Volume 5, Issue 3
December 1, 2009


Welcome to the fifteenth 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 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 fifteenth newsletter, we have a special combination interview and vehicle feature: Bob L. and his Fast Attack Vehicle.

Mr. L, tell us about your background.
I graduated from the Armstrong Business College in Berkley, California with a degree in International Business. While working at Wells Fargo Bank, I went to San Francisco State at night working on a Masters Degree. In 1966 I joined the Central Intelligence Agency.

While at the CIA I went to the Harvard Business School and earned an MBA. I became involved in real estate and worked as a builder in Silver Spring, MD. After working with a second builder, three colleagues and I formed a partnership known as MagnaGroup. We stayed together until 1989, primarily building residential units in the greater Washington DC area.

My wife and I purchased a farm in Culpeper, VA and when MagnaGroup was dissolved, I went into business with another partner. I retired in 2006 and still reside in Culpeper.

Wow, you worked in the CIA? You are an international man of mystery.
After graduating from the Career Trainee program, I worked in a variety of overseas assignments. I could tell you about them but then I would have to kill you!

What was it like to grow up in the Sixties in San Francisco?
I was a couple of years older than the younger generation, but I found it fascinating to watch the social change this country went through. It was a neat time to observe some very important changes, no matter what your personal views were.

So some VMMV fans right now are probably living in houses you built?
Yes, we built them to last!

Rumor on the street is that you are a gear head?
I always liked cars, growing up in southern California I guess it was just natural. So in 1985, after getting my business established, I bought a 1926 Model T Coupe with a Chevy engine. We cruised all around Washington DC….Man, were we cool!


From there, I went to a vehicle our VMMV readers might be more familiar with—I bought a Ferret in 1989. I then bought and sold quite a few hot rods and vehicles…a T-bucket roadster which a friend and I worked on for 4 years, another Ferret, a Shortland armored car, a 1929 Model T Ford roadster (which I still have.) Oh yes, and a 1986 Porsche and a Pinzgauer and a Fast Attack Vehicle (FAV).

Tell us more about the FAV, that sounds like a very unique vehicle.
It is. The FAV dates back to the light infantry division concept of the early 1980s where it would be used for reconnaissance, scouting etc and would be easier to get to Germany as a reinforcement since it was light and small.


Initially, 400 FAVs were to be built by Emerson Electric, but the budget was limited so only 125 were made. After the US Army bought them for $80,000 per FAV (sans guns or radios.) By 1985, the light infantry division concept was disproven, however, and all but 10 of the FAVs were scrapped and the 10 remaining were eventually sold to civilians. The vehicle that you see was one of the final 10 and was acquired from Ropky’s museum.

What is your favorite tank at VMMV?
The Fox armored car. I think it is a neat little AFV, totally impractical but cool. Followed by the Scorpion with its Jaguar engine. So I like the little “hot rod” tanks.

What is your favorite weapon of all time?
The mini-gun. Anything that can fire 6000 rounds per minute has awesome firepower.

Does fruit belong on pizza?
NO! They should all be banned from pizza. Pizza should have cheese and mass quantities of meat like bacon, sausage or pepperoni.

Ketchup or mustard?

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 donating 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 fourth installment, we will examine several documents associated with the Panzerkampfwagen IV or PzKw IV. The PzKw IV was originally in 1935 designed as an infrantry support tank in the 20 ton class, however, it was destined to be the backbone of the Wehrmacht’s Panzer arm because it was big enough to mount a cannon effective against enemy tanks till the end of the war.

Variants of the PzKw IV abound…from the submersible “Tauchpanzer” to the “Brummbar” infantry assault gun to the “Nashorn” tank hunter, the PzKw IV demonstrated the incredible versatility of its chassis. Perhaps its most useful, and certainly the most widespread variant, was the Sturmgeschutz IV, or more typically the Stug.

Here we start with a scan from the British files showing the armor thickness of four different models of the PzKw IV.


Next, we have a very interesting blueprint showing the armor thickness in scale for a PzKw IV Ausf. H and the angle of the plate itself.



Here we have four scans of the PzKw IV Ausf. D—which mounted the short barreled 75mm L/24 cannon.



Lastly, we have a detailed close-up of the track and suspension arm.



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.

Mantlet: A mantlet is the large piece of armor plate through which the tank cannon is placed and is designed to protect the tank’s vulnerable turret front base armor and openings for the main and co-axial armament. The WWII Panther tank had a very pronounced mantlet consisting of a single piece of curved armor plate 100mm thick (about four inches) across the entire face of the turret.


VMMV Open House
We close this issue with a photo montage from our Open House on 24 to 25 October. Happy Holidays from all the staff and volunteers at VMMV.

Volunteers lunch during setup for Open House

Aerial view early Sunday morning of "The Tank Farm"

Chris from Hard Times Cafe serving those delicious chili dogs

  The Official Chili Palace and Pool hall of VMMV.  Eat, drink, play pool and hang out where the Staff and Volunteers do.


USMC Jr. ROTC Color Guard, Garfield H.S.

OT-810 in the WWII German display

French Panhard Armored Car

Soviet tanker beside T-34

Reenactors potraying Soviet forces in Afganistan on BMP-1

M-114, M-113 and M-41 on display at Open House

Richard Isner and Allan Cors relating origin of markings on WWII M-3 halftrack

Richard Isner speaking to visitors about VMMV's T-55


Mike Panchyshyn-Editor