Volume 6, Issue 2
September 20, 2010


Welcome to the seventeenth 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 seventeenth newsletter, we will answer one of the most oft-asked questions of VMMV…."Where do you get these wonderful vehicles?"

VMMV has Triplets
Earlier this year, VMMV acquired three M-35A3 trucks from a government surplus equipment auction. Each year, the US government liquidates literally billions of tons of material, including items the Department of Defense has deemed surplus to their current warfighting needs. The items go to the highest bidder, and range from as small as pencils, to demilitarized nuclear-powered submarines being sold for scrap.

VMMV purchased the three trucks (more commonly known as "deuce and halfs,") and after filing the appropriate paperwork, traveled to the auction site to pick them up. Since the vehicles are sold "as is," we brought along plenty of spare parts, extra diesel, oil and tools. After an initial inspection by VMMV staff for any major problems such as fluid leaks, seized engines etc, we jumped into the cab, turned the starter switch and held our breath to see if the engine would come to life. Each Caterpillar turbocharged diesel roared immediately along with a shout of approval from the VMMV mechanics.

After bringing the three deuce and halfs back to VMMV, we did a complete top-to-bottom inspection to determine what, if anything, needed to be repaired prior to use. The trucks were in excellent overall condition, so only a light refurbishment was needed along with a fresh coat of paint. VMMV staff and volunteers spent time fixing a few components, sanding, and treating minor rust spots…as you can see below, when we work, we work hard and sparks fly!!!!

In the end I think you will agree the three M-35A3 trucks turned out superbly and are a fine addition to VMMV's stable of military vehicles.

More on the M-35A3
The M-35 series of trucks were first fielded by the US in the 1950s and have served in every conflict since. The M-35 is a 6x6 truck capable of carrying 5,000 pounds of cargo off-road and can travel up to 55 mph on a paved road. In the mid-1990s, the US Army began a service extension program wherein older M-35 series vehicles received a new front end-new engine, automatic transmission, improved driver ergonomics and a central tire inflation system. The M-35A3 has since been replaced by the "Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles."

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 sixth installment, we will continue to 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 probably one of the most interesting documents on a little known facet of Panther history…the use of older turrets as a pillbox in fixed fortification.

Note, click on pictures for larger view

Next is a line drawing showing the relative armor thickness and slope of the Panther Ausf. G.

And we close out this segment with a "mutli-view" of the Panther Ausf. G

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.

Tank: The origin of the word "tank" to describe the modern turreted main battle tank is owed to the British and their desire to keep the new vehicle a secret in 1915. A revolutionary weapon was required to break the stalemated trench-fighting on the Western Front and the need to keep the new, potentially war-winning weapon a secret was paramount. While historians have differing views on the precise origin of the word, they generally agree that the word "tank" arose from a shortened version of the innocuous term--water tank-which was the original cover name for the tracked fighting vehicle being built in the British factories.


VMMV Open House 2010

VMMV's annual Open House took place on 21 to 22 August of this year and was a smashing success. Over 5,000 people of all ages turned out to enjoy the fine weather and to hear the roar of tank engines. Thanks to all the great folks and organizations that made the event a big hit. VMMV in particular would like to thank the US Army's 12th Aviation Battalion for flying in a UH-60 helicopter each day, along with Chris from the Manassas Hard Times Café for providing lunch for the living historians and VMMV staff and volunteers.

Michael Panchyshyn-Editor