Abrams tank drivers

ejectmailman

New Member
just had a few questions in regards to the abrams tank, i have searched a fair bit but cant find definate answers. The questions are related to the australian army abrams, m1a1 i believe. Can anyone in the know please help?

1: Are they airconditioned? if not, how hot would it get in the drivers compartment during summer in darwin?

2: is the drivers hatch able to be opened at any time in regards to the turret position?

3: i heard the driver can crawl into the turret when the turret is in the 6 oclock postion, is this true?

4: if the tank flipped upside down, could the driver escape?

5: is there any situation in which the driver would not be able to escape from the tank?

6: is the seating position of the driver comfortable over long periods of time?

any other info in regards to being a driver would be very helpful. thanks
 

sgtgunn

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Hi,

I served on M1A1 (HC) in the US Army during the 90's.


1: Are they airconditioned? if not, how hot would it get in the drivers compartment during summer in darwin?

The M1A1 is not. The M1A2 (SEP) has an air conditioning system of a sort - it's main purpose is to keep the electronics from over heating. The M1A1 does have a system of cooling vests, which we never used but I understand they are have only a limited effectiveness. Temps inside pretty much any armored vehcile can easily exceed 100F in hot weather.

2: is the drivers hatch able to be opened at any time in regards to the turret position?

Yes. It is normal procedure to drive with the hatch open in non tactical enviornments when good visibility is required. It is much easier to get out of the drivers hatch when the gun tube is over the back deck however.

3: i heard the driver can crawl into the turret when the turret is in the 6 oclock postion, is this true?

Yes, but it's more like 5 oclock if I recall correctly. When the tank is parked, the gun tube is left over the left rear corner (as facing the tank) of the hull - this allows the driver to exit through the turret, and the loaders hatch to be locked from the outisde (all other hatches have to be closed from the inside).

4: if the tank flipped upside down, could the driver escape?

Depends on the ground. If there is sufficient space between the ground and the front hull (assuming the tank is resting on the turret) it may be possible to squeeze out the driver's hatch.

5: is there any situation in which the driver would not be able to escape from the tank?

Yep. The front slope could be buried on a flipped tank. Turret could be pointed in the wrong direction and the driver's hatch jammed becuase of damage. You could "what if" this to death.

6: is the seating position of the driver comfortable over long periods of time?

Not bad. Best seat in the house. You actually recline in the hull which is nice. Shorter drivers often sleep in the driver's seat with the hatch closed instead of braving potentially bad weather.

any other info in regards to being a driver would be very helpful. thanks

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

Adrian Gunn
 

ejectmailman

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
thanks mate your an absolute champion, ive been trying to find the answer to these questions for months. im joining the australian army very shortly as an abrams crewman. i have no trouble with confined spaces, just not very keen on getting trapped in them. but your answers make me feel a whole lot better in regards to that. i have a few more questions about the abrams if thats ok:

1: is the steering very hard? as in like having power steering on a car, is it easy to turn the handle bars?
2: with the twist throttle, is it on the left hand or right side or both sides?
3: what is the best and worst part of being a driver?

Thats about it really, i think you have already answered all of the questions i was chasing. :)
 

sgtgunn

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
1: is the steering very hard? as in like having power steering on a car, is it easy to turn the handle bars?

Steering is easy. It requires very little steering input to turn the tank, which is surprisingly nimble for it's size. At speed, you need to be careful not to over steer, as the tank will turn quite hard. The Abrams is pretty easy to drive, once you get used to the size, and limited visibility. The hardest thing to learn is to drive cross-country smoothly - banging into a dip in the ground at speed may just bounce you a bit in the driver's hole, but you'll slam the turret crew around hard and bouncing your TC off the .50 cal is never a good idea. The brakes are very strong and you can stop on a dime - but jamming the brakes will throw everyone in the turret forward hard.

2: with the twist throttle, is it on the left hand or right side or both sides?

Both, with the shifter "knob" in the middle of the control bar.


3: what is the best and worst part of being a driver?

Best part is that driving is a blast. You're out of the weather as well, when the TC and loader are standing up in the rain you're snug inside your hole. You also always have someplace dry and semi-comfortable to sleep. Sleeping up in the turret, while possible, is very uncomfortable.

Worst part is you're the person primarily responsible for hull & track maintenance - when ever you halt for any length of time you're out on the ground walking the track, checking fluids, etc. Lots of long hours in the motor pool.

