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.