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Steam engine for tanks

goose

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I have read that the Germans experimented with steam power for their Panzers in ww2. I expect that the multi-fuel nature of this technology was attactive to the Germans when they started to run out of petrol. Steam engines can produce high torque at low speeds, an attactive feature for a tank engine. Does anyone have any more info and has any post war development taken place?
 

Jemiba

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Somewhat straying aside, armoured steam driven vehicles were already used around 1900 by the Boer
Army in South Africa. Fowler steam tractors, whith 5mm armour plating, were used for towing guns or
armoured personal carriers. (from V.E.G. magazine).
German interest in steam power for tanks may have been triggered by the experiences with steam motors
in locomotives, as in 1940 the first German steam motor locomotive (BR 19) was built and tested.
 

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goose

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great link-thanks guys. I can't help thinking that a steam engine would be better than a gas turbine for a MBT, probably not possable due to the lack of invesment in this technology verses the vast backing of the areo industry. Also steam engines have an image problem-never mind that nuclear subs/power plants are steam engines!
 

xiaofan

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This may be off topice. In North Korea due to fuel shortages so a lot of trucks been re-engine with a steam engine.
 

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Rickshaw

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goose said:
great link-thanks guys. I can't help thinking that a steam engine would be better than a gas turbine for a MBT, probably not possable due to the lack of invesment in this technology verses the vast backing of the areo industry. Also steam engines have an image problem-never mind that nuclear subs/power plants are steam engines!

As the article I linked to suggests, it was a combination of oil-company propaganda and perceived images of it being "old fashioned" which prevented it being explored more fully. I think though that what advantages could be picked up on the swings with steam power versus gas-turbine powered tanks would be lost on the roundabouts, as we say downunder. While gas-turbines are powerful, they are fuel hungry. External combustion engines like steam are as powerful and more economical but they require adequate supplies of (clean) water to continue to function. So the logistics load would not necessarily be any smaller. The article contains some intriguing pointers to alternatives to gas turbines (and internal combustion engines as well) which could be developed to high power outputs in very small packages.
 

CJGibson

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Would a large tank such as a Maus make more sense if steam-powered? Plenty of space for water and coal.

Chris
 

Jemiba

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xiaofan said:
This may be off topice. In North Korea due to fuel shortages so a lot of trucks been re-engine with a steam engine.

I think, those trucks aren't powered by steam engines, but were converted to use wood gas, where wood is heated
without supplying oxygen, so prodicing wood gas in a similar way to producing main gas from coal.
 

Hobbes

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External combustion engines like steam are ... more economical

Are they? A big problem in external combustion engines is the heat losses from the boiler and piping. By 1950, diesels to over the last stronghold of the steam engine (trains) because diesels were cheaper to run, even though diesel was the upstart technology, and less mature than steam.
 

Thiel

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I think the steam engines biggest advantage over diesel is that it remains efficient across a much wider range of revolutions unlike diesel which is highly efficient in a narrow band outside of which it drops off quickly.
 

Hobbes

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That's only true if the load on the engine (and consequently the amount of steam you'll need) is predictable. In city traffic, the rapid load variations mean you'll have to produce enough steam to satisfy peak demand, and vent the excess when idling. In combat, you need to be able to move quickly at a moment's notice, so you're again running the boiler at a high rate and venting off the excess.

To add some data to the mix:
LNER class A4 (Mallard). Tractive effort 35 klbs/158 kN
Weight 167 t, including a 64-t tender. I couldn't find how much coal goes in the tender, but I'd be surprised if it came to less than 10 tons.

Deltic: Tractive effort 30 klbf/136 kN continuous.
Fuel load: 4100 l.
Assuming they have a similar range, that's twice the fuel needed by the steam loco.
 

Rickshaw

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Hobbes said:
External combustion engines like steam are ... more economical

Are they? A big problem in external combustion engines is the heat losses from the boiler and piping. By 1950, diesels to over the last stronghold of the steam engine (trains) because diesels were cheaper to run, even though diesel was the upstart technology, and less mature than steam.

Depends upon the design. Traditional boilers do have problems with heat losses. There are though now means to recover heat and of course, improved insulation methods, while boiler-less systems don't have the same problems at all.

I was referring though to manner in which the fuel is utilised. As I mentioned, water tankage is more of a problem with most steam designs than fuel bunkerage.
 

