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View Full Version : Can you legally buy, own, and even operate a TANK?


No Wikipedia Cites
08-07-2008, 01:22 PM
In the U.S., i heard that a sherman tank (WWII vintage) went for $28,000 at auction.

Is there any law or regulation that prohibits people from owning and using tanks? Can they be driven on the public roads, like you see those construction vehicles? Can they be fired -- after all, you can fire a rifle on your own property right?

SO Is there anything besides the money needed for a WWII lover to start his own armored column?

ntcrawler
08-07-2008, 01:43 PM
They are practically streek-legal in the UK (http://tankdriving.co.uk/keywordsearch.asp?searchterms=tank+driving+experiences)

I saw a special on television showing a group driving a tank through the streets of London. I have heard cases of private individuals owning tanks in the United States, including Illinois. Depending on the jurisdiction (forget about Chicago city-proper) it's possible, but somewhat complicated. I.e. you have to register with the local police force, the barrel must be plugged up with concrete, etc. There is an interesting group of people in this country that collect, restore, operate, or just decorate their yards with all sorts of interesting large equipment, including everything from cement trucks to airport tugs and tankers. Tanks aren't too far off. Of course they tend to live in places where they don't have to deal with homeowner's associations or nosy neighbors complaining that the satellite dish is an eye-sore. :)

While driving in Germany I also recall seeing weight limits for certain bridges (and speed limits?) posted on signs according to icons representing different vehicles. In addition to cars and trucks there was an icon for tanks. :eek:


Of course, if you try to gather enough military gear to host your own May-Day parade or start an insurrection, expect the authorities to take notice and frown.

Outpits
08-07-2008, 01:46 PM
In the U.S., i heard that a sherman tank (WWII vintage) went for $28,000 at auction.

Is there any law or regulation that prohibits people from owning and using tanks? Can they be driven on the public roads, like you see those construction vehicles? Can they be fired -- after all, you can fire a rifle on your own property right?

SO Is there anything besides the money needed for a WWII lover to start his own armored column?

I doubt you could get it plated (licensed), so driving it on public roads is most likely out. Also, I would think the tracks would tear up a road pretty seriously. As for on your private property, I doubt there would be any law (city ordinances about firing a weapon notwithstanding) that would keep you from firing the weapon. You would probably need to prepare your own shells and install/repair the cannon (I doubt they sell the tank with the gun in operating order).

Shagnasty
08-07-2008, 01:49 PM
I am pretty sure that you can own a tank. I know that you can own demilitarized fighter planes like a former Soviet MIG. They aren't even that expensive to buy. I have seen some advertised for $60,000. The catch is that the full and other operating costs are absurd usually at several thousand dollars and hour. Good luck finding parts for it when things break. I assume a tank is similar.

ntcrawler
08-07-2008, 02:06 PM
Also, I would think the tracks would tear up a road pretty seriously.


Tank treads distribute the vehicle's weight over a large surface area, much larger than that of the area that a car's tires typically contact the ground with. Consequently, the ground pressure from a tank is lower than that of a wheeled vehicles, owing to the vehicle's advantage in all terrain and off-road conditions, so road damage shouldn't really be a factor unless you try to drive a 40 ton tank over a 20 ton-rated bridge.

CalMeacham
08-07-2008, 02:07 PM
I realize that the movies aren't a reliable source for facts, but this was the premise behind the plot of the James Garner vehicle* Tank


http://imdb.com/title/tt0088224/






*Ha. Ha. Ha.

5-HT
08-07-2008, 02:10 PM
There's a guy over on the gun forums at Something Awful that has an old German Tank from WWII. He made a bundle during the dot com boom and bought all sorts of WWII shit. IIRC, he's only able to use it at a nearby army base or something, not sure about that, I haven't talked to him in a while.

ntcrawler
08-07-2008, 02:16 PM
This article may be of help (and provide some interesting reading) (http://automobilemag.com/features/0804_how_to_buy_a_tank/index.html)

Darryl Lict
08-07-2008, 02:24 PM
John du Pont, the heir who killed the Olympic wrestling champion was known for driving a tank around his estate. This was, of course private property.

