The Versatile Tank-Like Flail

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On the basis of the conflict scenarios and the resultant threat, it is necessary to develop methods and means to eliminate the threat. Simply using available tools is not always easy. What is necessary is to optimally combine existing detection and clearance methods and, if necessary, to develop new, promising technologies in a targeted manner.

by Harry Einstein, PE NEBETCO


The Versatile Tank-Like Flail and a breakdown of its components. (Click here to enlarge)

NEBETCO Engineering in Rhode Island has developed a new self-contained, affordable, rider-controlled machine for safely discharging land mines in farmlands and other accessible areas. The operator is well protected by heavy steel plates and sits 10 feet behind the mine discharge, the force of which is confined and directed away from the operator. The heavy steel structure of the machine is designed to withstand the explosive force of an AP mine. Should AT mines be encountered, some damage to the machine could result, but the operator should be unharmed. The machine is designed to clear a four-foot wide path and to clear one acre in two to four hours depending upon the ground conditions. If desired, the described machine can be remotely operated. This operation would be desired where AT or heavy concentrations of UXO are suspected.

When not needed for mine elimination, the machine can, with add-on accessories, serve as a shrub cutter, a tilling or cultivating machine, a small tractor, a portable hydraulic supply for other machinery or as a portable electric supply with the addition of a generator. Some of these operations can be performed at the same time as the demining operation. The design features three wheels and a narrow track providing for operation on uneven ground. The machine is relatively simple and could be manufactured in countries with limited facilities. The machine can be driven on ramp boards up on a trailer bed or a medium sized open or closed truck. Most if not all countries would permit such mobile machines to be driven on paved or unpaved roads for short distances from one area to another.

The mine discharging section shows a revolving square or round tube to which are affixed rows of strings of hinged, flat pounding plates or heavy chain which fly outward by centrifugal force and repeatedly strike the earth. The hinged plates are shown flat, but contoured plates could be more efficient. Additionally, spikes could be incorporated on the outer plate of the string that could help break up the soil. Rotation is provided by a hydraulic motor. The power source is an internal combustion engine driving a hydraulic pump. Hydraulic power is also supplied to the two hydraulic motor wheels that provide (motive) power. Individual valve control of each hydraulic motor wheel provides for speed and steering. The preferred wheels are pneumatic with heavy threads. Automotive type chains may be used to increase traction. A second driving arrangement is the use of tracks instead of wheels. An alternative to pneumatic wheels or tracks is all steel wheels with steel ears that were common on very early tractors.

The machine is supported by the two wheels, or tracks, and a single rear free swiveling wheel that is designed to be raised or lowered hydraulically as required by the operator for the desired depth of engagement with the earth.

Several accessories could be used with the basic machine. It is also possible to have the machine pull a tiller or a cultivator while clearing minefields at the same time. A simple addition is the installation of a row of tines or a cultivator installed on the underside of the machine behind the driving wheel or tracks. If such operation is desired, a larger engine would probably be required, depending upon the land conditions. The operation and depth of entry would be under the control of the operator.

Safety of the operator has been provided for. The revolving mine discharging rotary mechanism is housed in heavy steel plates with openings in front for discharge of earth and exploded mine fragments. The small opening between the rotary mechanism and the wheel housing, which is also housed in heavy steel plates, is covered by a heavy steel woven-flexible blanket. In addition to the heavy steel plates indicated, the operator sits above a heavy steel floor. Additional protection can be provided by a heavy reinforced plastic enclosure as needed.

Contact Information

Harry Einstein, PE
98 Parkwood Drive
Kingston, RI 02881
Tel: 401-792-9139

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