Taranov

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Steam engine for KV-1 and IS tanks, project, 1943-44 dated.
 

aemann

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Steam tanks? Yikes... speaking as a fully qualified steam locomotive fireman (more on that story later!) I can all kinds of reasons why it's a bad idea. Quite right that fuel isn't the problem, but water is; much of the job of the fireman, who's the bloke on an engine who manages all the consumables and the fire, is keeping an eye on the water. Once you either run out of water, or lose the ability to get water into the boiler it's game over. Steam engines, as a rule, operate in fairly benign environments, with ready access to water, or the possibility of knocking the fire out or running away if it all goes wrong. It doesn't look like they were considering boilerless designs, so all the innate problems of regular boilers would apply.

Towards the end of steam on railways, they got to be very efficient, and the low-end torque was phenomenal, but I suspect that's mostly down to clever valve gear design and gearing. Still, I wouldn't want to be crew in a steam tank!
 

Wim

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Jemiba said:
xiaofan said:
This may be off topice. In North Korea due to fuel shortages so a lot of trucks been re-engine with a steam engine.

I think, those trucks aren't powered by steam engines, but were converted to use wood gas, where wood is heated
without supplying oxygen, so prodicing wood gas in a similar way to producing main gas from coal.
I think that way. In 1987, I saw similar machines in Romania, just bevor the collapse of the regime of Ceauscescu.
Wim
 

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Taranov said:
Steam engine for KV-1 and IS tanks, project, 1943-44 dated.

Can you interpret the drawing for me, please? What exactly are we looking at except some hatched lines over the outline of some sort of engine shape?

Do you have any further information on the project? I'd be interested in reading about.
 

Taranov

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2 versions of engine.
Designed in 1943-44 in Kazakhstan, initially for KV-1, later for IS-2. As i know, never built. 400-450 hp.
 

Grey Havoc

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xiaofan said:
This may be off topice. In North Korea due to fuel shortages so a lot of trucks been re-engine with a steam engine.

I wonder if they have, or indeed still are, carrying out work on steam turbines for their tanks and AFVs? It would seem to be a logical avenue for research.
 

Grey Havoc

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Going a bit OT for a moment:

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/motorcycle-driven-by-steam-operates-almost-noiselessly/
 

Iron Felix

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In Kolomna at 1936 constructed 600 HP machine, projected variant of T-35, named a PT-35 with this engine.
Other project - heavy tank, constructes by engineer Troyanov, two-carriage, with two 1500 HP engines, two 152 mm guns on carriages and 203 mm gun on central platform.
...
WW1 projects with heavy track base with steam engines, engineers Behterev and Dubelir:
Locomotive, two-carriages, two boilers and four steam machines, full power 650 HP, weight 82 tons, traction - three platforms with full weight 200 tons, with load to 180 tons:
_тяга 06 01.jpg
Truck, also two-carriage, but, one boiler and two machines, 325 HP, load to 50 tons + traction of platforms:
i_045.jpg
And, tracks, with wooden "boots":
i_046.jpg
It's a potential base for tanks or other heavy vehicles.
 

Wyvern

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The US did experiment with steam powered tanks during and in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. At the time, steam was chosen as steam engines were the most powerful engines of the time. The main problem with a steam engine is that it requires loads of fuel (mainly coal) and water, which are both extremely heavy, besides the actual weight of the boiler, which itself is extremely heavy. This would make the tank a huge target, besides the fact that it would be terribly slow and vulnerable to enemy fire, plus, it wouldn't be able to cross certain terrain, as a smaller, lighter gas powered tank would.
 

Rickshaw

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You are thinking a train engine. Most vehicle designs were lighter, having smaller steam pipes which were full of water instead of a large water boiler that was full of water. Naval designs for steam engines underwent radical designs in the late 18th/early 19th centuries and were considerably lighter.
 

Wyvern

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Oh, my mistake then. But it would still be heavier than an internal combustion engine, right?
 

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Wyvern, I'm guessing from your handle you are British. For some reason, British and American steam road vehicle thought diverged swiftly. Britain seemed to proceed with coal fired trucks, while America went for liquid fueled cars. As a consequence, the boilers were smaller and more efficient at the tradeoff of expense and complexity.
 

Wyvern

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No, I'm not British, but when it comes to information on steam, it's mainly British that I know of.
 

Rickshaw

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Post #2 links to an excellent article in fact the only article that I am aware of in English devoted the subject.
 

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