machine tools

Students sit in front of the 1/8th scale model of the M1A1 Abrams tank that they built in instructor Kurt Chouinard’s machine tool technology class at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, MA.


In Fall River, Massachusetts, children not old enough to shave are building weapons of war.

That lede is a little misleading …

Actually, high school sophomores just old enough to get their driver’s license at the Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in the 10th largest city in Massachusetts built a 1/8th scale model of an M1A1 Abrams tank, a model still used by the United States military, in the school’s machine tool technology department.

The Diman school project headed up by machine tools technology department instructor Kurt Chouinard built the scale model of the tank in their Winter and Spring 2013 semester.

Michael Gagne reports on the project in Fall River’s The Herald News:

The all-aluminum Diman model is made up of 500 pieces throughout in the tank’s shell, frame, turret and wheels and suspension, held together with hundreds of machine screws and rivets. It’s more than three feet long, a foot tall and 18 inches wide, and weighs 125 pounds.

In the largest project ever at Diman, approximately 29 sophomores with a little help by a few juniors used 14 milling machines, 12-13×14” lathes and 3-13×60” lathes among other machine tools to build the scale model of the Abrams tank that Chouinard hopes to be radio-controlled by this Christmas.

The students started the project in December 2012 and purchased a 1/64th scale model of the tank, the size of a Matchbox toy car that could fit in your hand. The students took the model apart and, using computer-aided design (CAD) software, developed 3D models of the tank’s components. From these models and images found online, the students created 2D blueprints to machine the 320 different components of the Abrams tank.

According to Chouinard, the project was meant to get the students excited about the possibilities of what you can create with machine tools. When faced with the enormity of the project – 1,700 individual, interlocking pieces – the students never balked.

“They were all very excited,” Chouinard adds. “There wasn’t a single student that said, ‘Oh, do we have to do that?’”

The United States military is certainly impressed by the project. Representatives from the Army plan to see the scale Abrams tank this Fall and indicated to Diman officials that the number of components in the school’s model is nearly identical to that of an actual Abrams tank.

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