Volume 1, Issue 3
December, 2005


Welcome to the third issue of "Heavy Metal" -- the newsletter of the

Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles (VMMV). Our mission is our motto -- by working to restore armored fighting vehicles, artillery, small arms, uniforms, and accoutrements of the US military and other countries, we hope to share the legacy of the sacrifice and courage of our fighting men and women with future generations of Americans. Located in Northern Virginia, our collection has grown to over 90 vehicles, starting out with the first US tank, the M 1917 through such legendary US vehicles as the M4A1 and M4A3 Sherman , M3A1 and M5A1 Stuart , M24 Chaffee , M3A1 Half-track , M36 Jackson and M3 Lee along with a few vehicles you might not know existed -- such as a prototype of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) tank.




Get to know your VMMV staff & vehicles

In this section we will introduce you to the people and armor of the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles. We will chat with the VMMV staff, so that you can get to know the people who "keep 'em running" and work so hard behind the scenes. And also provide a behind-the-scenes look into the history of individual vehicles in the VMMV collection. In this, our third newsletter, we have a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the new movie "Flags of Our Fathers" -- based on the best-selling book.

VMMV Goes Hollywood...
Marc and Robert's Excellent Adventure!!!

VMMV had a great summer as Marc and Robert took our M4A3 Sherman and newly refurbished LVT4 to Iceland to participate in the filming of the upcoming movie "Flags of Our Fathers." The movie is currently scheduled to be released in 2006; be sure to look for Marc, Robert and VMMV's vehicles!!!


VMMV spent June working on the LVT4, pulling maintenance, painting the vehicle and assembling a veritable mountain of spare parts--engines, alternators, starters, tools, etc to prepare for a month of simulated combat on Iceland's shore in the North Atlantic . VMMV's prior experience with filming was readily apparent, as Marc, Robert and a cast of volunteers left nothing to chance--testing, checking, re-testing and getting spare parts---there are no Radio Shack's in the middle of the North Atlantic!!!! The last critical test was to conduct a float check on the LVT4 in one of the ponds on VMMV's property. Thanks to the superb skills of the VMMV staff, there were no leaks and the prep. work was finally done.

On July 5th, the vehicles were moved on Lo-Boys and driven to the Penn Terminal in Philadelphia where they were loaded on a container ship bound for Iceland. The container ship left on 10 July and arrived in Iceland in late July.

Once in Iceland, our two vehicles joined equipment from across the US -- post-war Higgins Boats, three other Shermans, 6 LVTs, trucks, jeeps and several tractors vismodded to look like Japanese tanks. Marc and Robert immediately jumped into action; testing our vehicles, running motor checks and acquainting production staff and extras with the capabilities and limitations of both armored vehicles. The can-do spirit of Marc and Robert was apparent to the production company as Marc and Robert were quickly drafted as "corporate assets" to fix other armored vehicles that did not arrive in working order or broke down.


On 11 August, after a week of training, filming began in earnest and continued every day until 5 September. The days were long. Marc described being on the set of a movie as similar to combat--Hours of waiting, checking, and rehearsing punctuated by a few minutes of sheer mayhem as the beach assault scenes were filmed. Our crew and vehicles were surrounded by explosions, 50 caliber machine guns hammering away as different scenes were blocked out and filmed. There were formation shots at sea with other amphibious craft, with simulated artillery landing amongst the LVTs. Then the actual assault went in--with more explosions simulating naval artillery and when they hit the beach--hundreds of extras swarming out of, over the top of, and amongst the vehicles. Despite the gunpowder and snorting tank guns, all filming was done saftely and there were no accidents or injurys.


After the beach scenes, the movement inland was next. Filming concentrated on breaching the berm, with lots more artillery and now the M4A3 became a star, helping to reduce beach fortifications and belching flame from her cannon.

VMMV did get to rub shoulders with celebrities. Our LVT4 hosted Clint Eastwood -- the film's director -- as Marc took him for a swim in the Amtrac . We also swam with all the other major star's of the movie!!

After filming ended, the work was not done. Although each vehicle was hosed down with fresh water daily to prevent corrosion from the salt water, the LVT4 and M4A3 had seen hard use and needed some tender loving care. To comply with US Dept. of Agriculture regulations, the vehicles were scrubbed from track link to commander's hatch to prevent any foreign soil or objects from being transported to the shores of the United States. Gear and spare parts were inventoried and packed away. After a wrap-up party, Marc and Robert drove the vehicles one last time down to the pier for loading onto a container ship which arrived in Philadelphia in early October.

Well done to Marc and Robert!!! VMMV will continue to post pictures from this most excellent adventure throughout the winter, so check back often!

VMMV Acronym
The lexicon of armored vehicles is filled with a bewildering amount of acronyms. And at the VMMV we have a few of our own. Here we will have the VMMV word of the day so you may better understand the conversations you might overhear at VMMV.

"Needle Gun" -- No, VMMV has not changed missions and become a MASH. Nor are we giving out Flu Shots. If you hear a VMMV person talking about the needle gun, it likely means they are involved in stripping rust from metal. The needle gun is an air driven tool that uses pulses of air to drive metal spikes (looking like overly large needles, hence the name) against metal to pound away surface rust from nooks and crannies that you can't get to with a grinder.

Calender of Events
Open House for 2005 has been postponed to 2006 due to several factors, not the least of which was an overly active Hurricane Season! We are greatly sorry, but hope to have a spectacular event in June of next year. Please stay tuned for updates.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all the staff and volunteers of VMMV.

Mike Panchyshyn-Editor