Mystery Tank?

Spotted over at Defense Tech:

Mystery Tank on Train

For more images and discussion, see: Name That Mystery Tank: M1A3 Prototype?

Murdoc has trouble believing that this is anything major. We’ll see.


  1. In the words of Elaine, “Fake, Fake, Fake.”

    It’s a completely nonsensical design, with huge, theoretically heavy portions suspended in mid air. The camouflage is ridiculous. It was chained to the rail car by amateurs. No piece of serious military equipment would ever be transported that way. There are no sensors or antennas anywhere. The sides look like tool bins cut off multiple F-350 dually commercial service trucks, cut and welded together. The huge drive socket on the front makes no sense. Nobody is making stuff bigger and bulkier these days.

    I vote for movie prop.

    1. Whether it’s real or not, that drive sprocket is the same as on the current M1’s. It’s not at the front of the vehicle, but the rear. The M1 rotates its turret to the rear for road march and transport, as do most tanks, so that the barrel doesn’t extend as far outside the dimensions of the hull as it would if it were pointed to the front of the vehicle. The tie-downs don’t look unusual, either. You’re right about the rest, though. Whatever this is, it’s definitely not operational.

  2. Yeah, everyone calm down — it’s an old, old technology demonstrator.

    M1E3 hasn’t been green-lighted even for technology development yet, though hopefully a decision will be made to start the program by the end of this year.

  3. It’s real, not the CATTB but a testbed for a 140mm cannon and auto-loader I believe.

    Back when the godless commie hordes were supposedly going to roll out a new tank in the 1990s we wanted to get this 140mm NATO cannon ready for them.

    1. The US and Germany concluded from that project that a 140mm gun was a meaningless gesture. It cut the main gun ammo in an M1 or a Leopard 2 down to less than 30 rounds, it was back-breaking to load, the recoil stressed the already massive turrets of said tanks, and ammo supply trains couldn’t carry reloads into the field fast enough to cope with the small (and rapidly-dwindling) supply of ammo fast enough.

      There were enough misgivings as it was over the switch from 105mm to 120mm shells. Consider that a full supply train carries 2000lbs of main gun rounds, which is 400 120mm shells. For he same weight and volume, 720 105mm shells could be carried by the same vehicles instead.

      Also, the Soviets played with the idea of a similarly-sized 135mm gun in the 1970s, and came to the same conclusions we did. That’s why no production Soviet MBT ever had a bigger gun than the 125mm 2A46.

      Furthermore, the “threat” used to justify the existence of a 140mm gun project was a BALD-FACED LIE… but that’s another story in itself.

      1. Well it seems the “T-95” program has limped on up until recently when the Russians decided it didn’t suit their needs. Rumor has it the T-95 was supposed to have a 135mm or 152mm gun, and indeed the Soviets tested such a 152mm gun on a prototype back in the 1980s.

        The Russians have been very secretive about the T-95 however, so nothing is certain. The design canceled recently may be a significantly different tank from whatever they were working on back in the late 80s and early 90s.

        I don’t believe the US ever planned to use the 140mm gun without an autoloader or on the Abrams. I believe it was planned to be the armament of the Block III MBT.

        Once nice thing about the XM291 cannon is the fact that it could easily be converted to fire 120mm ammunition. The XM291 has supposedly been used to test ETC technology and is said to be the gun seen on the M8 “Thunderbolt” technology demonstrator. The 140mm line of development has not been pursued however, and there seems no reason to do so at this time.

        Back on the subject of this ATAC prototype, I believe they used this vehicle to test the 140mm gun before they got the money to finish up the CATTB with everything they wanted on it.

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