These guys need to go back
October 19, 2000 5:40 PM   Subscribe

These guys need to go back and look at some movies of the Normandy invasion. [more inside]
posted by Steven Den Beste (2 comments total)
One of the more creative British boffins came up with what he called a Flail Tank (one of several odd creations which were collectively known as "The Funnies"). There was mounted out front a big barrel which rotated around a horizontal axis (extending across the width of the tank), and attached to the barrel were maybe a hundred lengths of heavy chain long enough to easily reach the ground. The barrel was raised from the ground and rotated rather rapidly, and the effect was for these lengths of chain to pound every inch of ground in front of the flail tank (far in front of the barrel) as it moved slowly forward. Any mine would get hammered hard by a length of chain and would go off. It would often damage the chain, but what of that? It never hurt the operator or tank, since the tank was perhaps 20 feet from the mine when it went off, and to damage armor you had to be lot closer than that.

Eventually you'd have to rework the barrel and add more chain to it, a process involving nothing more complicated than a welder and a supply of chain.

Why are these guys using something so much more complicated which has the drawback of being injured by the mines sometimes? The flail tank worked beautifully, and I can see no reason why it shouldn't work just as well on modern mines as on the ones fifty years ago.

Pressure fuse? Great. The chain will set it off. Metal detector? The chain and barrel are metal. Daisy Cutter? No problemo, dude; the only human for half a mile is behind armor plate.

It seems to me that the only difference is that a flail tank won't set off a dud, where this new design absolutely gets all of them. Why can't they make two passes? Kill all the live ones with a flail, then chew up the ground to get any the first missed.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:08 PM on October 19, 2000

Because a company has spent a fortune developing the new mine clearing vehicles, a saleman has made a fortune selling the army the vehicles, and the army has spent a fortune on the new vehicles. To be seen using a method that is based on a fifty year old design would be embaressing.

As always, its all about money.
posted by c huber at 4:23 PM on October 21, 2000

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