"Death Before Dismount"

Adrian - former 19K CDAT (Computerized Dumb Assed Tanker)
 

cavalrytrooper

New Member
Can the Abrams be knocked of action when hit by an enemy round? What are the chances of survival if the vehicle runs over a thousand pound mine?
 

DavidDCM

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Can the Abrams be knocked of action when hit by an enemy round?
Of course it can. The flank or rear are very vulnerable to a whole range of weapons. The front may only be penetrated by the most modern APFSDS rounds.

What are the chances of survival if the vehicle runs over a thousand pound mine?
Next to none.
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
A thousand pound mine?
That's not a mine but a burried bomb and no vehicle is going to withstand such a destructive force.
A couple of burried 152mm shells is going to be enough...
 

ejectmailman

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
thanks for your help sgtgunn, are there any other abrams crew out there with any more info regarding being a driver. good things/bad things, daily life?
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
You could wait for Eckherl if he drops by or just write a PM to him.
He also has alot of experience on the Abrams.
If you have any other questions related to being a tank crewman we have some others here who might also be able to help.
So feel free to ask. :)

Maybe as a side note. One shouldn't underestimate the amount of maintenance one has to do as a driver. These beasts are touchy little ladies which need constant care.
But as SgtGunn said.
It is amazing to drive such a tracked 1500hp giant! :cool:

Welcome to the world of Panzer crewmen! ;)
 

sgtgunn

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Maybe as a side note. One shouldn't underestimate the amount of maintenance one has to do as a driver. These beasts are touchy little ladies which need constant care.
But as SgtGunn said.
It is amazing to drive such a tracked 1500hp giant! :cool:

Welcome to the world of Panzer crewmen! ;)
So true. I've split my time in the US Army between being an 11B Light Infantryman and a 19K M1 Armor Crewman. One of the biggest differences between the two jobs is how time is spent in garrison. As a light infantryman, once you come out of the field, you clean your weapons and gear ("Kit" for you Commonwealth types) and then chill. As a tanker, "recovery" from the field takes a good solid week of cleaning and maintenance. And even after that you still LIVE in the motor pool. Every day from 0900-1630 while in garrison you're up there working on your tank - cleaning, doing preventative maintenance, painting, cleaning again, etc. I swear if you let an M1 sit long enough, something will break on its own. I loved being in the field as a tanker or shooting gunnery, but garrison gets old quick.... The only relief from working on the tank is heading to the UCOFT (gunnery simulator) or SIMNET (platoon and company manuever simulator).
 

ejectmailman

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
how many times per month would you actually spend driving the abrams? would most of the time be spent maintaining and servicing it ? i thought up a few more questions for you sgtgunn or any other abrams crew. with the twist throttles, does twisting the left handle spin the left tracks and twisting the right handle spin the right track, or can you just twist either to drive in a straight line and turn by turning the handle bars?

my dad used to be a leopard tank crewman in australia here for about 6 years, so he has told me a fair bit about what its like to be in the armoured corps. he mentioned the hardest bit was changing the track pads, is this hard to do on the abrams? do you have the change them often?
 

DavidDCM

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
I'm not a Abrams-crewman but a (former) Leopard 2-crewman, but I guess it's not much different in regards to daily life.
Most of the time you'll spent in the motor pool maintaining your vehicles. That's basically your main task between two exercise runs. Somehow the things you need to fix take no end. I can hardly remember that we ever had finished everything and basically "nothing to do anymore". But next to maintaining your tanks you'll of course also have time for stuff like sports/physical exercises, going on the handgun range etc.

Yes, changing the track pads is a very exhausting job, not so much because it's a tough thing to do, but rather because a tank (let alone a platoon) has a darn lot of track pads and you need to replace every single one of them. But it's not like you do it every day. How often depends, not more than once in a month if I remember correctly.
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Much more exhausting is to actually replace the whole track.
And they don't send you full track which would be relatively easy to put on but they send you a big package full of parts.
Putting the track together is damn awfull...
 

trev66

New Member
Being an old Tank man BUT not Abrams trained can i suggest that you put your query on my website - www.black-berets.org on the message board and no doubt you will be pleasantly surprised.

Plus there are lots of photos of Centurions at home and Vietnam plus lots of leopards.

Hope to see your query in the near future.

TH
 

sgtgunn

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
how many times per month would you actually spend driving the abrams?

