The Hydra Tank was the first assignment for me on the Captain America feature film project, and a good exercise to understand the design feel and look that director Joe Johnston was pursuing.
In early versions of the film the tank had quite some screen time. There was no mistaking that this tank shall be massive, in the same league of experimental failures known from the 40ies, only that the imaginary Hydra succeeded in building such a massive vehicle with a chassis able to support such mass. In my early sketches ( first illustration) I played with a few twin features, such as a twin barrel and twin treads. The double barrel was a realistic though: What if the projectiles are so large that it takes several minutes to re-load. So that concept could cut that time in half. The double tracks would obviously help support the weight of such large machine. Both concepts did not survive early presentations. The next step was to locate the turret with its single barrel between the tracks, to lower the center of gravity during firing, and give the tank a sinister stance, almost like tucking a head between shoulders (see second illustration). That concept wasn’t successful either due to conflicts with scripted scenes.
The third drawing and the top render shows the final design as it went into the final film production. The static turret fully blends with the fuselage, on a semantic level imitating a massive neck and shoulder impression. A secondary mini turret sits on the front, to conquer smaller and moving targets, since the entire vehicle has to turn to aim the main gun. Details like steps, barrels or a primitive ladder are added just to read the unusual scale. Between the single tracks sits a ram devise to knock down entire buildings – the only real action that the tank is performing in the final cut of the film.
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