It is a quite modern vehicle design, available with 4 or 6 wheels, and can be equipped, with a variety of turret options, including the ‘Hitrole’ remote weapon station.
Like most modern fighting vehicles built since WW2, it has a number of standard features, beyond just its ability to shoot and deflect bullets and shell fragments, to help the crew survive on the modern battlefield. One of those features, found on Puma and almost every other armored vehicle in service is what is known as NBC protection: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical.
Also referred to by the more descriptive acronym: CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear defense). Since the first introduction of the first modern WMD (weapon of mass destruction) in 1915, with the employment of chlorine gas at the WW1 second battle of Ypres, mass casualty weapons have had a profound and terrifying impact, both in actual use in WW1, and implied threat of that use ever since.
Chemical warfare in the first world war inflicted on the order of a million casualties on soldiers and civilians of both sides, with as much as 10% of those fatal. Despite conventions of the Geneva Protocol of the late 1920s, which supposedly banned the use of chemical and bacteriological warfare, all prudent nations have since sought defenses against same. Both sides in WW2 provided troops with gas masks, just in case.
With the detonation at Trinity site, the third component to the witches’ brew, gave us the N of NBC.
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”
― J. Robert Oppenheimer
Cold warriors on both sides of the Fulda gap, in the 50s through the 90s, thought it likely that WW3, if there was to be one, would be fought on contaminated battlefields. Hence armored vehicle designs of the period envisioned highly mobile troops in tanks and the troops to support the tanks, in a new class of vehicles known as, ‘fighting vehicles’.
Troops would be fighting ‘buttoned up’ cocooned in their vehicles, which were equipped with means for all crew members to use their personal weapons from within.
Thanks to a ‘fallout’ technology of the Manhattan project, powered air filtration systems will separate out super fine radioactive dust particles that settle on the battlefield after a nuclear detonation. http://www.approvedgasmasks.com/hepa-filters.htm
During the 1940’s, the first HEPA filter (high efficiency particulate air) was developed as part of a top-secret U.S. military program called the “Manhattan Project” by Arthur D. Little Co., a government contractor working to produce the first atomic weapon. To move forward with the project, scientists needed a means of eliminating the minute but highly toxic radioactive particles that were contaminating experiments and endangering personnel. The scientists were mainly concerned with a specific particle size of 0.3 microns which was the most penetrating and problematic. The revolutionary new HEPA filter they designed solved the problem, and from that point on, the 0.3 micron particle size became the standard for HEPA performance and became the basis for modern HEPA filter designs. And you thought HEPA filters were just invented by the vacuum cleaner company to save us from cat allergies!
Coupled with activated carbon (AKA charcoal) infused with volatile reagents that react and neutralize chemical poisons, the fresh air supply delivered to the crews of NBC vehicles is safe to breathe as they rolled across contaminated battlefields.
One problem that remains is that armored vehicles, at least those that employ weapons, have a lot of ports and other small openings which cannot always be sealed. To overcome this, NBC protected vehicles maintain an ‘overpressure’. This higher pressure maintained inside the vehicle from the air filters, allows a continuous outward leakage to hopefully keep contaminated particles on the outside. Eventually, someone will have to open a hatch, and at that point the crew will either have to don their personal mask system.
Or like the system on the M1 Abrams, use masks that plug into the tank’s onboard NBC system.
It’s one thing to keep the particles of radioactive fallout out of the vehicle to prevent their inhalation by the crew, but what about the actual shielding from the radioactivity outside the vehicle? Radiation that concerns armored vehicle crews comes in two forms: residual and initial. Residual radiation is the rads coming from fallout particles and radioactive soil. The heavy metal body of tanks provides good protection from this with exposure being less than 5% of what unprotected troops would receive. Lightly armored vehicles like our Puma, only provide shielding that still exposes the crew to 40% of what is outside. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a112303.pdf Initial radiation is the flux of gamma and neutron radiation sent out by the explosion itself. Line of sight, distance, and orientation of the vehicle makes a big difference here. For gamma radiation shielding, the thicker the armor the better. But for the neutron flux, even heavy armor is not very effective. In the late 70s and early 80s, weapons designed by the US to maximize neutron flux from the bomb, and hence maximize lethality against Soviet tanks, were temporarily in the US inventory as a counter to massive Soviet superiority in numbers of tanks in western Europe. The Russians responded to this by blanketing the areas of their tanks where the crew was located, both inside and out, with a special boron infused polyethylene blankets. Boron is very effective in capturing neutrons, and would provide good protection.
An unfortunate feature of the depleted uranium (DU) armor used in some of the frontal armor later versions of M1 Abrams is, despite it being most effective against conventional anti-tank munitions, the DU can actually be activated by the neutron flux of an atomic weapon, and expose the crew to even more radiation that conventional steel armor. But what if you were really close to ground zero when the nuke goes off? Well the Russians were concerned enough to design an experimental tank that could survive the blast and supersonic windstorm of a nearby multi-kiloton blast. Enter Object 279.
The aerodynamic shape and four tracks, instead of the usual two, were intended to keep the tank upright when struck by the giant’s fist of blast waves. Once conventional steel armors vulnerability to neutron radiation was understood though, it seemed pointless to produce tanks that could survive where their crews could not. Good thing the Martian invaders in War of the Worlds didn’t have NBC systems!
Scott Booth Bio:
Scott Booth Bio: Often found mucking about with 3D content development for visual simulations, or occasionally small UAS simulation. Usually found in the company of: salty NCOs, (yeah, you Tony), pilotsall types, gun nuts, manned space flight advocates, old car/truck/jeep fans, Sci-Fi readers, military historians, genius software programmers who like corny jokes, rocket scientists, dark beer drinkers, type-A sales guys, and other related near-do-wells. Experience – 30 years visual simulation content development, company co-owner-founder – CG2 1995- 2004, Small UAS simulation, AEgis-Vampire, Raven operator license, class 11-008, 2011. Visual recognition expert, aircraft, armor, ships, subs, small arms, amateur military historian and shade tree auto mechanic.