It depends on what your training schedule looks like. Taking an M1 company to the field to train for 2-3 weeks costs A LOT of money in fuel alone - not including wear and tear on the vehicles. When I was in Germany in the late 90's we typically shot gunnery twice a year and did 1 rotation a year at the Combined Manuever Training Ceneter. Gunnery usually took a couple of weeks with plenty of driving every day. A CMTC rotation could be anywhere from 3-4 weeks long, 90% of it spent in the field training in simulated war-time conditions. We might also go the field locally at Grafenwhor a few times a year from anywhere from a couples of days to to a week. The US Army has a lot of $$$ compared to many other armies and tends to train lavishly, but there were a couple of times when we did no training with the vehicles for 2-3 months at a time becuase of the fuel budget (Thanks to Mr. Clinton and his budget cuts). We spent a lot of time in the SIMNET and UCOFT simulators (which is cheap) as well.

would most of the time be spent maintaining and servicing it ?

Yep. A machine as massive, complex and heavy as an tank requires constant preventive maintenance. Parts tend to trickle in over time, so it always seemed like there was something to replace. In the US Army at least, most routine maintenance is done by the crews - the mechanics handling bigger issues like the powerpack or fire control system.

i thought up a few more questions for you sgtgunn or any other abrams crew. with the twist throttles, does twisting the left handle spin the left tracks and twisting the right handle spin the right track, or can you just twist either to drive in a straight line and turn by turning the handle bars?

The throttles only apply power to the tracks - they don't have any control over track direction. Twisting one side of the handlebar twists the other side as well. You can put the tank into pivot steer (on the gear shifter) and turning the tank left or right will cause it to pivot in place.

my dad used to be a leopard tank crewman in australia here for about 6 years, so he has told me a fair bit about what its like to be in the armoured corps. he mentioned the hardest bit was changing the track pads, is this hard to do on the abrams? do you have the change them often?

Changing track (as others here have already mentioned) is a pain in the ass, but typically the whole platoon would do one tank at a time which speeds things up. Each M1 has an electrical impact wrench, which makes replacing track pads easier. We found it was generally easier just yank the track completelly off, change all the pads that way, then put it back on the tank rather than try to change them on the tank. Roadwheels get changed a lot as well as the rubber wears off, and occasionally drive sprockets need changing too (which is a huge pain in the butt).
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
And all of these track maintenance gets even more awfull when one has to do it at night, during a storm, standing in a ditch full of water...

Have fun! :D
 

sgtgunn

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
And all of these track maintenance gets even more awfull when one has to do it at night, during a storm, standing in a ditch full of water...

Have fun! :D
You're bringing back bad memories *lol*. I recall a 4 week rotation at the CMTC in Hohenfels when on the last day in "the box", during the last "battle" our tank threw track hard to the inside, coming off the drive sprocket and actually wrapping around the outside of the skirts all the way forward to the front idler wheel. Oh, in 18" of mud of course. It took two M88 recovery vehicles in tandem, 2 broken tow bars, and several hours of winching with the tow cable to drag us about 400m up a hill to the tank trail. Then we had to dig all of the caked on, compressed clay-like mud out from behind the skirts and off all of the road wheels (which took another couple of hours) before we could even think of putting the track on. We threw track around 10am and didn't get to the wash rack until after midnight - and we had to have the tank spotless and completely mud free by morning so we could load them back on the train at the Parsberg rail head. Ah, yes those were the days..... *lol*
 

eckherl

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
I have all of you beat,

Try driving through concentina wire in the middle of the night going about 20MPH and shearing off a final drive sprocket and landing into a 50ft ravine. That debacle cost us alot of bruises to the entire crew and about 48 hours worth of HAAARD back breaking labor, maintenance was so pissed at us that all of them in our maintenance section gave me the stink eye stare for weeks.
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Ooooh, that's bad.

I really hate concertina wire.
This stuff tends to lie everywhere on training areas because somebody was too lazy to clean up his stuff.
And you always run over it. It really ruins your day.

But managing to hit a ravine is really impressive... :D
 

sgtgunn

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Funny how a purpose built steel re-enforced "anti-tank" obstacle, like a tetrahedron can be pretty easily crushed and run over by a modern MBT , but a forgotten, rusted spool of concertina wire left behind by sloppy engineers can wreak so much havoc.

*lol*

Adrian



Ooooh, that's bad.

I really hate concertina wire.
This stuff tends to lie everywhere on training areas because somebody was too lazy to clean up his stuff.
And you always run over it. It really ruins your day.

But managing to hit a ravine is really impressive... :D
 
Top