Patent application title: Fascines
Raghbir Singh Hayre (Farnborough, GB)
Colin Peter Morgan (Ash Vale, GB)
IPC8 Class: AE01D1512FI
Class name: Bridges transportable having launching means
Publication date: 2011-06-02
Patent application number: 20110126365
An apparatus (2) for the deployment of fascines comprises a fixed
framework adapted to be mounted to the front region of a vehicle such as
the glacis plate (3) of a tank (1). A leading portion of the framework
extends forwardly of the vehicle and carries straps (18, 19) to support a
bundle of inflatable fascine members (20). A winch (21) is mounted on the
framework and can be used to raise the fascine members into the straps
and subsequently to release the straps and allow the fascine members to
drop into a ditch or other discontinuity and then inflate, to facilitate
passage of the vehicle.
1. Apparatus for the deployment of fascine members comprising a framework
adapted to be mounted to the front region of a vehicle and including a
leading portion carrying releasable support means adapted to support one
or more fascine members generally transverse to the vehicle and to allow
such members to fall to the ground on release of said support means.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said framework comprises a first portion adapted to be mounted to a sloping surface at the front region of a vehicle and a second portion, including said leading portion, adapted to extend forwardly from and at an angle to such sloping surface when said first portion is mounted thereon.
3. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said releasable support means comprise at least a pair of straps each adapted to releasably pass around one or more fascine members.
4. Apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising a winch adapted to lift one or more fascine members into a position to be supported by said support means.
5. Apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said support means comprise release means connectable to said winch whereby to release said support means by operation of said winch.
6. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said framework is a fixed framework.
7. A vehicle with apparatus according to claim 1 mounted to the front region thereof.
8. A vehicle according to claim 7 wherein said apparatus is mounted in a fixed position.
9. A vehicle according to claim 7 with one or more inflatable fascine members supported by said support means.
10. A vehicle having a sloping glacis plate at the front region thereof with apparatus according to claim 2 mounted to said glacis plate.
 The present invention relates to fascines and more particularly to
means for the deployment of fascines.
 Fascines are structures comprising at least one, and usually several, elongate members which are used to fill ditches or to level or smooth other discontinuities in or on the ground sufficiently to facilitate the passage of personnel or vehicles across the discontinuity, and sets of such members are commonly carried by tanks and other military vehicles when in the field for the temporary levelling of such discontinuities which would otherwise halt or impede the passage of the vehicles and/or of others which follow. Fascines comprising bundles of high density polyethylene or similar pipes are known from U.S. Pat. No. 4,312,601 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,566,821 and fascines including inflatable members are known from U.S. Pat. No. 5,122,400, U.S. Pat. No. 5,215,401, U.S. Pat. No. 5,406,662, GB2401640, WO2006/027559 and WO2008/056102. Inflatable fascine members have the advantage over rigid pipes of reduced weight and of much reduced bulk whilst uninflated; they can be stored and carried uninflated and need be inflated only when required for use, e.g. by a suitable compressor or from cylinders of compressed air or other gas (such as an inert mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen) carried for the purpose.
 Regarding known systems for deploying fascines from vehicles, conventional plastic pipe fascine members are typically chained to the side of a vehicle and released by fracturing explosive bolts. The vehicle needs to be manoeuvred side on to the discontinuity before the fascine members are released, however, which is disadvantageous for the speed of the deployment and for other operational reasons. Explosive bolts also present a safety hazard.
 Another known method of deploying fascine members is from a rack mounted on top of a vehicle which can be tilted to allow the fascine members to slide off at the front. This is a special-to-role vehicle, however, and it would be more advantageous to provide a deployment system that could be fitted to existing vehicles and without interfering with their existing functions.
 From WO2006/136797 there is known a deployment system for inflatable fascine members where a container for such members is normally stowed at the side of a tank or the like and is mounted on a pivot located at a front corner of the vehicle to swing round through substantially 270° to lie at the front of the vehicle when the fascine members are to be released. This requires a free space at the side of the vehicle to accommodate the movement of the container, however, which may not always be available and can present difficulties when operating in wooded areas for example. An alternative system in WO2006/136797 involves a container on a runner at the side of the vehicle which slides forwards before pivoting inwards through 90° to lie at the front, which avoids the need for the free space at the side but involves a substantially more complex mechanism.
 The present invention therefore seeks to provide a particularly simple form of apparatus which can be fitted to existing vehicles to enhance their functionality by laying fascines but without requiring that they are manoeuvred side on to the discontinuity and without interfering with their existing functionality.
 In one aspect the invention accordingly resides in apparatus for the deployment of fascine members comprising a framework adapted to be mounted to the front region of a vehicle and including a leading portion carrying releasable support means adapted to support one or more fascine members generally transverse to the vehicle and to allow such members to fall to the ground on release of said support means.
 In use the framework is preferably mounted in a fixed position on the vehicle and is itself preferably a fixed framework in the sense that it is not articulated nor otherwise comprises any moving parts in normal use of the apparatus. It may comprise a first portion adapted to be mounted to a sloping surface at the front region of a vehicle, such as the usual glacis plate of a tank or the like, and a second portion, including the leading portion, adapted to extend forwardly from and at an angle to such sloping surface when the first portion is mounted thereon.
 The releasable support means may comprise at least a pair of straps each adapted to releasably pass around one or more fascine members.
 The apparatus may further comprise a winch adapted to lift one or more fascine members into a position to be supported by the support means, and the support means may comprise release means connectable to the winch whereby to release the support means by operation of the winch.
 In another aspect the invention resides in a vehicle having apparatus as defined above mounted to the front region thereof.
