From the Vault: The External Gun Turret (ARMOR Jan-Feb 1996)

With all the attention focused on the new Russian T14 Armata tank, we thought it was appropriate to post this article from the Jan-Feb 1996 issue of ARMOR on the issues involved with an external gun turret.  According to what is known so far about the Armata, it features all three crewmen seated in the hull with an unmanned turret.  The article addresses some of the advantages and disadvantages of such a layout, although it is primarily critical of the idea.  Of course, the article is almost 20 years old so the author’s concerns about crew visibility and situational awareness do not take into account the huge advances in miniaturized cameras and video devices in the past decade.

BAE integrates “active damping” system to CV90 suspension is reporting that defense contractor BAE has incorporated “Formula One” suspension technology into the CV90 infantry fighting vehicle.  Referred to as an “active damping suspension”, these systems have been used in Formula One race cars since the early 90’s.  The system functions by sensing the speed of the vehicle and lay-out of the terrain ahead and responding by adjusting the suspension to keep the CV90 level, which reduces the wear and tear on the vehicle. Originally operational on carbon-fibre racing cars weighing no more than 700kg, the suspension system has been modified for the first time, to work on heavy tracked vehicles weighing up to 35 tons.  Reportedly, the suspension enables the vehicle to travel up to 40% faster than existing armored vehicles.

The full article can be read here.

Leichttraktor pictures and documents from Swedish Tank Archives blog

leichttracktorRen Hanxue, creator of the Swedish Tank Archives blog, recently posted a PDF of documents and pictures from the Swedish Archives pertaining to the German Leichttraktor.  The documents are of course in German so we are not entirely sure what they contain.  However, the pictures are very interesting, providing shots of not just the vehicle but also of some of the automotive components and subsystems.  The Leichttraktor is a fairly obscure vehicle, being a German post WWI design that never saw mass production.  It is most widely known as the tier one German tank in the World of Tanks video game, where it is commonly referred to as the “Loltraktor.”

The PDF is available here.

We highly recommend Swedish Tank Archives.  People with an interest in Swedish tanks will find it a valuable resource.  The site also contains documents relating to Swedish evaluations of foreign vehicles such as the Chieftain, AMX 13, and T-80U.  Ren Hanxue also maintains a youtube page with some videos if Swedish tank terrain trails including Centurion, Strv 104, T-72 and T-80 tanks.

German Newspaper challenges German policy of no DU tank ammo

leopard_2a6_2A recent article in German newspaper Die Welt makes the claim that German tungsten based APFSDS 120mm ammunition is ineffective against the armor of Russian T90 MBTs.  The author of the article, Han Ruhle, was the Chief of Policy Planning Staff in the German Department of Defense 1982-1988.  He lays the blame for the lack of effective depleted uranium APFSDS round in the German inventory at the feet of German environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists.  The article states that:

Currently, the Bundeswehr has a limited effective means of anti-tank ammunition with the DM63, an arrow-tungsten-based ammunition. Their penetrating power is indeed improved significantly over the old munitions and corresponds with the enhanced 120-millimeter cannon to just the level of the old uranium core ammunition of the US from the 80s. However, this is not enough to penetrate the newer versions of the T80- and T90 tanks.

The full article can be viewed here (in German).  This article comes at a time when the German military has suffered a number of embarrassments regarding equipment effectiveness, procurement and readiness.  The G36 rifle has come under criticism for inaccuracy at high temperatures, the Puma IFV has suffered a series of delays and cost overruns and earlier this year a German unit on exercises was shown with broomsticks substituted for missing gun barrels.

Not surprisingly, the decidedly pro-Russian news site Sputnik International pounced on this article, declaring “German Army has no Chance against Russian Tanks

From the Vault: History of the Cav Hat

Today we present an article from the Jan-Feb 1996 issue of ARMOR on the history of the Cav Hat.  Written by Major Mark Farrar, this piece looks at this iconic item, detailing its history both in popular culture and in military service.

From the Vault: The Grim Reaper

Another interesting item from ARMOR magazine.  This comes from the May-Jun 1998 issue.  It’s a one page description of the most heavily armed tank in Vietnam, the Grim Reaper.  According to former crewmate Dave Decker, this vehicle was modified by it’s crew to have up to three .50 cal machine guns on the roof.  The article notes that for a short period of time, the crew also mounted the 7.62 Minigun from a Cobra helicopter on the front of the loaders hatch!  The author notes that this gun “was confiscated by an irate high-ranking officer.”

The Grim Reaper

From the Vault: An Israeli view on Soviet tanks

Today we present another article from ARMOR, the official journal of the armor branch.  This piece is an evaluation of Soviet tanks by Lieutenant Colonel David Eshel of the Isaeli Defense Forces and it appeared in the May-Jun 1988 issue.  In this article, the author focuses primarily on the T54/55 and the T62, since both of these vehicles were captured in large numbers by the IDF and pressed into service.  Col. Eshel notes the many modifications that the IDF made to these vehicles as well as listing some of the problems they encountered with the Soviet designs.  While Eshel makes many critical comments about these vehicles, he ends the piece with the following remarks:

In short, Israeli experience in tank combat reveals shortcomings in Soviet tank designs. However, Soviet tanks are, in principle, excellent fighting machines, combat proven and viable under field conditions.  If manned by determined and highly-trained crews, they can be a most dangerous and deadly opponent.