April 23, 2013
What can I say? Working on a tank was awesome! It was scary and fun all at the same time, and firing the thing was one of the best experiences ever.
Scary? But why? Well we had to move a 700 pound breech ring around in a very small area with, in my opinion, too many people. I like having help but there comes a point when there are too many folks for the space allocated. But that’s neither here nor there.
The Tank came in on a rainy day, and we had to get it under the overhang. No one was sure if it would crack the concrete or not, but the load displacement on the tracks is very good, so that turned out not to be a problem. Next came the cleaning of rust off the area on the barrel, where the ring goes, and servicing the ring so it would work.
This was actually pretty hard. The ring weighed close to 700 pounds—something that made me very nervous. It was just a huge chunk of steel, and any time you had to move it, you were in danger of losing a finger or toe. I must admit that I like mine where they are.
Once cleaned and prepped, putting it on was actually very easy. Insert tab A into slot B, and poof you were done. If the above sounds rushed, it’s because it is. I really want to get to the heart of this thing: firing it!
We loaded three blanks to fire first. With the benefit of hindsight, I’m actually not sure why we did that; it didn’t really test anything. The pressures were just too low.
After the blanks we went to the live rounds. Eight pounds of powder and a 25 pound projectile make for a total of about a 50 pound round.
On the first live round we used a lanyard. Nobody wanted to become red toothpaste with the first ‘real’ test. The lanyard was pulled, and . . . .
I had no clue what happened. Did the tank explode? Did my eardrums rupture? Where was I? What was going on?
That lasted for about a second. The concussion of the round going off rang my, and everyone else’s, bell badly. If you have ever stood to the side of a very effective muzzle break as it was fired, picture that with a 90mm cannon. Yeah, it rang us.
But damn! It was cool. We shot two more times, and every shell was a solid shot; there was no explosive in the warhead. The thing is, it’s so damn powerful there didn’t need to be. A solid shot into the white minivan, again with no boom loaded in either the car or round, and when the shell hit the minivan the results were nothing short of spectacular.
I don’t care if you don’t like the show; you need to watch it for the one slow motion shot.
The round hit the van. The van almost immediately jumped into the air, flipped over, burst into flames, and was incinerated in a matter of moments.
I’ve shot a lot of cool and big stuff, but nothing comes close to that tank. It was just amazing.
I know those of you who watch the show are now going, “What happened with all the smoke?” Well, I kind of have to be a dick and say, I can’t tell ya. You are just gonna have watch next week’s episode.
Lastly, I’d like to leave you with these words of wisdom. If you ever get the chance to fire a tank, I don’t care if you have to miss your own wedding, do it! You will not be disappointed.
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