Category Archives: Military

A M60A3 Tank Sits Overlooking the River At American Legion Post 49 in South Haven, MI

South Haven, MI, is about 40 minutes up the road from us and we’ve been there a number of times over the years. On a number of occasions we’ve driven by American Legion Post 49 and seen the M60A3 tank sitting overlooking the river. We were up there recently and I snapped a few pictures in order to assemble a post about it.

The tank is a M60A3 serial number 7582 and was overhauled at Anniston Army Depot in October 1988.

The “Tank, Combat, Full Tracked: 105mm Gun, M60” was officially adopted in March 1959 and was an evolutionary design from the M48A2 Patton though never officially considered as part of the Patton family.

The M60 tanks served as the main battle tank during the cold war with 15,000 being produced. It was first put into operational use in Europe in 1960. Chrysler started production in 1959 and then the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plat produced them from 1960-1983.

Over it’s design life, there were many upgrades as the Americans and Soviets tried to “one up” each other in terms of capabilities. M60: 1959-1962, M60A1: 1962-1980, M60A2: 1973-1975 and then the M60A3 from 1978-1983. Note there was a modernization program and one point that upgraded 5,400 older tanks to the M60A3 variant that ended in 1990.

The M60 was eventually replaced by the M1 Abrams. The US retired the M60 from front-line use after Operation Desert Storm (August 1990-February 1991). The last tanks were retired from the National Guard in 1997. The M60 still sees use in many other countries including Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

I am not going to cover all of the history and design changes. Click here for a good Wikipedia post with that info. Instead, I am just going to list some stats I found interesting about the M60A3 specifically.

M60A3 Stats

  • Number produced: 1,052 new vehicles + 5,400 tanks upgraded to A3
  • Weight: 54.6 short tons ( 1 short ton = 2,000 pounds)
  • Hull length: 22 ft 9.5 inches
  • Gun forward length: 30 ft 6.5 inches
  • Width: 11 ft 11 inches
  • Height: 10 ft 9 inches
  • Crew: 4 people
  • Main cannon: The 105mm M68E1
  • Secondary Armament: .50 BMG or 7.6×51 on the commander’s cupola.
  • Engine: Continental AVDS-1790-2 V1 Air cooled twin turbo diesel with 750 BHP
  • Suspension: Torsion Bar
  • Transmission: GM cross drive single stage with 2 forward and 1 reverse gear ranges
  • Fuel capacity: 385 US Gallons
  • Range: 300 miles – so optimistically maybe a gallon per mile
  • Max speed: 30 mph on the road and 12 mph cross-country

Here’s what the Post had to say about the tank

They had this summary on a fence post by the tank.
And this was on the ground.

Photos of the American Legion M60A3

Summary

A big thank you to the Post setting up the tank for people to see and providing the background placard.

If you are travelling through South Haven, MI, it’s worth a quick stop the the American Legion Post to see the M60A3.


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A M4A3 Sherman Tank Sits Guarding the Mancelona, MI, American Legion Post 264

As I have written in the past, I am always fascinated my old military equipment located at American Legion Posts, VFWs, cemeteries and so forth. My wife and I have driven on US-131 a number of times over the years and seen a M4 Sherman tank right by the road but have never had the time to stop and take photos until October 2022. We were on our way home and had time to stop and take a few quick photos. Now, weeks later, I did a bit of research and compiled this post.

The tank is a static display for American Legion Post 264 in Mancelona, MI located on the corner of US-131 and State Street in downtown Mancelona – if you are headed North, it’s on the the right hand side of the road just before the intersection.

The tank is a M4A3 Sherman serial number 11755 with a 75mm cannon with a small hatch and dry storage. The smaller hatches were an earlier production design and many were kept in the US for training purposes and did not see battle.

Dry storage models had ammunition racks mounted on vulnerable positions and the rounds could catch fire. Later “wet storage” models moved the racks to the floor in less vulnerable positions and protected them with sealed chambers filled with water and anti-freeze to slow the progression of fire and allow the crew a few more seconds to escape.

The Details

To be honest, I had no idea how many variants to the M4 Sherman were made – it’s stunning actually. This Wikipedia page gives info on the tank in general and this one lists info on variants. I thought this would be a quick post to write but every time I pulled back a layer and got more details that then led to more details. I had to then dig specifically on the tank to read what others had written about it.

So here is the info I could sort out:

  • Model: M4A3 small hatch dry storage
  • Maker: Ford
  • Where: Highland Park Plant
  • When: February 1943
  • Production: It was one of 1,690 small hatch dry storage M4A3 Shermans made by Ford between June 1942 and September 1943. This variant had the lowest production numbers.
  • Serial Number: 11755
  • US Registration: 3053910
  • B&R Rebuild Stamp: 579
  • Engine: Ford GAA V-8 500HP – that engine is really interesting – it’s an all aluminum 1,100 cubic inch 32 valve dual overhead cam 60 degree liquid cooled engine. Everything was geared – no belts or chains – so it was actually very reliable. The design is amazing in my honest opinion.
  • Transmission: Synchromesh with 5 speed forward and one reverse
  • Max road level sustained speed: 26 mph – I got stats ranging from 21 to 30 mph on this one)
  • Fuel type: Gasoline, at least 80 octane
  • Fuel Capacity: 174 gallons
  • Range: From TM9-759, the manual reports 110 miles cross country or 155 miles on the highway. Note that means it’s not even getting a gallon per mile in terms of fuel economy.
  • Suspension: Vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) with three bogies per side and two wheels per bogie
  • Track: This tanks has the T48 track with rubber chevrons – 16.56″ wide and makes contact for 147″
  • Main Cannon: 75 mm (97 rounds carried)
  • Integral machine gun: Two .30 cal M1919A4 – one in the ball mount on the right side of the hull and one coaxial to the main 75mm cannon. (4,750 rounds carried)
  • Secondary machine gun on the turret: .50 Browning M2 (300 rounds carried)
  • Mortar: 2″ M3 mortar for smoke (12 rounds carried)
  • Small arms ammunition: 600 rounds of .45 ACP and
  • Weight: 30.3 tons
  • Length: 19’2″
  • Width: 8’7″
  • Height: 9′
  • Crew: 5

