Message from the Editor

Regular readers may have noticed that April has seen a sharp decrease in the number of posts here.  Don’t worry, this is a temporary slow-down.  Recent events have conspired to limit the time and energy I have to put into the site right now.  These include a heavy schedule at work and dealing with an ailing parent.  I am hoping that by next week things here at Tank and AFV News will return to normal.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of some tank related objects that have recently come into my possession:

Pictured below are a couple of desktop models of US tank engines from Teledyne Continental Motors.  The one one the left should be familiar to most readers, it is the AVDS-1790-2C, the engine powering the US M-60 tank.  The engine on the right is a bit more obscure, it’s the AVCR-1360-2.  This engine was developed for the MBT-70 program and later was used to power General Motors XM-1 prototype which lost to the Chrysler Defense gas turbine powered XM-1 entry.  engine models

Speaking of the AVDS-1790, here is piece of one!  This is the cylinder head cover to one of the twelve air-cooled cylinders of an AVDS-1790.  Not sure how old this item is, but it has to have been manufactured prior to 1996 since it still has the “Continental” logo on it.

Cylinder head

Here is a drawing showing where this item fits on the cylinder.

diagram

 

From Russia I now have this wooden cutout from Uraltransmash corporation.

uraltransmesh

The last item in this post is this little clear plastic decorative item from General Dynamics in 1987 celebrating the first chips cut on their Abrams Recovery Vehicle.  The block has embedded inside it two metal chips and a graphic showing an image of the vehicle and text announcing that the Abrams Recovery Vehicle “meets user needs.”  Unfortunately for General Dynamics, it did not meet the US Army’s needs as well as the M88A2 Hercules and the Abrams Recovery Vehicle never went into production.

first chips cut

Happy “Tanksgiving”

tanksgiving_special

To all our readers in the USA, we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.  To our readers outside the USA, have a great weekend.  While our goal here is to post new material on a daily basis, several events have conspired to make that impossible this month.  However, we are hopeful that moving forward we can get back to our regular schedule.  Thank you for reading!

From the Editor: The Next-Gen Combat Vehicle of the US Army

Defense News has posted a new article titled “What is the Next-Gen Combat Vehicle?” which reports on recent statements from US Army officials concerning future AFV development.  The article can be read here, but for those in a hurry, allow us to summarize.

The Army has no idea what the NGCV (Next-Gen Combat Vehicle) will look like and will need four years of analysis before any ideas “begin to take shape.”  This analysis will include “conceptualizing the NGCV” through the “prism” of the movement and maneuver functional concept for the brigade combat teams.  According to the article, there is a “roadmap to show where potential decision-making points could exist to bring a NGCV to life.”  However, this roadmap is in no way “set in stone.”  Don’t worry, the Army does not intend to repeat the mistakes it made in the FCS (Future Combat Systems) program.  In fact, the Army “will make conscious decisions about what NGCV will or will not be and what capabilities and technologies it will have based on our assessments of technology and where it is.”

Or to summarize even further:

The Army wants something better than what it has right now but they have no idea what it might be.

From the Editor: Media Reaction to Iraqi Abrams missile strike video

Last week we made a post about a video of an Iraqi Army M1 Abrams tank being struck by an ISIS anti-tank missile.  The video is rather dramatic, showing a huge stream of fire erupting from the tank following the missile impact.  As can be expected, the video has resulted in a number of news stories, some better than others.  Most of the articles seem to based off a National Interest piece by Dan Goure titled “Are Tanks Obsolete? : YouTube Video Makes the Case for Active Protection Systems.”  Aside from the rather cliche question in the beginning of the article title (we say the answer is “no”), the article is well written and makes a good case for the authors central argument; that the US Army needs to speed up development and/or acquisition of active defense systems for its armored vehicle fleet.  Of course, as Mr. Goure’s article gets re-interpreted by various media entities, the hyperbole starts to increase.  Business Insider picks up the story in an article that casts the video in far more ominous terms, declaring that:

Such an attack represents a big win for ISIS, a loss for the Iraqi people trying to reclaim the city of Mosul, and a glaring warning to US soldiers and Marines: Next time it could be you.

But the true champions of hype are across the pond at the Daily Mail.  In this stunning piece of overstatement, they declare that “US made tanks are all but obsolete” and that this is “the video that will chill the blood of every American Tank Crew” as “ISIS obliterates M1 Abrams tank with handheld Russian missile.”  Nothing like a little bit of hyperbole to sell some extra copies (or get a few extra clicks.)

