04/02/12 189 W, 1 I - + 7 - 6 Mini Tank and Mother Engine, 1969

Here's an intriguing find from eBay, a concept drawing of an airport fire engine published in the Boston Herald on April 27, 1969. The caption read "mini tank and mother engine." Google finds a couple archived new stories about the drawing. UPI out of Frankfurt, Germany, reported: "The solution to the ever-present danger of landing or takeoff crashes, intensified by the 400-plus passenger capacity of a jumbo jet, is a small, radio-controlled mini-tank capable of climbing over blazing wreckage and blasting a fire-free patch to passengers with a foam cannon."

The article notes the "mini tank" is "about the size of a child's pedal automobile, can be released down a ramp, and directed from the cab." The small unit is connected via an asbestos-lined hose. Three West German firms were building the truck for Fire Chief Ernst Achilles at a cost of about $200,000. The Chief's inspiration came from a German World War II failure, a radio-controlled tiny tank called the "Goliath" that was unsuccessfully used against Russian tanks. Wonder what the prototype looked like?

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