Could I put a nuclear reactor in a "Ratte" tank?

Some of you may know of the (unbuilt) Nazi Panzer concept, the P-1000 “Ratte,” a 1000+ ton, 35 meter-long, 50-odd crew juggernaut. As designed, it would have used U-boat engines (as few as 2, to as many as 8, depending on type) to generate the 16000+ horsepower needed to get the beast moving.

Okay, here’s my angle on it…would it be possible, starting today, with no limits on cost, to build the Ratte with a nuclear reactor for an engine? My calculations, such as they are, are telling me that 16000 horsepower is equivilant to about 12 megawatts of energy, if I’m not bungling or fundamentally misunderstanding it. (Which isn’t unlikely.)

The only requirments I’d have are that the reactor shielding not be so lax that it would kill the crew. (Full shielding would be welcome, but not required.)

So, I ask you…would it be possible to build a nuclear Panzer? Or are any reactors powerful enough to drive it either too big, or too heavy, to install in the existing chassis?

Well reactors fit in the body of a sub without killing the crew and your hypothetical tank is going to be pretty darn big. IIRC the soviet union had a few nuclear powered train engines/locomotives so it sounds possible?

I’d be worried about cooling the reactor. Submarines are immersed in a giant reservoir of relatively low-temperature fluid with high heat capacity, and your tank is not going to have that luxury. You’re going to need to cart around a lot of coolant fluid, and a very heavy heat sink and/or radiator. You’ll also need to tap some of your power to run the coolant pump and compressor. Maybe once we get small sealed transportable autonomous reactors you can make a go of it, but I suspect that even with the smallest reactor you can make, you’ll end up building a road-mobile self-propelled reactor that happens to be armor-plated and carry a few guns.

I brought up some of the problems posed by a nuclear powered tank in this similar thread.

Just a small quip, It’s sort of an urban legend that the Israeli Merkava “carries infantry in the back”. It CAN do this(carry a few infantrymen rather uncomfortably in space usually used to store ammo) but that’s not what the rear door/compartment was designed for. The Merkava is unique among tanks in that it’s engine and fuel tanks are in the front, instead of the back. This affords the crew greater protection and also allows a door in the back of the hull so that the crew can escape from behind the tank, as well as resupply their ammunition without exposing themselves to fire from the front. Most other tanks are accessed from the top, which is a rather hairy propsition when there air is filling with lead.

I don’t think the turbine engines are really as bad as G2mil makes them out to be. There are significant advantages to using it. I.e. very high PW ratio, ease of powerpack replacement, mechanical simplicity and reliability. Driving a 60 ton armoured vehicle cross country pretty much ensures that you’re going to have a massive supply tail anyway, for spare parts, ammo, maintainance, etc. So I’m dubious as to how much of an advantage switchting to diesel would be.

So I am I the only doper to read John Ringo? Pebble bed reactors, baby, peble bed.

The horsepower requirements would most likely be lower than what you’ve posted. Electric motors don’t have a torque curve like IC engines do, so you wouldn’t need gobs of HP to get that baby moving. Or you could ditch the electric motors and simply feed the steam from the reactor to steam engines (which also don’t have torque curves).

True. Though I’d hope to give the Nuke Ratte more effective power than the original design, to boost the performance. (It would have had a designed top “road speed”—and good luck finding the roads—of 25 mph.)

No, you’re not. :sunglasses:

And, considering that there was at least one US plan for a nuclear powered aircraft, pebble bed reactors aren’t the only solution. (The best one currently available, IMNSHO, but not the only one.)

I have nothing to add, except that when I saw the sketches I was immediately reminded of the Ogre Mk V, which is powered by a nuke plant.

It’s also smarter than your high school science teacher and better armored.

I should hope so. My high school science teacher got a paper cut! :smiley:

Yeah, but I think that in the case of electric and steam 1 HP is equal to a 100 HP IC power plant because of the amount of torque being produced. Even it’s not that extreme the performance boost is pretty significant, and being able to launch off the line quicker means you’ll get up to top speed quicker. Besides, if your opponent knows that your tank’s got a reactor in it, he may not want to shoot at it for fear of irradiating himself. :eek: