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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Chrysler's nuclear-powered tank was the height of Atomic Age optimism

The 1950s were unquestionably the best era to be an atomic-energy booster. With the American government scrambling to find new uses for the nuclear genie it had unleashed, the United States threw enormous sums of money at programs both military (nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles, atomic aircraft) and civilian (power reactors, plus Operation Plowshare's reservoir-digging and gas-mining demolition munitions).
https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/chryslers-nuclear-powered-tank-was-the-height-of-atomic-a...
19 REPLIES 19
AG1962
Instructor

T(h)ank goodness.

jcav48
Intermediate Driver

As I recall, a Sherman tank weighed around 32 tons, so the Chrysler tank was not "half the weight".
BIGHOCK
Intermediate Driver

TANKS for Sharing .........
KeninFL
Intermediate Driver

Tanks of the era required servicing about every twenty hours of use iirc. (The end of WW II German Tiger required service about every ten which kept the limited number the German army had from continuous deployment in the field.) So the question becomes what advantage is there to "never need(ing) refueling" if it has to be pulled off the field anyway for regular maintenance. How long does it take to fill the thing with gas?
mvillmer
Intermediate Driver

I think we dodged a bullet there...
joetunick
Intermediate Driver

The life of a tank in battle is measured in minutes. NOT a good idea.
bblhed
Instructor

So the bottom line is that Chrysler took a pile of development money that they got from the government and used it do design a tank that a high school student would know would not be feasible. Sounds like someone figured out a way to keep a design team from leaving for a competitor by giving them some paid busy work.
RG440
Instructor

YES ! And that “Busy Work” has paid off to this day !!! Let’s INTRODUCE; “The HEMI”….
Chrysler developed their first experimental hemi engine for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. The XIV-2220 engine was an inverted V16 rated at 2,500 hp (1,860 kW). The P-47 was already in production with a Pratt & Whitney radial engine when the XIV-2220 flew successfully in trials in 1945 as a possible upgrade, but the war was winding down and it did not go into production. However, the exercise gave Chrysler engineers valuable research and development experience with two-valve hemi combustion chamber dynamics and parameters.

In addition to the aircraft engine, Chrysler and Continental worked together to develop the air-cooled AV-1790-5B V12 Hemi engine used in the M47 Patton tank.
67Miura54Shadow
Pit Crew

Nuclear power is ideal for long duration submersibles and large surface ships, but little else. Even in the 1950's, Chrysler engineers would have known that this was an absurd concept... but it's always imperative to have contracts! It was dollars that were driving the study. Sixty-two years later, Eisenhower's farewell speech words are ever more true today: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Rick2
Instructor

And how!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

No Tank you. I can see why this idea failed. Neat idea though.
MATTMERICA
Technician

Chrysler had been making tanks for decades - they were called power wagons
RG440
Instructor

And Imperial’s !
MAXTHEAX
Intermediate Driver

That thing sounds as safe as a Tesla. The guy down the has one, do they all come with a flat bed truck?
Zephyr
Instructor

Minus the nuclear reactor, actually not a bad design.
JonJonzmhfm
Pit Crew

Just wait a nuclear minute; the fusion power cubes are coming.
buellerdan
Instructor

I dannae is she can take any more, Captain!
More lithium crystals Scotty
RetroRock
Intermediate Driver

Tanks fer nuttin'
CP66
Intermediate Driver

The project failed when an intern determined that at 25 tons it WASN'T "roughly half the weight" of a 32 ton Sherman.