In real life tank soldiering, just like in WoT, it is important to fire the first shot when engaging an enemy tank. One of the most important factors that determines a first round hit is the correct range estimation to the target. With the right range the gunner can lay the gun onto the target taking the velocity of the ammunition into consideration. Modern tanks have laser rangefinders linked to electronic fire control systems that make this very easy. However, the ability for a tank commander to estimate the range to a target using the mark 1 eyeball is still important. I remember many sessions of estimating ranges in the Dorset countryside during my tank commander course at Bovington, England.
In the early seventies another method was employed to assist the tank commander in range estimation. This was the .50 Browning ranging gun. This gun was mounted coaxially to the main armament and fired ammunition that produced a white flash when it struck a hard object. The firing mechanism was such that it fired a 3 round burst.
And so to my story which is true and really happened.
The British Army has a huge training facitity called BATUS in Canada. It is one of the few places where tanks fire live ammunition during major movement exercises. In the 70's the main battle tank was the Chieftain. During a main exercise a particular Chieftain broke down (nothing new here). It took some time before it was repaired (pack change). Once fixed, the tank commander received orders to rejoin his squadron. It was the middle of the night and the tank had to move tactically. If you study the film in the link you will see that BATUS is open prairie. No real cover apart from the undulating terrain. Our tank commander thought the best way to get back was in a straight line and off he went. Using the moonlight and time/distance estimations he was 2 hours into the journey when the crew heard tap,tap,tap. At first they thought they had run over something or that something was loose on the tank so they stopped. Immediately they heard again tap,tap,tap on the outside of the tank....
"Holy f*ck, driver turn your lights on NOW and reverse hard!!" screamed the commander. On the radio he sent "Stop, stop, stop. Unknown tank do not fire, do not fire, you are aiming at a friendly tank". Nothing else happened.
When the light came in the morning there were a number of holes in the stowage bins and richochet marks on the tank. Now other tank in the area admitted to starting an engagement the night before.
Anyone else experienced a near miss?