Last remaining Saint-Chamond to be restored to running condition

IMG_03910_c9b3e969f5af8fe857ea7ef65c273bd4The French armor museum at Saumur (Musee des Blindes Saumur) is in the process of restoring their First World War era Saint-Chamond tank to running condition.  This vehicle is the last remaining example of a Saint-Chamond in existence.  Originally, this particular vehicle had been donated by the French government to the USA who stored it (set it outside in a field) for years at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.  In the mid 80’s, the USA gave the Saint-Chamond and the sole surviving Schneider tank (also stored at Aberdeen) back to the French where they joined the collection at Saumur.  The Schneider tank has since been restored to running condition while the Saint-Chamond went through a cosmetic restoration.  The Musee des Blindes Saumur is currently in the process of restoring the Saint-Chamond to running condition in preparation for the centennial of the first use of French armor on the battlefield in 1917.  According to the website for the Musee des Blindes Saumer, the engines of the Saint-Chamond are being restored by a company near Roanne called APRESS.  Those interested in supporting the restoration with a financial donation may do so here.

Saint-Chamond tank at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in early 1980’s:

Saint-Chamond

Saint-Chamond Tank

 

 

Pakistan interested in Turkish Altay MBT?

ALTAY MTR Prototype in action 2The Diplomat is reporting that Pakistan may be interested in purchasing the new Turkish Altay MBT.  The article notes that the head of Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Under-secretariat for Defense Industries, Ismail Demir announced earlier this month during a testimony in parliament that Pakistan’s military is interested in procuring the Altay.  Demir is quoted as saying “Including Pakistan and the Gulf countries, we can say that countries that we have good relations with are showing a large interest in the tank. Representatives of some countries are being invited to the ongoing firing tests.”  The article notes that Pakistan has not officially expressed interest in the procurement of the Altay, although in January 2015, representatives of Pakistan’s defense industry said that they are considering procuring the Altay’s third generation thermal imagining sight for the Al-Khalid MBT, jointly developed by Pakistan and China.

New issue of ARMOR available for download

armor oct-dec 2015The latest issue of ARMOR: The Professional Bulletin of the Armor Branch, is available for download.  The majority of articles in this issue seem to deal with either leadership principles or logistics issues.  Unlike cold war era issues of ARMOR, there is not much here that will be of much interest for AFV enthusiasts.

Israeli Namer APCs equipped with Trophy

p1650267Jane’s IHS is reporting that Israel has announced that it has completed the installation of the first Rafael Trophy HV active protection system on a Namer APC.  Trophy is an active defense system which uses radar to detect and track incoming rockets and missiles and destroys them by firing multiple explosively formed projectiles.  Trophy has been deployed in the field on Israeli Merkava tanks.  The article notes that Trophy will be included in all new production Namer vehicles but that there are no immediate plans to install it on existing vehicle.

Industry video about Trophy:

Book Review: M48 vs Centurion: Indo-Pakistani War 1965

M48 vs Centurion: Indo-Pakistani War 1965 by David R.  Higgins

51LwRVTUmDL._SX369_BO1,204,203,200_The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 featured the largest tank battles seen up to that point since the Second World War.  However, these battles would soon be eclipsed in size and in the popular consciousness by the armored battles of the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973.  While much ink has been spilled regarding the tank battle of the Arab-Israeli wars, far less has been written about the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.  Fortunately, author David Higgins seeks to fill the void with his new entry in the Osprey Duel series with M48 Patton vs Centurion: Indo-Pakistani War 1965.

While the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 may have some superficial similarities to the more well-known Arab-Israeli wars, there are some important differences.  While M48 Patton tanks and Centurion tanks were used in both conflicts, in the Arab-Israeli wars both of these tanks were operated by the Israelis against Soviet built Arab operated tanks.  The Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 features U.S. built Patton tanks lined up against British Centurion tanks, making it one of the few examples of a postwar armor conflict featuring Western built tanks on both sides.  The other noticeable difference between the two conflicts was that the difference in crew training and quality was not nearly as pronounced in the Indo-Pakistani war as it was between Arab and Israeli forces.

