Thursday 3 July 2014

Hatch of Heroes

Until 1939, Soviet tanks had no exit hatches on the bottom of the tank. The BT-7M was the first to have such an escape method. However, it wasn't exactly perfect. See if you can find out why!

"Trials of A-7 and A-7M tanks.

Objective: determine the convenience and time required to escape from the tank using the lower hatch near the driver's seat.

Time and place: August 22nd, 1939, plant "540"

Methodology: the crew, located inside the tank with all hatches open, receives the "exit!" command, and leaves through the lower hatch, disconnecting the brake line. The crew (3 men) take one DT machinegun, two backpacks with magazines, and the bipod when leaving the tank.

Before leaving the tank, the crew performs preliminary procedures, consisting of:
  1. Placing the disk magazines in backpacks.
  2. Readying the DT machinegun.
  3. Opening the hatch.
  4. Disconnecting the brake line.
Time to exit the tank is recorded with a timer.

Results: three men exited and entered the tank through the lower hatch, without disconnecting the brake line. The tank crew was wearing overalls on top of tunics. Time required for each stage is recorded in the table.

Operation Time (minutes) Notes
Packing disk magazines 0.5

Unscrewing hatch bolts 11.3

Exit through the hatch of three men with DT machinegun and two backpacks with magazines 1.3

Closing the hatch from the inside 13.5 The rubber lining of the hatch was removed, as its presence interferes with replacing the hatch.

  1. In summer time, it is possible to exit the tank without disconnecting the brake line.
  2. The time it takes to exit the tank (13.1 minutes) must be reduced to the minimum by adjusting the design of the attachment of the hatch.
  3. The liner must be redesigned so that it stays in place when the hatch is opened."

Of course, there are other things you can use that hatch for.

"Lieutenant [Azobkov] drove his tank over the trench where the surviving soldiers were hiding, and started thinking. How do you get them out of their hole in the ground? Lieutenant Azobkov came up with a creative solution. He opened the emergency hatch, hung out of it, and started shooting the Germans with his Nagant. Those that tried to escape were killed with the tank machinegun. Having killed the ten soldiers from the trench, the Lieutenant grabbed a box of German mines, some documents, closed the hatch, and continued the attack."

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