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Some People Will Own a Ferrari or a Rolls, While Others Will Own a Tank

MG is a senior air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff College and a notable writer on military history.

  Ride in a WWII Chaffee

Ride in a WWII Chaffee


America is a great place and so to an extent, is England. On a visit to America a few years back, I was intrigued to see a tank rolling out of our neighbor's garage. It was a lovely vehicle, kept spic and span. To see a tank in our neighborhood was certainly a sight. I was reminded that some people who have lots of money will like to own a luxury car like a Rolls Royce, but some who have esoteric tastes will go in for a tank.

The Tank is a weapon of offense and was invented and used during the First World War. It developed as a weapon during World War II and some of the greatest tank battles are now history, as the clash at Kursk.

Before I write anything further, I would like to make two points. Firstly, is it legal to own a tank in America? the answer is 'yes.' The second point and that is very important is that tanks have never been used for any terrorist activity or mass killing in the United States.

Soviet T34- cheaper but gas guzzler

Soviet T34- cheaper but gas guzzler

Arnold Schwarzenegger and his tank

Arnold Schwarzenegger and his tank

Macho hobby

Most of the tanks that are bought for private use or as a hobby are from the Second World War. They are part of the military surplus and sold as scrap. But the restoration work on these gun carriages is costly. It can set you back by $100,000. And that is a tidy sum of money. The tanks also cost quite a bit and the British and WE tanks like the Chafee, Sherman, and Chieftain are popular purchases. But some may go in for Soviet-era tanks and these will cost 1/4th the price of the American and British tanks. But the maintenance costs are heavier. The most popular acquisition is the Russian T-34. It is a wonderful machine but doesn't expect to get more than 1 km on a gallon of gas.

There is a lot of talk of gun control in the USA, but you can still own a tank. For this, you will need a Police clearance and you will have to prove you are not a lunatic. There is a special permit for these exotic weapons and it is called DDP or Destructive Device Permit. The fee is $200 for it. The FBI will also keep tabs on you, but that is part of the game. After you have dished out almost $ 200,000 to get the machine on the road, you won't mind these small expenses. The silver lining is that I do not recollect a tank being used for any terror attack.

The thrill of owning a tank is beyond measure. It also gives tremendous pride. I requested to see the inside of the tank next door, it was a Sherman of World War II vintage and the owner readily consented. I sat in the tank and wondered at which battle this awesome machine must have taken part in; North Africa? Europe? One can't tell.

As I sauntered in the tank with my host, I learned that these machines are not allowed on public thoroughfares and hence they ply in the countryside. You can even go into a remote area and test fire the cannon. What a sound it makes. The tanks are gas guzzlers and give just about a mile on a gallon, though you can fill in 250 gallons of diesel. The Soviet tanks will give even lesser mileage. But all in all, it's an exotic hobby, only for the rich and discernible. India is a long way back, maybe it will never happen here.

Last word

Many people have asked me whether you can have a tank with an active gun that can fire. Now here is the challenge because most of the time when the tanks are sold as scrap their barrels are spiked and they can't fire. But if you hunt around or contact a dealer you may be able to get a tank with an operational main gun.

You can transfer it from the original owner under the National Firearms Act as a “destructive device” subject to all taxes and regulations, Federal and State, based on where you live. You will have to check the regulations of each state.

The transfer tax is$200 for the gun itself and for every round of ammunition you buy.

If the tank is outside the USA, it's almost impossible. Mainly because most countries will allow the weapon to be exported only after it is “demilled” (rendered permanently inoperable).

The tank itself requires no license. You can order T-55s from overseas and bring them in to play in your backyard without a permission slip from anyone, as long as the gun is disabled. If you want to shoot 100mm rounds on your property, you will have to find one of the rare fully functional tanks in the USA. The game is big bucks. Arnold Schwarzenegger owned a tank I don't know if he is still having it.

All said and done, owning a tank is a great hobby but a costly one and certainly not for the average individual.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2021:

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Pamela, it's a pleasure to read your comment. Yes, it's legal to own a tank. It's sad that people go about killing innocent men /women for nothing with guns.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2021:

Ravi, thanks for commenting. When I was in the USA, I was surprised to see a tank moving about. Great fun to sit in it.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 27, 2021:

I did not know people were allowed to own tanks, so this is very interesting. i imagine you very much enjoyed sitting in the tank, MG. I am not too surprised that Arnold Schwarzenegger owns one.

Recently there have been shootings injuring and killing people, so we will hear much more talk about gun control. I don't understand why someone wants to go into a store and kill strangers. I assume they have serious psychiatric problems.

Thanks for sharing this information, MG.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 27, 2021:

Thanks, MG. I never knew that it is legal to own tanks in the US. Although I agree it would be quite expensive to maintain a tank in ship-shape condition, yes the thrill of owning such a massive monster cannot be overstated. Thanks for sharing MG this wonderful bit of trivia.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2021:

Thanks, Peggy, did you get a chance to get a ride in that tank as I did in the Sherman.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2021:

Tom, thank you for your comment. This is the beauty of America.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2021:

We know of one tank owner in a ritzy area of Houston metro called River Oaks. It was parked outside the owner's mansion for a time. It was certainly an unusual sight! It has since been moved.

tom on March 27, 2021:

you can own warplane in us ,unarmed of course movie tank comedy

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2021:

Liz, sweet of you to have commented. The fact is America is the only place in the world where you can own a tank, as far as I know.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 27, 2021:

This is an interesting, well-illustrated and thought-provoking article. In the UK I have come across experience centers, where, for a fee, people can have a go at driving tanks and other vehicles on private land. But I have not come across private ownership of tanks. It might be useful in the rush hour commute.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on March 27, 2021:

Thanks, Col, I could have given the info you wanted but it would not be appropriate. I had been to the Czech republic and even met an arms dealer and also examined a Soviet T34. The price deflated me.

Lt Col Parduman Singh on March 27, 2021:

Wonderful article and I loved every word of it. At the end of it I felt you could have given us some clues as to where we can buy these tanks.

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