Big Wind: How Jet Engines on Tanks Put out Oil Fires [Videos]
On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard invaded the small oil-producing nation of Kuwait. This resulted in the full wrath of the United States military and 33 other nations, with the execution of Operation Desert Storm. Iraqi forces were eventually overrun and outmatched, and in a final act of desperation, Saddam Hussein ordered that more than 700 oil wells be ignited.
The move was part of a scorched earth policy, while retreating from Kuwait in 1991. The images of U.S soldiers and military equipment operating next to thick black plumes of smoke have now become a lasting iconic image of Operation Desert Storm. And when the war was over, crews from around the world would have to go to work to put out these fires, which were destroying the ecosystem for hundreds of miles around them.
The tech-savvy gurus over at Gizmodo came across a documentary called The Fires of Kuwait, which chronicled the many incredible methods and machines used to put out the countless ignited oil wells.
Part of the documentary, which was shot in IMAX and narrated by Rip Torn, focussed on an inventive machine created by a team of Hungarians. In what sounds like a mishmash of Soviet military highlights, the team fixed decommissioned Mig jet-fighter engines on top of a Russian T-27 tank:
We find this machine impressive not just for the creativity, but for the simplicity. While the combination of jet engine and tank may be complex, the method of simply blowing out the fire like a candle is tactically quite simple– compared to the dynamics of killing a fire with dynamite!