Strange Vehicles > Chrysler TV-8 Nuclear-Powered Tank
The Chrysler TV-8 was an extremely strange-looking medium tank concept which was developed in the 1950s. But if it's appearance was odd, it was nothing compared to the proposed power source, a nuclear fission-powered vapor-cycle power plant located towards the rear of the main compartment!
Design work on the Chrysler TV-8 began in the early 1950s. The Chrysler Corporation wanted to build a tank which was different from all previous tanks, and one which also, in their eyes, was better.
The unconventional design of the TV-8 featured a modular construction, with the lower portion able to separate from the main body for easier transport. In addition, unlike most tanks, where the crew compartment is in the main body, and the rotating turret sits above. In the TV-8 the entire crew compartment, main gun and powerplant are all housed in one massive turret. The tank was designed to be manned by a crew of four, but if required it could be crewed by just two, the driver and gunner.
The Chrysler TV-8 was fitted with a 90mm T208 main gun with a hydraulic ram. The ammunition was stored behind a steel bulkhead separating the crew compartment. Two coaxial .30 caliber machine guns were located up front, and on the roof there was a remote control .50 caliber machine gun. The tank was also equipped with external video cameras relaying images to screens in the crew compartment. This was designed to allow the crew to see their surroundings without having to open any hatches, and also protect them from the flash of tactical nuclear explosions.
The tank's armor consisted of two layers around the crew compartment. The outer section acted as spaced armor to protect the inner layer by pre-detonating shaped-charge penetrating warheads, however its curved shape was also designed to deflect glancing rounds. The inner layer was composed of traditional thick metal plating.
Amazingly, despite its 25 ton weight, the Chrysler TV-8 was designed to float (due to its watertight turret), and it could even propel itself through the water using water jets located at the rear.
Aside from the nuclear powered option, Chrysler also had some more conventional drive system options, including an internal combustion V8 and a gas turbine engine. The only prototype of the TV-8 was fitted with a 300 horsepower V8 which acted as a generator to supply electricity to the two electric motors driving each of the 28-inch wide tracks.
In the end the project was abandoned. Chrysler were unable to convince the US military that their unusual tank offered any noticeable benefits in comparison with more conventional, and also much simpler designs already available. The TV-8 was finally canceled by Chrysler in 1956.