On my website (The Razors edge) I talk about various vehicles civilian and military that a survivor can use to get around the post apocalypse landscape. One vehicle I haven’t covered (Yet) is tanks. I was watching the show Jericho the other night (Check it out if you haven’t seen it, it’s pretty good), near the end of the first season the town survivors manage to get a hold of a tank to help defend the town against another town’s militia who are bent on stealing Jericho’s resources. The question I asked myself was “Would a tank be a practical idea for the post apocalypse?” The answer to that question is yes and no, like most things in life there is no definitive black and white answer, only a shade of grey.
A tank offers a huge advantage to any survivor, the sheer size of one of these machines range anywhere from 45 to 56 tonnes or more of armour, and weapons. The average tank’s gun barrel alone is approximately 14 tonnes, which can be used as a stand alone weapon in itself should you have no ammo. Most modern tanks fire between 120 and 125 mm cannon either smooth bore or rifled that can hit targets over 2 miles away, and are backed up by pintel mounted and coaxial machine guns that can reach targets at over 1800 meters. The tanks armour can withstand all small arms, some rockets, and are even resistant to other tank rounds with the help of add on armour and reactive armour (Armour that explodes outward to repel the blast)
While those numbers sound impressive the drawbacks are big as well. Oil and fuel will be in short supply, and tanks are generally pigs on gas. Imagine the worst gas guzzling car you ever had, times that by 6 and it would look like a hybrid when its gas consumption is compared to a tank. A tank such as the M1A2 for example uses jet fuel to propel itself around the battlefield, something your going to have an even harder time locating. On top of that tanks are tracked vehicles, when it comes time to fix the track if you have no experience in doing this your screwed; it’s a pain in the ass even when you do know what you’re doing. Replacement parts are another major issue not only in repairing your tank, but getting those parts to your location.
Next is the crew situation, a tank requires a minimum on average of 3 to 4 people, one to drive, one to load and or shoot, and one who runs the show. You can’t operate a tank solo and do everything its simply impossible. Remember that guy who went nuts a few years ago and drove a tank through the streets. There was never any threat of him using the turret or trying to arm it, he simply couldn’t reach them and drive at the same time.
So if you can’t get the parts, the oil or fuel for your tank but you have the ammo what do you do? You do what the Iraq army did in the first gulf war; you turn them into a bunker. If you’re defending a town you can partially bury a tank to turn it into the ultimate expedient bunker. While the work it takes to bury a tank will be enormous without some kind of excavator, it’ll be worth it in extending the use of your tank.