TFB Visits DriveTanks.Com A Genuine Once In A Lifetime Experience (Part 1)

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Being of the boomer generation I’ve had a keen interest in tanks, artillery and infantry weapons of WWII for many a year. Several weeks ago I received an invitation from DriveTanks.Com to come down and visit and get a real immersive experience in all of those WWII vehicles, guns and artillery I’ve always been so interested in and studied. There was no difficult decision to make and at least for me it would be a once in a lifetime experience and it truly was just that!

Drive Tanks had their grand opening a few weeks ago to a good deal of excitement locally. Drive Tanks is the only place on the planet you can actually drive several different tanks and other vehicles both American, British, German and Russian. Another thing that makes them one of a kind is you can also fire the 76mm main gun on an M4A2 Easy8 Sherman tank from 1944. The visitor can also fire the WWII era 50 cal on the tank as well as the 1919 Browning 30 cal machine gun also mounted on the tank. This is also the only place in the world you can fire these main tank guns as well as artillery such as the 105mm howitzer and German PAK 40 anti-tank gun from WWII!

A little hazy that late afternoon. A look into the valley from the mountaintop.

A little hazy that late afternoon. A look into the valley from the mountaintop.

DriveTanks.Com is located in the hill country of south Texas outside of Uvalde, Tx. The company sits within 18,000 acres of hill country so there’s plenty of room to shoot the big guns and watch the real projectiles impact.

Standing on top of the Easy 8 Sherman Tank

Standing on top of the Easy 8 Sherman Tank–left to right myself, Todd, Spencer and Ira

I’ll be posting a number of articles each week for the next few weeks showcasing the various vehicles, artillery, machine guns both personal and crew served. We have some good video as well as photos and I hope you all enjoy sharing this experience.

To kick things off I have a video of my experience firing a Vietnam era flamethrower. The flamethrower works with a tank of nitrogen propellent and a second tank of gasoline. Of course the nitrogen is under high pressure. The business end has an ignitor on the front the user depresses with a squeeze trigger at the rear which releases the nitrogen and gasoline and fires the flamethrower.

Once the tanks are full you strap it on like a rather heavy backpack and you’re ready to turn loose destruction! One thing to note on the video is the point when the person filming, Ira, encourages me to be aggressive and attack the target. Yea he suckered me. What I found out is a long burst brings a lot of heat back to the one firing the flamethrower! You’ll notice myself and Todd backing up because it singed the hair on our arms!

A tidbit of info from WWII and that is most Marines and Soldiers didn’t want the job of carrying what amounted to a bomb on their backs. The enemy tried to hit the tanks with rifle fire in order to detonate the flamethrower.

More articles to come with the next installment being the 105mm WWII howitzer with video firing it into a mountain side! Check the website for Drivetanks.com for package prices.



Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • Pistolero

    Awesome!

  • DAN V.

    Really cool! One of (if not THE) the best jobs in the Army!

  • Jeff Smith

    My favorite part of this article is hearing Phil’s reaction to the flamethrower: “Damn! That’s hot!”

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Flamethrowers scare me.

    • Giolli Joker

      Scary-cool stuff.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Screw that, I dont like the range, the volatility or standing out in the open.

        • iksnilol

          Maybe if they added an underslung shotgun on it it would’a been more popular. i dunno.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Pass, 50 ft is closer than I want to get.

          • iksnilol

            C’mon, it’ll be fun.

            Minus the whole burn yourself whilst burning your enemies in a cacaphony of chaos and painful destruction.

          • Yea you can crank up the pressure and send the flame further away. Honestly singing a little arm hair was no big deal. In fact you hear us laughing and that’s what we were laughing about. I was also wearing a fireproof glove on my left hand.

          • iksnilol

            I remember reading something about some flamethrower troops suffering burns from their own flamethrowers. Can’t find anything about it now.

          • I imagine if you fired to close to a wall of rock around a cave entrance you could splash it back on yourself.

        • Giolli Joker

          Well, I was looking at a recreational use… in war probably there’s to add a good PTSD inducing effect to your list of cons. I would guess that making people die engulfed in flesh eating flames would leave a mark…

  • Don Ward

    The bit with flamethrowers being a “bomb on your back” is another one of those myths. Iwo Jima Medal of Honor winner Hershell Williams recounts how his unit tried puncturing their propellent tanks with pistol, carbine, rifle and machine gun fire and they didn’t burst.

    • Depends on how much pressure is left in the tank I imagine. I also meant the gasoline tank not propellent.

      • Don Ward

        I’m mobile so I can’t post the link. But from what I gathered in the interview, the tanks were fairly “bullet proof” and the only thing that was damaged was the hoses (no kidding).
        During his MoH winning fight, while crawling to a Japanese pillbox, the Japanese machine gunner could only depress his weapon enough to hit Williams’ flamethrower unit. He recalls feeling the rounds ricochet off as he crawled forward. Anyway, I’m mobile for the next day flying from Anchorage to Seattle. I’ll try to remember to post a link unless someone else Google Fu ‘s the article first.

