Project tank Chrysler Corporation’s TV-8 suggested that the car would float due to the tower’s displacement. USA, 1955
The words “standard” or “private” are much more organically associated with the modern army than the “exotic”. But in stories armored weapons and technology can be found a lot of projects, experimental or serial machines, and even entire areas to which the word "exotic" more than fits.
Often, certain solutions and approaches to the development of heavy machinery look "exotic", falling out of the main direction of development of this industry. And, by the way, in most cases, by no means because of its “curiosity”. The problems confronting developers require thorough research. This work, as a rule, is carried out in several directions, each of which at first looks different in its own way. Those that find practical implementation in serial technology become the “mainstream” directions of development and are soon perceived as ordinary, while others remain in the series of “exotic.” But this does not necessarily mean that they will not be returned.
Of the many similar examples in the history of armored vehicles, we draw attention to those that belong to one of the main components of the “formula tank” - its security. We take into account at the same time that security is a complex concept. After all, to hit an armored vehicle, it must be detected, identified, armed with, armed with, armored, defeated with internal equipment and crew. At all these stages, the armored vehicle may (and will) counteract the damage.
We sit together
The capabilities of the tank, like any combat vehicle, are limited by rigid weight and size limits. And the degree of protection from the means of destruction, which can be provided to it, depends largely on its layout. The main component of the tank is the crew. In the vast majority of tanks, the crew is distributed between the control compartment in the hull and the combat compartment in the turret, besides, in two tiers. This significantly increases the volume that must be booked, and, accordingly, the total weight of the armor.
You can dramatically reduce the habitable volume and significantly increase security and survivability (by reducing the size, increasing the thickness of armor structures, isolating compartments) without increasing the total mass of the tank. To do this, we replace the two-tier separate crew accommodation with a compact single-tier. In particular, in the 1950-ies, which became another turning point in the development of armaments and military equipment, work began on two versions of the layout scheme - “all in the case” (with the installation of the main armament in the case, the unmanaged tower, or the removed installation of armament) or “ all in the tower. "
Experienced wedgeon "Prayting Mantis" in a combat position. UK, 1942 year
The only serial tank with the accommodation of the entire crew in the hull was the Swedish Reckless Main Battle Tank Strv-103 (Stridsvagn 103). Starting research in the 1957 year, the Swedes in 1966 – 1971 produced a tank with a fixed 105-mm cannon and a combined (diesel-gas turbine) powerplant in the two main versions, which initially caused great interest in the world. Rigid installation made it possible to easily implement automatic loading, to limit the crew to three fighters, to significantly reduce the height and combat weight of the machine with a sufficiently high level of security. The gun was guided horizontally by turning the tank, vertically by swinging the hull on a controlled hydropneumatic suspension of the road wheels. All this led to a number of other rarely used solutions. So, to facilitate the turn, the front and rear rollers rose above the ground, while moving backward, the radio operator, who was facing the stern, worked as a driver. The tank was so nimble that they joke about it - they say, this is not a tank without a tower, but a tower on caterpillars. And yet, the tank could not conduct aimed fire on the move, and this is a significant minus, and the crew’s review is rather limited. So the Strv-103 turned out to be a successful self-propelled rather than a tank, and in Sweden itself was replaced with the Leopard-2А4 of the classic layout.
