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Titanium Dragon

TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Only in America · 3:58am Oct 29th, 2015

Yesterday, two people tragically died in an explosion in Bend, Oregon. They were firing their 1944 Buick Hellcat Tank Destroyer when one of the artillery rounds went off in the chamber and blew up the vehicle.

For reference, this is a tank destroyer:

If you think "gee, that looks like a tank" - congratulations, it is! Well, sort of; it is more lightly armored than one, but it is designed to be able to take out tanks.

And in case you're wondering: no, they weren't members of the armed forces. They were civilians.

Apparently, it cost the guy about $60,000 (yes, you can buy something capable of firing heavy artillery for $60,000 - what? It's America, we have the right to bear arms! Haven't you heard of the second amendment?), and he apparently had restored the thing and used it for years to blow stuff up for charity, and to give disabled kids tank rides (the dream of every hot-blooded American citizen).

So spare a thought for these two men, who were living the American dream of blowing stuff up in a tank.

Note that these are not the only Americans who own tanks. You might recognize this guy as well:

Comments ( 26 )

America sounds like a nice place.

#2 · Oct 29th, 2015 · · ·


Come for the freedom, stay for the tanks!

3504279 It's hard to find parking in the Bay Area, so I just leave my Panzer Tiger parked where it sits - on someone's 95 Honda Civic. I think it was a Civic... Well, they weren't using it, anyway. Every once in a while someone complains about my occupying the spot too long, and the cops come by and chalk the treads. Then I'm forced to drive it a mile and re-park it back on the Honda. 'Murica!

Seriously, though, this story is very tragic and I'm actually sad for the victims and their families.

I though it would be some people being idiot and got themselves killed, but they blew things up for charity. Anyone who does that deserves respect, if only because "blew things up for charity" is an awesome expression.

Speaking as an Oregonian born and bred, and having spent more than a little time in Bend with my dad's reffing days when I was a kid...

... yeah, I'm not fucking surprised in the slightest.


I live in Oregon--not exactly close to Bend, but near enough that I'm reasonably familiar with the town an culture--and I could direct you to at least two places where, for the right price, you could buy a tank. The thing is, we made so many tanks in the 1940s that we really didn't know what to do with all of them after Second World War ended. We only made around 2,500 of the model of tank destroyer that exploded in Bend, but we made 25,000 M3 Stuarts and at least 50,000 M4 Shermans.

It's not unusual to find an M4 Sherman or similar WWII-era tank decorating public parks, even in very small towns. For obvious reasons, those tanks are disabled for display, but a good number of them fell into private hands and are still operational. I'm fairly certain--or at the very least, really, really, really hopeful--that to actually fire the gun, you need special permits from both the federal and state governments. Letting any random idiot run around firing off a 76mm cannon is like...well, I can't actually think of a better simile than "letting some random idiot run around shooting a 76mm cannon."

You do, in fact, need a special license to own a functional artillery piece, but it isn't actually that hard to get one. They fall under the auspices of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (or, I suppose, technically the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Gun Control Act of 1968, which revised said act). It requires a $200 tax stamp, as well as a background check IIRC.

Note that in 1934, this was obviously a lot of money, but they haven't actually changed the cost of the tax since the passage of the bill in the 1930s, so nowadays it is actually quite affordable.

One fun fact: flamethrowers aren't firearms, meaning that in many states, you can own one without any sort of license whatsoever. Unlike artillery pieces, though, people do own flamethrowers for practical purposes, like brush removal.

Come for the Freedom with a tank, fewer people will argue about it.

I'm fairly pro-gun control these days, but I gotta admit that riding around in a tank sounds like fun.

Does that mean I could get a fully operational flamethrower tank without any special permit? :rainbowhuh:

No, the Zune! Poor thing. D=

I'm a lot more okay with people owning these things than the common handgun, honestly, strange a concept as it is. Between the better regulation and much higher cost of entry, it's unlikely we'll ever see a civilian tank used for anything more than this sort of over the top wish fulfillment.

On the other hand 70-year old hardware is probably not the most reliable stuff in the world. Poor bastards.

Some people died. Lets discuss gun ownership/politics.

3504433 Thank you for bringing these interesting facts to my attention. :pinkiehappy:

(the dream of every hot-blooded American citizen)

I don't think putting it like that is very fair.

Riding around in a tank would be pretty freaking sweet.

3504433 Don't forget the people (and organizations) who own honest-to-God WWII fighter/bomber aircraft (sans guns), and the number of DUKW's that were turned into "Ride The Ducks" attractions in several states.

Most of the DUKW's have been replaced by custom-built commercial vehicles now, but some still rattle around out there.

Of course it would be!

Are you implying you're not a hot-blooded American citizen? :pinkiegasp:

Depends on how much it weighs and how wide it is. Many tanks and tank destroyers are sufficiently broad and heavy that they require special permits to drive on public roads, as well as a special license to drive it. Also, most states have laws which require special permits for driving tracked vehicles on roads. It isn't terribly difficult to qualify for all that (it isn't really any different from large agricultural/construction equipment in that regard), but it does require some actual effort (and money for the licenses).

Obviously if you just wanted to drive it around on your private property, that wouldn't be an issue. If you wanted to take it anywhere to show it off, though...

Incidentally, while napalm is federally unregulated, some individual states might have laws regulating its use as an incendiary device. You also are likely to need a permit if you plan on storing a large quantity of the stuff.

Note also that however cool napalm is, if you set your neighbors on fire with it, you are in violation of international law. :V

One of the really killer things about tanks is their terrible, terrible gas mileage. Many tanks' fuel economy is measured in gallons per mile instead of miles per gallon.

One thing's for sure, if a zombie apocalypse breaks out, those people will be covered. Except for the two who are dead, of course ... and the Hellcat is not really the tank you'd want to be sitting in, being open at the top and all. Well, at least it's fast, for a good rate of zombie arse crushed per minute.

Thanks for sharing.

*Canadian sigh*


If these WWII era machines are still running their original engines (more or less), I imagine the fuel comes at a substantial premium besides. Definitely a rich man's toy.

I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't a small part of me that wanted to buy a tank. Granted, it's way down on the list, but... Come on, it's a tank!

If had a tank... All I need now is to get a sword and get a friend to drive the tank. I would be at the top of that hatch and saying; Drive me closer! I want to hit them with me sword! at random people walking down town. That alone would make my day the best.

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