John Walter Christie

John Walter Christie

Birth
River Edge, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Death 11 Jan 1944 (aged 78)
Falls Church, Falls Church City, Virginia, USA
Burial Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Plot Section C, Lot 32, Grave number 5.
Memorial ID 112329874 · View Source
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John Walter Christie was an American engineer and inventor.

He was born in the Campbell-Christie House on May 6, 1865, achieved fame as a mechanical genius and inventor. (NOTE: The house was originally located in New Milford, NJ, it was moved to River Edge, NJ, about 1.2 miles to the south in 1977 onto Bergen County Historical Society land, when threatened with demolition). At sixteen years of age, he worked on pioneer submarines and developed turret tracks and gun mounts for battleships. In May 1904, he entered a car, built himself, into a race in Germany, boasting that he could reach speeds upwards of 90 miles per hour. In August 1905, he equalled the world's record for gasoline cars on a circular track at Morris Park, doing a mile in 51.15 seconds. As measured by the same timekeepers, he also went a mile in 49 seconds, driving his car only in the stretches and coasting around the turns. He held the American speed record for cars on a straightaway and hoped to challenge the world record. He raced in the Vanderbilt Cup 1906 race. His racing career ended on September 9, 1907, when he was nearly killed in a car crash at Pittsburgh, while traveling 70 miles per hour. He was hospitalized with a broken wrist, a sprained back, a lacerated head and abdominal injuries.
During his three years on the speedway, J. Walter Christie built and raced cars against Louis Chevrolet, Henry Ford and Barney Oldfield. He beat Oldfield in a fifty-mile race and held the world speed record. He went on to invent automotive front-wheel drive, many units of which were produced in 1913 and 1914 for fire trucks. He is best known as the "father of the modern tank," having developed the design in 1930 for high-speed tanks that moved optionally on wheels or track. (One tank reached a speed of 104 miles per hour.) 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.
John Walter Christie died at Falls Church, Virginia, virtually penniless, on January 11, 1944.


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  • Created by: D. Powell
  • Added: 14 Jun 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 112329874
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Walter Christie (6 May 1865–11 Jan 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 112329874, citing Maple Grove Park Cemetery, Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by D. Powell (contributor 47066538) .