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Watch A Pair Of Tank-Mounted Fighter Jet Engines Extinguish An Oil Fire

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Pretty much what it says on the tin, folks. "The Big Wind" is a colossal, roving fire-extinguisher of Hungarian design that combines one part T-34 Soviet tank with two parts MiG-21 turbine engine. Bring it all together, add a trio of operators, and you've got a Mad-Maxian chimera that can gush water at a rate of 220 gallons per second.

Car and Driver has a great feature on "Windy":

This unique firefighting tank, which is fondly called "Big Wind" by some and "Windy" by others, has its own multicultural history. The tank is Russian, the owner is the Arab-owned Hungarian company MB Drilling, a division of the MB Group of Oman, and it was created in 1991 in a town 50 miles southeast of Budapest.

It is based on a Russian idea. For years, the Soviets had blown out gas- and oil-well fires and cleared snowbound airfields by using a single MiG-15 jet engine bolted onto the bed of a truck. But it wasn't always powerful enough to defeat big blazes. Enter Windy, with two jet engines fixed to the more stable chassis of a tank.

The tank was to be used against well fires in Hungary, but the Gulf War erupted almost at the moment of its creation, and Windy was soon drafted (so to speak) and flown off in a C-130 cargo carrier to the blazing oil fields of Kuwait. Also dispatched with the vehicle were three middle-aged Hungarian firefighters who work for the MB Drilling Company. In 43 days in Kuwait, the Hungarian crew would put out nine fires and recap the wells.

Windy needs three crewmen: a driver inside the tank to steer and stop it; a controller in a rear cabin at the back of the platform to run the jet engines and the water jets; and a fire chief who walks about 15 feet away, issuing orders to the two other crew members through a remote-control unit.

As Windy was rolled out of its transporter in Kuwait, some 27 other teams that were fighting the fires stopped to gawk. They were from as far away as China and Canada, and they'd never seen anything like Windy. These crews-including one led by the famous oil-fire fighter, the Texan Red Adair-used explosives to stop the fires. One tactic was to pack 250 pounds of explosives into a 55-gallon oil drum welded onto the end of a long boom to place it by the well. The explosion robs the blaze of its oxygen, and the fire goes out. We asked Nandor Somlai, the 53-year-old Hungarian who heads Windy's crew, which system is better, and he replied, "Would you really want to walk up to a 2000-degree flame through burning heat and oil rain carrying explosives?"


Read the rest here. See also this full documentary on the Kuwaiti oil fires. Some Big Wind action around the 19:00 mark:

H/t Tom!