The Missing Link?

The search for a light tank to accompany airborne troops continues at the Pentagon. The Marines will want one if it will float. And because things need to be “joint” the R&D process will be endlessly debated, supported by forests of paper. Careers will be made as prototypes are tested and then rejected. That’s how things work.

Then there are the Beltway Bandits, being paid a stream of money to design the ultimate light tank from your tax dollars.

It is reinventing the wheel. The M-551, created by General Motors, which failed to meet expectations, was an example of how a tank can’t be all things to all people – and turns out to be even less than that.

The caseless ammunition was not ready for service and was a constant risk of failing and/or killing everyone in the tank.

Firing the main gun broke the missiles’ electronics.

There was a 200m dead zone between the maximum range of the gun firing as a cannon and the minimum range of the missiles.

Firing the main gun could break the commander’s ribs if he was improperly braced.

If, when switching from missile fire to conventional cannon fire, a twiddly switch wasn’t flicked the breach would tear open the shell propellant and scatter it all over the interior of the turret

Heavy machine-gun fire could penetrate the aluminum armor

Installing the 152mm M81 gun on the Sheridan didn’t work out

The Army required a tank small and light enough to be para-dropped, with enough firepower to defeat the frontal armor of a T-62. Since a long-barrelled, high-velocity gun would be too heavy to fit within the Sheridan’s maximum weight, the Army came up with an interesting idea: a low velocity, large-caliber, smoothbore gun with a short barrel.

In a fire-support role, the Sheridan was a valuable asset. It fired a 22kg HE shell that worked well against soft targets. The M-551  threw heavy-howitzer HE rounds in direct fire.

M657A2 HE-T fired by the Sheridan

Because the tank’s gun was so large, and the tank itself so small, reloading the gun took over 30 seconds, a death sentence for your tank and the infantry you’re supposed to support.

The gun’s breech occupied most of the turret’s interior

In an anti-tank role, its M409A1 HEAT round dropped “like a rock” at range. It also had the unpleasant tendency of bouncing off against the sloped frontal armor of T-55 and T-62 tanks.

Those problems were supposed to be solved with the MGM-51 Shillelagh ATGM. However, the missile was so unreliable that it was never issued to Sheridan units serving in Vietnam. It suffered from a slew of design problems: the propellant charge and igniter only worked half the time, the infrared guidance system was unreliable, the missile’s electronics were often damaged during firing, etc.

MGM-51 Shillelagh, ambitious project ahead of its time

Of the 80.000+ missiles delivered to the US Army, only a handful were ever fired in combat (during Desert Storm).


Platters to Consider

If you’re going to talk tanks, you should never do it on an empty stomach.


Schmeisser-Bergmann M-1893 handguns

Designed by Otto Brauwetter and Louis Schmeisser in 1892 and manufactured by Bergmanns Industriewerke GmbH in 1893,  they fired a 7.5mm Swiss revolver cartridge, five-round en-bloc clip loaded through a sliding side-plate, delayed blowback semi-automatic.

This was one of the very first self-loading pistol designs that made it into production.


Crime and Punishment in the Royal Navy

Times have changed. In some American cities if you’re black, you get a pass on shoplifting, knocking over jewelry stores – more or less anything. Then progs are shocked when the crime statistics come out.

There was a time when thieves were punished (note the scrimshaw below).

What is interesting here is his punishment. Because he is being hanged here. Normally, a thief was punished by flogging and wearing a sign saying thief for at least 6 months.

Or he had to run the gauntlet, which meant that a lieutenant led the person with a saber pointed to his chest, while a second or a marine prevented him from running away from behind with a saber or bayonet. He then had to pass his comrades, who were then allowed to beat him.


“I don’t Work for You”

It turns out that Biden was 100% correct. He doesn’t work for America or Americans. The Chinese or the Ukrainians can get something out of him by buying Hunter’s paintings.


  1. Interesting juxtaposition; DJT worked for America, hard, often 16 hours a day. We benefitted and the “they” hated him, doing everything to discredit him. This cretinous empty suit Dementia patient with a penchant for groping little girls, works for China, or more accurately mostly doesn’t work at all. He is protected and coddled.

    The larger enemy is from within, and inside of 9 months with them dully in power America is suffering to the point of daily distraction, even going so far beyond the pale as to demand we inject some unknown poison into our bodies or lose our jobs. Curious when the pressure point will be reached and what that may look like.

        • Maybe if he’d had one more booster he’d have been fine.

