Volume 5, Issue 1
April 1, 2009


Welcome to the thirteenth 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 thirteenth newsletter, we will highlight a unique facet of VMMV….our world-class restoration work for other armor museums in the United States.


VMMV’s collection of armored fighting vehicles is dynamic, we are always looking to acquire new or unique vehicles and sometimes we may sell or trade a vehicle that we have more than one of. And sometimes, another tank museum will ask our highly skilled mechanics and fabricators to breathe life back into a vehicle and restore it for display in their collection.

In October 2008, a major collector of armored vehicles contacted VMMV about acquiring an M41 Walker Bulldog tank for display in his new armor museum. The museum opening was set for January 15, 2009, so the VMMV staff and volunteers knew it was going to be an all-hands-on-deck project, but relished the challenge.

The vehicle selected came to VMMV in the early 1990’s from the Belgian Army and is shown here. This particular M41 is an early production model with the straight front fenders although it has the later fabricated T-shaped muzzle brake.


Staffers Marc S., Alan B., and Jason W. led the effort. Their long hours during the fall and winter of 2008 added up….by the time the last lettering was applied they had worked over 600 hours restoring the M41, along with many hours invested by VMMV volunteers. But the pictures shown below illustrate the dazzling end result—a nicely restored M41 that any museum in the world would be proud to display.

There were many challenges to overcome in this restoration beyond the short timeline….the vehicle needed work on the turret and engine and elements of the electrical and hydraulic systems needed to be replaced. Marc and Alan divided up the tasks and each tackled a different project. That took quite a bit of effort as several gremlins needed to be isolated and fixed.


After all the interior work was accomplished, VMMV staff and volunteers took on the exterior. Properly prepping a vehicle prior to painting is critical. Without fixing rusted areas or shooting good primer the new paint will flake off. So the needle guns and scuff pads made their appearance. Elbows flew as the surface was stripped off to bare metal prior to shooting it with zinc chromate, primer and two coats of semi-gloss Olive Drab 24087. On January 6, the work crews of VMMV stepped back to admire their restoration handiwork….a beautiful M41 Walker Bulldog tank.


From the Files of VMMV......

In this section, we will examine historical records and files on armor in World War II from the perspective of the British liaison office to the US War Department. Some of this correspondence discusses the capabilities and performance of US armor, other files are the British view of German armor, reflecting their understanding of the technical capabilities of the panzers they faced. VMMV is proud to be the custodian of these historical treasures and wishes to thank Mr.Peter Upton for sharing his father's war time papers.

These files represent the actual understanding of the Allies of German armored fighting vehicles and represent a critical link between the myths and propaganda of both sides and the post-war technical exploitation. Some of the data may be incorrect or missing, represent critical intelligence that was unknown to the Allies at the time. You the reader are presented with the data in raw form to allow you to see the ground truth of Allied intelligence.

In our second installment, we will examine several documents associated with the Panzerkampfwagen II or PzKw II. The PzKw II started out in the mid-1930s as a stopgap design between the PzKw I and the oft-delayed PzKw III and IV. The PzKw II served as a main combat tank thru the Polish campaign. By 1940, the thin armor and weak gun relegated the PzKw II to a reconnaissance role; a role it served till the end of the war. In addition, the basic chassis and hull of the PzKw II served as the foundation for Panzerjagers mounted up to a 75mm cannon (Marder II) or as self-propelled artillery mounting a 105mm howitzer (Wespe.)

As with the PzKw I, we start with a document dated from 25 October 1943 showing British measurements of the armor thickness of two different models of the PzKw II.

(Click on pictures in this artical to enlarge)

Next are two scans showing front and rear views of an Ausfuhrung (Model) C PzKw II along with detailed insets of the suspension, tracks and cupola.


Last, we close with a side and top view of the PzKw II Ausf. C illustrating how small this tank truly was.


The Luchs (Lynx) was a reconnaissance version of the PzKw II. Since it was used exclusively by recon. units of the Wehrmacht, it was designated a PanzerSpahWagen. One hundred Luchs were built with a 20mm main armament and 31 were equipped with a 50mm cannon when production was halted on 12 May 1943.



VMMV Acronym
The lexicon of armored vehicles is filling with a bewildering amount of acronyms. And at 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 the museum.

Little Joe: You might hear VMMV staff or volunteers asking each other to start up Little Joe sometimes during an Open House, however, that doesn’t mean Joe needs coffee. Little Joe is a friendly term for a kicker motor or APU (auxiliary power unit) used to help run electronics, power the turret, turn over the main motor, or charge the batteries. In British parlance, such a piece of kit is called Tiny Tim.

Using a smaller motor saves wear and tear on the main power pack and also fuel since tank engines are notoriously thirsty. Without a Little Joe, a vehicle might have to rely on its batteries when in an overwatch position, risking a critical dead battery when trying to start the main engine.

Mike Panchyshyn-Editor