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Tough tankers keep fuel flowing

PETROLEUM transports belonging to the US Army and Marines became familiar sights throughout the Iraqi theater of operations both during and after Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fuel haulers helped win the war and continue to play a role in supporting US military operations and rebuilding the country.

The tankers were built to rigorous standards by several manufacturers and are designed to operate virtually anywhere under virtually any conditions. While not on a par with petroleum hauling equipment in the commercial sector, military tankers are capable of being airlifted worldwide in a C-130 cargo plane.

The latest manufacturer to get the military contract is Heil Trailer International. However, this is nothing new for the cargo tank builder. Heil turned out its first cargo tanks for the US Army in 1916 — welded steel tanks used to transport water through the wilds of northern Mexico during General John J Pershing's pursuit of Pancho Villa.

Under the latest contract, Heil is building 752 tank trailers for the US military in two versions. The M967A2 is used primarily as a bulk fuel transporter and has a tare weight of 16,500 pounds. The M969A3 is intended for use in refueling other vehicles in the field and weighs 17,750 pounds. Both can be used with the M915A3 tractor from Freightliner and the M1088A1 cabover from Stewart & Stevenson.

Heil is fabricating the single-compartment 5,000-gallon tanks from type 304 stainless steel. Vessel design is elliptical with internal surge baffles and a reduced frontal cross section.

The tanks have fully welded overturn rails and bottom support framework. Tank hardware includes a 20-inch Betts stainless steel domelid and Betts mechanical vapor vent, four-inch aluminum piping, and a single API adaptor.

Two overfill systems are used, one of which is Civacon's ROM II for commercial loading racks. The tanks also have a Carter “Jet Level” sensor unit for other bottom-loading locations.

An interesting feature added by the military is the Ohmart Vega liquid level gauge system, according to Jack Taubert at Heil Trailer International. Radar detects liquid level inside the tank, and readings are displayed on a control panel gauge. The gauge system keeps soldiers off the top of the trailer and can be tied in with a GPS unit for remote monitoring of product levels.

A Gorman Rupp centrifugal pump powered by a 35-horsepower Lombardini diesel motor facilitates product handling. The system is capable of pumping rates of up to 600 gpm for offloading and 375 gpm for loading.

Truck-Lite lighting comes with a blackout package. Running gear includes a Hutch single-point spring suspension, 25,000-lb-capacity Meritor axles, MeritorWABCO antilock braking, and Goodyear radial tires.

The tank trailers are being painted OD green or desert tan. The coating system starts with a zinc-rich primer. A Hentzen CARC (Chemical Agent Resistant Coating) finish coat is applied over the primer.

The M969A3 refueler varies only slightly from the basic specifications. Housed in a large cabinet on the street side are two 3-inch Smith meters and two Nordic electric-rewind hose reels, each with 50 feet of 1½-inch petroleum hose. Also part of the system are a fuel filter and water separator.

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