Jerry Cans On Tanks

Feel free to discuss anything and everything to do with tanking here!

Postby Estnische » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:08 am

Seems to me like few fully detailed RC tanks go out there without fuel Jerry cans festooned across the engine deck.

OK so a tank that has run out of fuel is just a pillbox, and there are plenty of historical photos for evidence, but I would think the crew would be a little nervous handing the enemy a bunch of ready-made 20 litre Molotov cocktails just waiting for some smarty with a tracer round?

Anybody care to give of their knowledge or experience with tanks?
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Postby Raminator » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:26 am

Estnische wrote:I would think the crew would be a little nervous handing the enemy a bunch of ready-made 20 litre Molotov cocktails just waiting for some smarty with a tracer round?

Well, the Jerries lost the war, so... QED?

In all seriousness though, fuel storage outside the tank isn't typically a problem; the Soviets did it all the time. Granted they used diesel instead of petrol, but the rationale is the same even if the flammability isn't. A full container isn't going to explode or burn if it's shot, since there's no air inside it. An empty container isn't going to explode or burn, because there's no fuel in it. Potentially, a half-full one could (if the shot sparked and the fuel/air mix was just right) but then a fire outside the tank is better than a fire inside the tank. You'd be fine so long as you don't store the cans above any air intakes.
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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:41 am

I watched a myth busters where they were trying to explode gas canisters like on James bond films. Normal bullets wouldn't make a mark (I know they're made of tougher metal). When they finally pierced one with an armoured piercing round, it just made a hole for the gas to escape, no explosion or fire. They only achieved fire/explosion when they used a large mini gun, think the heat from the following quick succession rounds ignited the escaping gas.
And with fuel fires, it's not the fuel that burns, but the fumes/gas it gives off.

Edit for this question. Don't diesel vehicles have to heat the fuel on a cold start to help produce enough combustion gasses from the diesel?

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Postby Estnische » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:05 am

I didn't think it would explode, Molotov's don't. They're just a means of lobbing petrol without wearing it yourself.

Old-fashioned diesels used to have glow-plugs to get them to start from cold. Not sure what happens with modern passenger diesels and their ECUs now.

Talking about heating, I think it was the Erich Hartmann bio where they captured a Russian pilot and made him tell them how the Russians got their aircraft started in the bitter cold when nothing worked for the Germans. They were in disbelief when he said they poured petrol into the crankcase and lit it. They didn't know whether he was trying to get them to ruin their aircraft, but it worked.
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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:25 am

You've got to love the innovative Russians.
Like with charcoal pits.

No, didn't think you meant Gerry cans exploding, just making a point about it not being so easy to ignite. Like when they flick cigarettes into petrol to ignited it, I've dropped one in petrol and it just went out lol. But I still wouldn't recommend trying it lol.

Yes, I believe old cars used to pre heat the glow plug, I used to have an old one with a button to press before a cold start. Haven't a clue how it's done now.

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Postby HERMAN BIX » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:38 am

Happy Australia Day Mr E.....................thanks for sharing your country with me !!

Many of the pictures seen in archive or veteran supplied perspectives show German vehicles in-transit or in my opinion, on the way, to or from front line service.
The pics of Tigers with 205L drums on the rear deck are exactly what you say- ready made Molotov's............but no context for that image.
However, the same vehicle on its way to or from rather than IN a front line, may well have needed the extra fuel.
A Tiger unit I would assume would have a huge degree of "give me the #$@#@#'n fuel" in its supply priority, where other units would not.
As for the 20L cans, I would assume they were empty, and be handy for an opportunistic refill rather than a full can hanging out waiting to be wasted by a single rifle shot.
Imagine the consternation if a Panther crew came across an abandoned Allied tank, or better, an abandoned fuel truck and had no means of collecting & transferring said fuel !! even 20L at a time ..........going by the accepted fuel burn rate of the German tanks, a 20L can would very quickly fit into the internal tanks of all 3 common marks in service at that time assuming they were full to the top at the start of their respective line of march which is unlikely .......

