A selection of the most obscure bits of knowledge – because you can never know too much about tanks.
1. The Word "Tank"
During World War I, the British "Landships Committee" changed their title to keep their new vehicles secret and not so obvious. They went with "water carriers" and "tanks." That's also why tanks have so many "nautical" component names, such as bow, hatch, hull, and sponson.
2. Owner's Manuals
Much like today's electronics or Swedish furniture, every Tiger and Panther came with an owner's manual peppered with cartoony illustrations.
3. "In the Mood"
The name of the most dangerous Sherman in World War II.
4. Made for Walkin'
Artificial leather coverings from the seats of Russia's Sherman made excellent boots if the tanks were left unguarded.
5. Speak Not of the Apricot
Apricots are not allowed on, near, about, or within a one-mile radius of American tanks. Even the word "apricrot" is forbidden. It's a superstitious tradition that started in WWII with the U.S. Marine Amtracks.
6. Electric Starter Motors
Though these motors were common in tanks by WWII, they were backup devices in many tanks (such as Germany's), or used if the engine was already warm.
7. No A/C!
Advanced modern tanks like the Abrams don't have air conditioning for the crew. (Though the latest model has a "Thermal Management System" to keep the computers cool in the desert.)
8. Dance Party
The same modern tanks can support an MP3 player for piping tunes (or audiobooks) through the intercom system.
9. Hold Your Nose!
When escape hatches were removed from the floors of tank designs, shell casings were used for the, er, "facilities." Then once combustible casings came on the scene, the duty was left to MRE bags.
10. Turbine Engines
11. Multinational Tanks
Modern tanks are somewhat multinational – Abrams has an American engine, a German main gun, British armor, Belgian machineguns, a Canadian fire control system, and the crews carry Italian side arms.
12. Long-Range Record
The longest known range where a tank destroyed another tank was 5,300m (approximately 3.3 miles), achieved in 1991 by a British Challenger 1 firing APFSDS at a T-55.
13. Going to the Beach
To handle problems with transporting and landing tanks onto beaches, the U.S. built an LST (Landing Ship Tank) in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It still stands today, known as "the LST Building."
14. The Sum of Its Parts
A typical M4A4 Sherman has 4,537 parts: 1,269 made by Chrysler, 3,268 by subcontractors.
15. Tank Parents
The Father of the U.S. Tank Corps is Samuel D. Rockenbach. The Father of the Armored Force is Adna R. Chaffee Jr. The Father of Tanks is Jean Baptiste Estienne. There is no known mother. Except, of course for "Mother;" the British Mark I.
16. Dirty Dozen
With a 12-person crew, the French Char 2C was the largest operational tank ever made.
The Abrams tank is named for then-Colonel Creighton Abrams. Though, for the record, his tank's name was "Thunderbolt."
18. Stopping the Maus
The Maus was the only tank where its production was completely stopped by a strategic bombing campaign.
19. Hellcat Suspension
The man responsible for the M18 Hellcat's torsion bar suspension, Robert Schilling of G.M. Research, served in Germany's submarine service in WWI.
20. The Least Known Fact of All
Tanks are actually air-droppable. Once.