Below the Turret Ring

It’s time to check up on the blog “Below the Turret Ring” to see what they have been up to.  Since last time we checked, they have posted two lengthy pieces, one on the armor configuration of the early model M1 Abrams, and a follow-up to their post from last year on Leopard II tanks in Syria.  Click on the headlines in the excerpts below to go to the full version.


Below the Turret Ring: Early M1 Abrams composite armor

f5nvtzu3On the TankNet forums, a user with the nickname “whelm” has posted drawings from a formerly classified document on the earliest iteration of the US M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT). He got this document from Vollketten, a user with accounts at the Sturgeon’s House forum, the WoT forum and other places. It details the armor layout of the tank, showing were the Burlington composite armor is located and how it is specifically implemented on different areas.

Burlington special armor, also known as Chobham armor, is a type of composite armor developed in the United Kingdom by the FVRDE from the late 1960s onwards. It consists of a number of sandwich plates – also called biscuits – which are mounted in a spaced configuration. It is understood that these sandwich plates work as a type of non-explosive reactive armor (NERA), by using an elastic interlayer located between two metal plates (usually steel or alumininum). On impact the rubber will compress to the point of maximum compression, until expanding again and bouncing back. This will move more material into the path of penetration and also shatter thin and fragile projectiles, such as the shaped charge jets created by high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads commonly used on anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Essentially NERA works like explosive reactive armor, but with a lot less plate movment, as it only reuses the energy from the impacting projectile, instead of using an external energy source (such as the detonation of an explosive layer) to move the metal plates.


Below the Turret Ring: Leopard 2 in Syria – part 2

c2ozgbnwgaaf_6hYesterday a new video was released by ISIS terrorists showing a bunch of destroyed main battle tanks (MBTs) and armored personnel carriers (APCs) near the Syrian city of Al-Bab. This video however has proven something, that I understimated a certain weapon. Not anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), not improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A much older weapon: propaganda. The same weapon that turned the Tiger heavy tank – a rather mediocre design of it’s time – to a supposed super tank, that still is being worshipped by some individuals today. However the propaganda worked, invoking a Tiger-phobia on the side of the allies.

Now, what exaclty has happened? A new video showing the exact same area that the first few videos were showing. The destroyed or damaged tanks are probably all identical to the tanks already shown in earlier videos, that have been covered by numerous news articles and blogs. Still some people start writing articles in a sort of kneejerk reaction, claiming that these are newly defeated tanks and that the Turkish Army is just poorly trained or the Leopard 2 is a poorly designed tank, incapable of competing on the same level as the tanks of other countries (even though this is not tank-vs-tank warfare…). This again leads to people to come and reply or spread the articles, which are pushing for their own agenda. “The T-90 is so much better, only one was penetrated!”, “All people who think the Leopard 2 is a good are Nazi-tank fanboys” and “The Abrams/Challenger 2/T-84 is an inpenetratable super tank”. People love to ignore the fact that the Turkish Leopard 2A4 is fitted with out-dated armor, possibly still the first generation of armor technology introduced with the original Leopard 2 in 1979. The fact that the Turkish Army was purged after the failed coup attempt – in which most tank units were equipped with Leopard 2A4 tanks – is intentionally ignored.

Hey Haynes, you might want to fix this…

We regularly check Amazon to see what books are coming out related to tanks and AFVs.  One that caught our eye is a Haynes Manual for the M1 Abrams MBT due out in June 10.  The book cover struck us as a bit odd…



We think the issue with this cover is fairly obvious (wrong tank).  All kidding aside, we understand this book is still a few months from publication and this version of the cover is probably something that was thrown together quickly as a place holder.  We own several of the Haynes manuals on tanks, finding them to be worth while references.  We will most likely be buying this new book as well when it comes out.   That said, we couldn’t resist poking a little fun at this cover.

Update (2/21/2017) – Well, it looks like they finally got the right tank on the cover.  Now if Amazon would just fix the title in the listing….


Video: Abrams tank Drivers Instructions

This video appeared on youtube a couple days ago.  It shows US troops instructing a visiting Canadian soldier on how to operate the drivers position on an M1 Abrams tank.

Walkaround Galleries from The Armor Journal

The website for the TAJ (The Armor Journal) magazine has added three new tank “walkaround” picture galleries since the last time we posted about them.  These galleries feature the MK IV “Female” tank at Fort Benning GA as well as the M1 Abrams and the M1917 Light Tank at the First Division Museum at Cantigny, Weaton, IL.  Click on the pictures below to go to the photo gallery page.




M1 Abrams seen with Shia Militia

Multiple news sources are reporting on a recently released video which shows an M1 Abrams tank in the hands of Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada (KSS), an Iranian-backed Shia militia which operates in both Syria and Iraq.  This is not the first time that an M1 Abrams has ended up in a video or photo put out by a Shiite militia.  According to the blog Threat Matrix:

The Hezbollah Brigades, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization, showed an Abrams flying the Hezbollah Brigades flag earlier last year. Additionally, the group has also published two videos from Iraq’s Anbar province in which several US-made vehicles are used by its forces.

The Badr Organization, another Iranian-backed Shiite militia, has also publicized photos showing its forces in possession of an Abrams. These photos showed the militia with the tank, and at least one US AT-4 anti-tank rocket, near Saqlawiyah in Anbar last year.

The Abrams tank appears at the 16 second mark in the video.

Crain’s Business article on M1 Abrams tank

t1larg.tank.plant.cnnCrain’s Detroit Business recently posted an article about the past and future of the M1 Abrams tank.  As can be expected, the article focuses primarily on the business end of things, giving a brief history of M1 production and discussing challenges faced by the Lima Army Tank Plant in the era of sequestration.  Also mentioned are the M1 tanks sold or given as aid to foreign countries.

Article excerpt:

The former Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant in Warren, which had produced the M1 Abrams since its early days, discontinued new tank assembly in late 1991 and closed down completely in late 1996. Since then, General Dynamics Land Systems has housed all Abrams production and equipment upgrades for the Abrams at the government-owned Lima Army Tank Plant.

That plant, which was refurbishing about 2 1/2 tanks per day in early 2009, is handling a small fraction of that volume today. At issue at least since sequestration began affecting defense budgets in 2012 is whether the Lima plant can remain operational on a mix of foreign military sales and some limited production orders until M1A3 production begins in two years.

“The Army’s notion was they could mothball the plant and reopen in three years, but as GDLS can attest, you can mothball equipment but not people,” said Loren Thompson, a defense industry analyst and COO of the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute.

Full article here.

ISIS captures US made vehicles and tanks in Ramadi is reporting that according to Pentagon officials the ISIS fleet of captured U.S. military vehicles, including M1A1 tanks, grew by more than 100 when Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fled the provincial capital of Ramadi 60 miles west of Baghdad and abandoned their equipment.  About 100 wheeled vehicles and “in the neighborhood of dozens of tracked vehicles” were lost to ISIS when the last remaining Iraqi defenders abandoned the city of about 500,000.  The article notes that the tracked vehicles were mostly armored personnel carriers but “maybe half a dozen tanks” were in the mix. He did not say what type of tanks they were. Photos posted by ISIS on social media purported to show about 10 M1A1 Abrams tanks in their possession and large amounts of captured ammunition.

Full article here.