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.

From the Editor: M43 SPG pictures

Today we present some photos of an M43 self propelled howitzer on display in Wyoming MI (greater Grand Rapids Metro area.)  Only 48 of these were built and there are only three surviving example left.  The M43 was essentially the same as the 155mm M40 gun motor carriage but with the 155mm gun replaced by an 8 inch howitzer.