HOWTO Protest with a Tank

Der Standard reveals all you need to know about driving a stolen tank into the police lines. Apparently, the man who stole an ex-Soviet T34/85 from the 1956 revolution commemorations and used it on the Hungarian riot police has been arrested. He is reportedly a former soldier (no surprise, as Hungary either has or used to have universal conscription) who might conceivably have driven one before.

This is not that likely but is possible. The T34/85 was possibly the best tank of the second world war and remained a mainstay of the Red Army into the 50s, but was already being replaced by the T54 series in 1956. By the time anyone likely to be fighting with cops in Budapest this week would have been serving, the Warsaw Pact armies had long since flushed most of their T34s out of the ranks, and for that matter their T54s. Most of the T34s that avoided scrapping, museums or use as targets were exported to the Third World – as is well known, there’s nothing you can do for poor people that will do them more good than sending guns.

Anyway, the report in the Standard gives some useful hints on how to protest with a tank. You’ll need enough voltage to turn over a really hefty diesel engine. The Hungarians solved this with several car batteries hooked up in series (not in parallel, mark!). You’ll probably find the tank is locked or worse, so bring an angle grinder, oxy-acetylene torch or arc welding set. In Budapest, the tank’s hatch proved to be padlocked – so it was a good job he came with the right tools.

It doesn’t sound likely that the tank would be fuelled up and ready to go, so the wise man would want to bring a jerry can or three of diesel – after all, once you get it started you can always stop and fill up. Given all the equipment, you’ll almost certainly need an accomplice, or perhaps several. But when arrested, remember to say that you acted entirely alone.

7 thoughts on “HOWTO Protest with a Tank

  1. This site is now unreadable – you must have got a grant of public money to produce something so bad.
    Watch traffic fall to nothing if you do not change the colour scheme.

  2. You do not need batteries! The tank in Budapest has the batteries removed, and nobody brought there car batteries – this is an official nonsense. In a very cold day batteries would be useless, so there is an other, simple mechanism, built-in: compressed air!. Mr. Gergenyi, the police chief of Budapest, who is the source of the Der Standard article, is simply lying.
    Here you will find a photo about the person in the tank.
    It was a happening, a joyride.

  3. He might have acted alone. There was the famous incident in San Diego about a decade ago when a former serviceman stole a tank from a military reserve depot and went on a rampage, crushing parked cars and knocking over utility poles and hydrants. Eventually he high-centered on a highway median barrier, and before he was able to get free the police opened the hatch with bolt cutters and shot him.
    It was almost certain that he had acted entirely alone.

  4. Maybe a US fascist nut will act alone, but this was a very sweet political symbolism and I wouldn’t ever suspect him acting alone, because it is very much easier to pull a stunt like this with a group of conspirators.

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  6. I was at this protest next to this “commemoration” tank. A couple of photographers had been using it as a platform to take photos of the protests.

    There was an older person instigating this event, but he did have help. Earlier in the day I vaguely remember them carrying objects from a nearby car, but at that time thought they were part of the commemoration, not the protesters.

    During the protests other old military vehicles were also rolled into the crowd, but only the tank was started. I personally think the protests were planned enough that they may have even lured police to this location.

    In a sense this was a launching pad for the National Guard which is a far right movement still active today. To their credit they stopped the tank just short of the police lines before anyone was seriously hurt.

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