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Fleece’s Faves – Abrams Edition

November 21, 2010

First off, let me say I was never a tanker.  I was an infantryman, mechanized at that, so I was frequently jealous of my “big brothers” in the tank corps with their incredible main battle tank, The M1 Abrams.

This incredible piece of machinery is named after General Creighton Abrams, a tank commander during World War II and commander of overall operation in Vietnam during the close of the war.  He was widely considered one of the best and most aggressive tank commanders in World War II, serving in Patton’s 3rd Army.  In Patton’s own words about Abrams’ abilities, “I’m supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have one peer – Abe Abrams. He’s the world champion.”

As far as the tank herself goes, she is without parallel.  No tank in the world combines firepower, maneuverability, and crew survivability in such a successful mix as the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.


The main gun of all current American M1’s is the Rheinmettal 120mm cannon.  This is a smoothbore cannon use by most of the major NATO countries who build their own tanks.  It is featured on other MBT’s such as the British Challenger, the German Leopard II and the Israeli Merkava.  The French Le Clerc also uses a 120mm cannon made by GIAT (leave it to the French).  The reason we like to use the same gun is simple, we can share ammo on the battlefield.

This gun is a beast.  A training round from this weapon (inert plastic slug) can take out the Bradley M2 IFV.  The typical anti-tank round, known as an Armor Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) round, is actually a tungsten or depleted uranium dart that is sheathed in a “sabot” or shroud that is expelled as the round leaves the barrel of the gun.  This kinetic penetrator then speeds towards the target at around 5700 ft/s – the speed of sound is 1126 ft/s, so this long, incredibly hard dart is flying over MACH 5.  Needless to say, there are not many tanks in the world that can survive a hit from this round.

Other types of rounds are the High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT – used for non-tank armored targets) and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH – not commonly used and only on 105mm versions).


The M1 Abrams sports a rather unique powerplant in the tanking world – a turbine engine.  That’s right, basically a jet engine, and it sounds like one too.  It is pretty impressive to hear an M1 spooling up to get moving, and as far as tanks go, this baby can really move, top speed around 45 mph, but most tankers I knew claimed their’s could go much faster.  Oh, I forgot to mention, its power output is 1500 hp.

But engine power is only one aspect of maneuverability, the suspension system of the tank is a huge factor, and the M1 is impressive in that category as well.  The Abrams features a torsion bar suspension that gives it one of the smoothest firing platforms on the battlefield, and a rather nice ride for its crew members.  The only vehicle that has a smoother ride was the M-88 recovery vehicle, which we frequently referred to as the “Cadillac.”  The Bradley used a standard spring suspension system, so we had a pretty bumpy ride – we were infantryman, our sensibilities weren’t so easily offended as the softer members of the combat arms.

Crew Survivability

Only the Israeli Merkava III has a higher reputation for protecting its crews.  The M1’s armor is a form of “Chobham” armor borrowed from the British who invented it.  Chobham armor is a composite armor of ceramic mixed with metal, it is top-secret so most people don’t know how it is made, but the stuff is tough as nails.  Just for comparison’s sake, the front armor on a M1 has the Rolled Homogenous Armor equivalency to that of the side of an Iowa class battleship.

But even if a round does make it through into the turret, the ammo is carried in a completely separate area, protected by a wall of armor and with blow-out armor on top.  If the ammo does begin to cook-off because of damage, it poses no danger to the crew inside the turret.

The M1 also features an over-pressurization system to combat Nuclear Chemical and Biological (NBC) threats.  Basically, the interior atmospheric pressure of the tank is higher than that of the outside air, kind of like a huge air conditioner, no contaminant can get in.  Pretty cool stuff.


I always wanted to be a tanker.  According to my recruiter, I was too tall.  I later learned, every person in the Army was lied to by their recruiter (kind of like every convict is actually innocent, just ask them).  But I have no regrets at choosing the infantry, we are the true bad-asses on the battlefield.  I can be jealous though, the M1 is a beautiful, amazing and deadly vehicle.

Fleece’s Faves

Lot of TSA post this week, but since this topic bores the crap out of me, I ain’t linking them.  Here are my faves from last week, in the order I determined was mostly likely to offend only one person.

