How to stop a stolen tank?

I was reading about the Shawn Nelson tank rampage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Nelson_(San_Diego_Tank_Rampage)

Apparently the police got lucky because he both managed to get stuck on a central reservation and left the hatch unsecured so he was vulnerable. My question is that if these things hadn’t happened or someone else decided to take a tank for a drive how would it be stopped?

The wikipedia suggests that consideration was given to calling in an anti-tank helicopter but I imagine the authorities would be relucatant to use such destructive weapons in a public place. Though of course if it was that or significent casualities in letting it continue I suppose there wouldn’t be much choice.

Do not need answer fast.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=754338

Previous thread I started on the subject, had some really good responses.

Heck, it’s hard to stop a homemade tank:

Marvin Heemeyer

I think that thread answers it pretty completely. Especially my answer of course.

Sure you can “call in” an attack helicopter. Where is the closest unit? Helicopters are not hangered armed. In fact the ammunition is stored in ammo supply points usually near the ranges. Hellfires are not stacked up ready to go at a moments notice. In general those working at the ASP work only during the day and often just Monday to Friday. Units coordinate ahead of time to get their ammo. Bottom line is it will take a lot of time to get an armed helicopter there even with the highest authorization

Thank you!

Thanks, I’d actually forgotten about that incident.

I don’t think you really need an apache or cobra, I imagine that more than one javelin equipped national guard unit, that you can have private snuffy hanging outside a police chopper or a blackhawk.

The backblast is going to be a real bitch, though.

Get a couple of Caterpillar D9s to push some cars in its path, dig up the road or, if necessary, block it with their shovels.

My guesses all revolve around big equipment, that would be readily available in a Urban environment.

Or attacking the tracks. That would include jamming construction materials into the tracks, or use of industrial explosives from a nearby contractor.

Note, this assumed the tank is JUST driving, not shooting. Also I know jack shit about what could or couldn’t spoil a tank track. Do you need a 2x4 or a big piece of steel? I have no clue, but I’m betting it would need to be steel or better.

Ever swatted a moth?

An Abrams weighs more than those dinky Cats and can hit 45 mph.

While it won’t actually do all that much damage to the tank, dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire will make it very unpleasant for whoever is inside. The fire removes oxygen, and makes it quite hot inside.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov_cocktail

How do you stop a bad guy with a tank? Good guys with tanks.

Same issue you have with getting armed helicopters. National Guard units don’t store live ordinance at their armories. Live ordinance will be at the nearest active duty post that has ranges for long distance heavy weapons. Tightly controlled with a system of distribution designed for use with long range coordination. I’m sure the red tape could be cut through but not instantly.

Construction equipment is extremely slow compared to a modern tank.

Isn’t it mostly just waiting for the tank to run out of fuel? If that guy hadn’t gotten stuck on an embankment, I’m guessing they would have just continued to follow it in it’s wake of destruction until he ran out of gas.

At that point, can you disable the tracks with well placed grenades? Wait him out? Call in the heavy weapons?

An Abrams gets about .6 mpg so it’s burning fuel quickly. On the other hand it has a 500 gallon fuel capacity. You are going to be waiting a long time.

As I said in the other thread, the Abrams has a handle on the right side which sets off its fire suppression system. If you are willing to drive up close enough to a tank going 45mpg that can swerve and turn you into a pancake and pull the handle you’ll be the hero.

Javelin is a ground-based man-portable system, fired from the shoulder of the operator. It’s not designed to be fired from an aerial platform. It’s soft-launch feature isn’t compatible with launching through the combined rotor wash and slipstream of a helicopter in flight, it’s guidance system is designed to be fired from a stationary position, and it’s possible the ESAF system would not even initiate the flight motor due to the missile’s acceleration profile being well outside it’s design limits.

As already noted, munitions like Javelins, AT4s, tank main gun rounds, and the like aren’t stored in National Guard armories around the nation. That sort of stuff is stored only on major bases, with multiple levels of authorization necessary to be drawn from storage and issued. Even with proper authorization, ammunition issue of any sort is not an expedient process at military bases in the US, as any veteran who has spent time standing by to stand by at an Ammo Supply Point will attest to.