For almost half a century, as soon as we talk about the "promising" tank, invariably mention the scheme with the accommodation of the crew in the case and the rendered installation of weapons. In different countries, developed a lot of options, tested dozens of experienced combat vehicles. For example, in the USSR in the VNII-100 (the head research institute of the tank-building industry), at the beginning of the 1960-s, a medium tank design was developed with powerful armor and a remote-controlled installation of the 115-mm tank gun. Automation of the main systems of the tank allowed to “resettle” the crew, weapons, ammunition and fuel in isolated compartments, place the crew in a special “capsule”, additionally protecting it with secondary units, reduce the height of the tank by half and frontal projection area. The remotely controlled weapons installation had a number of advantages: the possibility of obtaining a greater recoil length (this means that you can put powerful tools while reducing the load on the structure as a whole), the car is much less noticeable in shelter, improved habitability conditions, large declination angles. But there are also noticeable drawbacks: the difficulty of loading the instrument when the automatic loader fails, and the visibility is deteriorated for the commander
Placing the entire crew in a rotating tower with the same advantages (reducing the reserved volume, better interaction and complete interchangeability of the crew) gives a number of its own advantages. The mechanic-driver, having moved to the tower, gets a much better view, experiences less fluctuations and shaking, moves away from the bottom (and, therefore, ceases to be held hostage by anti-tank mines). The car gets the opportunity to move backwards at the same speed as the front one, to go out from under the fire, without substituting for the enemy board - and this is also an element of security. However, it is necessary to provide the driver-mechanic with a permanent position of the face in the direction of travel, regardless of the rotation of the tower. But this task was quite successfully solved, for example, in 1962, at the experimental light amphibious tank "Object 906B" at the Volgograd Tractor Plant (the developers called the tank "Dream"). The driver was housed in a special “cabin” in the tower, which, with the help of a planetary mechanism, “tilted” to the desired angle when the tower was rotated; As a result, the tank was one and a half times lower than the serial light floating PT-76B of the same plant. By the way, on this “object” a hydropneumatic suspension with adjustable ground clearance was also worked out. In the same period, the Chelyabinsk experienced medium tank "Object 775" with guided missile weapons also had a crew of only two people in the turret, and its height was no more than 1,6 meters.
The location of the driver in the tank tower was also worked out in the USA, Great Britain, and the Federal Republic of Germany. In the US, for example, several heavy tank projects with the deployment of all four crew members in the turret were presented in 1952. A number of projects of medium tanks of similar layout was presented in 1955 year as part of the American ASTRON program for the development of a promising tank. Chrysler Corporation offered a light tank TV-8, which can be called unpackaged - a large rotating turret was placed on the tracked platform, which contained not only the armament and the entire crew, but also the power plant. The dimensions of the tower were so large that the machine had to float due to its displacement (the tower had the shape of an elongated ellipsoid in order to increase the projectile resistance). Here it was limited to a full-sized wooden layout. The idea of placing the entire crew in the turret returned to the project of the main battle tank MVT-70 (KpfPz.70), developed jointly by the United States and Germany from 1963 of the year, but after testing experimental machines (which had many other innovations), the project was closed.
The control systems of the rotating turret machine — mechanical, pneumatichydraulic, electrical — turned out to be complex and not reliable enough. And most importantly, sitting in the tower, the driver stopped “feeling” the car. Apparently, this led to the widespread curtailment of this direction by the end of the 1960-s.
Lying or standing
For small tanks and tank shoes, their mobility and small size have always been the best defense. To reduce the visibility always tried to limit their height. But a decrease in height is a decrease in visibility and the possibility of shelling. Among the most original ways to resolve this controversy was the British wedge "Preyying Mantis" ("Mantis"), developed in 1942 year on the chassis of the light conveyor "Universal Carrier". The driver was sitting in the wheelhouse along the axis of the car, and the shooter was in the housing, which, if necessary, was raised by a hydraulic lift to the desired angle relative to the chassis. Thus, the shooter received the necessary review and shelling from two remote-controlled “Bran” machine guns mounted on the body. Thus, the height of the line of fire could reach the 3,5 meter - there would be a shelter behind which to hide. Built only a prototype machine. Later, however, the idea of military vehicles with a remote installation of weapons on a lifting platform again floated to the surface: a number of such machines were tested in different countries, in particular in the 1980-s. But perhaps the most radical version was presented in 1955 in the USA - the Falcon-Airy project (which remained, however, on paper) was a two-seat armored vehicle with a single-seat helicopter armed with a machine gun instead of a tower. Here and the chassis could find a reliable shelter, and for the “tower” itself, its really surprisingly rare “mobility” would serve as protection.
