Thermal sleeve

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A bolt-on thermal sleeve

A thermal sleeve, or blanket, is a device around the length of a gun barrel of a large caliber gun, typically found on modern tanks. Its primary purpose is to provide a constant temperature to the gun barrel preventing distortions due to thermal expansion caused by the temperature differences around the barrel when firing.[1]

Thermal sleeves were originally simply insulators. They would prevent ambient conditions such as bright sunlight or winds from heating or cooling one side of a barrel more than the other which would cause a thermal distortion (bending or drooping), reducing accuracy. More modern variants contain concentric inner and outer insulating sleeves with a gap in between. Versions have been created which are detachable from a given barrel so that they can be re-used with a replacement barrel. Proposals exist for types that have advanced external thermal and radar profiles, reducing their thermal and radar signatures making the barrel and thereby the tank harder to detect.[2]

The canvas-covered thermal sleeve on a Chieftain tank

One of the earliest guns to use a thermal sleeve was the Royal Ordnance L11 used on the Chieftain tank.


  1. ^ Tucker p. 360-361
  2. ^ US Patent 5400691, Rigid thermal sleeve for a gun barrel, Retrieved on 29 December 2008


  • Tucker, Spencer C. (2004). Tanks: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-995-3. 

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