American and Proud – talks about the proud heritage of California releasing rapists early

American Elephants – says Democrats are in denial, and the to-do list they need to tackle

America’s Watchtower – I love local and state politics, so I always give preference to them, Steve has a great one about New Hampshire winning a court case allowing kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in schools

Be Sure You’re Right, Then Go Ahead – very humorous post on the history of the world and the role of conservatives and liberals

Blog de KingShamus – excellent post on why 2011 won’t be like 1995

Bread Upon the Waters – has a look at how Muslim women are not just trying to get over on us, they do it in Australia too

Bunkerville – talks about Michelle Obama’s new Chief of Staff, she’s a Chicago politician

Capitol Commentary – great post about how taxpayers are paying so rich green freaks can drive expensive electric cars

Conservative Hideout – excellent humor post about New York banning outdoor smoking, also an excellent post on the Parental Rights Amendment
Conservatives on Fire – must read post written by a fellow conservative actually living in socialism under Hugo Chavez

Disrupt the Narrative – more local politics, this time the Virginia GOP and their attempt to keep doing business as usual

Motorcity Times – talks about how apparently Christmas is only a taboo word in America

NoOneofAnyImport – in her normally highly readable writing style talks about why she likes to argue with idiots

Political Realities – Larry talks some Oklahoma state politics here, specifically the earmark battle between his Senators

Proof Positive – short and sweet post about the hypocrisy of our government royalty

Reporter 37 – great “response” post to a liberal – I am betting the lib wasn’t expecting this most excellent reply

Spellchek – talks about the EPA’s new plan to kill 7 million more jobs

The Swash – excellent video post about a douche liberal who hates our military

The Current – great post about the magic trick that is politics explained in football language, I love it =)

The Daley Gator – awesome video of Colonel Allen West talking about defense issues

Planet Moron – hilarious post about the New York City council wanting places to advertise they do not offer abortions

33 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2010 1:12 pm

    Cool hardware!

    Thanks for the link and great comments at MCT.

    • November 21, 2010 4:20 pm

      Thank you, and am glad I finally got my browser situation sorted out so I could comment over there, lol. =)

  2. November 21, 2010 1:41 pm

    Hey, Fleece. Tanks are great, unless you’re driving a jeep in the rain at the ass-end of a column of ’em. Thanks for the link. BTW, am adding you to my blog-roll.

    • November 21, 2010 4:24 pm

      Hey thanks for visiting and the comment, and yeah, the backend of a tank is pretty dirty, whether it be the smog from an old M-60, or just the heat and stink of kerosene coming out of an M1.

      Thanks for the blogroll add, I will do the same.

      • November 21, 2010 4:37 pm

        …and mud that sloshes over the gunwales. All in all, I’d rather ride coach in a Huey.

      • November 21, 2010 4:56 pm

        If there ain’t mud, it ain’t the field.

  3. November 21, 2010 3:17 pm

    Thanks for linking.We were all lied to.I was USAF and too tall to fit in the cockpit.Hey,got a question for you off-line but don’t see your contact info.Am I missing it?

    • November 21, 2010 3:37 pm

      I retired USAF.

    • November 21, 2010 4:26 pm

      It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for your service.

      Hmm, need to fix the contact info, thanks for the heads-up. You can email me at

  4. November 21, 2010 3:38 pm

    Very good information on the M1; very very cool stuff. I greatly appreciate the link my friend.

    • November 21, 2010 4:27 pm

      It was my pleasure. =)

  5. November 21, 2010 5:04 pm

    It’s like seventh-grade phys-ed class all over again!

    • November 21, 2010 6:14 pm

      Hahaha, sorry man. =)

  6. November 21, 2010 7:14 pm

    Tanks for the link, dahling.

    get it?


    • November 21, 2010 7:26 pm

      Huh? I don’t get it.

      • November 21, 2010 8:01 pm

        your post is about the M1 abrams tank. So, me being me, couldn’t resist a really bad pun . . .

