With Twin Jet Engines, This Ominous Big Wind Tank Battles Huge Fires

by AutoExpert   |  23 November, 2021

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You might want to witness a Hungarian firefighting tank in action if you're a fan. According to Hungary's Total Car, Big Wind, or Windy as it's also known, was created in 1988 from the chassis of a World War II-era Russian T-34-85 tank. Thereafter, a pair of MiG-21 fighter-derived R-25 jet engines with a combined thrust of 27,000 lbs were installed. Every second, they emit 4,591 cubic feet of exhaust gas, into which 6 nozzles spray 220 gallons of water.

After the Gulf War, this machine was originally used to cool the burned land left behind by Saddam Hussein's forces as they retreated from Kuwait, bombing wells along the way. Big Wind was flown in via C-130 with a team of three Hungarian operators, including a driver and jet engine technician, as well as one outside spotter in heat-reflective gear who commanded the vehicle using a remote.

At the tank's top speed of 3 mph, they'd drift toward a burning oil well, giving the screaming jet of flame enough time to get Big Wind's body so hot it couldn't be reached. Gloves were apparently required to operate the controls. When they got within point-blank range, they'd rev up the engines to 70% and switch on the water to put out the flames.

It was difficult for Big Wind's operators, but it was far better than the conventional method of the time, which was to use bombs to starve the fire of oxygen. Big Wind has supposedly been updated with a T-55 chassis at a cost of a few million dollars since its exploits in Kuwait.

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A second model was almost built, but given that Big Wind's glory days are likely over, it seems needless, especially given that it hasn't proven itself up to the duty of fighting the most massive fires. It failed to extinguish a catastrophic gas fire in Hungary in 2000.

Big Wind was mothballed at Tököl Airport until 2014 when it was recommissioned by Hungarian petroleum giant MOL Group. You can count on Big Wind to return one day and extinguish your oil well fire with another huff and puff of its lungs.

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