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How does a tank work?

The very first tanks were developed in the Britain during the early part of 20th century to deal with the new form of warfare in the trench. There was a dire need for a ‘land boat’ to plough through all the mud and barbed wire on the battlefields. The design that the British came up with included these parts:

An internal combustion engine

Caterpillar tracks

A hard hull

A Turret


Weapons like guns

Caterpillar tracks work in a similar fashion to a conveyor belt. The engine rotates the sprockets, moving a track which consists of hundreds of smaller metal links like a chain. The wheels on a tank run along this track as opposed to on the ground like a car. Before the First World War, tracked machines weren’t efficient as they relied on heavy steam engines. The development of the internal combustion engine changed all this.

A vehicle with a track can move with ease through tough terrain because the track covers a larger area of ground. A tank is able to grip the terrain with dozens of feet of track and not just a small portion of a tyre. The track also features deep tread to dig into muddy ground and will never deflate like a tyre could.

The hull can be found on the bottom of a tank where the tracks and armoured body cover the transmission and engine. The hull’s main purpose is to carry the top of the tank which houses the turret. The turret provides armoured cover for the weapons, such as machine guns and a heavy cannon. Have you always wanted to know what it feels like to drive a tank? Well, now you can, with a Tank Driving Experience from Armourgeddon Tank Driving Days.

The turret on a tank is located within a circle in the middle of the hull. The turret is able to rotate thanks to a traverse gear mechanism which engages an internal gear on the inside of the turret. When the traverse gear is activated, the turret rotates, allowing the crew to take aim without having to move the direction of the whole tank. Guns can also be pivoted up and down.

Not long after the British developed the first tanks, the Germans started designing their own version of the ‘land boat’. These days, tanks have evolved to focus mainly on fighting other tanks as opposed to tackling trenches.

One example of a tank is the M1. The M1 uses a gas turbine engine with 1,500 horsepower. Gas turbine engine systems are lighter but still provide great power. This allows the M1 to travel at higher speeds and manoeuvre quicker and better than other similar tanks. It can reach 0-20 mph in just 7.2 seconds but gets less than one mile per gallon.

To be able to travel significant distance without constantly refuelling, the M1 was fitted with huge fuel tanks. The latest M1 tank can hold 490 gallons of fuel, letting it travel for 265 miles before refuelling.