In a Homemade Tank, Syrian Rebels Use a PlayStation Controller to Operate a Machine Gun | Smart News | Smithsonian
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In a Homemade Tank, Syrian Rebels Use a PlayStation Controller to Operate a Machine Gun

The Syrian rebel forces, who face a strong disparity in access to the tools of war, have fashioned themselves a homemade tank

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The ongoing battle in Syria has continued to escalate within recent days. As NBC News reports, the Syrian military is preparing to potentially use its stockpiles of chemical weapons, having “loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, officials said.”

On the opposite side, the Syrian rebel forces, who face a strong disparity in access to the tools of war, have fashioned themselves a homemade tank, says The Atlantic Wire, “assembled out of spare parts over the course of a month.”

Named for ancient Syria, … the Sham II sort of rough around the edges, but it’s got impressive guts. It rides on the chassis of an old diesel car and is fully encased in light steel that’s rusted from the elements. Five cameras are mounted around the tanks outside, and there’s a machine gun mounted on a turning turret. Inside, it kind of looks like a man cave. A couple of flat screen TVs are mounted on opposite walls. The driver sits in front of one, controlling the vehicle with a steering wheel, and the gunner sits at the other, aiming the machine gun with a Playstation controller.

Agence France-Presse:

The fully-enclosed vehicle made from light steel is about four metres (yards) in length and two metres across, mounted with a 7.62 mm machinegun controlled from inside the cabin.

…The metal walls are 2.5 centimetres thick and said to be able to resist up to 23 mm cannon fire. The vehicle, however, can not withstand a rocket-propelled grenade or tank fire.

Whether or not the homebrew tank will change the dynamic of battle, says the Verge, “hacking and ingenuity are proving to be critical to the opposition’s ongoing campaign.”

More from Smithsonian.com:
Looters Are Selling Artifacts to Fund War in Syria
If Syria Uses Chemical Weapons, Here’s How They’ll Work
UNESCO-Listed Medieval Souk in Syria Burned, Bombed

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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