Volume 6, Issue 1
May 25, 2010


Welcome to the sixteenth 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 sixteenth newsletter, we will demonstrate that pictures truly are worth a thousand words and highlight the restoration of VMMV's M-42 and M-42A1 "Dusters."

Over a year ago, VMMV started the restoration of its two Dusters. From the early pictures you can see the initial condition of the vehicles was poor and the staff and volunteers faced a daunting task. But that didn't stop the restoration wizards at VMMV, who, with immense skill and long hours, revitalized and restored our M-42 and M-42A1, turning them from rust buckets into museum quality show pieces that are now running and fully operational.

The restoration was a ground-up rebuild and was approached with care and skill. VMMV personnel always strive to preserve the legacy of our vehicles, so the first task was to lightly sand away layer after layer of paint to uncover the vehicle's original markings. As you watch the slide show, you can see the initial markings which VMMV historians carefully documented. Then as the vehicle is restored, you can see how we held true to the vehicle's history and our motto by stenciling the vehicles as they once were. The non-functioning, demilitarized 40mm cannon on the Dusters were cosmetically restored by VMMV to their original appearance for display purposes only.

Another aspect of a vehicle's history can be gleaned from such esoteric documentation as maintenance logs and waybills. By carefully reading the scans below, we can trace the history of vehicle Serial Number 217…manufactured in 1957, overhauled in 1966 at Letterkenny Army Depot and rebuilt at Red River Army Depot, Texarkana in 1978. As you review the reports, track for yourself how many rounds were fired from each 40mm barrel of vehicle 217 over the years.


VMMV would like to thank Paul K., the historian for the National Dusters, Quads and Searchlight Association (NDQSA) for providing his time, research skills and incredible photo archive during the restoration of these vehicles. The NDQSA is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Air Defense Artillery units that served in Vietnam. Their association can be reached via the link below:

As always, VMMV seeks to expand our knowledge of the vehicles in its collection. If you have any photos or information on these two historical tracks, please email michaelp@vmmv.org. Thank you.

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 fifth installment, we will examine several documents associated with the Panzerkampfwagen V or PzKw V…more commonly known as the "Panther." Because of the large number of documents, we will break up the Panther file over several newsletters.

We start with a scan of a 25 October 1943 British report illustrating the PzKw V's armor thickness and a 24 May 1944 three page report on armor quality and vulnerability.


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.

Battery Key: A key feature of AFVs is that they are not started with a key like your family sedan, but generally by a push button. One of the ways we keep our vehicles safe is by installing a circuit into the electrical system requiring the insertion of a battery key. That way the vehicle cannot accidentally be started while on display, but if we need to quickly move it for an exhibit, we insert a battery key into the circuit, turn it 90 or 180 degrees to enable the circuit which then allows electrical current to flow from the battery to the starter. If you have ever lost your car keys, you know that you can't afford to have a nonoperational tank because someone has lost the key!!!!

VMMV Memorial

It is with heavy heart that VMMV notes the passing of one of our volunteers, John Wallace. John could be seen during the Open House helping out with a myriad of things. A former Marine, John was also a highly decorated FBI agent. Our deepest sympathies go to his wife and family. Semper FI John.


Michael Panchyshyn-Editor