Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Immobilising Gaddafi's tanks

Gaddafi is using tanks against Libyan people. This must be stopped.

Two tweets set the scene:

Last hour:

@BBCNEWS: BBC spoken to witnesses: Zawiyah flattened. Zawiyah reduced to ashes. Bullets all directions women and children killed. 50 tanks

Stories of tanks being disabled using hunting tools and random household items.. God help our people in Zawia, Misratah, East #libya #feb17

Now whether the @ChangeinLibya tweet is accurate or not, tanks do have a point of weakness. Their wheels have to be sitting on the tracks.

The diagram above shows that if a large piece of metal can be inserted at the point in front of the lead wheel while the tank is moving, especially if the tank is turning, there is a chance that the lead wheel will jump off the track, immobilising the tank.

Suitable implements would be pickaxe heads, crowbars, wrecking bars, scaffolding tubes, or any other heavy metal object. If a disabled tank is available, a couple of broken links from its tracks would be ideal. They could be fastened onto a wooden handle to aid accurate placement.

Fine in theory, but,

Clearly there is a health and safety concern related to getting the metal in place. 

The implement must not be placed, but thrown, since as soon as it comes in contact with the wheel, the bar will be flung around with great force, and any hand in contact with it will be broken.

One way around this would be to fasten a spike or spikes into an old car so that they are projecting from the front, and adapt the car so that it can be steered using radio control. Radio control for a toy aeroplane or boat could be linked to the controls of an electric motor which in turn will control the steering wheel.

A fork lift truck would be ideal, aiming one of the forks to the vulnerable spot.

An number of angled plates, able to carry an obstructor (ideally a couple of links from a captured tank track) could  be placed in roads likely to be travelled by tanks. When the tank track hits the raised section of the metal plate, the obstructor is flipped towards the tank, with a probability that some will engage in the spot between the wheel and the track.

Clearly once the tank is immobilised, it will still pose a health and safety threat to the vicinity, but at least it will not be able to move, and if immobilised in a narrow street, will block the passage of any tanks behind it.

It would be wholly understandable if freedom fighters felt it right to set fire to the tank immediately in order to stop it killing. As a Quaker, I would urge the fighters first to cover the tank in petrol, unlit, and then call for the tank operators to come out and give themselves up, with assurances that they will not be harmed if they emerge peacefully. Once the smell of petrol vapour gets inside the cabin, the soldiers inside will decide that it would be unwise to fire their guns for fear of setting themselves on fire.

I hope this is helpful to freedom fighters in Libya and anywhere else that people who aspire to democracy find that violence is forced upon them. 


Stupid Boy said...

You're the best Doc.

It's like Dad's Army with you as a cross between Mainwaring, Godfrey and Sgt Wilson of course... radio-controlled cars crashing tanks! And the description of a tank as health and safety hazard was great!

Seriously, good luck to all the Libyans reading this, but be careful around the tanks. Keep doing your bit Doc.

DocRichard said...

Stupid Boy

Tanks for the support. If it was support.

Radio control? A toy system can go right-left, operating a larger solenoid control that operates a 12v motor (eg windscreen wiper motor) that turns the steering wheel.

There are plenty of mechanics that can produce one of those.

If the report is accurate, they have already been doing this.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

We'll see.

Sgt Wilson.

Stupid Boy said...

Now look here Wilson,

Of course it was support. We've got to stand shoulder to shoulder against these shabby despotic characters. You know that radio-controlled car? Took you a while to spot that one, didn't it Wilson?

But that Hague, you know, I can't help feeling that boy is slightly retarded.

Hopefully there is a Libyan Dad's Army, armed with whatever they can get, doing their bit and giving Gadaffi and his like a taste of the cold steel. They don't like it up em, you know. They do not like it up em.

Carry on Sgt Wilson.