Santo Rugger
08-07-2008, 02:29 PM
Tank treads distribute the vehicle's weight over a large surface area, much larger than that of the area that a car's tires typically contact the ground with. Consequently, the ground pressure from a tank is lower than that of a wheeled vehicles, owing to the vehicle's advantage in all terrain and off-road conditions, so road damage shouldn't really be a factor unless you try to drive a 40 ton tank over a 20 ton-rated bridge.You're forgetting two things. First, tank tracks aren't flat on the bottom, but instead have edges on each "scale", if you will. I'm sure there's a technical name for it (link, perhaps). Regardless, this edge is designed to penetrate into the ground, providing grip. They make treads with rubber pads to mitigate this effect, but they're not perfect.

The second thing is turning. Since a tank doesn't just have two axles with a point of contact at each end, any time it turns the effect of one side going faster than the other is going to be exaggerated. This won't be a problem for large-radii sweeping turns, but when you're trying to make a 90 degree turn at a stop light or turn around in a parking lot, things are going to get ugly pretty fast.

Quartz
08-07-2008, 02:37 PM
The Scorpion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion_tank) is street-legal in the U.K., as is the Abbot SPG (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FV433_Abbot_SPG), and then there's this (YouTube) (http://youtube.com/watch?v=St5AWK0xxhk). :D

Chimera
08-07-2008, 02:41 PM
I would think that the first time you went down the road and ripped it up, the local authorities wouldn't have any problem determining who did it and billing you for the damages. As well as maybe citing you for having an unlicensed vehicle on a public road.

liberty3701
08-07-2008, 02:47 PM
You can definitely own tanks in the US. My uncle's wife's ex-husband collects tanks and other military stuff. Here are a couple pages about him:

http://sfahistory.org/tanktour.htm
http://mishalov.net/military-vehicles/military-vehicles.html

He's kind of crazy. And rich. Crazy rich.

UncaStuart
08-07-2008, 03:14 PM
You can definitely own tanks in the US. My uncle's wife's ex-husband collects tanks and other military stuff. Here are a couple pages about him:

http://sfahistory.org/tanktour.htm
http://mishalov.net/military-vehicles/military-vehicles.html

He's kind of crazy. And rich. Crazy rich.

That's who I was thinking about when I saw this thread title. That's up the road just a bit from where I live (in the much cheaper seats).

postcards
08-07-2008, 09:55 PM
Never mind.

Loach
08-07-2008, 10:05 PM
You're forgetting two things. First, tank tracks aren't flat on the bottom, but instead have edges on each "scale", if you will. I'm sure there's a technical name for it (link, perhaps). Regardless, this edge is designed to penetrate into the ground, providing grip. They make treads with rubber pads to mitigate this effect, but they're not perfect.

All American tanks that I am aware of have track pads. They have no edges. They have nothing to penetrate the ground. I have heard there is a way to winterize the tracks but I have never seen it done. Including when I was in the field at Ft Knox (U.S. Armor School) after a freak icestorm when the ground was covered in a couple inches of ice for over a week. When you see a 60 ton tank on the ice your brain automatically assumes it would crunch it up. Not so. I have seen a M1 sliding sideways down a hill on the ice. It is pretty scary. I am familiar with M1s, M60A3s and M48s. My armory has a Sherman they are restoring for static display. No penetrators on it's tracks either, just rubber track pads. You are correct that the track pads are not perfect. They will wear and sometimes fall off. Then you could have metal touching pavement. If you have let your track maintenance slack off that bad they you will probably be breaking the track soon anyway.

The one time that a tank will absolutely tear up the pavement is during a neutral steer. That is when the tank turns left or right on an axis without moving forward or back. Its pretty bad for the track also so it is not used often. In places where it may have to be used such as a range or motor pool they will have concrete pads in those locations so that a neutral steer can be done.

Cisco
08-07-2008, 11:04 PM
Master P had a gold tank at one point.

