Owning a giant piece of military history

It’s not uncommon to run into a gun enthusiast, or someone who has made a hobby of collecting antique firearms. However, a step beyond that is a small group of individuals across the U.S. who devote a great deal of time – and an ever greater amount of money – to collecting something a little heavier: tanks.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, there are an estimated 1,000 private tank owners in the country today. Due to the fact that tanks are rarely street legal, the hobby mostly includes heavy restoration and maintenance on the vehicles. However, the news source does report one instance in which a pair of brothers took their 1966 British Chieftan tank out into the desert to drive over a dilapidated car.

In addition to the extravagant cost of purchasing a piece of military history – the Journal cites examples ranging $75,000 to $387,000 – it takes an army, so to speak, to keep it running. The full restoration process takes at least 2,000 man-hours of work at a going rate of $50 an hour, not to mention the fact that each hour of operation must be followed up with an hour of maintenance.

It should come to no surprise that getting permission to own a tank with operational weaponry is a little more difficult than getting a gun license. It can be very quick and easy getting a concealed carry permit for a gun in many states including Iowa – you can review the laws for iowa concealed carry weapons permits here if you want. But for a tank like this, it is a little more complex. To begin with, ownership requires a $200 investment in a federal Destructive Device permit and the owner to sign a number of forms in the presence of a police officer.

The fact that these military devices from early in the 20th century are still operational is evidence of what can happen when metal components hold up against corrosion. With that in mind, accelerated corrosion testing will likely continue to play an enormous role in military vehicle and weapons production moving forward.