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Posted on Aug 2, 2005 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 09] – Drop Tanks – Of Death

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno

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Starring:

Doctor Sinister

Doctor Sinister. An evil Supervillain with an insane lust for power. From his secret island base, the Doctor plans to become future Emperor and Warlord of the planet Earth. Enjoys the company of cats and cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs.

And featuring:


General Menace. Graduated from West Point Military Academy with honours, served for twenty-five years in the US Army, reaching level of 2-star General in command of training facilities before being recruited by Doctor Sinister to command his New Model Army of World Domination. Has a penchant for cigars.

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EPISODE 9 – “Drop Tanks – of Death”

The sun hangs low in the red sky as General Menace steps from his personal gold-plated Apache Helicopter, straightening his uniform as armed guards fall into procession behind him. A soft breeze rustles across the brush of Test Range 7 as the General strides towards the small collection of huts by the side of the small service road.

A large green tent in the middle of the buildings serves as a temporary Command Post – nervous men in white coats scurry around, exchanging clipboards and typing incomprehensible data into laptop computers resting precariously on collapsible wooden desks.

The General pauses briefly to ask for directions and sets off at a fast pace towards a strange object several hundred yards off in the distance.

Five minutes later…

Doctor Sinister: Thanks for meeting me out here at the test facility General, I know you’re a busy man.

General: Yes Sir! In fact, I’m glad we have this opportunity to talk, because I’ve discovered a serious deficiency in our field equipment and…

Sounds jolly interesting, jolly interesting, take a walk with me won’t you?

Yes my Lord, anyway, as I was saying…

Has anyone offered you a cigar?

That’s a negative Sire.

Damn that servant. Tell you what – I’ll have him shot, just for you.

I’m sure there’s no need for that your Benevolence, I’ll live.

Excellent! That’s the spirit!

Anyway my Lord, about this problem I’ve found…

(Stops abruptly) Do you like tanks, General?

Well, affirmative Sir, they can be very effective, if used properly.

What about the Tanks we’ve got?

Well my Lord, I’m very impressed with them. The SinTank III design is right up there amongst the best of them all – fast, manoeuvrable and with an excellent gun. It’s a very fine Main Battle Tank. It could easily take on the Abrams M1 or the Challenger without any problems at all.

Good, I’m very pleased to hear you say that, because I’ve had a fantastic idea.

(Nervous) An idea Sir?

Yes! Take a look ahead of you!! What do you see?

Well, your Magnificence, it appears to be one of our SinTanks suspended from a metal cage three hundred feet from the ground.

Excellent – so you see the potential then?

I see the potential destruction of the tank if that cage fails to hold. I’m sure I’m missing something. Potential for what, Sir?

A new Airborne Division. Parachute Tanks!

Parachute Tanks, Sire?

Yes! Picture the scene, we load a bunch of SinTanks aboard a transport plane and fly over enemy territory…

(Groan),,,

…and we parachute them behind enemy lines!!

(Groan)

Imagine the scene – it’ll be great – we can swoop down from the sky in our Tanks shooting at our enemies all the way down – they won’t know what hit them!!

Tanks, shooting at enemies on the way down to the ground?

YES! Oh I’m so glad you agree that this is a good idea General!! Here, have another Star for your uniform.

Well, thank you Sir, but I wasn’t exactly agreeing with you.

You weren’t?

No your Magnificence, in fact, with respect, this is a truly dreadful idea.

It is? Are you worried about the height perhaps? Because we can go in lower if you are…

Higher would be better Sir. Except, it could be thirty thousand feet Sir, and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference.

Why not, pray tell?

Well, for a start, you won’t even get a single SinTank aboard one of our transport planes – each one weighs 60 tons.

No problem, we’ll invest in some larger planes.

Well, OK, but that’s not really the issue.

So what is the issue, exactly?

A Main Battle Tank is not exactly designed for being thrown out of an airplane, Sagacity. Not from any kind of altitude. At that weight, no parachute in the world is going to stop a Tank from simply making a very large hole in the ground.

Well, perhaps we could cushion the fall then? Some kind of giant airbag beneath each Tank that activates before landing? I’ll get the R&D boys onto it immediately.

I’m afraid it just won’t work Sir. As for the Tanks firing their weapons as they freefall down to the ground, I don’t think you’ve really grasped the concept of modern ballistics, airflow and targeting systems. Even the ‘flying tank’ idea has been tried before, with the U.S. designing the M1932, which could be equipped with a biplane and rotor assembly, and the Russian’s KT/A-40 design, complete with wings and tail fin. Neither one saw wide production. It’s just not a feasible idea, My Liege.

Well, this is ludicrous. Other nations have Airborne Divisions – how do they get by?

They simply drop lots of soldiers all at once, Sir. The job of Paratroopers is to cause confusion and chaos behind enemy lines, sabotage vital equipment, capture bridges and strategic locations and then link up with advancing conventional forces. Occasionally, very occasionally, they might have the benefit of heavier weapons in support, but this is rare.

I see.

I’m afraid this idea is a no-go Sire.

Well that’s damned disappointing. I’ll have to have that Star back now you know.

Yes, I know, and I’m truly sorry my Lord. But I think perhaps you ought to bring that Tank back down to the ground – I can see some of the crewmen crying for help.

(Turns to walk back) Well, maybe in the morning, I need to get back to HQ, I’ve just thought of another brilliant idea.

You have Sir? Your genius clearly knows no bounds…

Yes, we take those new transport planes we’re going to order and we fill them with attack helicopters – I think I’ve just invented the airborne aircraft carrier!

Yes, my Lord…

Drop Tank

A J Summersgill and Jim H. Moreno

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

jim@armchairgeneral.com

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