Experienced heavy four-track tank "Object 279". USSR, 1957 year
"Hedgehogs" and "Christmas trees"
The main role in ensuring security is, of course, the armor of the hull and turret. But in 1950-ies, the rapid development of sub-caliber armor-piercing shells and cumulative weapons, much more superior in armor penetration than the previous anti-tank weapons, required the search for new booking designs. As a result, the “classic” metal armor was supplemented with combined armor, anti-cumulative screens, dynamic protection, and active protection complexes were created. But a number of areas of those years remained at the level of experience. So, since the end of the 1940-s in parallel with the variants of anti-cumulative screens in the USSR they have developed “constructive” armor with steel rods welded perpendicular to armor surfaces, or with crests of steel corners. Both those and others ensured the premature detonation of cumulative ammunition that fell into the tank and sharply reduced their armor-piercing effect. However, to obtain the proper effect, at least the upper armor plates of the "forehead" and sides of the hull and most of the turret should have been studded with rods or covered with frequent crests. In reality, such "hedgehogs" were not built. Although in 1962, a hull appeared in the Chelyabinsk project of an “772 Object” tank with rocket armament, the frontal part and sides of which had a stepped curvilinear shape, in the longitudinal section the hull resembled a herringbone. But such an "armor" remained in the project. But on the top frontal list of such mass-produced vehicles (of the same age, by the way), like the Soviet BMP-1 and the Swedish tank Strv-103, there appeared ribbing, solving the same tasks of increasing security.
A more traditional direction of increasing the projectile resistance of armored hulls and towers was giving them spherical, hemispherical and ellipsoidal shapes and lines. This direction was rather original in the experienced heavy four-track tank “Object 279”, developed in 1957 at the Kirov plant in Leningrad. Its cast body had extremely smooth contours, and fixed thin-sheet metal screens of complex curved shape with the same stepped profile complemented its contours to an elongated flat ellipsoid - a well-streamlined figure that should protect both from armor-piercing and cumulative projectiles, and from the shock wave of the nuclear explosion (we take into account the development time).
A veteran of the Main Armored Directorate, Colonel G. B. Pasternak recalls how “in the distant years, one eighth-grader wrote A.N. Kosygin, that he had seen a lot in the cinema, how the tanks were burning, and suggested that they be made of iron. ” An eighth-grader, apparently, simply had nowhere to find out what real tanks were made of. But, in fact, is it only armor steel, or, more generally, can metal alloys be used to make the hull and turret of a combat vehicle?
“What's so unusual? - the reader will ask. “In booking tanks and armored vehicles, plastics and ceramics have long been used, for example.” Yes, such materials are used, but only as a supplement to the basic metal armor. So, in the hull of the T-64 tank, a combined steel-to-glass fiber armor armor was used, and in its steel armored tower, ceramic rods made of ultra-porcelain. The glass fiber laminate and ceramics are also present in the combined armor of the hull and turret of T-72 and T-80 tanks, ceramics are used in the Chobhem combined armor of the British Challenger tank and in the Leclerc French armor. The unique properties of ceramics, useful for armor materials, include a combination of low density and extremely high strength (albeit with high brittleness). Polymers are a unique combination of strength and viscosity, wide shaping possibilities, chemical resistance. Of particular interest are fiberglass. But can non-metallic materials become essential in armor protection of at least light combat vehicles?
At the end of the 1940-s, the possibility of switching to fully plastic armor in light and medium tanks was really considered. Moreover, such armor with a smaller mass would have a considerable thickness, and hence, better anti-cumulative resistance. In our country, since 1957, work has been launched on anti-bullet and anti-shell armor made of plastic materials. In 1961, the hull for the PT-76 tank was made of fiberglass plates, which was tested by shelling and towing on a tracked chassis. The mass of the hull with equal slug resistance was 30% less. But the expected significant reduction in radar and thermal visibility did not occur. And the cost of fiberglass armor was no lower than aluminum alloy armor, which soon began to wear serial armored vehicles. Work on the entire fiberglass armored structures rolled.
The American company FMC at the end of 1980-ies presented the towers for the Bradley BMP with the replacement of side plates, stern sheets and the roof with a single piece of fiberglass reinforced S-2 composite, and in 1989 they tested Bradley with an armored hull that included two upper elements composite layers, aluminum chassis frame and composite bottom protection sheet. At the level of ballistic protection, similar to the standard МХNUMXА2 "Bradley", the body was 1% lighter. So when ACAVP’s “promising composite armored chassis” was tested in 27 in the UK and the developers said they made it “the first in the world,” there was a lot of guile. In general, the use of composites with a large proportion of non-metallic materials can increase protection against cumulative ammunition, reduce the formation of internal armor splitting, reduce the acoustic and infrared visibility of the machine, prolong its service life due to high corrosion resistance and greater fatigue strength, reduce production costs in the future. .
