While watching Fury the other night, aside from stunning visuals and great acting I've noticed something rather peculiar. Considering Fury depicts the end of war by which time Germans should've seen enough and developed tons of fighting experience, why didn't they simply set the tank on fire? This would seem like the easiest and most intuitive solution to me.

  • 3
    How do you set a tank on fire?
    – Dannie
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 2:39
  • You can either kill the people/crew inside the tank with a grenade. But as the movie went through, the crew did lock them self inside the tank
    – gurmandeep
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 3:09
  • 4
    @Dannie use a Molotov Cocktail, the Finnish used them to do that against Russian Tanks invading Finland. Other nations also used similar weapons against tanks. The Sherman burnt so well it was known as the 'Ronson' a popular brand of lighter or a 'Tommy Cooker' by the Germans.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 7:02

3 Answers 3


Because it is an unrealistic movie scene.

Yes, the Germans were extremely good in taking out tanks with improvised means. And a lone tank needs movement to be effective against infantry, else it is dogmeat. There was one incredible situation where Audie Murphy (read the Wikipedia entry) did such a stunt by standing in a burning tank destroyer and using a 0.5 gun to mow down everything the Germans sent against him, but he was really in completely different weight class as soldier.

Otherwise, the Germans would simply encircle the tank and destroy it with

  • Molotov cocktails. They work best if they burn on the top and they will suffocate/smoke out the engine/crew. This is the reason tanks need movement and/or protection from other tanks to make a small target and if hit, present the least vulnerable sides.
  • Throw a handgrenade into the cannon pipe.
  • Use a flamethrower against the openings.
  • Bind several handgrenades together to form a bundled charge and place it under the tank bottom to use it as improvised tank mine.

The movie is simply said highly unrealistic.

  • I'd like to add that in my opinion THAT scene is highly unrealistic. From what you stated in real life the crew would know all this and never even consider staying in the tank as they would die for nothing, plus the Germans acted completely idiotic simply throwing themselves at the front of the tank. Even with the surprise they would be clever enough to retreat, take ground and just circle it, at the very least to hit it from behind. Apart from all that the rest of the movie is quite realistic, I think. I saw a YouTube video of a real tank operator confirming other scenes were exactly right.
    – Tessaract
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:12

I am not completely sure, but I think that a reaction to the success of Molotov cocktails in the Finnish-Sovjet war was to change the design of air intake and exhaust to point downwards, so that burning petrol would not run into the engine. So in 1944 it was more difficult to set a tank on fire then in 1940.

However, once you get really close to a tank with broken tracks, you will find a way to destroy it. The British home guard was trained in doing so, the Germans in Fury probably only learned that to destroy a tank you shoot it with a panzerfaust. In the film we see that the troop is low on anti-tank grenades, and when they use it, they miss. So it is reasonable to assume that the Germans are highly motivated but poorly trained Volkssturm, who try to solve a problem by beating there head against a wall.

  • It was confirmed by Brad Pitt's character that the Germans were an SS platoon.
    – Tessaract
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:13

if you set a tank on fire from the outside, it wont burn. the only real way to set a tank on fire is to puncture its fuel tank and light it(this usually happens when a cannon round or an anti tank rocket round strikes the rear any where the fuel tanks are. a grenade with enough force can achieve this (german bk 2h))

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