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 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?