A 62-ton beast that rides like a motorcycle and sounds like a jet plane

This is the driver station of an M1 Abrams tank and the impressive start of its engine

The American M1 Abrams is undoubtedly one of the best tanks in the world. It has four crew members: commander, gunner, loader and driver.

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While the rest of the crew rides in the turret,the driver of the M1 Abrams sits in a very reclining position at the front of the barge, just forward of the turret. When the barrel is facing forward, the driver has a hole to open his hatch and stick his head out.

The driver of a US Army 4th Infantry Division M1A2 Abrams tank during an inspection at Fort Carson, Colorado (Photo: US Army).

Usually, the driver keeps his hatch closed and looks ahead through three small periscopes (one looking straight ahead and two towards the front corners of the tank), which give him a viewing angle of 120 degrees. Also, an infrared visor can be installed in the driver's hatch for driving in low visibility conditions. This IR visor reduces the viewing angle to 60 degrees.

The cockpit of an M1A2 Abrams tank. At the top of the photo is the driver's access door to the turret (Photo: Rocketumblr).

Drivers prefer to drive with the hatch open as it is more comfortable, but this is highly restricted in the US Army. The driver's seat allows you to recline in different ways, depending on whether you are driving with your head out or with the hatch closed. When the gun is in the stowed position (i.e. rear-facing), the driver does not have space to exit through his hatch, so he has has access to the turret. This means that when an Abrams is stowed, the driver has to access his position from the turret (in fact, the driver's hatch can only be opened from the inside).

A driver of a US Marine M1A1 Abrams inside the cockpit (Photo: Business Insider).

One of the peculiarities of the Abrams compared to other tanks is that it is driven with a control very similar to that of a motorcycle, next to which are the gears. It is curious to see such a command for a beast that weighs 62 tons (in the case of the M1A2). As I already showed you here in 2014, the Leopard 2 has a steering wheel instead.

The driver station of an M1A2 Abrams tank. At the top of the photo is the driver's access door to the turret (Photo: Rocketumblr).

If you want to know what the impressive ignition of an M1 Abrams engine is like, a year ago StrangeSouI posted this interesting video showing him from the driver's seat:

In this other video you can see and hear how the ignition is from the outside:

Certainly the sound of the Abrams resembles that of an airplane. That's because it's powered by a Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine. Unlike the Abrams, the sound of a Leopard 2 starting is more like that of a truck:


Main photo: US Army. An M1A2 Abrams tank during an exercise at Fort Irwin, California.

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