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I'm sorry if this is not the right site but I really don't see another more suitable on Stack Exchange. Some Soviet tanks have these canister-looking things that hang down off the sides of the hull, very near the wheels. Some of them appear to be tilted. Here's a photo of them ...

enter image description here

Further, here is a 3D model of an IS-3 so you can get a really good view of these. The ones that are tilted on this one are different. They appear to be different on each one:

3D Model

Here is another 3D model where you can see these. Again these are different ones.

3D Model

Do these things just become loose and end up twisting? What do you think they could be?

Also, if you look at the first photo, on many of these tanks the left side of the suspension and wheels are set back slightly from the right side. It's quite subtle, and strange. Does anyone know why this is? This offset I'm speaking of is really subtle. The first model has it, the second model doesn't. The first one being obviously more accurate.

Edit: Someone has suggested it looks like a shock absorber, here is a screenshot from a good position.

enter image description here

Also, someone pointed out that in the first model I linked some of these are missing above some wheels, about 3 or four. In this picture you can also see some missing. I'm really confused about this.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ That is where the tank guys keep their vodka ! :-) $\endgroup$ – William Hird May 18 '19 at 20:48
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I don't know if there's a tank-specific term, but they look like travel limiters: the idler wheels would hit them when they bottom out. In your picture, the wider piece that would make contact with the swing arm is probably something softer that would give just a bit. Not a full-fledged shock absorber, but it would absorb some of the shock.

Your first 3D model only shows them on some of the wheels, but your picture and the second 3D model have them on all of the wheels.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes I guess that could be it. I just realized on the first model it's missing some. It's very hard modeling this stuff with reference material. Also how weird is it that the left wheels and springs are offset further back. $\endgroup$ – Zebrafish May 18 '19 at 7:39
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First of all, I don't know the tecnology so this is my analisys based on what looks like.

These cannister looking should be travel limiters like @Ward pointed out. The reason of the wheels and springs misaligned should be to protect the real springs inside of the tank. The sistem probably is like a lever arm and the fine parts are inside of the tank (like spring and shock absorber) to protect from environment damage (tanks need to pass on some very agressive places and need to stop to do maintenance in enemy territory should be a very bad idea).

In your first model there's no limiters on some wheels probably because of the other wheel upside. But probably inside the tank the axle of these wheels probably are:

  1. With an internal limiter.
  2. With the wheel axis connected with the closest wheel (when the closest wheel bumps in the limiter this wheel bumps too).
  3. With the wheel axis connected with the closest wheel to work in reverse (when the other wheel go up, this wheel go down) to avoid loose tracks. (I think the major probability lies here)
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Those things appear to be shock absorbers, to cushion the up-and-down action of the idler rollers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, it's hard to imagine it so, for me. I've added a screenshot from a good angle. It's true they seem to set right where the spring arm ends. The thing is that before the end of the arm hits it the wheel has to rise considerably, or I guess more load needs to be placed on that wheel. Is this how it would look completely unloaded? I thought an absorber is supposed to slow the return travel. As I said I don't quite get how this would work. Also, as to them being rotated, I assume this is part of the design and any of them could be found facing any way? $\endgroup$ – Zebrafish May 18 '19 at 3:30

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