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  • The M1 Abrams and logistics

    I want to start a discussion on whether or not what is commonly considered the M1's "Achille's Heel" is really as bad as some make it out to be.I just did a quick comparison of range of many of today's front line tanks,and the M1 really isn't that bad.The Leopard 2 offers a substantial increase in range,to the tune of 50 miles,but the rest are right around the same as the M1,give or take a few miles.Some offer a huge increase,like the Le Clerc with external tanks,but for the purpose of this discussion I want to keep it to internal fuel capacity.
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  • #2
    Just like with a civilian automobile, you can't really judge the logistics footprint (with regards to fuel) of a tank by range alone. Most of it will have to do with a specific mission.

    For argument's sake, the LeClerc get's its significantly extended range by virtue of external fuel tanks. If your mission is wholly within the range of the tanks full fuel load, and the tank will be expected to remain nearly still at the end of the mission, then the LeClerc has a smaller overall logistical footprint for the mission. Reason, you can push logistics forward as available, instead of having to push fuel up alongside the mission.

    But, if the mission is long-term, and you can expect to run through several tanks of fuel, extended range tanks can also become a burden, because their greater operational maneuverability comes at the price of having to push greater quantities of fuel up for each refueling.

    In short, just like with automobiles, the long-term footprint has more to do with fuel mileage than with anything else. External capacity, or larger internal capacity will give the commander some more tactical options as they slightly open the window where the commander can ignore logistics concerns for tactical purposes, but in the long run the engine's fuel efficiency is what matters most.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #3
      Basically,I'm thinking that,logistically speaking,it doesn't really require any less effort to supply a US armored division than it would any other armored division,given the same mission.
      ALL LIVES SPLATTER!

      BLACK JEEPS MATTER!

      BLACK MOTORCYCLES MATTER!

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      • #4
        Good thread.

        I did a thread some time ago regarding the logistic side of things, this may help answer some of the points. http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=92764
        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
        Ernest Hemingway.

        "The more I learn about people, The more I love my dog".
        Mark Twain.

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        • #5
          As a tanker I can tell you, fuel is an issue, but not really as big an issue as it seems. Range should not be used to gauge, you should use hours. I have burned an entire fuel load and only gone 2000 meters.

          Any time a large American mechanized force is deployed the fuel is going to be there. Even if it is just the once platoon in the IRC that deploys with an airborne brigade combat team, the fuel will be there.

          Fuel is not the biggest part of the logistics footprint that is - spare parts. Tank parts are heavy, and need to be transported, and you need spare parts. Majority of M1 tanks are not out of the fight because of fuel issues, but maintenance issues. Not saying the tank is unreliable, they are no less reliable than any other modern tank - just when you push any machine as hard as you do in combat things break and need to be replaced. Especially parts of the suspension - and these parts are very heavy. They require transport and personnel just to transport them, as well as lines of communication to the airport where parts from out of theater can be flown in and delivered to the front.

          Ammunition is another thing that provides a logistical challenge, it is heavy, takes up a lot of room and transport, and like parts must be brought into the theater because it can no be procured locally.

          So again, fuel is an issue, but in reality a minor issue, yeah M1s eat up fuel, but their engine can run on anything, so fuel can be acquired in theater. M1s also eat up parts and ammunition which also are a big part of the logistical footprint - and they must be brought in from out of theater.

          It takes way more time, effort, and manpower to get parts and ammunition to tanks than fuel.
          Кто там?
          Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
          Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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          • #6
            Exactly.

            Though the Leopard may have a very slight advantage because of fuel economy. That's what is going to really matter in the long run. Fuel economy and how often the engines/guns/turret/suspension require maintenance/parts.

            Ammunition capacity and onboard fuel are only going to really matter in the short run. For something like Desert Storm, IIRC most of the tanks never even used up their onboard ammunition. And in that case, something like the LeClerc might have had the overall range to not require refueling for most of the 100 hours. But in the long run, they'd still need to be refueled, and they'd still need to be rearmed, and the more of each you can carry on board simply means that more of each need to be transported to you when you're out, and over a longer distance, which evens out the long-term logistics.

