A bit of a diversion from our usual content, we'll be taking a look at some recordings of the best tank engines currently running in the world today. Just a quick heads up for users running mobile data, this article is very media-heavy, and you may wish to be careful if you have limited allowances...
Tanks are some of the most impressive pieces of equipment on the battlefield, carrying around tons of armor and armament capable of taking out not only enemy tanks, but also fortifications, infantry positions and everything in between.
However, while the evolution of tanks is often regarded as a never ending race between armor and armament, engines have often been the limiting factor in tank design, as the competing requirements of maximum engine power and minimum engine size always come head to head, not to mention reliability, maintainability and cost!
So, let us have an amazing journey through the sounds of tank engines that can still be heard today!
One of the oldest tank engines that are still running today is that of the Renault FT reconditioned by the Weald Foundation (https://www.wealdfoundation.org/ rel="nofollow" ). The now 100+ years old Renault 4-cyl, 4.5 litre water-cooled gasoline engine has been carefully restored and refurbished by the Weald team and can be heard at work at tank shows in Western Europe:
If you want to download these videos for offline watching, you can do so using Youtube converter, but take care, it might not always be legal!
Significant investment in the refurbishment of old vehicles is also done in the Russian Federation, where the ever-present popular interest in military history has led to this T-26 6,600cc 4-cylinder engine to be made to work again, hopefully allowing one of these staples of the Red Army to run again!
On the other side of the world, the M4 Sherman was the most produced tank of the Second World War (the T-34 was built more in total only by adding in post-war production). It served on all corners of the world, but is interesting in being quite tall for a medium tank. This was due to the rather unusual arrangement of the power transfer from the engine to the transmission meant to allow the M4 to take in a lot of different engines.
The M4A1 version of the Sherman was fitted with a Continental R-975 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine derived from an aviation engine.
On the other hand, the M4A4 was powered by a Chrysler multibank engine, composed of five 4.1 l liquid-cooled gasoline engines with a whopping total of 30 cylinders!
On the other side of the Second World War, the German Tiger has remained a popular favorite and most probably the best known tank in the world! However, unfortunately, only a single vehicle is still in operational condition, being operated by the Bovington Tank Museum (https://tankmuseum.org/). Just listen to that!
The British Churchill’s engine gave significant problems at the start of the tank’s career, not only being notoriously unreliable, but also having a propensity to catching fire on its own. However, what is little known was that the British Army was actually okay with that, because they needed tanks and they needed them quickly to defend against the possible German invasion of the British Isles. Here is how it sounds, this one being restored by the Churchill Trust (https://www.facebook.com/The-Churchill-Trust-290122977796341/).
The Panther’s engine and transmission are also popularly known to have been unreliable, and indeed they were on the first batches. The situation was improved through the production run, and the Panther was a staple of the German army in the last years of the war, with over 7000 produced. One has been restored to working order by the Saumur tank museum (https://www.museedesblindes.fr/en/) and can be heard running on their yearly Carrousel.
Speaking of unreliable engines, the T-34 also had significant problems, with some sources claiming the engine life of the initial engines being just 500 km, not even enough to allow the drivers to be properly trained on the vehicles. Of course, the situation was improved significantly and a lot of T-34-85s are still running around the world, although not always perfectly!
The King Tiger, even though sharing the same name and number as the Tiger I, was a new design from scratch, although it did feature an uprated version of the same engine, giving off 700 hp, a bit little for a 70 ton tank!
After the war, the West German army was finally reconstituted in 1955, and would afterwards adopt the Leopard main battle tank, which would become one of the most exported tanks from the NATO side. Many are still around and still functioning, as an important number are still in service around the world!
The Soviet T-55, although by this point almost completely obsolete, still sees service around the world, even in some NATO countries such as Romania! Its V12 V-55 38.8 l engine can still be heard in a lot of places.
One of the most powerful tanks in NATO’s arsenal at the moment is the Leopard 2, the German-built successor of the Leopard, which has also seen wideworld export success. The engine and transmission are coupled together in an easy-to-remove powerpack, making maintenance far easier and also giving a nice view of the thing in action!
The T-72 has been the T-55s spiritual successor, being better armored, better armed and powered by a more beefy V-12 engine giving out 780 hp. And it sounds amazing, as can be heard in this video from the Panzer Farm (http://panzer-farm.pl/en/homepage/)!
The oddest one in our list is the M1 Abrams, which is powered by a turbine engine, one of only three tanks to see active service with such an engine (the others being the Strv.103 and the T-80). The engine works on a different principle from traditional combustion engines, and it sounds completely different!