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Sturgeon's House

Your Tank Stories


Collimatrix
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Sturgeon's House started with a community of people who played tank games.  At the time, most of us were playing World of Tanks, but I think there were a few Warthunder and even Steel Beasts players mixed in there too.  After nearly five years, we must be doing something right because we're still here, and because we've somehow picked up a number of members who work with, or have worked with tanks in real life.

I know that @AssaultPlazma served as an Abrams loader, @Merc 321 and @Meplat have helped maintain and restore privately-owned armor, and @Xlucine has volunteered in a tank museum.  I'm sure I'm missing several more!

So, what are your favorite personal tank stories?

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This one time in the Army (I'm required to start all my army stories this way by my wife)....

 

Well I was a driver on an M60A3 when I was in C Co. 1/70 AR in Germany in 1983. We were driving down this tank trail, the lead tank of our platoon, when this crunchy (infantryman) pops out from behind a tree. He was about 50 meters or so down the tank trail when he holds up his rifle across his body in a "Halt!" fashion. I ask my TC if I should stop & he says to keep on driving. The crunchy motions for us to "Halt" a couple more times in an increasingly more aggressive and desperate fashion. When we get about 10 meters from him he suddenly realizes that we aren't stopping and an M16 isn't going to faze us one bit. He dove one way and his rifle went the other as we rolled on pass him. I said to my TC "I wonder what he wanted?" and my TC replied "Who the fuck knows." It isn't a wonder that there's no love lost between DATs and crunchies.

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Worked on a few bits of armor, some "semi famous".  Like the Littlefield M4A3E2 (Albeit briefly) and their "Swiss Hetzer".

Also did more than a little work on the M-18 Hellcat that appeared in that "The Void" movie that came out (and probably went direct to video) at the same time as "Fury".

 

An anecdote from it is from my first time working on it.

I was staff on a large MG shoot (Media/Photo/Technical(firearms)), and was trying to sleep on on a friday (the shoot starts noonish friday, we'd been there since thursday morning), and one of my friends asks "You said you were or are an aircraft mechanic, what do you know about Continental radials?".. (Now I'd heard that there was going to be a warbird or three showing up. So I semi lucidly said "hold on"  and threw on my coveralls and boots. Only to find myself diagnosing a no start condition on a M-18.

 

The gaggle there was about to pull the engine (The M-18 power plant can roll out on rails, but it's still a fucking shitshow, in the Arizona desert) when I showed up and said "Hold the fuck on, lets make sure it has spark, fuel, etc before fucking around with pulling engines".. Yes it had spark. Yes it had fuel, in one tank.. And you could hear the boost pump work.

 

SO I had a guy sit and listen at each fuel filler, as I blew into the line from the mechanical pump (the boosters are centrifugal). The guy at the full tank heard nothing. The guy at the empty tank "heard waves".  (he was like 12).

 

"Your fuel selector is not working"  I said.

 

But the switch works (It's on the firewall under the turret) I was told.

 

"No, the lever is working. (I hopped on the deck and looked down one of the air cooling grates and saw "Well, your linkage has popped off the selector. Hang on."

One  5/8" socket, innumerable bolts, lots of hanging inverted while my beer baby tried to smother me, and a bit of .040" safety wire later, and the boost pump was delivering fuel to the engine, and the beastie ran.

 

From then on (til 2015) I was the "defacto/default" driver and/or crew chief on that thing (and approved RKI and things big and tanky).

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Just dont ask about the first "gathering of eagles" in Arizona, where I lost  all composure and was fawning over a proper BoB  Hurri, and a Mk II Spit.  To where I offered to escort them home, in exchange for  10.000 rounds of  .303" De Wilde  and 5000 rounds of Mk VI explosive Manstopper.

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Abrams Driver then Gunner* 

 

Anyway once after we returned from Kuwait and not to long after we gotten our tanks back from the boat/train we had to loan out some of ours to another unit conducting training. So after like a week of so the guys return the tank claiming the turret was traversing on its own with zero human input whatsoever. So one day the mechanics tell us to go ahead and startup this particular tank and move it forward (so the turret can be freely moved without hitting other parked tanks). They specifically told us not to worry about the turret because its hydraulic line had been completely disconnected and that there was no way it could move unless manually.

 

I hop in and startup and I swear that thing made the freakiest engine startup noises I'd ever heard. Sure enough a couple of moments later with my head out cause I was open hatch in the seat the freakin turret starts traversing on its own! Needless to say I immediately ducked my head and dropped the seat and did an emergency shut off of the engine. Even if I hadn't have ducked I would have been fine since it was parked with 2 tanks on either side and once the gun tube hit the adjacent tanks bore evacuator it stopped it in its tracks anyway. No one got hurt but the tank next to it had to get a replacement bore evacuator though lol......