Okay, I am a gear head. The more I read about the Ford GAA engine, the more fascinated I got. Displacing 1,000 cubic inches or 18 liters, it remains the largest V8 gas engine Ford has made and it made more than 28,000 of them. It’s estimated that only 500-1,000 still exist and they are sometimes found in competition pulling tractors. Here’s a video of one running on a test platform in 2019:

Here are pages with more info just on the GAA engine:

Photos of the Sherman – October 11, 2022

There is a nearby park with a lot that we left our van at. We then came up on the tank from behind. The American Legion post did a nice job painting it. It’s always nice to see history preserved.
One of the things I noticed right away was that the rubber treads were in remarkably good shape. On some tanks they are worn down next to nothing. The folding blanket rack on the back is down.
Close up of the rear left side idler wheel. You can see a grease fitting at the 10 o’clock position.
This is a photo of the rear bogie and two wheels. The Sherman M4A3 had three bogies on each side as part of its Vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) with three bogies per side and two wheels per bogie. The bogie is the vertical part that the two wheels connect to.
Just forward of the “American Legion” signage looks like a sign board with more text on it. That’s actually additional armor welded onto the hull.
The hatch in the turret is a pistol port. You don’t see those on modern tanks ๐Ÿ™‚ General Steel, who made the turret, stopped casting turrets with pistol ports in May of 1943 and any with them were welded shut.
The big upside down U is a lifting eye. The hatch behind it is a cover to the grouser compartment.
This is for the blanket rolls and could have held cleaning rods, etc.
The sun and that pine tree were in just the wrong place at the wrong time so I have a ton of shadows but figured I would include the photo regardless. You can see the elaborate front sprocket.
You can see the rifling in the barrel of the 75mm cannon. 24 grooves with a 1:25.59 right hand twist. The coaxial .30 cal machine gun would have poked out of the hole to the right of the cannon. Note, the cannon is resting in it’s “travel lock”.
This shows the travel lock a little bit better. At some point – presumably during the B&R rebuild – it was upgraded to the post war single locking arm model. In WWII it would have had two “fingers” – one on each side of the barrel – that would curl around and hold it.
Looking at the front cast nose section of the tank,
7411 was cast and the -107 was stamped.
The protruding armor on the side of the turret and the sides of the hull is known as “applique armor”. It was welded in place to compensate for sections of the casting that needed to be thinner.
This is the best photo I have of the applique armor welded to the turret. The casting’s armor was thinned by 2″ internally to make room for the gunner’s controls. It’s actually two plates welded together and to the hull to compensate for the curvature of the turret.
This is the only partial close up I have of the Ford front sprocket. It’s really eye catching and unique. One of the websites mentioned that there were so many field repairs going on that it wasn’t surprising to find parts from one type of Sherman on another.
Firestone showing their brand! You can see a grease fitting as well. The lubrication guides to the Shermans are incredibly elaborate – there were many, many grease points as you can well imagine trying to keep a 30 ton
More applique armor.
A view up at the turret.
This is the exhaust deflector.
I turned around and snapped one more photo of the old tank guarding the road,

Videos of restored M4A3 Sherman tanks

When I see a piece of history, I always wonder what they looked like when they were actually running / in use. Fortunately, there are many videos of restored tanks that you can watch and here are two:

This one has some interesting coverage of the “top 10 variants” containing narration, stills and original footage:

For More Information

Folks, there is just so much history relating to the Sherman tanks that there is now way I can capture it. Below are links where you can find out a ton more:

  • First off, specific to the Mancelona tank, L&P Hannah took a ton of photos of it in 2014 and still have them posted online. The paint had not been refreshed at that point but what is cool is that the photographer took many photos from many angles – way more and better photos than mine. Click here to open a new tab to go to their page.
  • This page hosted in France has a lot of info on Ford M4A3 variants.
  • A gentleman named David D Jackson has assembled an amazing tribute page to the American Automobile Industry in WWII and he provides photos and a wealth of info – click here to open a tab.
  • This page contains a wealth of statistics on Shermans including things like armor thickness, depth of water fording, etc. It’s a treasure trove of info and you have to scroll down to the M4A3 section, Click here.
  • Museum of the American GI has a page about their restored M4A3 Sherman that I got some of the stats from regarding dimensions and weight.
  • Another great site is TheShermanTank.com – click here to go direct to the M4A3 page.
  • The Sherman Register by Hanno Spoelstra is another excellent site.

The above links reflect massive efforts by their curators to capture history before it is lost. I couldn’t have written this post without their shared works.

Summary

It was pretty neat to stop and see the tank I wish I had a ladder or something to get more angles plus I wish I took more photos but you get the general idea. I learned quite a bit while researching this post and only scratched the surface, which is why I listed all of the additional resources above.

If you are on US-131 going through Mancelona, it’s definitely worth the stop. