Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Because Tanks...

We saw these cherry M5 Stuarts at Thunder Over Michigan last month.
There were four, but I couldn't get a picture with all of them in it at once.
The M5A1 was an upgraded and much-improved version of the old pre-war designed M3 light tank. It had a boxier hull and a decent Cadillac V8 engine, as opposed to the old radial aircraft engines that powered the earlier M3.
It sported two .30 Browning machine guns, one on the turret mounted coaxial to the main gun and one in the sponson, or front of the hull. The Main gun was a 37mm cannon. (Not terribly impressive in an airplane, according to Juvat, but more than fine for a tank.)
It wasn't heavily armed or heavily armored, having just enough of both to get it into trouble. It's main purpose was as a scout or reconnaissance vehicle but during World War Two, it was used for pretty much everything and saw service from North Africa to Europe to the Pacific.
Thousands were made, and after the war, most were scrapped, sold off or given to any number of our allies. We gave bunches of them to the British, who really weren't too keen on them despite their ability to build a tank that was any great shakes, and we gave more to the Russians under Lend-Lease, and they didn't like them either. Both considered the tank to be too light and too prone to catching fire when hit, thanks mostly to the older aircraft engined M3s that needed high-octane gasoline to run.
Post-war, they were adopted by the Nationalist (Red) Chinese, who used several that we abandoned in the Philippines in their own civil war in 1949. The Indians and the Pakistanis fought each other with them, Portugal used them and numerous South American countries, notably Brazil and Argentina, used them well up into the 1970s. It's rumored that Paraguay is STILL using a few today.
The little suckers sure got around.
Of course, as is the case with all of the surplus aircraft after the war, no one thought to save me one or two. Why was everyone back then so damned thoughtless?

At the show, the tanks fought a battle for us to watch. They drove around and shot their guns.
They even made use of a spotter plane and supporting infantry.
It made for a nice show when the airplanes weren't flying.
And yeah, I'd love one for use in traffic.

Here they are after their battle. Neat, huh?


  1. That 'would' make the commute a bit safer... For you anyway... :-)

  2. Sweet!

    I love tanks. Almost as much as aircraft.