Or, there is the far simpler concept of.......they look cool :shifty:
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Postby silversurfer1947 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:48 am

This is a Panzer III at Bovington.
DSC07342.JPG
DSC07342.JPG (36.64 KiB) Viewed 503 times
The accompanying information board did say that the cans would be removed before the tank went into combat.

So far as the Russians are concerned, back in the 1980s, I visited the Soviet Union over New Year, when the temperature was around -40. Road vehicles were functioning quite happily though. I remember passing a lorry park, where one or two trucks had fires lit under their fuel tanks. It was a trifle un-nerving to see.
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Postby Estnische » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:00 pm

Excellent and logical explanation HB!

And you're welcome. Although I was born here, my father's family is extremely grateful that first Germans and then Aussies shared their countries, when staying in Estonia was likely to result in a one-way trip to the Gulags.

So I'm only one step ahead of you.
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Postby Dusty Steppes » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:04 pm

In regards to diesel engines, my truck has glow plugs. You turn the ignition on and wait for the indicator on the dash to turn off and then start it up. And for those really cool winter nights in Wisconsin when the temperature drops to -30 it has a block heater that I can plug in to keep the engine warm.

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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:32 pm

Dusty Steppes wrote:In regards to diesel engines, my truck has glow plugs. You turn the ignition on and wait for the indicator on the dash to turn off and then start it up. And for those really cool winter nights in Wisconsin when the temperature drops to -30 it has a block heater that I can plug in to keep the engine warm.

Oh yeah, forgot about waiting for the light to go out, so must automatically heat up the plugs.
And as for cool winter nights, there's nothing cool about minus thirty lol.

Yes, thank you Herman, that really makes sense.
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Postby Tiggr » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:09 pm

Interesting thread this, thanks Guys. :thumbup:
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Postby dgsselkirk » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:58 pm

The Russians had a release mechanism inside the tank to drop their fuel tanks before battle. If you look at pictures of destroyed T34's you don't see the fuel canisters on them on very many. The reason you see fuel cans on tanks in pictures is the pictures were generally not taken in the heat of battle. Pictures are normally taken behind the lines by crew or propaganda photographers. They might be on their way to the front about to go into battle and therefore carry as much fuel as possible so they can top up before they actually enter the front lines. Just before moving in for attack you generally would lager and drop drop off canisters, truck fuel tankers etc. to create a refueling point.

Having shot 50cal tracer at 45 gallon drums I can tell you it may not be an explosion but it is one hell of a fireball! There is always some air inside a fuel tank or Jerry Can generally...

A lot of jerry cans you see on German tanks are actually for water. Look for the white stripes...
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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:07 pm

Nope, can't see any white crosses. . . . ;)
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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:17 pm

But I did find a battle ready T 34 minus the fuel tanks.
Image

I did wonder if any captured Russian tanks had the fuel tanks removed by the Germans, thanks for clearing that up about releasing the tanks before battle Mr dgsselkirk :thumbup:
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Postby RobW » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:23 pm

A lot of the T34/76's didn't carry the extra fuel drums. It seems to become common practice with the T34/85's later on. Maybe the earlier tanks didn't need to be driven very far before combat given the defensive battles earlier on? You rarely see an image of the KV-1 with extra fuel tanks, but they're common on JS series.

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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:51 pm

Have an 85 with no external fuel tanks after battle then, gosh, some people are so fussy. . . .
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Postby dgsselkirk » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:29 pm

Son of a gun-ner wrote:Nope, can't see any white crosses. . . . ;)
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Probably one of the most famous pics...

Jerry water cans.JPG
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Postby Ad Lav » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:31 pm

American tank had white crosses too.

I'm not sure Tanks would always have chance to remove them prior to battle?
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Postby dgsselkirk » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:32 pm

Love this pic,

"Alright Corporal, Capt. says get a count on these Jerry Cans"
Jerry water cans 2.JPG
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Postby Ad Lav » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:33 pm

For those thirsty Sherman's :)
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