The format of the book follows the same pattern as earlier Osprey Duel books and is Mr. Higgins fifth book in the series.   A good deal of technical information is presented about both tanks, as is the norm in this series.  While there are considerable differences between the two tanks, it becomes clear that they are fairly well matched adversaries.  The Centurion and the M48 are both well-known and the technical descriptions of the vehicle may be “old hat” for well-read on the topic.  That said, the vehicle descriptions are well written and contain some nice illustrations.  The technical descriptions are followed by a section describing the history and organization of the Indian and Pakistani armored forces, information which will probably be new to many readers.   This section is followed by a description of the events of the campaign, interesting reading of a war which has not been described often in other sources.

The conclusion of the book notes that neither vehicle proved itself as markedly superior to the other, factors such as morale, crew training and leadership being more important in determining the outcome of any particular engagement between the two combatants.  The war was essentially a draw and while crews on both sides often fought bravely, higher level leadership was often tentative and ineffective on both sides.   The book does not really say if Western observers took many lessons from this particular war, either in regards to the performance of the vehicles or the tactics used.

Available through Amazon for under $15, this book is well worth the price.  By our count, Mr. Higgins is second only to Steven Zaloga in the number of tank themed “Duel” series books authored thus far.  Based on this book and his previous entries in the series, we hope to see more “Duel” books from Mr. Higgins in the future.

 

Sherman tank moved from Pittsburgh display

From CBS Pittsburgh comes this news story.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Sherman tank rolled into Pittsburgh on June 17, and took up residence at Heinz History Center during its World War II exhibit.

Fifty-thousand Sherman tanks helped to defeat Nazi forces in Europe. But after seven months on loan, this one is moving out.

“Right now we’re going to take it to Fort Indiantown Gap, and there’s a re-enactment going on in a few days,” said owner Tom Pippins of Sewickley.

Pippins says he fell in love with tanks as a kid.

“I told my dad, ‘Hey, let’s buy a tank.’ He said no, so 30 years later I bought my own,” Pippins said.

This one took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Eventually, it will return to Ligonier, where the owner’s mother has a farm.

Museum President Andy Masich says it caught people’s attention.

“There wasn’t anyone that passed the History Center over the past six months who didn’t stop and take a selfie, in front of the Sherman tank,” Masich said.

Pippins maneuvers his tank toward the flatbed truck, which will carry it to its next location. Pittsburgh contributed to the design during the war.

“The turret was made in Lawrenceville in 1944,” Masich said. “Westinghouse helped make the gun stabilizer that made it possible for Sherman tanks to fire on the move. There are all kinds of Pittsburgh connections.”

The next exhibit at the History Center will be “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.” That opens in early March. And at that time, the tank will be replaced with a 20 foot, inflatable Gumby.

A final word from History Center President Masich: “The Sherman tank has left the building. Tanks for the memories.”

From the Vault: WW2 tank mobility tests

Today we have a few videos of World War 2 era tanks being put through a series of mobility tests.

First is this video from 1951 from Sweden.  The video compares the mobility of a Sherman Firefly vs a British Churchill tank, a German Panther and the Strv M/42.  The audio is in Swedish but fortunately English subtitles are provided.

 

The next video is of an Australian test conducted in January of 1945 comparing the Sherman and Churchill tanks.  This video shows the rather extreme conditions these vehicles were operated in by the Australian forces.  We were not able to embed this video in the post but if you click the image below, it will take you to the page where the video may be watched.

 

tank trials video

 

This next video is a short clip from a German propaganda film showing a Panther tank successfully clearing an obstacle which a M3 Lee is unable to clear.

 

Here is a short clip of a damaged Royal Tiger (“Porsche turret”) being put through a water fording test by Allied solders.

 

And finally, here is a longer clip showing US soldiers driving around a captured German Panther tank. At the 7:31 mark the footage switches to scenes of a British Archer and Valentine using a Tiger I for target practice. At the 9:18 mark the video shows footage of the hull of the uncompleted E-100 German super heavy tank.