The picture of a rusted Soviet truck with a mounted jet engine (see our recent Biscotti issue) provoked lots of interest from our readers, so we decided to make a full page about such monstrous machinery.
First of all, full disclaimer - they're not dormant Decepticons or armies of malevolent AI ready to tackle the world at the first notice. They are simply snow-blowers and jet-dryers used at some Russian airports, like the ones shown below - with Klimov VK-1 engines taken from MiG-15 planes.
(photo by S. Bednaruk)
These machines are still used to remove snow from runways, and in some cases, for de-icing of planes in Russia. The engine is a MiG-15 or MiG-17 radial compressor engine with a lengthened jet exhaust.
Another variation on the same idea, using different truck model -
NASCAR uses jet dryers to dry race track after rain .. here is a video of one that blew the asphalt apart.
Eric Chipchase writes to us: "During the 1960's a number of MiG-15's were used by the Polish State Railways to clear the tracks of ice and snow (the rear fuselage and wings were removed and the engine was operated from the cockpit)" Similar set-ups were used to remove ice from railroad tracks and railroad switches in the permafrost areas (in Siberia, and even in East Germany during the harsh winters) -
(image via Erik Chipchase)
Some our readers suggested that such jet-equipped machines could've been used for extinguishing oil well fires, for example in Kuwait (with water injected into a jet turbine for fire suppression). The reality turned out to be even more fantastic: Hungarian inventors actually attached a couple of jet engines to a tank's turret!
"Some new methods were used. Early on, teams used liquid nitrogen to smother fires. A team from Hungary put two jet engines on top of a captured Iraqi tank and introduced water into the stream of gas the jets produced, blowing a high-velocity fog at the fires and essentially blowing them out" /NY Times Online/
See the amazing video of this tank monster in action.
Other Jet and Turbine-Powered Trucks
We've all seen jet trucks made just for show (and we already linked once to a jet engine mounted on a pick-up truck, on a smaller scale). Here is one of the more ambitious ones - "Shockwave" triple-engine jet truck (featured recently on the Dicovery Channel) -
"The ShockWave Jet Truck runs over 300 mph racing airplanes at airshows; holds the world record in a quarter mile for trucks at 256 mph in just 6.36 seconds; and holds the world record for full size trucks at 376 mph as recorded by Guinness Book of World Records. At 36,000 horsepower, the ShockWave has enough power to accelerate at 3 Gs vertical, which is as much as the Space Shuttle!" (source)
According to WebUrbanist, it houses the largest turbine motor in a land vehicle anywhere in the world, which is so big that water tanks had to be removed from the vehicle... which renders the whole effort pretty useless in real life situations.
Outisde of sheer record-breaking and show appearances, the efforts were made in the U.S. (and behind the Iron Curtain) to come up with gas turbine-powered trucks. Kenworth, for example, had a few trucks outfitted with a Boeing gas turbine engine:
it almost looks like this Kenworth truck (a gas turbine prototype from 1950) is driving without a motor - due to the extremely low profile of a turbine inside.
Chevrolet Bison, 1964 - another iteration of turbine-powered futuristic truck (almost as outlandish in looks at the time, as designs by Luigi Colani - see here). Its two turbines are located just above the cabin:
Check out this centipedal monstrosity - perhaps the biggest of Soviet trucks designed to carry ballistic nuclear weapons, also sporting a turbo-jet power. This is MAZ-7907: 30 meters long, 24x24 chassis, build in Minsk, Belorus. Read our coverage of the rest of such "ballistic" Russian trucks - Part 1 and Part 2
The turbo-engine produced 1250 h.p., giving this "truck" a maximum load of 150 tons. By the way, Russia even had jet-powered (gas turbine) tanks during the 1970s - T80 went into production in 1976.
We wrote about Jet Train idea and its implementation in Russia and U.S. before (see our article Jet-Powered and Other Futuristic Trains). Here is a more recent image of Soviet jet train car, which was put up as a monument in a city of Tver.
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