Our Flying Tank
In Korea we had an M-47 tank go airborne on us. How is it possible that a a tank can fly, you ask? Well, I'm gonna tell you, and tell you true, how it is that almost 50,000 pounds of tank can take off like a bird.
Korea, winter of 1960-1961, we were on a division (first cav) winter field exercise, and this particular night it was 26 below zero. The crew of the M-47 was trying to stay warm in a tank with no functional heaters. We used to make heaters and stoves by mostly filling a C-ration can with sand, and filling the gaps with gasoline. The vapors rising past the sand made an excellent heater, or stove, or whatever. This tank had just had the fuel tanks topped off with gasoline. One of the crew members was shifting his weight and kicked over the C-ration can heater. When the burning gas started running under the bulkhead they hit the fire extinguishers and they didn't work either.
The crew, un-assing that tank, looked like five green blurs.
The tank was carrying seventy four rounds of 90mm, of various types, about thirty rounds of 90mm blanks, and several thousand rounds of 30 cal and 50 cal, live and blanks. After the fuel tanks ignited, all everyone could figure was the interior of the tank was super heated, and cooked off all that ordinance at one time.
The tank took off like a big assed bird, straight up, about thirty feet, and when it landed the only thing left was the turret and hull. The engine and transmission were gone and the axle shafts were sheared off flush with the inside of the hull. The M-47 had a machine gun that fired through the front of the hull, and it had a leather boot to keep the weather out. The leather boot and about eleven inches of the gun barrel were lying in place. The inch thick floor was rolled back like a sardine can lid, which is where every thing exited the tank. The range finder was found buried in a hill a quarter mile in front of the tank. The breech of the main gun was bent up at about a ten degree angle. Everywhere something was attached to inside of the turret or hull was shiny metal, like the thing was shaved off with a razor.
I was over a fourth of a mile away when it happened, and it rocked my world.
Stoicism is nothing to get excited about....
Last edited by Bill Powell; 08-30-2004 at 05:56..