More on the “Houston-Kid II”

sandstone255.jpgA few days ago we had posted about “Houston-Kid II”, a composite hull M4 105mm gun tank that appeared in some ads for World of Tanks during the Superbowl.  We had asked if anyone knew any details regarding this particular tank.  Thanks to a tip from Wargaming’s North American tank expert Nick Moran, we now know that this tank is from South Africa.  This tank originally came from the South African Defense Force School of Armour in Bloemfontein.  By 2007, it had been handed over to the Sandstone Heritage Trust who went to work making the tank mobile again.  By 2008 the tank was up and running, although with a modern engine not original to any M4 variant.  For details of the restoration, go to the Sandstone Estates website here.  Below is a excerpt from the site explaining the changes made to the vehicle.  The picture below shows the alterations made to the rear deck to accommodate the new cooling fans.

06This example has been modified locally, by fitting a large V8 Mercedes Benz / Atlantis Diesel Engine 442 twin-turbo diesel engine, rated at 400 hp @ 2100 rpm. Max torque is 1600 nm @ 1100-1500 rpm. Fitted directly to the engine is an Allison AC740 CR (close ratio) 4-speed automatic gearbox with the prop-shaft running into the original gearbox which now acts as a transfer box. This in effect gives the vehicle a total of 24 forward and 6 reverse gears.

Top speed is 45 kmh. Fuel consumption is now +/- 2.5 litres per km compared with 9 litres per km with the Continental engine!

Further modifications to this vehicle include the fitment of electronically operated turret turning motors (which were not standard on this specific type) and the fitment of modern optical equipment and sights.

The other major modification on the vehicle was the fitment of twin radiators with accompanying cooling fans. These radiators are fitted in such a way that the complete radiator pack swivels open in less than a minute for easy engine access.

Inside the Chieftain’s Hatch: M4A1 Sherman part 2

In the second part of the “Inside the Chieftain’s Hatch” episode about the M4A1 Sherman, Nicholas Moran takes a look inside the vehicle.

The Chieftain’s Hatch: Bigger Turret, Less Room

hatchlogoOver at the World of Tanks website, tank researcher Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran has posted an article on Sherman tank turrets and guns.  Specifically, he found some archival materials about an attempt to put a 75mm gun into the T23 turret (this is basically the same turret as the 76mm armed Sherman tanks).  Oddly enough, they found that the 75mm gun did not fit.  While this may seem counter-intuitive since the T23 turret was larger than the 75mm gun turret, the answer lies in the shape of the turret and the placement of the trunnions.  The Chieftain uses this example to make the larger point that up gunning a tank turret is more than just a simple case of  making sure the turret ring is big enough and jamming in a new gun.


One of the problems with Firefly was that the turret was a little cramped.

The 17pr is not a small gun to cram into a turret bustle measured in inches. US Army Ordnance had a crack at putting the somewhat smaller and lighter 76mm into the same turret, and Armored Force found it unsatisfactorily cramped and rejected it.

Another lesser-known issue for Firefly is that in order to be converted, the tank had to be the 75mm one with the smaller turret. This is partly why the 75mm Sherman remained on the production lines even after the US Army decided to switch to the 76mm. But it raises the question: why did they mandate use of the 75mm tank? Surely the 76mm turret, bigger as it was, would have been a better match, and reduce the limitations the Firefly was under. How could the British miss this?

Read the full piece here.

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 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.





Photo of the Day 2/27/2016


This photo comes from the recently updated page on M4 and M4A1 75mm Shermans produced by Pressed Steel Car Co., Inc on the Sherman Minutia website.  The photo above was taken at the Desert Training Center in California around mid 1943, and documents a king pin failure on a transport trailer.

Photo of the Day 2/16/2016


World War II reenactor and retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Kose inspects the M4 Sherman Tank. The reenactor was supporting the 728th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion’s noncommissioned officer and commissioned officer development program. More here.