          I had high hopes that General Powell would have been something more than he turned out to be. He was a swamp creature of the first order.

          I hope that he enjoys his new home.

          • From? With? Vax? Cancer? Like it matters. Apparently no one dies from old age anymore, 84 is not exactly premature…my family didn’t think I’d make it to 21, had my guardian angel working overtime.

            Voted for Obama, HRC, and Biden. He’ll know the truth now.

          • 84 is the new 24 if you are vaccinated – and boosted – and boosted. Maybe your skin will magically stretch back to 24? There is a lot of “magic” blended with science these days.

          • It is beyond an obsession, it is a religion. Powell had a blood cancer – multiple myeloma – which infects white blood cells, critical to fighting off infections.

            But…COVID! Yet, how many believe?

          • Powell should have been vaccinated against myeloma. There’s a lot of magic vaccines these days. It reminds me of an old-time medicine show with barkers on a wagon to get you to try some of Let’s Go Brandon’s magic jab.

  2. watched a sheridan burn in less parachute one day. it pancaked like a beer can under a tire and embedded a couple feet in the ground. raytheon spent a decade or so at ft.pickett trying to develop a replacement, or getting paid to do so anyway.

  3. What? Criminals punished? Even if they’re a POC? What fantasy land is this.

    I’m surprised Powell wasn’t exempt from the vax.

  4. Mid-70’s, West Germany. A unit received a new (at least to them) Sheridan and took it to the range. As I recall, they failed to remove some sort of packing/cushioning material in the turret. It being winter, the crew fired up the heater, which being surrounded by said material, promptly over heated and set said material in fire, which then cooked off the ammo. Don’t recall any fatalities, but a couple of the crew badly burned. Main gun tube came to rest 150 yards down range.

    While stopping by a sister maintenance company, I saw the pile of what was left. Stacks road wheels, and pieces of the hull that looked like a kid had torn up a cardboard box.

    • The tank had failings…

      But they still made a lot of them and put young Americans in them. And what do we make of that?

      You could argue that the Vietnam War (much like the more recent Afghan War) was of vital interest to the US and we had to send out the tanks because it was the “best we had”. Then again the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was staged (Wag the Dog style) to drag us into a war pursuant to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Social Security Fund was merged with the General Fund to help buy things like Sheridan Tanks. It all gets very sticky, doesn’t it?

  5. Those trays look like the ‘appetizer’ tray at County Line in Austin… A meal in itself!!!

    I saw a Bergmann pistol in Tulsa years ago in a display, but they said it was 8mm and an 1894, not 1893.

  6. The idea behind the Sheridan was and is a valid idea. Light, air-portable, armored gun platform.

    The M8 GMC, a M3/M5 Stuart with an open turret mounting a 75mm howitzer, is an example of a working version of the idea.

    A modernized M48 with a bigger gun (much like the upgunned Super Sherman) would have worked, mounting a modernized 105mm howitzer.

    Or even go with a modified M113, do a Razee (cut down hull) and uparmored and then go with a decent gun system. Maybe even do a 6-bogie extended hull, but basic M113 pieces parts to keep commonality.

    But no. Had to go totally weird. Dumbasses.

    And I seem to remember the Sheridan’s gun-system was originally designed for a support/missile version of the M60, where there was room for the ammo, enough mass in the vehicle to soak up the recoil, and there was worries that the 105mm gun normally carried by the M60 wasn’t good enough (though later versions of the 105mm were, and there were plans to mount the 120mm gun used in the Abrams.)

    It’s easy to design a new lightweight gun system. Simple, too. Take a current or future APC/IFV, remove the passenger component and some of the height, and then add a turret with a gun. Stick with a lower velocity howitzer and you can fire a bigger HE or HEAT load than a comparable high velocity gun system. So go with a modernized 105mm howitzer.

    See? How hard is that? A turreted next-gen Bradley with a turret mounting a current or next-gen 105mm gun. Badabing. Add some TOWs or Javelin launchers like on the Bradley, and Badabing Badaboom, there you go. Enough internal storage for a reasonable ammo load, enough armor to defeat light weapons, commonality of weapons.

    Really, how friggin hard is it to do this?

        • The move toward the Next AFV likely will include a laser and it will be an invisible stealth tank – and it will take 30 years to develop only to find that it doesn’t work. So the Beltway Bandit will have to start over.

          Sort of like the DDG 1000 Zumwalt and her sister ships.

          I read that is actually underway as we scrap the Bradley AFV.

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