Saturday, July 17, 2010

How To Fight A Tank

Sometimes a man finds himself outgunned. Sometimes he’s outnumbered. And sometimes there’s a steel behemoth with a cannon that can level buildings trying to kill him.

Tanks are scary. Go to the War Museum and try lying under one. They were a game changer in World War I, then a staple of World War II, and we’ve been building them faster and better ever since then.

How do you take one out? Generally the answer is “use your own damn tank and blow it to bits” or call in the air force. But not many of us have our own tanks or jets to help out. During my media exercises with the Canadian Forces I’ve met a few anti-tank guys in the infantry units. Mother-fuckers are always crazy as sin, running across empty fields with rocket launchers that spit flame. Its a common hobby for them to look at schematics of different armored vehicles and discuss how to take it down and why. “Steady” is one of the hardest guys I know, and he explained there’s a standard set of rules you can apply when confronting a tank....Blind it, Stop it, Kill it...

Sounds easy right? Better make sure you have a rocket launcher along. Handfuls of men were not meant to fight tanks, but someday you just might have to.

Blind the  tank first

Working inside a tank is like working inside a garbage can. So cramped your knees are up to your chin and you can’t see what’s going on. That's why there’s a commander who’s job is to figure out where the vehicle is in relation to the outside world. He’s the guy who tells the driver where to go and the gunner where to shoot. All this is done through hatches, windows and scopes. There’s always a way to see out, but once that's destroyed, the tank is going to have a hard time finding and killing you.

Take  out the treads

Immobilizing a tank is tough. No rubber wheels to pop here, you’re going to have to land a round right on the treads. The nice part is that once the tread links are broken that whole side of the tank isn’t going anywhere. And even if you only take one set of treads, the other side of the tank doesn’t have the pull to push it forward. It’ll just spin in circles instead. That means you can safely hide with the tank out of sight for a while. It isn’t going to move anywhere and you can still move around it.

Height  advantage

Killing it is the final and hardest step. In video-games, all you have to do is hit it with a rocket or toss a grenade underneath and most tanks will explode in a ball of flame. In reality, you’re going to have to identify and hit weak spots to get a round to penetrate. Not quite Death-Star tough, but still small. Most tanks have weaker Armour in the rear. Some have an escape hatch there too. But if you can get up above and shoot down on it, all tanks have air circulation of some sort on them. There’s also the main access hatch on the turret if you are up in a building or on a cliff. But you might have to put a few anti-tank rounds into a few different spaces before the beast is down for good.

Canadian Forces Anti-tank
Notes for survival....:

There are some general rules that should be abided or at least kept in mind when trying to solve the infantry vs armour problem. Tanks usually have to stick to main service routes and roads. Treads are pretty good, but maneuvering through a forest or into a river valley is still hard for them. Try to lure a tank into a space where its main gun is useless. An open field is a shooting range, but a city space is a rats nest. Narrow streets where the turret can’t turn, or where you can put a few buildings between you and the tank are perfect. Infantry can actually hide pretty easily. All you have to do is lie down in some low ground and you drop out of sight. Maneuvering and hiding is a huge part of how you engage.

Two tanks should be twice as hard right? Wrong. Taking on two tanks is way-the-fuck harder. They can cover all directions and have one pin you down while the other moves in for the kill. Anything like an armored column or recon group is suicide.

You want to be at least 100m away when you shoot. Getting close is asking for trouble. The mounted machine guns can turn much faster than the turret, and after you fire you want to get as far away as fast as possible.

Finally: You’re best opportunity is going to be to take steps 1-3 in a ten second period. If you have the people and the guns, designate each team a target and get everybody to fire immediately in succession. Boom-boom-boom means the tank crew has no time to react and gives you a much better chance.

This method relies on you having anti-tank weapons and high explosive ammo at your disposal. I don’t know what you’ve got in your basement, but those sorts of things are usually pretty hard to come by. If you’re starved out of supplies and poorly armed, but still need to take out a tank, Wild Gunmen might have a few secrets for you in the future....