Road test: M1A1 Abrams

I enjoy reading Car & Driver for all the regular car stuff you’d expect. I also enjoy the occasional articles they publish that you certainly would not expect. One, called “M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank — Feature” is a road test of the main battle tank currently used by the United States military.

20081108_m1a1_abrams

Seeing something that’s obviously not a car through the eyes of a car-guy is not only entertaining, but it’s very enlightening. Let me give you a few examples, okay?

The engine and acceleration:

The throttle, connected to the 1500-horsepower gas-turbine engine, is remarkably sensitive. With a little twist, you can move off at a modest crawl without jerkiness. Crack it wide open, and it feels as though you’ve been rear-ended by the Rocky Mountains. Even pushing 65 tons, the 3940 pound-feet of torque will cause the tank equivalent of chirping your tires, gouging out chunks of desert.

Braking:

standing on the brakes from top speed will practically make the Abrams stand on its nose. Although we didn’t do instrumented testing, a rough estimate of the stopping distance from 45 mph is zero feet. It feels like falling headfirst into a sinkhole.

Ride quality:

even over rough desert terrain, the ride is smooth enough to rate as comfortable. More cushy, in fact, than that of any sport-ute I’ve ever driven over similar terrain. And unlike an off-road truck, there’s no banging and thudding of shocks, control arms, and bump stops. All you hear through the headset are a distant whine and the occasional rattle of steel treads.

And the bit a car doesn’t have, the big gun:

Major Johnson had generously arranged six rounds for me to shoot, and by the sixth round I was hooked. But completely. I wanted six more, and I was ready to write a check to cover the cost. I don’t know what heroin or biker meth feels like, but if it feels anything like shooting a gun as big as a utility pole accurately enough to shear the moustache off Saddam’s face, I had a 120mm monkey on my back.

Check out the whole article. It’s an interesting read.


Photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks, courtesy of Navy.mil via Wikipedia.

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2 Comments

  1. Brent
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 08:23 | Permalink

    Very entertaining! I am at the office waiting for a server to come back on-line and needed to kill a little time, so I checkout Alienshore, which is alway good for a quick read…and I was not disappointed. Tank and Driver, a new magazine?

  2. Posted November 9, 2008 at 08:34 | Permalink

    I want to say “Tanks, man” but I’ll restrain myself. 🙂

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