Thanks pool for bringing up that thread I know I posted in but am not going to read through for what I did or didn’t already cover.

Prevention is a great way to stop it. I actually watched that incident on the news sitting in the dining facility at Gowen Field where my National Guard tank company was going through New Equipment Transition (NET) training from the M60A3 to the M1. As soon as we got home from NET our full time staff had to implement the new prevention steps for our home station M60A3. Let’s just say getting into the tank, flipping the fuel pumps on and pressing the big start button, no longer was enough to start the tank. Since the tools for the tanks were stored inside, the potential thief also needed to bring along the right tools to fix the things that were disconnected. That’s if they could even figure out the problem.

An effective tank ditch is deep, wide, and time consuming to dig. The cardinal rule of obstacles for defensive planning is always cover them with fire. Otherwise they just get bypassed. Someone who isn’t aware might try and stop themselves. A tank ditch is a prettyimposing obstacle to just assume you can cross even if you don’t know better.

Cars - You just described a common tanker wet dream. :smiley: An untrained tank thief who doesn’t know better might think they are obstacles. At best that suffers the same limits as other obstacles. At worst they try one and get their misconceptions very quickly corrected.

Heavy equipment would at least be more durable than cars. (Great, new wet dreams for me!) I can see some options for screwing up and throwing tracks since there are bits that won’t crush as easily or quickly. The overriding issue with obstacles is still there.

I’ve seen tanks chew up and spit out the end of trees (knocked over by another tank :D) and the ends of steel pickets that got into their tracks. On an Abrams you really need to get something to feed up into the rear sprocket that is both big enough and durable enough to survive until it feed to the critical point where the sprocket applies power to the track. It would really help if the driver cooperated by making the wrong choice at the same time. A lot of concertina wire can sometimes work. Again it helps if the driver cooperates to increase the chance the wire gets caught and starts wrapping up around the rear sprocket… Note - I was vague about driver actions that impact keeping the track on. That’s intentional.

While the Molotov cocktail was put to good use against tanks in the Spanish Civil war, Finland, and even as late as the Soviet incursion into Hungary it was largely ineffective by the Soviet incursion into Czechoslovakia. If it can’t ignite something else in the system, or directly leak in to burn inside, it’s not particularly effective

I’m extremely skeptical, especially of the heat concept. The Abrams has a fuel hungry turbine. While a lot of the heat heads out the back in the exhaust there’s still a lot heat dumped into the hull. The back deck heats up significantly and can be dry during operations even during a light rain. I’ve seen the results of a crew that stopped and started preparing to sleep on the back deck after a long move without letting things cool down. A foam sleeping pad started to melt. When you are firing there’s a lot of heat that gets dumped directly into the crew compartment. I just don’t see something like a quart of gasoline, applied to the outside of a massive heat sink with lots of external airflow making much difference to the internal temps.

A single Molotov isn’t going to pull that much oxygen either IMO. As long as the tank is buttoned up most of the oxygen it’s pulling should be from the easiest source, outside. It’s not consuming as much oxygen as a typical shot from a flamethrower when those were still in service. The target is also mobile exposing it to lots of new air. Again, Molotov’s largely faded as effective in historical usage against post WWII designed tanks.

Did I mention prevention. Stopping a tank rampage is best done by never letting it start. An ounce of prevention beats 68 tons of rampaging death Winnebago.

I always thought the authorities over reacted on this one. If I remember correctly, no one was injured. Sure there was some destruction. But, a grenade down the hatch was difficult for me to swallow.

Why not gas? smoke? Bad pizza?

But they store tanks there?

They didn’t use a grenade.

A tank in the motor pool doesn’t present the same explosion or fire risks. It’s about as risky as any of the other wheeled vehicles…until someone goes batshit and succeeds in stealing it.

IME it is one tank from the company at home station. That allows hands on training inside the turret for some basic individual and crew level tasks without a long trip to the training site where the rest are stored to support field training.