“Big Wind” is a 46-ton beast made from a tank chassis and two turbojet engines that is powerful enough to blow out oil fires like candles on a birthday cake.
Oil well fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish as the pressure under the earth’s crust keeps the oil rushing to the surface. until the well is capped. An immense amount of combustible fuel supplied to the inferno means that when an oil well does erupt into flames, they often go on for a long time, costing fortunes and causing an environmental disaster.
In 1991, Iraqi soldiers had conquered the city of Kuwait, but were expulsed by a United Nations intervention. In their hasty retreat, the soldiers set fire to an astonishing network of 600 oil wells throughout Kuwait in an attempt to cripple oil production in the country. Just one oil well fire is a mammoth effort to extinguish, but an entire country filled with billowing flames and toxic fumes raining from the sky was a catastrophe.
Most oil well fires are extinguished by obscene amounts of seawater, sprayed directly at the base until it cannot continue, but in this scenario this wouldn’t have been feasible due to the huge number of fires to be put out.
Enter Big Wind, designed by Hungarian engineers after a prototype created back in 1968 to put out a gas well fire in Algyő, Hungary. This colossal 46-ton beast is exactly what it looks like – two powerful jet engines strapped onto the top of a Soviet-era tank. More precisely, the tank base is a T-34, a medium tank that saw ample battles during World War II, but the gun is now replaced by two MiG-21 fighter jet engines. Much bigger shooters.
How Big Wind performed during the Gulf War? It was perfectly equipped for the job. The tank went to the spot and the MiG-21 engines fired up, forcing huge amounts of air at the speed of sound directly out of the tank’s modified turret.
And then, there was more. Complete with three water pipes on each engine to introduce water into the mix, Big Wind could output 220 gallons of water per second in a powerful jet of exhaust and steam. That meant even the most stubborn oil well fires didn’t stand a chance.
I mean, check this out:
So far, two turbojet fire extinguishers with a MiG-15 jet engine have been built in Hungary. A 1968 prototype, to put out a gas well fire near Algyő, Hungary, in 1968. And Big Wind, to stop the disaster in Kuwait.
The turbo-jet fire extinguisher Big Wind is also known as “Well-Fire Killer”, “Fire-Fighting Armor” or “Armored Fire-Fighter” and is located at the Pest Region Aircraft Repair Plant in Tököl, Hungary.
Let’s hope it won’t have to be taken away from there and deployed again to extinguish silly wars.