‘Don’t sleep on my pillow’, they said. ‘Stop shoving your butt in my face’, they said. ‘Go away and let me sleep’, they said. **sounds of diesel turbine tank engine starting** ‘I’ll feed you when I get out of bed’, they said. ‘Get off my keyboard, I’m trying to type’, they said. Well....I’ll show then who the real boss of this house is....

And that, my friends, is why you always ensure the military surplus hardware you buy your cat is always deactivated. It might look intimidating, but it’s harmless. Mostly.

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I look at things like this Cat Tank, which is an actual product you can actually buy for an actual cat, and I see nothing but a waste of money I have to clean up before the paper cuts I got assembling it have even had a chance to heal. In the product description, it’s called ‘heavy duty cardboard’. but it’s actually nothing more than poster board. And the cat I have that would actually use it is 20 pounds. So when he climbed up on it to get in, he’d crush it. Now, I’ll grant you that I would have an awesome video of that happening, but it would still be a waste of money.

And I don’t need to buy a cat tank to waste money. No, I’m perfectly capable of doing that on my own, thankyouverymuch. And I waste my money every time I buy food. Think about it. You spend large sums of money to buy food that tastes great. But the cheap, nasty food will keep you functioning just fine. Do you really need steak? Or can you make diner with a can of Alpo? Yes, the steak tastes better. But the Alpo will keep you alive. Heck, I remember a time when I was so poor that ramen noodles were a big part of my diet. You could get them for like, 1,340 for a dollar. I’d buy a pound of burger meat and split it into 1/4ths. You brown it up. Then, while the meat is draining, you boil the raman noodles. When cooked, you drain them. Add the cooked noodles and flavor packet to the burger with about 1/3 cup of water. Then you pour in a little cornstarch/water slurry while it’s simmering to thicken it up. Viola! Home made Hamburger Helper! A filling diner just cost you about $1.

Today is, of course, Tell The Truth Tuesday. I am about to rain some truth all over you guys. And by that I mean, I’ll tell you the answer to yesterdays post.

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It’s true. In 1848 the first steam powered aircraft flew. However, it was an unpiloted model. So the dirigible of 1852 is still the first powered flight to be manned. The first steam airplane to lift off with a person at the controls was in 1874, still 30 years before the Wright’s. While the 1874 flight did get off the ground, and the pilot had ‘control’ of the aircraft, a successful, level flight was not made. It was too ungainly to be controlled easily.

By the time an efficent, lightweight steam engine was perfected, it was the 1930’s, and the internal combustion engine was supreme in airplanes by then. So steam was abandoned as a propulsion system for aircraft, except for the odd-ball tinkerers. Well, in 1944 the Nazis did try to come up with a Messerschmidt 264A that would have been powered by steam. They wanted it to become the America bomber. But we bombed them back to their senses.

So there you have it. Steam powered airplanes flew before the Wright borthers did.

So let me ask you a question. What is a tank? (I mean, besides a playhouse for cats). Most of you would say it’s an armored vehicle used for destroying other armored vehicles, right? And that is what we use them for. But what is a tank really designed for? It’s meant to be a breaching weapon. That is, it’s supposed to facilitate a breakthrough of the enemy’s defences.

When they first came out in WWI, they were simply a mobile, armored, machine gun bunker. It was designed to remove the barbed wire from no mans land, and to offer protection to the gunners inside while the destroyed the enemy’s machine gun positions. It was also a psychological weapon. It made the enemy crap their pants when they first saw it.

But if we use the definition of it being a breaching weapon, the tank is much, much older than you think.

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I’m sure most of you have seen the drawings DaVinci did of his idea for a tank. The thing is, no one knows for sure if it was ever built. if it was, whoever built it didn’t record his work, and if it was built and used, no one ever mentioned it.

But that doesn’t matter. Because the tank dates back much earlier than DaVinci.

Weapons needed to breech defences have been needed for as long as people have been building them. Even when your defense was simply a row of stakes, the attacker still needed a way to get through. Most of the time, you couldn’t just rush a defense and hope for it to crack under the sheer weight of our forces. Well, you could. but you’d lose a lot of your forces doing it.

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No defense is impenetrable. Some just cost more to break through. And that’s the idea behind a good defense; To not necessarily stop the attacker, but to make victory so costly for them that they don’t bother. A prime example of this would be the fort from the old west. The US Army built forts that used primarily logs for walls. Now, the attackers could get through the walls. And they sometimes did. But for the most part, they would attack, sense the futility, and leave. Which was good news for the people inside the forts.

But old west forts weren’t all that different from the castles that dot Europe. Castles might seem strong. And they are. But there is no castle that could hold out against a determined attacker. If worst comes to worst, just lay siege and wait the defenders out. They will run out of food and water eventually.

But for the most part, attackers didn’t have the time or the patience to wait out a siege. And they couldn’t just leave the defended castle/fort behind them and move on to the next target. That’s just asking for your rear forces and supply lines to be wiped out. So, most attackers had to assault the defences. They knew it would be costly. But they also knew the odds were in their favor. Defenders have finite resources. Once they’re gone, they’re done. Attackers can always forage.

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So, weapons were devised to bypass the defences of a fort or castle. And the one I’m talking about is the Battering Ram. The worlds first tank.

Rams have been used for as long as people have been putting up barriers. But a dozen men carrying a log isn’t really a tank. That’s why people started adding roofs to their rams. As early as the 9th century BCE the Assyrians were using soaked hides to cover their rams. This offered protection from fire and also from arrows and spears.

As defences got stronger, the need for bigger rams cropped up. So instead of making them so the users carried them, they fashioned wheeled devices to convey the ram and hold it while the men swung it at the defense. And, they were covered for protection.

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And just as today’s armies try to defend against the modern tank, so to did ancient armies try to defend against the ram. Caltrops spread on the ground made walking difficult. And chains would be burried in front of the gates to the city. When the ram started to swing, the chain would be lifted and entangle the ram.

So, while you may not picture a battering ram as being a tank, it actually is. Because, remember, a tank is designed to best defeat a defenders defences. And that’s exactly what a battering ram was designed to do almost three thousand years ago.