Experienced light tank "Object 911B" with the accommodation of the crew in the turret, armed with a smooth barrel 73-mm gun. USSR, VgTZ, 1962 year
Paints and capes
From the very beginning of the use of tanks in enhancing their security, an important role was assigned to disguise. With a visible range, everything is clear - just paint the car with camouflage paint. Here, too, there were solutions, to put it mildly, out of the ordinary. Say, the French in October 1917 of the year painted on the armor plates of their tanks with black paint false viewing slits and thus distracted the German machine-gunners from firing at the actual viewing cracks, a very vulnerable place at that time. It is clear that as soon as the enemy studied the real device of the tanks, such methods ceased to work. But camouflage coloring has entered into a wide practice and has fully justified itself.
And some of them did not offer the projects of the “invisible tank” - here there are flat screens that transmit the background images from the cameras of one side to the other, and the coverings woven from light guides, which do essentially the same thing. In 2007, the press once again broke out with reports of “top secret” tests in the UK of a tank equipped with a “system of projectors, cameras and screens” developed by a certain J. Fandy. But just as quickly the topic was once again curtailed.
However, the range of ground reconnaissance assets has long been significantly expanded. And the usual paint is complemented by compositions that reduce the tank's signature in the radio and thermal range. In our country, work on coatings that reduce the radar and thermal visibility of armored vehicles began in the 1960s. However, even now such coatings are applied very limitedly. Let us mention at least the “Cape” kit in the form of a cover for a combat vehicle: it reduces the probability of detecting not only optical, but also infrared (IR) and thermal imaging devices by 30%, complicates the work of high-precision television and IR heads weapons. According to the Institute of Steel, the “Cape” on a tank reduces the likelihood of detection by day and night instruments and sights, television systems by about 30%, and thermal imaging instruments by up to two times. Ground reconnaissance radars in the front and rear hemispheres will “see” such a tank six times worse, and for instruments of a passive (radio-thermal) location, a tank with such a kit generally practically merges with the background. This is already a reality, but not yet become “familiar.”
Combat reconnaissance machine 2Т Stalker
The combination of combined reservations and measures to reduce visibility from radar and thermal imaging devices can be seen in the 2T Stalker, an experienced Russian-Belarusian combat reconnaissance vehicle, which remains a kind of concept car in a series of armored vehicles. To reduce the number of "ringing" elements in the beam, the hull and turret lines are rounded and smoothed, the external equipment is covered inside, radio and heat absorbing coating is used, exhaust louvers are covered by the body, that is, in fact, the car uses elements of stealth technology. Unusually, but very promising are the chameleon-type coatings that react to changes in illumination or controlled by on-board equipment, as well as interference generators in a wide range of the spectrum that solve the problem of “adaptive camouflage” - depending on the situation, “ will expose "masking and distracting noise.
Apparently, in vain, Pentagon experts at one time refused to consider "projects of an invisible tank." You just need to "correct" the range of "invisibility."
Modern systems of active defense of tanks are based on the detection and destruction of weapons of destruction on the approach to the tank. In 1930-ies, it was not necessary to talk about automatic detection and defeat of anti-tank cannons on the approach, but the means of dealing with infantrymen attacking a tank from the dead zone (where the tank’s weapons could not get them) were very active. Perhaps the most unusual among such means was a flamethrower. Flamethrowers are usually put on tanks or armored vehicles as the main or additional weapons to fight enemy manpower in field and long-term fortifications, defeat firing points and enemy equipment and create fires. But the research department of the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army, for example, developed and tested a flamethrower for tank self-defense in 1936. At the stern of the double-tower T-26 tank, a pneumatic flamethrower was installed with a range of flame throwing of all 12 – 15 meters to protect the tank from enemy infantrymen from the stern.