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Well, my not-so-interesting story. In the past, I visited a place frequently where you can drive different kind of demilitarised AFVs. My first tank drive became quite a... shocking experience :) Well, after a short training, I began to drive along the course. (VT-55 ARV) All went well, I began to feel the vehicle, I was quite confident. Then came a quite large puddle. The instuctor told me in the TPU to slow down. I shifted back to second gear, but kept the engine rpm at moderate levels. What a mistake it was! As I entered the puddle, it quickly became obvious that it is far deeper than I thought. A second later I guess I got more than 50 liters of stinky, cold water in my face. And since it was a hot summer, the cold water had a quite shocking effect on me, needless to say, a very, very unpleasant experience. For a few seconds, I didnt even know where I was. The instuctor just laughed, after all, he warned me to slow down :) 

The next time I approached such puddles, I strictly slowed down to idle rpm, and even applied some brake. 

 

 

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11 hours ago, heretic88 said:

Well, my not-so-interesting story. In the past, I visited a place frequently where you can drive different kind of demilitarised AFVs. My first tank drive became quite a... shocking experience :) Well, after a short training, I began to drive along the course. (VT-55 ARV) All went well, I began to feel the vehicle, I was quite confident. Then came a quite large puddle. The instuctor told me in the TPU to slow down. I shifted back to second gear, but kept the engine rpm at moderate levels. What a mistake it was! As I entered the puddle, it quickly became obvious that it is far deeper than I thought. A second later I guess I got more than 50 liters of stinky, cold water in my face. And since it was a hot summer, the cold water had a quite shocking effect on me, needless to say, a very, very unpleasant experience. For a few seconds, I didnt even know where I was. The instuctor just laughed, after all, he warned me to slow down :) 

The next time I approached such puddles, I strictly slowed down to idle rpm, and even applied some brake. 

 

 

 

Next tile, the trick is to "hatch down,  and hope the seal holds".

(It will, if I worked on it that is. ).

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On 4/24/2019 at 4:04 PM, Meplat said:

Next tile, the trick is to "hatch down,  and hope the seal holds".

 (It will, if I worked on it that is. ).

 

Another time when I was driving an M60A3 in the LTA (Local Training Area), I was the 2nd tank in the column as we approached a rather large mud puddle. More like a mud pit. My buddy Ray was driving the lead tank, the platoon leader's. He comes up to the hole and drives right in, not slowing down much. SPLASH! SPLAT!  The mud flew up and splattered the TC, the 2LT wasn't happy, but Ray was drenched in mud as he was driving with the hatch open. Just as they cleared the pit, I rolled up, fortunately I had slowed down as to not run into them and the mud only flowed up to, but not into, the driver's hatch. I didn't get a mud bath, but Ray did. He was covered in mud, dripping all over the place, I saw him reach into the driver's hatch and pull out his camera case, covered in mud. Luckily it was well sealed and the camera was fine. It took Ray a couple of days to clean out the interior of his tank when we got back to the motor pool. 

 

So always slow down before driving into a mud puddle if you have your hatch open.

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One of my favorite memories when it comes to working on and driving my Daimler Ferret was the time I took it to an off-road park. It was very entertaining to watch the ATV and jeep guys look completely shocked when an armored car was going through mud that they were afraid to drive into. I very much have a love hate relationship with British wheeled armor. At this point in time I have one running Ferret, one that is awaiting restoration, and a Saracen that is also awaiting further restoration. The reason for my love hate relationship with them is that while they are a ton of fun to drive, maintaining them can be difficult at times, especially if you have to deal with an electrical issue. Despite the many, many, ups and downs I've had with working on British armor, it's always rewarding when you fire up the engine and take them for a drive, be it off-road or on a run into town.

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On 4/22/2019 at 10:49 PM, AssaultPlazma said:

Abrams Driver then Gunner* 

 

Anyway once after we returned from Kuwait and not to long after we gotten our tanks back from the boat/train we had to loan out some of ours to another unit conducting training. So after like a week of so the guys return the tank claiming the turret was traversing on its own with zero human input whatsoever. So one day the mechanics tell us to go ahead and startup this particular tank and move it forward (so the turret can be freely moved without hitting other parked tanks). They specifically told us not to worry about the turret because its hydraulic line had been completely disconnected and that there was no way it could move unless manually.

 

I hop in and startup and I swear that thing made the freakiest engine startup noises I'd ever heard. Sure enough a couple of moments later with my head out cause I was open hatch in the seat the freakin turret starts traversing on its own! Needless to say I immediately ducked my head and dropped the seat and did an emergency shut off of the engine. Even if I hadn't have ducked I would have been fine since it was parked with 2 tanks on either side and once the gun tube hit the adjacent tanks bore evacuator it stopped it in its tracks anyway. No one got hurt but the tank next to it had to get a replacement bore evacuator though lol......

