Overlord’s Blog on Universal Carrier

mor12U0Overlord’s Blog is featuring a post about a heroic action taken by a group of British Bren Gun Carriers during the 1940 campaign in France.  The post describes the exploits of Lieutenant Christopher Furness who commanded a section of Bren Gun Carriers belonging to the 1st Welsh Guards.  Furness was part of a column which was retreating from the Arras area and in danger of being destroyed by advancing German forces.  WIth a group of three Bren Carriers and three Mk VI light tanks, Furness set out to attack the German forces so as to give the rest of the column a chance to escape.

The light tanks set up a base of fire and started shooting at the Germans, however they were all quickly set on fire by the German anti-tank guns. However the lighter, smaller and faster Carriers were able to evade the German anti-tank gun fire. Not so the colossal amount of small arms rounds the Germans fired at the Carriers. Such was the volume of fire Carrier #3 had the bi-pod shot off its Bren gun. Soon all the Carriers had wounded men on them. Lt Furness led his Carriers along until nearly on top of the German position then began to drive in a circle around the German hilltop all the while firing with every weapon they could. They managed several circuits inflicting very heavy casualties on the Germans. However the German return fire was beginning to take its own toll. In Carrier #1 Lt Furness was the only man alive, and when the driver had been killed the Carrier had halted. In Carrier #2, just behind Carrier #1, Guardsman David Williams had been killed and the other crew wounded.

Read the full story at Overlord’s Blog.

Taiwan plans to buy 120 M1A1 Abrams

taiwan.soldier.tank_picTaipei Times is reporting that the Republic of China Ministry of National Defense has stated that they are sticking with a plan to purchase 120 M1A1 Abrams tanks.  The deal is set to be finalized in 2017 with delivery starting in 2020 and is valued at $1.08 billion.  The 120 tanks would come from existing US inventory and would replace Taiwan’s M60A3 and CM-11 Brave Tiger main battle tanks.  The article notes that the original plan was to purchase M1A2 tanks, but the less expensive M1A1 was selected instead.  Upon delivery, the 120 tanks are to constitute two battalions for deployment at the main ROC infantry base in Hsinchu County’s Hukou Township, which is tasked with the defense of the capital, Taipei, and northern Taiwan.

Motor Trend drives a tank

motor trendYet another in the recent rash of articles about reporters driving tanks over cars.  This particular article is from Motor Trend magazine and documents their visit to “Drive a Tank”, a small company in Kasota, Minn.  The article features a video and a rather nice photo gallery of the vehicles available at Drive a Tank.  Vehicles pictured include an Abbott SPG, Chieftain tank, M4A2E8 Sherman tank and at FV-432.

The Motor Trend article can be read here.

The website for “Drive a Tank” can be viewed here.

For those with a spare $2,999 laying around, check out the “Five Star” package at Drive a Tank.  This package includes a chance to drive an Abbott SPG, a FV-432, a Russian T55 and to crush a car with a British Chieftain.  The package also includes firing a number of machine guns, including a MG42 and a .50 Cal HMG.  Or, for a mere $3,599 a person can purchase an opportunity to drive a Sherman tank.

 

Book Alert: Genesis, Employment, Aftermath: First World War Tanks and the New Warfare

9781909982222Publisher Helion Company is advertising a new book on WW1 armor slated for a June release.  Titled “Genesis, Employment, Aftermath: First World War Tanks and the New Warfare, 1900-1945“, this book is authored by Alaric Searle and is part of the Modern Military History series from Helion.  Oddly, the Amazon listing for this book has a price of $79.95 while the Helion page shows a more reasonable price of $41.76.  The book is 224 pages with four maps and eight pages of black and white photos. From what information is available, this appears to be the first book by Dr. Searle specifically on tanks and armored vehicle history.

Publisher’s Description:

The employment of the first tanks by the British Army on the Western Front in September 1916, although symbolic rather than decisive in its effects, ushered in a new form of warfare – tank warfare. While much has been written on the history of the tank, this volume brings together a collection of essays which uncover new aspects of the history of these early machines. Leading military historians from Britain, France and Germany offer insights into the emergence of the tank before the First World War, during the conflict, as well as what happened to them after the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Based on painstaking research in archives across Europe, each of the chapters sheds new light on different aspects of the history of First World tanks. Two chapters consider why the Germans failed to recognize the possibilities of the tank and why they were so slow to develop their own machines after the first British tank attack in 1916. Two other chapters chart the history of French tanks on the Western Front and after the end of the war. Tank communication, the employment of British tanks on the Western Front, as well as the activities of British Tank Corps intelligence, are also explained. The use of British tanks in Palestine and in the Russian Civil War is examined in detail for the first time. The volume also reflects on the impact of the Battle of Cambrai, both in terms of its psychological impact in Britain and the power it exerted over military debates until the end of the Second World War. The aim of the book is to reconsider the history of First World War tanks by widening the historical perspective beyond Britain, to include France and Germany, and by reflecting on the pre-1914 and post-1918 history of the these new weapons of war.

D-Day tanker Cecil Thomas

ddtankRockingham Now has posted an article about Cecil Thomas, a WW2 veteran who commanded a M4 tank on D-Day.  Thomas was part of the 741st Battalion, one of the separate tank battalions equipped with DD Sherman tanks.  The article gives a summary of the life and wartime service of Thomas, as well as testimony from some of the soldiers that served with him.

