top of page

A better way for fuel tank protection on a civilian armoured vehicle

What do you think is global demand for buggy whips in 2024? You know, those whips that horse and buggy drivers used around the turn of the turn of the 19th or 20th centuries?

Well, a simple Google search reveals that demand for buggy whips is not all that much. After all, there are not all that many buggies around, right? To be sure, this product went the way of most products that did not keep up with technological innovation.

I’ve been involved with civilian armoured vehicle for more than 20 years, and for much of that time, the common approach has been to protect a vehicle’s fuel tank by surrounding it with armoured steel.

Great idea, right? After all, if the rest of the vehicle is protected with this steel then why not the fuel tank? Makes perfect sense.

Historically, there have been two main ways to build in protection for the under vehicle fuel tanks on armoured vehicles. 

The first is for the uparmouring company to weld armoured steel to the underside of the vehicle in such a way that it surrounds the fuel tank system. The fuel tank is then protected from projectiles that could either be kicked up from underneath the vehicle or enter from the side.

While this has been the traditional and most commonly used method of fuel tank protection, it is important to consider whether this is the best way to do so


A solid metal surround that provides good protection.


  • Significant additional weight and cost of the armoured steel;

  • Potential for a build-up of heat between the fuel tank and the armoured steel surround;

  • Potential for fuel supply problems due to excess heat around the fuel tank;

  • Has an effect on the vehicle’s mobility - particularly as it adds weight to one side of the vehicle;

  • Will be get more and more rusted over time - both on the inner and outer sides;

  • Significant difficulties in removing fuel tank if required to do so for servicing or replacement.


The second way is to coat the fuel tank itself with a self-seal protective coating. With this readily available commercial application, a projectile would not be stopped from piercing the fuel tank. However, it will allow it to pass through and then self-seal the fuel tank so that the tank does not rupture and cause a significant leak. Nor should it pose any materially increased risk of the fuel (particularly petrol) exploding - this is usually done by inserting baffles in the fuel tank. While it will marginally reduce the total volume capacity of the tank, it is generally not seen as a major negative consideration.


  • Significantly reduced weight as compared to an armoured steel fuel tank surround;

  • Easily removable for servicing or replacement;

  • Minimal effect on vehicle mobility characteristics;

  • Minimal increase in the risk of fuel volatility;

  • No additional heat stress to the tank or fuel itself;

  • Widely used by major fleet owners - both military and civilian.


Higher (but not significantly) price for initial installation;

Does not prevent projectile penetration but being self-sealing it will minimise fuel loss.



In the end, a user needs to weight the risk of a project penetrating a fuel tank and causing an explosion or critical fuel loss against the benefits of lower weight and through life costs associated with the armoured steel option.

As the buggy whip was useful for the forward momentum of a vehicle, I would suggest that the armoured steel surround is not the most effective and efficient method of protecting a fuel tank on a civilian armoured vehicle.

1 view0 comments


bottom of page