      • Don Ward

        Oh. And good deal on the trip! Look forward to next articles!

        • Thanks Don—– I really think you’ll enjoy the other articles.

          • Don Ward

            Noice!

          • Jim

            I can’t wait either and will be looking forward to reading and seeing them. I only wish I could afford to do something like this!

          • I don’t even have the words to express just how good this experience is.

      • 11b

        If you watch Ian McCollum’s video with the flamethrower expert he makes it clear it would be very difficult (almost impossible) to ‘explode’ a flamethrower tank. The main issue is shrapnel from the high pressure, which would also suck of course, but at least you aren’t covered in flaming gasoline.

        • Pressure was the problem on WWII flamethrowers. There were no gauges to let you know what the pressure was. Those units had pop off valves if the pressure got to high. The one I used had been fitted with pressure valves so there was no guessing like the old method of filling them up with nitrogen.

    • Gary Kirk

      I wonder if some of those stories could have originated around faulty anti flash back equipment.. Flame chased the stream back to supply type thing?

      • You know I’m not sure Gary I haven’t delved into possible accidents or causes of critical failures. I don’t think that’s possible since you have that high speed stream of nitrogen coming out.

        • Gary Kirk

          It’d be interesting to see someone actually dig a bit further into it. Also, I wonder if they were always pressurized with nitrogen. On a battlefield that might not have always been an option when trying to get them back in the game. Could there have been times where they were pressurized with atmospheric air from a compressor?

  • Nashvone

    Will they give you a discount on the “All Day” package if you pass on the five rounds from the Moist Nugget?

  • Sermon 7.62

    Sick!

  • Sermon 7.62

    “A South African inventor brought the Blaster car mounted flamethrower to market in 1998 as a security device to defend against carjackers. It has since been discontinued, with the inventor moving on to pocket-sized self-defence flamethrowers.”

    People are hopeless.

    • John

      Self defense flame thrower? Um. A Bic lighter and WD-40.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Is Ira the same guy that was a consultant on sons of guns?

    • Yep that would be him. Ira’s a good guy and I’m sure he doesn’t miss that chore!

      • Harry’s Holsters

        Seemed incredibly knowledgable from the show. Might have been a lot of drama on and off filming but they produced some great guests.

        • Believe me he is extremely knowledgeable. Ira works up the loads for the howitzer, Sherman etc. as well as making the 17 pound projectiles I fired.

          • Sermon 7.62

            Rich psycho’s entertainment.

          • That makes no sense guy. I’m a history buff and always have been. This was a learning experience as well as challenging your skills. Yes indeed it was fun which doesn’t mean it’s for psycho’s!

  • Curtis Anthony

    “Drive a tank” has been up in Minnesota as long as I can remember.. Just to counter their opening statement about being the only place.

    • That is an entirely different company and that company doesn’t allow anyone to fire the main tank gun or 105 howitzer. You can shoot the tank machine guns up there and that’s it.
      I stand by it these guys are the only place on the planet that does this. You’ll see what I mean in the next two parts.

  • Rusty S.

    Must have been an awesome experience! I’ll have to add it on my travel list.

    • You really do Rusty it was a fantastic experience. I’m 100% sure it would be for anyone. It’s just crazy fun with some great guys on staff.

  • Giolli Joker

    Wow, lots of cool stuff on that website.
    Definitely costly but overall acceptable prices for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
    Too bad main guns of modern tanks aren’t part of the available packages.

    • Yes the act of firing the main gun on the Leopard 1 is a bit problematic. The 120mm on the Chieftain is even more so. I can’t say they won’t do those in the future. Right now they just took delivery on a T-34 with more to come.

  • DanGoodShot

    Ok, so this place just took top spot on my bucket list!!! I mean, come on. Tell me this isn’t your version of Disneyland/world?? Any guy that wouldn’t want to spend a day here needs to turn in his man card. Period.

  • anonymouse

    Did the flamethrower have a full tank? Sure ran out quickly.

    • They actually do run out quickly. We didn’t crank the pressure all the way up. At full pressure it will throw the flame a football field away.

  • Jim

    Using a Flamethrower was exceptionally dangerous and was only good for when you were up close to a bunker and needed to burn out the defenders. Give me a good old rifle any day!

  • The backseat MIG trips I know about. When Russia was strapped for cash they started that up.

    • Bill

      I knew that they did it then, when they could get fuel, but never realized that it had turned into a minor industry. I don’t foresee the US Navy starting a carrier launch and recovery adventure package, though I’d go for it.

  • Glenn J Fleming

    Todd and the guys are top notch folks add to that the place its self is awesome. If yall can… GO!

  • Sermon 7.62

    So?

    I heard that in Kambodia one can shoot the RPG. For 50 bucks. And for 300 bucks, one can shoot a cow from the RPG.

  • Anthony Baugh-Allen

    Got to shoot one in Ft Carson Col, it was a (he He ) Blast! Front trigger was the match revolver I think 6 or 5 matches which i believe would burn 12 sec. Main tank was Napalm we scooped it in ( got to fill our shooters) then about 18 secs of fun! Nothing like it!