to compete...
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