One of Thomas’ soldiers, Staff Sgt. Thomas Fair, later described the landing:

“The ramp was dropped (on the LCT) in pretty deep water and we left the craft. The water was up over the turret ring. We finally pulled upon the beach, but still stayed in the water enough for our protection, our bow gunner started spraying the trees and hillside with .30-caliber (machine gun fire) while we looked for anti-tank guns and pillboxes.”

The tanks made rapid progress in their drive south. They shelled a farmhouse that had been converted into a gun position, reducing the enemy’s shelling barrage on two of the tanks that had become separated from the rest of the unit. They carried on with their mission, the report said, “penetrating to such depth that they found the enemy completely unprepared for attack. In one case, the tanks fired upon three of the enemy who were on bicycles riding along the road.”

Read the full article here.

The Chieftain on WW2 US gyrostabilizer issues

chieftains hatchOver at the World of Tanks forum, Nicholas Moran “The Chieftain” has published a new article summarizing a report he found in the archives from the Armored Board on the issue of tank gun stabilizers.  US tanks had a gyrostabilizer system on the main gun starting with the M3 Medium tank, a feature no other country could brag of.  However, many sources note that the stabilizer system was not popular with US crews and was often not used or disabled.  The Armored Board noticed that troops were not satisfied with the stabilizer and so in April of 1944 they commissioned a study of the issue.  The Chieftain’s summary of the study is essentially that the stabilizer worked, but that US troops were not trained to effectively make use of it.

Excerpt:

Summary:

1. The “secret” and “confidential” classification of the gyrostabilizer during the early stages of its use was the cause of much ignorance in its employment and maintenance, and led to a hesitancy on the part of officers and men to make any use of it; consequently, when gunnery was attempted, the device was usually inoperative. This led to all but a few organisations abandoning its use. Those few, including the 3rd Armored Division and the 753rd Tank Battalion, have promoted the use of the gyro and believe that it is a useful instrument. The 3rd Armored Division went so far as to devise a very useful gadget, a sliding weight, so designed that the gun could be breech-heavy without the gyro, and balanced with the gyro. When TM 17-12 was published with a statement that the gyro should not be used beyond 600 yards, the men of the 3rd Armored Division were disappointed because they had been using it successfully at greater range. The 753rd Tank Battalion has reported outstanding success in the use of the gyrostabilizer against enemy tanks in Italy.

2. Many reports of the unreliability of the gyrostabilizer in combat areas have been received. This reliability is in all probability caused by:

a: Old type equipment, now obsolete

b: Lack of training in simple first and second echelon maintenance.

Read the full article here.

ISIS captures US made vehicles and tanks in Ramadi

GERTZ-U.S.-made-Humvees-enroute-from-Iraq-to-SyriaMilitary.com is reporting that according to Pentagon officials the ISIS fleet of captured U.S. military vehicles, including M1A1 tanks, grew by more than 100 when Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fled the provincial capital of Ramadi 60 miles west of Baghdad and abandoned their equipment.  About 100 wheeled vehicles and “in the neighborhood of dozens of tracked vehicles” were lost to ISIS when the last remaining Iraqi defenders abandoned the city of about 500,000.  The article notes that the tracked vehicles were mostly armored personnel carriers but “maybe half a dozen tanks” were in the mix. He did not say what type of tanks they were. Photos posted by ISIS on social media purported to show about 10 M1A1 Abrams tanks in their possession and large amounts of captured ammunition.

Full article here.

Tankfest Northwest

For those that plan to be in the Seattle area on Monday May 25, the Flying Heritage Collection will be hosting Tankfest Northwest.  The event will feature educational speaker Nicholas Moran aka “The Chieftain.”

Event Description:

Tankfest Northwest
12:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Bring the family out to enjoy tanks, military vehicles and artillery weapons at this festive annual event, which includes driving and firing demonstrations of tanks and artillery. There will also be a Puget Sound Military Vehicle Collectors Club parade. This year we are proud to announce we will be joined by two military units, the 1-161 Combined Arms Battalion which will bring an M1 Abrams tank and the 1-303 Cavalry Squadron which will bring a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Both units are part of the 81st Brigade Combat Team and will demo their vehicles.

tankfest-poster

Book Alert: M42 Duster

VH-Heavy Wrecker CoverAmpersand Publications has announced a new addition to their visual history series titled M42 Duster, scheduled for release this month.  Written by David Doyle, this book examines the M42 “Duster: mobile anti-aircraft platform.  The book is one hundred pages, soft cover with over 260 black and white and color photos.  According to the Ampersand website, this volume offers complete coverage of the M42 during its development phase and later during its deployment in Vietnam.  Also includes extensive walk around photos.

Ampersand Publishing page for M42 Duster

From the Vault: M60 tank videos

Today we present a series of video clips about the US M60 Main Battle Tank.

Our first video came to our attention when it was posted in a thread on Tank-Net earlier this month.  It includes some rather interesting footage taken by a camera inside the turret of a Marine Corps M60A1 during a live fire exercise.

 

This video uploaded by TankNutDave is from the 1980’s and shows crewmen of an M60A3 explaining the turret operations of the tank.

 

Next up is a 1960’s era government documentary (part of “The Big Picture” series) on the development of the M60 tank.  This video contains a good deal of footage of the M60 production line at the Detroit Tank Arsenal.

 

Finally, we finish are selection with this video of an M60 tank being used to crush a Mazda.