      • November 21, 2010 8:41 pm

        Hahaha, I suffered from “I forgot I was writing syndrome” thus you didn’t “hear” the sarcasm in my reply. I’m sorry, but thanks for clearing it up anyway, lol. =) You must have thought “what a moron”. lmao

      • November 22, 2010 3:35 pm

        I nominate nooneofanyimport to go last next time. Just for punishment.

        Get it? PUNishment?

        I’m going last again, aren’t I?

      • November 22, 2010 5:05 pm


        I promise you won’t go last next Sunday. And I should put her last as PUNishment.

    • JustFacts permalink
      November 21, 2010 8:19 pm

      To paraphrase an old Bob Hope song, “Tanks for the memories” 8^)

      • November 21, 2010 8:46 pm


        This following quote is for you and NoOneofAnyImport:

        A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself. ~Doug Larson

      • JustFacts permalink
        November 21, 2010 9:47 pm

        I represent that remark.

      • November 21, 2010 9:53 pm

        Hahaha. =)

  7. LD Jackson permalink
    November 21, 2010 7:24 pm

    Okay, I am officially jealous. I want to ride in one of those and fire off that gun. That has got to be awesome. Thanks for the great article, Colin and thanks for the link.

    • November 21, 2010 7:27 pm

      Thanks for the great writing. I never got to fire the gun, so I will join in your wishes. The biggest gun I have fired is the 25mm on the Bradley.

  8. KingShamus permalink
    November 21, 2010 8:10 pm

    Thank you very much the linkage. I appreciate it dude.

    I’m just glad somebody else thinks that the GOP has a chance of dodging the same 1995 bullet.

    • November 21, 2010 8:45 pm

      They need to, or we are gonna be stuck with Democrats for a long time.

      And your welcome. =)

  9. November 21, 2010 8:57 pm

    Thank you for the link! Great info about the Abrams, thanks for sharing it!

    • November 21, 2010 9:02 pm

      It was my pleasure. I am glad you enjoyed the post. =)

  10. November 21, 2010 9:05 pm

    ha ha on the Doug Larson quote. And yeah, I did think, “duh Fleecy” for just a minute there. Turned out it was really, “duh Linda.” Ya gotta use that /sarc/ thing for thick ‘uns like me!

    g night

    • November 21, 2010 9:19 pm

      My bad. =)

  11. November 22, 2010 12:00 am

    I didn’t think smooth bores would provide as much accuracy as a rifled bore. Are any tanks with rifled bores?

    Don’t mean to “bore” you.

    • November 22, 2010 10:30 am

      I was incorrect on the British Challenger using a smoothbore, in fact they do not use the Rheinmettal 120mm, they use a British designed gun, the L30 with is an improved version of the Royal Ordnance L11. It is in fact a rifled gun. Apparently, the British prefer the High Explosive Squash Head Rounds and this gun is more amenable to that round than a smoothbore. A HESH round is pretty cool, it hits the target and “squashes” against it, flattening out before it explodes, very good for buildings and thinner skinned targets.

      India also has an MBT that features a rifled 120mm – the Arjun.

      Add Korea and Japan as two more countries who use the Rheinmettal 120mm smoothbore.

      The main russian tanks, the T-64 and T-72’s and their variants, use a 125mm smoothbore.

      The advanatage of a smoothbore over a rifled is three part. The primary reason is longevity of the barrel – the barrels just last longer because the added friction from the rifling is done away with. The second reason ties in with the first – with less friction on the outgoing round, there is longer range and a faster round. And lastly, it makes it easier to fire Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) though the barrel. As a practice, no one actually does this because it has never been as effective as everyone dreamed it would. Most NATO tanks don’t even have an otion to do so, but the Russians do. The last tank I can think of that we had that had a capability to shoot ATGMs through the gun (and it was a design goal) was the M551 Sheridan Light Tank. This tank was designed to be air-droppable to be as a support for Airborne troops. Its main gun was the 152mm M81, a rifled gun with a very short range for a tank, hence the need to fire the ATGMs. The rifling was overcome with regards to firing the missile by using a keyway (basically a channel for the missile to use) that prevented the missile from rotating down the barrel. Here is a picture of the gun firing a missile.

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