Two-towered T-26 sample 1931
The same fate befell the American version, developed in 1945 year for use in the Pacific theater of war and known by the nickname "Scorpion". This option included four small flamethrowers mounted on the hull of the medium tank NXXX4 "Sherman" and shot to the sides and forwards individually or in a volley in order to thwart the attack of the Japanese infantrymen - tank destroyers. This weapon was tested until the end of the war, after which it was abandoned.
Interestingly, six decades later, this idea peculiarly revived in the “flamethrower device” patented in South Africa to protect the car from an armed criminal attack from the outside - the flamethrower is made here on the basis of a gas cylinder, and the flamethrower nozzles are mounted under the vehicle’s sill.
Tank "stun gun"
Among the additional means of protection of armored vehicles offered at different times, you can find a certain "exotic". For example, in the Research and Testing Armored Ground Test Site (NIABP) in February-March 1935, works were carried out on installing special fencing for protection against Teardrop dogs on T-26 and BT light tanks, the use of which against tanks was already planned in different countries. In addition to mechanical barriers, electric, which were four grids with vertically arranged conductive threads, were installed around the perimeter of the machine. The upper part of the grid was stretched between the two brackets, the lower one hung loosely to the height of clearance. High voltage was applied to millimeters of wire separated from each other by 50 – 60 from a specially designed umformer installed in the tank. The current that passed through the discharge through the object that closed the contacts was 12 A, the voltage reached 1000 B. The head of the testing department of the NIABP B.N. Korobkov noted: “During the tests, two runs gave a positive result. The dogs did not attack the tank, but bypassed it. ” The further fate of these works is unknown.
Work on the use of electromagnetic energy to protect the tanks further expanded. Thus, in the 1950-s, the Central Armored Laboratory No. 1 conducted research on the quenching of a cumulative jet by an electric discharge of high power created between steel sheets of armor construction. Modern projects of electromagnetic and electrodynamic protection are even more interesting. Thus, electrodynamic protection based on the use of a super-powerful pulse is also considered as a way to combat sub-caliber projectiles — due to the so-called electrical explosion of a conductor when a high-density current passes through it.
There are options for magnetodynamic protection. In one of the projects, in particular, it consists of two charged barriers creating a strong electromagnetic field around the machine. The shell closes the circuit between the obstacles and is destroyed or deflected by the excited field. The mass of such protection is about 10 times less than that used now with a dynamic explosive substance. Electrodynamic protection is reminiscent of a dynamic, but throwing plates that deflect a striking element is produced not by explosives, but by a pulsed magnetic field.
Electromagnetic protection as a supplement to traditional booking was considered, for example, in the 1990-ies in the American AET All-Electric Tank (FCS) project, designed not so much to develop a specific sample, as to assess the prospects for the widespread use of electromagnetic energy to improve all the main characteristics of a tank. .
For more than half a century in various countries, work has been under way on electrothermal protection designed to destroy a flying projectile or to cause its explosive at a premature detonation at a distance by an electrical impulse, but even now the physics of this process remains the least studied.
The project of a four-track main battle tank OBT-3 with the location of the entire crew (three people) in an armored capsule in the hull
"I am a cloud, a cloud, a cloud ..."
The value of electromagnetic protection of tanks has increased especially in connection with the development of anti-tank mines. According to expert estimates, over the past 30 years, the share of anti-tank mines of push action in armaments of developed countries has decreased dramatically, but the proportion of mines with a non-contact magnetic fuse, including those installed by remote mining systems, has increased. The fuses themselves are trawl resistant, reacting only to a specific signature inherent in armored vehicles.
The operating systems of electromagnetic protection create a magnetic field characteristic of the tank at a distance from it, causing the magnetic fuses to operate prematurely. But if it is possible to “show an object where it is not”, is it possible to resort to another method of disguise - to disguise, for example, under a completely different object?
Why not, for example, give the tank a signature ... a thundercloud? All the same, because the magnetic fuses by default should not react to the electromagnetic radiation of a thunderstorm, transceivers or jammers - it means that one must “pretend” to be a natural phenomenon.
In any case, the main problem of all such projects remains the creation and placement of small-sized high-energy current sources in the tank and the reduction of energy losses in feeder systems. And while the problem with the most important is unclear, all these projects remain in the “not ordinary” series. Will these protection principles be incorporated into the daily practice of tank building? We will see it.