One thing we have not seen any article mention is that part of the reason for the dramatic fire coming from the Abrams tank is due to the location of the missile hit.  The missile strikes the turret rear where the ammunition is stowed.  That part of the vehicle is equipped with blow-out panels that are intended to direct the blast upward and away from the crew in the event of a detonation.  How effective were the blow-out panels in protecting the crew in this particular instance?  We can’t really say without more evidence, but we certainly do not envy any crewman who happened to be in that tank.  What we can say though, is that if the ISIS missile crew were looking for the most sensational video possible, they hit the Abrams in the exact perfect spot to achieve their goal.

One other question not addressed in the articles concerns tactics and training.  While these articles treat the question of tank vs missile as primarily a technical one, how much of the fault for the destruction of this tank rests on the training and tactics of the Iraqi soldiers?  Certainly, we don’t see any fire being directed toward the launchers of the missile after the Iraqi tank is stuck, which does not seem to speak well of the other soldiers accompanying the targeted tank.  While we don’t know much about the exact tactical situation in this particular incident, it seems that it does merit some serious questions regarding how the Iraqi Army is conducting its operations if their valuable Main Battle Tanks are being left easy targets to enemy ATGMs.

 

From the Editor: Bad Headlines, Big Traffic

tumblr_ofl884dr1d1rqpszmo1_1280Last Friday we make a photo of the day post titled “Casting a Tank Hull” which showed a red hot Swiss Pz 68 hull being lowered into a vat as part of the hull manufacturing process.  We came up with the title of the post rather quickly, and frankly, it’s a sloppy title.  As several readers have pointed out, the image does not depict the actual casting process, but rather the heat treating of the hull after it is cast.  As one reader in the comments section noted:

Looks like oil bath tempering of the pre-heated casting. The hull will have been cast , fettled (de-scaled), runners and risers removed, then reheated to homogenize, before quenching.

So yes, we admit it was a less than accurate headline.  Normally we would move on without mentioning it, except for the fact that this post has, as they say, “gone viral.”  It would seem that Facebook is to blame.  Typically, our facebook posts reach a number of people in the two digits range.  “Casting a Tank Hull” has reached 83,155 people and been shared 231 times.  And while we are very grateful for the exposure, we really wish it hadn’t been for a post with an inaccurate title.  Oh well, any publicity is good publicity, as they say…

From the Editor: War is Boring blog on Russian tank history

In the last couple weeks, a couple articles on Soviet tank history have appeared on the War is Boring blog.  One is a somewhat critical look at the WWII era KV tank while the other is a brief examination of post war Soviet heavy tank development.  By themselves, we didn’t really feel they merited posting about, but since they keep showing up in our daily searches for tank related articles, we did want to raise one point concerning them.

It seems both articles are based in part on an old ARMOR magazine article by Stephen “Cookie” Sewell titled Red Star – White Elephant.  As part of our “From the Vault” series of posts, we posted that particular article, as well as another ARMOR article by Sewell called Why Three Tanks?  in 2015.  Sewell is a well known figure in the AFV model building community, being the founder and first president of the Armor Modeling and Preservation Society.  He is also known for his model kit and book reviews which have appeared in Fine Scale Modeler magazine or online at the missing-lynx.com forum.

It is worth noting that Amazon has listed for release next summer a new book by Sewell on the Soviet T-10 Heavy Tank and Variants.  All we know about the book at this point is that it will be published by Osprey and will be a 144 page hardcover.

 

Editorial: Rebutting a Civil War tank article

It’s been quite a while since I wrote an editorial. I generally use the limited time I have to devote to this site looking for quality content from around the net to share rather than writing editorials and inflicting my opinion upon my readers. However, every once in a while I feel the need to put words to (digital) paper and have my say. Every morning I wake up and plop down in front of the computer. One of the first things I do is a google news search of “tank” to see what pops up. Today the top result is an article that irritated me so much I felt compelled to respond. The piece in question is the rather absurdly titled Foxtrot Alpha article “Why Were There No Tanks In The Civil War?” Normally I would not bother with something so obviously stupid, but since it comes up so high in the google search, I assume many people are reading it and at least some are taking it seriously.

Let’s start off by taking a quick look at the claims made by the author of this piece of fantastical nonsense. His main contention is that during the US Civil War, there existed both the need for, and the technical means to construct some sort of armored vehicle similar to a tank. As to the need for a Civil War tank, he cites the Siege of Petersburg, a battle that is generally said to have foreshadowed the trench warfare of World War I. We will put that aside momentarily and first focus on the author’s contention that the technology existed to make a tank possible in the 1860s. We shall summarize these in bullet point form:

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