            Ex. In something like the Eastern Front (Cold war hot if you will), your 'sprint' distances would vary depending on model, but your consumption of fuel and ammunition overall would stay the same. Not to mention that the IFVs, APCs, Recovery vehicles, engineering vehicles, and their ranges all have a major bearing on the sprint distance of an armored division. If you add 200 gallons of fuel externally to an Abrams, it doesn't do much because the Bradley will also require extra fuel, and it doesn't have a really good place to put it. And the M88 will require extra fuel, etc.
            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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            • #7
              External fuel tanks on a tank? That just sounds stupid doesn't it? Gives the enemy a good spot to aim at and create a nice wee fireball, am I missing something here?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Patton82 View Post
                External fuel tanks on a tank? That just sounds stupid doesn't it? Gives the enemy a good spot to aim at and create a nice wee fireball, am I missing something here?
                It's not at all uncommon, the external fuel tanks that is.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Patton82 View Post
                  External fuel tanks on a tank? That just sounds stupid doesn't it? Gives the enemy a good spot to aim at and create a nice wee fireball, am I missing something here?
                  Just like external tanks on an aircraft, they're meant to be emptied first and dropped before entering combat. Though since a tank doesn't take the loss in aerodynamics (speed and maneuver) that a fighter does, I guess empty externals could be kept onboard during a running gunfight if the TC wanted to. Not really a bad concept in theory, to have external fuel to get you from the staging lot to the battlefield, then run on internal fuel for the assault/exploitation, giving you those extra few miles of exploitation before you've exhausted your '1 bound sprint' distance. I think practice has left a bit to be desired, which is why only the LeClerc IIRC has them from the West. Soviet-bloc tanks carried external fuel, but they also tended to carry significantly less internal fuel than their western counterparts, and they desperately needed to outrange their western counterparts if they were to spearhead through Germany in a cold war hot scenario.

                  If I were designing a modern MBT I would consider at least putting the apparatus for external fuel on the tank, so long as it did not compromise it in other ways. External fuel opens up interesting options for more independent operations.
                  Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Patton82 View Post
                    External fuel tanks on a tank? That just sounds stupid doesn't it? Gives the enemy a good spot to aim at and create a nice wee fireball, am I missing something here?
                    Except depending on the fuel the flash point is high, just real life isn't like a movie, just because you hit a fuel tank or fuel bladder of JP8 with a bullet doesn't mean you are going to get a huge fireball you get to see explode from 3 different angles.

                    Plus as said before you would empty them before contact more than likely anyways. Or ditch them if need be - like aircraft do. We had external fuel bladders to hand on the side of the turrets at Fort Stewart, you would run over them to force the fuel through the hose into the gas tank. In practice it didn't work very well and they stayed in the connex and never got used.

                    Supplying tanks at the brigade and below level (even division) is not that difficult, we have it down pretty good. The real logistical challenges exist at the high levels of command where dudes with constellations on their collars are in charge.
                    Кто там?
                    Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                    Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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                    • #11
                      The M1 uses 50-80% more fuel per mile driven depending on who you ask, compared to the Diesel powered Leos. It has bigger tanks and smaller range. It also had substantially higher consumption when idling, which was a big problem when internal electric components needed to be fed while waiting for something. This has been solved with an auxiliary engine for a generator, but of course that has other cost.

                      On the bright side, it is swifter and quieter, both of which can mean the difference between a dead tank and an operational one.

                      The United States have always been best at logistics. Both at having the expensive stuff and at getting it to units in the field. It makes sense to play that card. On the other hand it drives up operational cost for no good reason outside high-intensity conflict.

                      The whole thing is as idiotic as many Americans are with their cars, only rating the efficiency of a car by how often they go to the gas station, because they are too lazy to do the math and/or how to operate the miles counter. Featured in recent widely aired Ford commercials.
                      Last edited by Redwolf; 15 Jun 10, 16:35.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                        ...
                        I think practice has left a bit to be desired, which is why only the LeClerc IIRC has them from the West.
                        ...
                        The Challenger II has two external tanks.

                        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                        Ernest Hemingway.

                        "The more I learn about people, The more I love my dog".
                        Mark Twain.

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                        • #13
                          Well, I for one have always been of the mind that just because you have the best technology doesn't mean you have to use it all the time. IE, you have the quietest most survivable MBT (arguable). It burns shedloads of fuel. Use it for major combat operations against combatants with significant armor/anti-armor assets. And build a second MBT that is good but focusses more on being reliable, easy to repair, and economical. Use this one for export and for fighting enemies without significant assets.
                          Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Redwolf View Post
                            This has been solved with an auxiliary engine for a generator, but of course that has other cost.
                            Can you explain to me the "other cost" of the EAPU? Yeah it is kind of annoying that it takes up room in the busslerack some more of my Cokes and ramen could be in, and that 5 gallon jug of fuel takes up some room in the rack extension made by welding pickets together behind the rack.

                            I'll sacrifice the room pougy bait to be able to run my TIS all night without starting the engine though.
                            Кто там?
                            Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                            Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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                            • #15
                              oh and here is a poorly done website, that shows these fuel bladders we had to try out at Stewart in 98 or so, not sure it is the same company, but they looked exactly like this and sucked.

                              http://www.combatreform.org/ARMORHIS...ksfortanks.htm





                              Кто там?
                              Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                              Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                              Comment

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