T-55 Removal inc.
1st Lt. Pedro Fernández Vicente
First published in
SFOR Informer#131, January 31, 2002
The Theatre of Operations Support Element (GSA) of the
Italian Battle Group (IBG) carried assisted the Army of Republika
Srpska (VRS) on behalf of SFOR Jan. 17. They transported a
VRS T-55 tank from the VRS Brigade station in Zvornik to VRS
Brigade station in Pale Koran. The convoy travelled over 300-km
in very bad weather conditions. The Spanish Circulation Control
Unit (UCC) co-ordinated the movement and escorted the convoy.
Route Sparrow - An IBG ATC-81 tank transporter carried out
the mission to move an armored vehicle. The transporter is
a large vehicle: 18 meters long and one meter wider than a
civilian lorry. Its great size can cause problems on the roads.
It is for this reason that the UCC supported its movements.
12 hours on the road
"We had to drive six hours to Zvornik and another six
hours back. The weather conditions were extremely bad. There
was fog, snow, and ice on the road. Jan. 17 was a long day
for all of us," said Italian WO2 Damiano Mirelli who
was in charge of the transportation.
" The ATC-81 has six wheel drive but the bad weather
was caused problems. On the way back, along some of the downhill
stretches, the ATC could have easily skidded because of the
weight of the tank. This would have resulted in losing control
of the vehicle, and ultimately, would have ended in catastrophe.
The truck weighs 30 ton and the T-55 weighs 38 ton. In these
conditions every down slope becomes a serious challenge for
you," said Italian WO2 Massino Dilorio, one of the ATC
"The worst part of the journey was going up to the Poglad
mountain pass. There are three sharp bends near the top and
the ATC had lost part of its turning capability due to the
weight of the tank. Plus the road was narrow so we hardly
passed, but at the end, we transported the tank to Pale,"
said Italian WO2 Giuseppe Carbone, the other driver.
"The ATC has a self-loading and unloading system. The
system has two parallel winches in the front and a pulley
in the back. Loading a tank is a very dangerous and precise
operation. One problem is that the cables are under so much
tension that if they break, they could easily cut a person
in two. That is the reason why we work alone during loading
and unloading operations. Another is the width of the trailer
is close to the tank width. We have to center the load on
the platform exactly so that we can fasten and secure it.
This is the only way or the ATC can not to move," commented
"If the load is not perfectly centered and balanced we
can lose control of the ATC. This has really been the most
difficult transportation mission of my life," said Dilorio.
"Traffic control was not so difficult. There was only
one real difficult point in the Poglad mountain pass where
we thought the ATC could block the road," commented Spanish
Staff Sergeant Juan Delgado Garnacho.
"The last problem was when we arrived at VRS's Camp in
Pale. They were not expecting us because they never thought
that the transportation could be made in such awful weather
conditions. We had to wait for more than an hour for them
to to unload the tank," said Span-ish Staff Sgt. Juan
Luis Luque Criado, from UCC.
Nations of SFOR: Italy
SFOR at Work