 These and other features of the present invention will now be more particularly described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:--
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view from the front and one side of an armoured fighting vehicle fitted with a preferred embodiment of deployment apparatus in accordance with the invention supporting a bundle of fascine members;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view from the rear and one side of the basic framework of the deployment apparatus of FIG. 1; and
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view from the rear and other side of the completed deployment apparatus incorporating the framework of FIG. 2.
 With reference to FIG. 1 there is shown an armoured fighting vehicle exemplified as a tank 1 with a fascine deployment apparatus 2 according to the invention fitted to the glacis plate 3 in the front region of the vehicle to one side of a driver's position (of which the visor is indicated at 4) and below the arc of its turret-mounted weapon 5.
 The apparatus 2 incorporates a fixed (in use) framework the construction of which is more clearly seen in FIGS. 2 and 3. This is fabricated from a collection of hollow rectangular and circular section members welded, bolted and/or riveted together as shown. More particularly, a base portion of the framework comprises a pair of side members 6 and 7 and three cross members 8, 9 and 10, the front cross member 8 being elevated with respect to the rear cross member 10 (in the sense as viewed in FIGS. 2 and 3), being carried in this respect by a pair of strut members 11 and 12 attached to the side members 6 and 7. The cross members 8 and 10 of the base portion mount a projecting portion of the framework comprising a pair of side members 13 and 14 and a pair of cross members 15 and 16. The projecting portion is thus placed at an angle to the base portion so that when the base portion is mounted to the glacis plate 3--for example by means of lugs (not shown) welded or bolted to the glacis plate and to which the framework is pinned or bolted e.g. at positions 17 on the side members 6 and 7--the projecting portion extends forwards from the vehicle closer to the horizontal than at the angle of the glacis plate, as indicated in FIG. 1, to maintain adequate ground clearance for its intended load of fascine members (having regard also to the likely need for the vehicle to negotiate substantial changes in gradient).
 The leading cross member 15 of the framework extends across and to one side of the side members 13 and 14 and carries a pair of flexible webbing straps 18 and 19 (FIGS. 1 and 3), of similar material to conventional cargo lashing straps, for supporting a bundle of fascine members, exemplified in FIG. 1 as a trio of inflatable fascine members 20, which may be linked together as described in WO2008/056102. As shown the fascine members 20 are supported in front of but somewhat laterally offset with respect to the vehicle 1 so as not to restrict the driver's view through visor 4. They are carried in an uninflated or only partially inflated condition and when fully inflated will expand both in length and in diameter as compared to the condition shown in FIG. 1, being held in the illustrated compact condition prior to inflation by a respective valise (not separately shown) encasing each member 20 and which is adapted to burst open (being closed e.g. by releasable fastenings of Velcro® material or breakable plastic cable ties) when the fascine members are inflated, in known fashion. The package will also include a cylinder of compressed air or other gas (not shown) for inflation.
 Returning to FIG. 3, the central cross member 9 of the base portion of the framework mounts a winch 21 which may be powered electrically from the vehicle's supply. The winch cable 22 can pass over a pair of pulleys 23, 24 and down beneath the projecting cross member 15, between the straps 18 and 19. By this means the fascine package can be loaded onto the vehicle 1, being raised from the ground or from a delivery vehicle up to the open straps 18, 19 which are looped around the package and fastened by respective pins 25, 26. Each pin 25, 26 forms part of a quick release mechanism for the respective strap. Following loading of the fascine package the winch cable 22 is released from the package and connected to a pair of short cable lengths 27,28 leading from the pins 25, 26.
 When the vehicle encounters a ditch or other discontinuity which requires deployment of the fascine members 20 it is placed head on to the discontinuity and the winch 21 is controlled from within the vehicle to simultaneously pull the pins 25 and 26 from the straps 18 and 19. The straps therefore open under the weight of the fascine package which drops into position and inflation of the members 20 can be initiated by any suitable known means, for example in response to an electrical command signal over a wired or wireless link from the vehicle, or by means of an electronic or mechanical delay timer actuated by releasing the package. Although not shown, the release mechanism for the straps 18,19 may incorporate a so-called "three ring circus" as typically used with parachutes, to facilitate an easy release while under load.
 The crew can remain within the protection of the vehicle throughout this operation. It is unnecessary to manoeuvre the vehicle to place it side on to the discontinuity in order to deploy the fascine members as is required for some prior art deployment systems. The side of the vehicle (which is typically less heavily armoured than the front) need not therefore be exposed and the tempo of the operation can remain high.
 Similar deployment apparatus can be fitted to other types of vehicle than the one illustrated by appropriate adaption of the framework which supports the straps 18, 19 and winch 21. For example altering the lengths of the struts 11 and 12 allows adaptation of the angle of the projecting portion relative to the glacis plate or similar and altering the lengths of the cross members 8-10 allows adaptation to different vehicle widths or prospective mounting points. Similar apparatus of appropriate load carrying capacity can also be used for the deployment of non-inflatable fascine members, such as those constituted by plastic pipes.
 While the framework of FIG. 2 has been described as fixed in use, it may be rapidly mountable to and demountable from the host vehicle by means of suitable fixings, as operational requirements may dictate, and its individual components may also be demountable and replaceable to reconfigure the apparatus to different vehicle types. The members 6-16 may be of any suitable engineering material such as steel or aluminum alloy, or some of each for an optimum combination of stiffness, cost and weight saving, or of fibre-reinforced polymer composite if weight saving at the front end of the vehicle is of particular importance.
Patent applications in class Having launching means
Patent applications in all subclasses Having launching means