Marion County man builds mini tank to shoot T-shirts

Scale replica of M1 A1 Abrams tank shoots shirts out of cannon

Author: Julie Broughton, Weather
Published On: Jan 29 2014 06:36:59 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 29 2014 09:36:07 PM EST
THE VILLAGES, Fla. -

You're used to seeing golf carts on the streets on The Villages, but what about a tank?

One man designed a scale replica of an M1 A1 Abrams tank and it shoots T-shirts out of its cannon.

Vince DeSantis tells Local 6 it took about a year to build the 1,000-pound tank.

"It's my tribute to Gulf War veterans and the tanks they drove. It was just phenomenal what it could do. It could do things no other tank could do," DeSantis said.

The idea for the tank struck DeSantis at a tractor pull with a friend and his grandson.

"The grandson was waving his hands trying to catch a T-shirt," he said. "I thought we could make a nicer presentation if we had something with a cannon, like a tank."

After that, DeSantis immediately started designing the tank with only external pictures to guide him. Working 10 to 12 hours a day in his garage, he first built a steel frame and then covered it with plywood and a special primer.

"I was able to work out my problems and bugs and sometimes went down the wrong path, but I worked myself back and did what I had to do," he said

Two pedals control the tracks. T-shirts are launched from the cannon with a special breach loading system. A motorcycle engine powers it to about walking speed. DeSantis says he plans to increase the speed.

Can we expect to see more T-shirt shooting tanks soon?

"My next thing might be a hovercraft. I have no idea," DeSantis said.

DeSantis is taking the tank to a military vehicle event next week and also hopes to take it to sporting events. He tells Local 6 he likes the idea of military members signing the tank.

Wondering how much it cost to make this? DeSantis says he has all the receipts, but has opted not to do the math.