From the Vault: A Day in the Life of a Tanker – 1918

The recent marking of the centenary of the first tanks used in combat has resulted in an increase in interest in WWI tank crew accounts.  Here is one of an American tank crewman from 1918 that was published in the Sept-Oct 1973 issues of ARMOR.  This two page article recounts the experiences of Sergeant Carl Rosenhagen of Company “C” 301st Heavy Tank Corps.  We have posted the pages as images below, or people may download a PDF version here (article is on page 104).  A longer version of this account is available in the book War Stories of the Tankers: American Armored Combat, 1918 to Today by Michael Green.


Video: Security on the March for Mechanized Units

This video showed up on youtube yesterday.  It is a 1943 instructional video on “Security on the March: Mechanized Units”.  Some nice footage showing the exterior and interior of early model M4 and M4A1 tanks.

From the Vault: The Heavy Assault Bridge

With the recent news of the US Army adopting the Joint Assault Bridge system, we got to thinking about the previous program implemented by the Army for a bridging tank, the Heavy Assault Bridge by General Dynamics and and MAN GHH.  The “HAB” went into production as the M104Wolverine, but only 44 were purchased by the US Army out of an initial plan to build 465.  We found in our personal collection a couple brochures for the Heavy Assault Bridge from the 1990’s back when General Dynamics was pitching this vehicle to the army.  We have scanned and posted them below for anyone who may be curious about this particular vehicle.

From the Vault: Lucas Tank Mission

Friend of the site P.M. Knight sent us this rather interesting item, a series of photographs taken of the December, 1943 Lucas Tank Mission report.  This mission consisted of a group of British officials sent to the US and Canada in order to examine the latest advances in North American tank technology as well as to advise US authorities on the progress of British production and development.  The report is fairly lengthy, coming in at over 70 pages, but makes for quick reading.  We have converted the photos into a PDF file which may be downloaded.  Posted below are images of the report index so that readers may be able to see what topics the report addresses.  The full report can be downloaded here.



From the Vault: The unusual case of John Coyne and his Sherman tank

WCPO_John_Coyne_tank_stripes_1471513858463_44539083_ver1.0_640_480WCPO Cincinnati has posted an article and some vintage video clips pertaining to the rather unusual story of New Richmond Ohio resident John Coyne.  A self-described “Freedom Fighter for Individual Liberty”, Coyne is a polarizing figure in his community with a long record of conflicts with local law enforcement, ranging from the relatively minor offences of violating zoning ordinances and driving a tank on public roads to the much more serious charge of man-slaughter. Most of Coyne’s disputes with neighbors and law enforcement stemmed from his property which was a junk and salvage yard.

According to Coyne, in 1965 he was arrested for possession of a machine gun.  In response to this charge, he decided to up the ante and purchase a Sherman tank, which he kept on his property.  The local judge told Coyle that the tank was junk and violated local ordnances.  Coyne went to jail for nearly six months until the judge finally accepted his argument that the tank was a historic vehicle and not “junk.”  Coyne gained local notoriety for his rather outspoken criticisms of local authorities, including writing messages on his Sherman tank and his WWII era half track denouncing them as “the Southwestern Ohio Gestapo.”

At this point in Coyne’s story, he could be viewed as an eccentric “local character” who was interested in preserving historic military vehicles.  However, in 1981 his story takes a much darker turn when he was arrested for shooting three youth that were looting from his junkyard, killing one and injuring the other two.  Oddly enough, he was acquitted of killing the one teen, but found guilty of  two counts of felonious assault on the two teens he wounded.  He spent 17 years in prison, including extra time for a failed escape attempt.  During the time, his former wife had his belonging auctioned off to recover 75,000 dollars he owed her as part of their settlement.  The Sherman tank sold for $23,000 to a business man named R.J. Corman.  After being freed, Coyne went back to his old ways, purchasing a British Scorpion light tank which he still drives around in defiance of local law authorities.

Click here to read a 1976 newspaper editorial about Coyne’s battle with local authorities over his Sherman tank display.


