Sunday, June 18, 2006

"How to Make War" - Tanks

"How to Make War" - Tanks

The inside of a tank is not a safe place. The turret slews around, the main gun recoils and 50-plus-pound shells are tossed about. Fractures, lacerations and amputations regularly occur among careless, fatigued or untrained crewmen. The turret generally has two or three men in it. The gunner sits in a small seat next to the main gun with his face pressed to a range finder that displays data on the gun's bearing and the range of the viewed objects. Connected to the range finder is a computer that adjusts the aim of the gun and tells the gunner when he can fire. The quality of these systems varies, as does the skill of the operators. Skillful gunners operating quality equipment can obtain first-round hits more than 90 percent of the time. On the other extreme you get less than 10 percent first-round hits. Assisting the gunner is a human or mechanical loader. If the human loader is most liable to injury, the mechanical loader is more likely to fail under stress....The third man in the turret is the vehicle commander. His seat is just below the turret hatch. Usually the commander stands up with his head and chest out the hatch. This provides better visibility....If the commander is wounded, which frequently happens, everyone gets upset until the wounded man quiets down or the corpse is allowed to fall to the floor of the tank or is thrown overboard. At that point the gunner takes command of the tank from the gunner's seat. The result is a tank crew that can see much less because the gunner cannot work the cannon with his head outside the turret....

The only crew member not in the turret is the driver. Squeezed into the front part of the tank, the driver sees out through a few slits. At best, he can open a small hatch and stick his head out....It's no wonder that tanks in combat appear to move blindly. Most of the time, they are doing just that.

- From "How to Make War' by James Dunnigan

Not that the infantry had it any better, it's just as bad in different ways. But the above is a one of the reasons that I'm glad I chose the MOS I did.
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