Now that production has begun on the new US light tank, the GeneralDynamics Griffen 2, there must be a major manufacturer undertaking a 1/35th scale production run as well. Anyone aware of any rumours?
design is not finalized yet. There will be a few external changes for sure
I thought it was beginning production but you are correct Gary. Thanks for the heads up.
Well look how long it took for a hobby manufacture to offer a model of the new Russian tank? It had already broken down in the May Day Parade and we still had not yet seen a model by that time.
take it this way. It’ll be a minimum of 18 months just to get the machinery in house to build it. Then it will take roughly another 12 months to get the machines set and the tooling bugs worked out. Then the next 18 to 24 months will drive a programer nuts just keeping up with the edits and revisions. When we started the Abrams tank, I was in the building as they were just starting to pour concrete in the second half of the place. We had brand new CNC machine centers and lathes stored everywhere we could find an unused piece of concrete. We got the corporation to free up an area that was later to become the tool room. A few machines had arrived for that area, and we just hid them away for a few months. We sat down and figured out where the starting points were for this unit. At the sametime we are building lots of seventeen units and then about twenty five units in a tool room across the street. They run about two to two and a half million a piece (1979 dollars) as Lima needs these as well as Yuma and two other places. We set four large machine centers on a temporary setup, and the next step is to get the tooling debugged. Even though we ordered in the equipment as a “turn key operation”, things change constantly. The factory service guys are on the phone constantly making major program revisions. With half these machines it takes close to 30 days to get them to cut one chip of metal! We get the machines up and running and cutting metal. Then we run into problems that nobody thought about. These machines will throw metal chips twenty feet in the air, so you can imagine the mess. They finally decide the concrete has cured enough to start the next phase of this mess. High quality CNC machinery hates vibrations, so each one has to be placed on an isolation pad bigger than the foot print of the machine. The plant layout guys mark where they want the set, and we start sawing brand new concrete 24/7. Seems like they have two or three saws going all the time and the noise is deafening. After we get the concrete slabs removed we start digging holes for three foot thick pads all over the place. Six weeks later were are waiting on the pads to cure while they are cutting others. We start moving these machines while we still have to room to get them in place. Then we start drilling holes in the new pads, and sinking anchors in them. Then we start setting them one by one. I set four of them and pull off the main case project for another quagmire with smaller machines, but at least I can get one of them cutting metal in about five days or less. It becomes a “putting out fires on an hourly basis.” Nobody has ever seen so many machine centers under one roof, and you literally have to train operators on the fly. Wrecks are a daily event, and some are major repairs. I remember the valve bodies that were so desperately needed just like the main case. The basic ideas were great, but doing them was quite a project. TACOM had some crazy numbers to deal with, and also nearly impossible to comply with. They even went so far as to have an outfit that had 16 SIP’s machine them ($$$$!), and were not as good what we were getting (I could have told them that from the start). A new concept of reamers came out of Germany, and that alone put us over the top. The next balloon to bust was with the gears and the gear grinders. TACOM had stupid crazy ideas that were near impossible to make. By the end of 18 months all the gear grinders had to be rebuilt, plus about half of the gear cutting machines. Just kept snow balling. In that time frame we averaged a wreck on a lathe daily. Most were not all that bad, but a few were real bad. While all this is happening we are installing the heat treat furnaces, and the folks installing them failed to catch major issues that four or five years down the road would become a major issue. The guy who was the plant manager would have these daily meetings with us dumping his latest issue in our laps.
To be honest with you the power pack took almost four years to get it running the way we wanted it to run. Then we learned about the seven year cycle on machinery. I stayed in there for almost fourteen years, and it was like a vacation when I finally got out of there. You just can’t get a major machine operation going over night.
I asked General Dynamics Land Systems and the US Army about this tank and there are a lot of secrets and classified information that they don’t want to disclose such as range, speed, ammo load, dimensions, performance, armor, specifications, etc.
I’m not saying that it won’t be made into a model kit someday, just that they’re guarding this light tank pretty closely for now to prevent peer competition.
I don’t know if it exists on some executive’s desk as a custom scale model kit or not. It took decades before Black Ops Models made a 1/35 scale model of the SEAL DPV (since DML/Dragon never did), but it only took years for Airborne Miniatures to make a 1/35 resin Polaris MRZR. Perhaps we’ll see a 105mm MPF kit made in 3D resin first before any plastic manufacturer.
Well thanks for the intel on production process Gary. I think I’ll pour myself and ice cold Bud and sit back and ponder the length of time it will take Tamiya to power up their process, once all the adjusting is accomplished.
OK. I will ask. What is the seven year cycle on machinery?
The machine tool wears out? Becomes out dated? The newest software will no longer talk to the older machine. Cant hold to the required tolorances any more?
The power pack and the lower hull and drive trane is where it all starts. they will make several turrets out of boiler plate, and down the road cut them apart with various revisions here and there. Then when they have a very close idea as to just what fits their needs; they’ll build several real turrets. I remember one electric drive assault vehicle they did years back, and after building about six prototypes; they came back and made 117 bolt hole revisions! Plus I hate to think about what they did to the basic hull design. Once they get a good working design; they get serious. TACOM requires a 25,000 hour test on the drive train parts, and all the while your waiting for a firm design. Once you get that they will do this test, and it has to meet that spec. On paper it looks easy, but it never works out that way. Any revision made means you have to do that test all over again. Just making the tooling for the dyno takes a couple months from the design start. During the tests the engine will often be the part to fail. Most of the time they simply change out the engine and go on, but with a hybrid design you start over.
They are going to build it at Warren Michigan (last time I heard), and that place is pretty empty right now. It’s the old Chrysler tank plant that has had many users over the years. I’ve been in when they did Abrams hulls back in the eighties. Lima couldn’t keep up, so the reopened that place for assembly purposes. Now they’ll be cutting metal as well. Hulls are pretty easy, and mostly welded construction, but there are a lot of chinks in that idea.
On the same line of thought I have no idea where Allison will build this power pack. There is a building ran by TACOM that does the Abrams stuff, but I expect it to be retooled for the Abrams X and yet retain the old design for parts. There’s not a lot of room left in there, and they may have to redesign that whole place. Yet the Griffin parts will have to find a home base. I suspect another new building, and who knows where. (it’ll be in Speedway for sure) Plant seven would have been the place, but it’s been taken over by the hybrid electric truck industry that’s a big ticket item right now. They have access to all the property to the south, and they may just buy it up. Construction industry is going to be real busy over the next twelve months somewhere close by. Around here that’s an issue all by itself.
a machine is designed and built to last seven years working two eight hour shifts a day. I wish I could say that about Japanese equipment, and they rarely make it to the five year mark. German equipment can be good and also can be a boat anchor. They do make some really nice gear cutting equipment that seems to hold up well. The rest are suspect.
With heavy duty drive train parts you’re doing a lot of hard metal from the start, and this will eat up machinery unless it’s way over built. Then there are the clowns that have no idea what they are doing, but designing parts. I remember the carriers for the X1100 (Abrams) that were high quality forgings. The issue was that they had a minimum hardness that was border line unmachineable, and no maximum hardness. They ate machine spindles alive ($$$$!), and spindle bearings ($$$). It got so bad that they tried them on much heavier equipment with the same issues. It was cheaper to bust up the smaller machines per TACOM!! Each machine ate two spindles a week on the U.S. tax payers account. We tried and tried to get TACOM to change the specs, and they refused. I made a lot of money keeping them going. At least the new power pack is an Allison design, so it will be much easier to machine parts for