A 3,000-degree military heat gun?

The Washington Post ran an article today detailing the 101st Airborne Division’s preparations for a possible war with Iraq (article here). One of the things they’re doing is shrink-wrapping copters for transit and sealing them with 3,000 degree heat guns (see the third paragraph of the article).

Huh?!? 3,000 degrees! That can’t be right, can it? Surely someone was funning the reporter, or he added an extra zero to the figure by mistake. At that temperature, the helicopter would be molten slag, wouldn’t it? How could plastic possibly survive that? And what about the operator – how does one wield a 3,000 heat gun without becoming charcoal?

Here is a table of melting points for some metals. Suffice it to say that not many metals are still solid at that temperature. Even if the copter were made entirely of titanium (unlikely, though I’m sure that exotic metal is utilized somewhere in military copters), 3,000 degrees comes within 200 degrees of melting it. That’s cutting it a little close for comfort.

So, does the military really use 3,000 degree heat guns to seal the shrink wrap around their copters?

D’oh. This was supposed to be a general question. I’ll post there; mods, please feel free to delete this.

3,000 degrees DOES seem excessive, but there’s a difference between the temperature that a metal needs to reach in order to melt and the amount of heat being put out by a “heat gun.” In order to for something to change phase (e.g., melt) or burn, etc, it needs to reach a certain temperature. For example, when you boil water on a gas stove, the flame under the water is certainly well over 100 degrees Celsius, but the water does not instantly boil - it needs to be heated for a while. The more water (or any material) that you have, the more heat it requires to reach the temperature necessary to change phase or ignite.

So, though I don’t know any specifics involved, I find it plausible that the very brief exposure to this level of heat would not damage a chopper. If the exposure is for any significant length of time though, bye-bye…

And um, Stark, you shouldn’t do that. Actually, just plain don’t. It’s called cross-posting and isn’t allowed here. I got yelled at by a mod once for suggesting it (actually, just firmly told, don’t do that or we will spank you;)).

If a mod decides this post is better suited to GQ, he’ll move it there for you.

Oh no! It’s too late! He already crossed the posts. Does this mean all matter in the universe will instantly explode outward at the speed of light? [/ghostbusters]