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"stealth" tanks

electric engines paired with current diesel engines to allow silent running.. kinda
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Here is the idea: Take otherwise very noisy heavy armour running loud, smoky diesel engines and add battery stores that charge while the engines are running or through blankets of solar panels during vehicles down time.

The batteries once charged, will provide power to much quieter (and environmentally friendly) electric engines for temporary periods. Thus allowing tanks to travel with less chance of detection by the enemy. Of course this would be rather useless in flat terrain as deserts or plains, but in areas where the terrain would allow for some cover(woodslands, semi-mountainous regions and the like) the tanks could more easily avoid detection.

An alternative propulsion system, such as four tires on an adjustable suspension which could be lowered down and support the tank instead of the treads, would remove additional noise caused by the creaking treads.

Potential shortcomings:
1)battery life maybe insuffient to sustain "stealth mode" for prolonged periods.
2)electric engine output would be inferior to diesel, so "stealth mode" would be slower.
3)power generated from primary engines to charge the batteries may drain valuable electricity needed to power targeting and navigation systems.

The idea came from older submarines that used a similar approach.
scott_r_uber, Aug 15 2005


       \\Of course this would be rather useless in flat terrain as deserts\\. I'd have thought that this is when a solar-powered tank would be most useful.   

       I don't think that tanks are used for subtlety. For the most part, they seem to be designed to be imposing rather than stealthy.
hidden truths, Aug 15 2005

       The idea of a silent running tank moving through open terrain where it could be spotted by it's profile or dust trail from miles around is why I said it would be useless.

True, tanks aren't known for their subtley but they have been used in ambushes(which have very high requirements on subtley) against other armour in the past, being able to move silently would insure their chance to move into position for an ambush without the enemy knowing. By giving tanks capabilities to allow them for use in more clandestine operations would give you one hell of an ace up your sleeve in my mind.
scott_r_uber, Aug 15 2005

       "The real noise maker is the thunder of the track plates."

Hence the mention of an alternative propulsion system. But anyway, looks like I stepped on one that if it isn't baked, it's already in the oven =(
scott_r_uber, Aug 15 2005

       I understand the idea of hiding, but the light of a desert would still seem like the optimum place for charging this.   

       I would have thought that the sheer size of a tank would make subtlety futile in most situations. Maneuvering even a silent tank in a woodland area is sure to cause one hell of a lot of branches breaking. Which in turn creates the noise that one wants to avoid.
hidden truths, Aug 15 2005

       I had never heard of solar-powered submarines before. I guess you really do learn something new every day!
Canuck, Aug 15 2005

       hidden truths, ok, woodslands was a bad example, I pretty much meant any area where there is enough cover to move without being seen.

Canuck, well, I didn't mean solar powered submarines, but the idea of using electric engines at times when stealth is paramount. Although, a submarine running silent is much more useful than a tank, it was just an idea.
scott_r_uber, Aug 15 2005

       I'm imagining tanks tip-toeing around on rubber wheels like a cartoon. With that sneaky music.
omegatron, Aug 15 2005

       The advantages diesel-electric submarines enjoy is that the length of the bilges can be filled with big, bulky batteries, but their underwater performance is pretty poor - remember such a sub probably spends most of its time on the surface. The only reason they don't use the much more powerful diesel engine for long periods underwater, I leave as an exercise for the reader.
The Abrams gas turbine is rated at around 1500hp - say 1.1 MW, roughly half the power available to a WWII U-boat' diesel, but with a tiny fraction of the space to store those batteries. The U-boat's electric motors were rated around a quarter of the power of the diesels. Remember, the Abrams manages a rather puny 23 hp /ton. Bone.
coprocephalous, Aug 15 2005

       I do believe I listed that as one of the potential downsides in the original idea..
scott_r_uber, Aug 15 2005

       // do believe I listed that as one of the potential downsides in the original idea// So, what are the feasible upsides?
coprocephalous, Aug 15 2005

       // do believe I listed that as one of the potential downsides in the original idea//   

       Indeed, but posting a bad idea, along with all of its bad points, does not prevent people agreeing that the idea is bad.
david_scothern, Aug 15 2005

       coprocephalous, the only possible upshot to electric engines in tanks I can think of, outside of my original idea (which can't be too terrible if it's already in development) is an alternative form of propulsion in case the diesel engines are either damaged or out of fuel. Maybe not much, but it may come in useful in a bind.. As far as all the electric power to horsepower conversions I'm pretty much clueless, if I knew half of what you told us in your one post I probably would have scrapped the idea from the start.
david_scothern, you have a point, I was just pointing out the redundancy in [coprocephalous] posting the same disadvantage to my idea that I already had made known.
Pa`ve, I hate you.. and I mean that in the jealous spiteful way that only a man stuck with only 6 local channels and not enough monthly income to support both his addictions to high-speed internet and satelite television can hate you. >:-|
That being said, would you be nice to copy all of those awesome military channel shows and mail them to me? :-D No? Damn, didn't figure that would work....
scott_r_uber, Aug 16 2005

       [sru] There's a huge difference between "armoured vehicle" and "tank" - in the Hagglunds case linked and an Abrams, about 50 tons and a good deal of battlefield surviveability. What I thought was interesting was that by my reading, there are six electric motors rated at 100kW (133hp) each, but the two diesels are rated at 130kW (173 hp). Maybe the driver, in his 0.35m^3 space pedals when the going gets tough. Interesting concept - someone must've thought it was worth it.
coprocephalous, Aug 16 2005

       Ok, so the idea isn't practical for heavy armor yet, but give it a decade or so and the technologic advances in battery life, energy output and engine efficiency may even allow the electric engines to surpass current conventional engines.

But for right now I'd have to consent that currently it only makes sense for lightly armored vehicles and even then it's a stretch. But still, this site is based on halfbaked ideas =/
scott_r_uber, Aug 17 2005


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