Mk VII
08-08-2008, 05:25 AM
You'll probably find that WW2 US-made tanks supplied as aid under the various post-war Defense Assistance Programs cannot be purchased and reimported. I suspect they're probably more common here; many military shows display them running.

Martini Enfield
08-08-2008, 05:42 AM
You can drive some of them on roads here, provided they have indicators and registration plates- I've seen Bren Gun Carriers, Half-Tracks, and various Tanks running at shows and ANZAC Day parades, and the guys tell me you can drive some of them on roads without too much hassle, depending which State you're in.

Erasmus Darwin
08-08-2008, 11:05 AM
Of course, if you try to gather enough military gear to host your own May-Day parade or start an insurrection, expect the authorities to take notice and frown.

Here in Florida, if you have that much gear, it just means that the authorities take notice and send you invites to participate in all the major parades.

My dad's hobby is collecting and restoring old military vehicles, and the collection has gotten a little on the big side. Even so, despite the military origin, it's really not any different from someone with a large collection of classic cars. In fact, many of the events he brings his stuff out to also draw a large number of classic car owners, as well.

He even has an M41 Walker Bulldog that he brings out on rare occasion. Usually, he just trailers it to the event, but one time, he did drive it on the streets. He called up the local police station beforehand to check. The response was something like, "Oh no problem. We know you guys. Wait. Is that on tracks? Let me send an escort just to be safe."

The morning of the event came around, and the officer showed up to provide the escort. Two or three more showed up just to watch the spectacle. Anyway, it was a good thing they were there because the tank was wide enough that when the right tread was on the edge of the road, the left tread was over the center line.

Bear_Nenno
08-08-2008, 12:36 PM
The one time that a tank will absolutely tear up the pavement is during a neutral steer. That is when the tank turns left or right on an axis without moving forward or back. Its pretty bad for the track also so it is not used often. In places where it may have to be used such as a range or motor pool they will have concrete pads in those locations so that a neutral steer can be done.
Visual example.

Notice the skid marks on the asphalt.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Z6dAM71inEs

Hirundo82
08-08-2008, 01:19 PM
As for on your private property, I doubt there would be any law (city ordinances about firing a weapon notwithstanding) that would keep you from firing the weapon. You would probably need to prepare your own shells and install/repair the cannon (I doubt they sell the tank with the gun in operating order).It's not legal in the US without spending a significant amount. Pretty much anything needed is regulated under the National Firearms Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act), and requires a $200 tax stamp to possess.

Artillery pieces are considered a "destructive device" because they have a bore over 1/2 inch and have no "sporting purpose." Much of the ammunition would be regulated as well. Any explosive rounds (eg HEAT rounds) would be considered destructive devices, requiring a tax stamp for each round. I'm not sure about nonexplosive rounds (eg sabots), but it may depend on the propellant--it wouldn't be regulated gunpowder is used, but if other explosives are used they would be regulated.

Of course, the continual outlay of money for tax stamps for the ammo may not be a big deal for someone who has the money to puschase, maintain, and fuel a tank.

ntcrawler
08-08-2008, 03:31 PM
It's not legal in the US without spending a significant amount. Pretty much anything needed is regulated under the National Firearms Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act), and requires a $200 tax stamp to possess.


Thats kinda ironic. This stuff's production was made possible by taxes that we have already paid to the government. Why pay taxes on the same item again to possess it?


Artillery pieces are considered a "destructive device" because they have a bore over 1/2 inch and have no "sporting purpose."


Cant justify target shooting as having a sporting purpose? :)

Bear_Nenno
08-08-2008, 04:32 PM
Thats kinda ironic. This stuff's production was made possible by taxes that we have already paid to the government. Why pay taxes on the same item again to possess it?That's nothing considering salaries to government employees (paid with taxes) are taxable. So the government collects taxes to pay its employees. And then it collects taxes on those salaries.

Cisco
08-08-2008, 04:42 PM
That's nothing considering salaries to government employees (paid with taxes) are taxable. So the government collects taxes to pay its employees. And then it collects taxes on those salaries.
I've always wonder about that. Seems like duplication of effort. Why not just pay them that much less?

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