“Blues Brothers” Sherman Tank

Below are four youtube clips of vintage local news stories of John Coyne as well as a more recent video news piece from 2014.  In the video is footage of his Sherman tank and some of his other vehicles.  One of the videos notes that Coyne’s Sherman tank appeared in the film “The Blues Brothers.”  As far as we can tell, this is probably not correct.  An article from the Evansville Courier & Press states that the tank that appears in the movie belonged to Judge Jim Osborne of Vincennes, Ind.  However, the article also notes that Osborne said there were several Sherman tanks on set, and that “One guy brought his tank from Ohio and another guy hauled his from Missouri. The deal was that they could paint our tanks however they wanted for the movie, but after shooting was over they had to put them back like they were.”  The “guy from Ohio” could very well have been John Coyne.  Based on the news video clips, Coyne’s Sherman had an obviously fake looking gun barrel while the Sherman tank in the Blues Brothers film appears to have an original gun barrel.  Also, Coyne’s Sherman has the early style narrow gun mantlet, the Blues Brothers tank has the later wider style mantlet.  If anyone has more information about the current location of Coyne’s Sherman tank, we would much appreciate it.





From the Vault: Damage Done to Tanks by Mortar Fire Video

This short video from the youtube channel PublicResourceOrg shows some WWII footage of troops examining damage caused by mortar fire to some M4 Sherman tanks.   Unfortunately there is no audio to accompany this footage.  The footage is in color rather than the more common black and white film of the era.

From the Vault: LIFE magazine on Tank Destroyers

Here is an article on US Tank Destroyer’s from the October 26, 1942 issue of LIFE magazine.  This article gives a pretty good idea of how the tank destroyer concept was being marketed by the Army to the general public.  People who like pictures of the M3 gun motor carriage will enjoy this.  Read the full issue of LIFE here, (article starts on page 86) or view the photo gallery of the five page article below.


From the Vault: LIFE Magazine ads

At least one person commented that they were having trouble seeing the image in this post.  We decided to redo and expand the post, adding another ad to the photo gallery.

The first ad comes from a 1943 issue of Life Magazine.  In it, Westinghouse is bragging up the gun stabilization system on the M4 Sherman.  It’s probably fair to say that Westinghouse is exaggerating just a bit in this ad.

The second ad also comes from 1943 and is from the Chrysler Corporation.  The tittle of the ad is “How to Jockey a General Sherman.”



From the Vault: RD&A Magazine Articles

A couple months ago someone posted a collection of US Army RD&A magazines (Research, Development & Aquisition)  from the late 80’s and early 90’s.  We browsed through them and picked out the handful of articles that directly related to AFVs.  We have arraigned the articles in photo galleries chronologically by year.


Composites Technology


TACOM Seeks Improved Vehicle Crew Environment

Yuma Proving Ground’s Automotive Test Mission



TACOM Seeks Quick Fix For Battle-Damage Vehicles

Single Fuel on the Battlefield

First Complete AIPS Hardware to Undergo Tests



Impact of Communications on Armor Crew Performance

Diagnostic and Repair Expert System for the Abrams Tank

A Non-Flammable Hydraulic Fluid for Future Combat Vehicles

Composite Infantry Fighting Vehicle Unveiled


TACOM Solved Hot Exhaust Problem for Desert Troops


The Army’s Tank Engine Adventure of World War II

Army to get New Smoke Vehicle

Yuma Initiative Extends Life of Abrams Tank Air Cleaner


Combat Vehicle Test Bed to Play Key R&D Role


New Track-Tensioning System May Cut Tank Maintenance Costs





From the Vault: Steam power for tanks

Our recent editorial lambasting the Fox Trot Alpha article on the Civil War Tank got us thinking about steam power and tanks. While steam is certainly not the ideal way to propel a tank, it has been looked at a number of times, and as recently as the 1960’s.  The document “Engine-Transmission Power Plants for Tactical Vehicles” by the Research Analysis Corporation from 1967 includes a chapter on steam power for military vehicles.  It’s a relatively short chapter but it makes for interesting reading.  We have reposted it below as individual images, or it can be downloaded as a PDF file  here: Steam engine tanks.