 

I stand corrected.

So what exactly causes the turret to swing around on its own like that?  That sounds... bad.

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12 hours ago, Collimatrix said:

So what exactly causes the turret to swing around on its own like that?  That sounds... bad.

The turret on the Abrams is hydraulically powered and the hydraulic unit is powered by a power take off from the powerpack, IIRC. a jammed valve would mean the turret moves whenever there is pressure in the system. Fun times for the entire family.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Time for another tank story:

 

This time it is the early '90s, I'm a TC on an M1A1 in the Oregon National Guard, G Trp 82nd Cav. Annual training at Gowen Field, Orchards Training Center, outside of Boise ID. This didn't happen to me, but I witnessed the event. We were down range on the night portion of TT VIII. My buddy Duncan was the gunner on the Platoon Sergeant's tank. This happened during Duncan's run. It was what we called the "Widow Maker": on the move, NBC environment, two targets, a BMP & then a troop target.

 

During this engagement, Duncan's TC gives the fire command "Gunner, HEAT, PC!", the rest of the crew & Duncan react appropriately and service the target. The TC calls cease fire on the PC & gives the fire command of "Gunner, Coax, Troops!", but the loader had already loaded a new round in the main gun and had placed the main gun safety to fire. Not normally a big deal if the gunner had switched from main gun to coax, but on the M1A1 there was a switch for each of the main gun and coax, so it was possible to fire both at the same time if both were set to fire and the loader's safety was set to fire.

 

This time at Gowen Field, on the main tank range for TT VIII, the observation tower for that range, they had a TTS thermal sight from an M60A3 rigged up in the tower with a video camera to record it for the evaluation NCO to use during night gunnery, so there was a recording of what happened.

 

Duncan lays on the troop target, gets a range and fires. "On the Way!', BOOOM rattatttattaat! goes the main gun and coax, "Shit!" goes Duncan. 

 

Later in the tower, I was there when the evaluator goes over that engagement with Duncan's crew., along with the video from the tower. You could clearly see the troop target as it rises on the range, hear the fire commands given by Duncan's TC and watch as a 120mm training heat round hits the left most troop target. The troop target just disappears, flies right off the target array, and then you can see the tracers from the coax strike around the troop target as it lowers back down. 

 

The evaluator commented that while that they hit the target & it was suppressed, they engaged with the wrong weapon system, - 30 points. They were impressed that he hit the target. Later someone went down range and retrieved that target, it had a 120mm hole in it at about the level of the heart, nice shot. They later hung it up in the tower briefing room.

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  • 1 month later...

Alright, I forgot about this.

 

I have a whole bunch of stories from the time my dad was in the army, for a reunion they made a little book with all sorts of stories from their time as hussars. I'll try to make a nice story from a bunch of them.

 

Over there in the Netherlands we don't have those massive training areas like they have in the US or Germany, we have to make do with smaller ranges or have areas where we can't fire weapons. The only area where tanks can fire their guns is on a range called "Vliehors", which is on one of our islands. Every once in a while they go there for training, and of course, there has to be a first time for everything. Now, back in those days (1966-67) we had conscription, and conscripts were just assigned a role and had to make do. This did not always turn out well.

 

So, the newly conscripted tankers arrive at the Vliehors for their first life fire shots. They line their Centurions up at the firing range, the commanders give their orders and the Cents point their barrels straight at and old tank used as a target.

 

Except one.

 

When the signal is given, all tanks fire, including the one aiming up. And of course he immediately gets the nicely asked question of "WHAT IN THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU FUCKING MORONS!?".

 

Turns out the gunner heard "Target, brisance, 1800 meters" instead of "Target, armour, 1800 meters", so he aimed like he had an HE shell loaded (and seeing how it's written, he aimed poorly too). So basically he fired an AP shell at angles only used for long range artillery support. They never really figured out where that AP shell went. Probably somewhere in the sea.

 

And that's why we don't have more firing ranges! And it's also why that gunner immediately was a loader after that.

 

 

Anyway, during a later training...

 

My dad, as a fresh Hussar got the task of cleaning the gun of another Centurion. Of course, you can't have a live firing session with a dirty gun, now can you?

He 'happily' went on cleaning the gun, replacing oils, whatever you need to do to clean a tank gun. When he was done the tank was sent on his merry way to the firing range.

Seconds after firing a voice thundered over the range "HUSSAR BRONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZ!!". To which my dad replied "Sir, I'll immediately get the end-caps of the recoil cylinders and get to cleaning, sir!".

 

I guess you can imagine how the inside of a tank looks when you forget to put the caps back on the recoil system of a tank gun, and fire it.

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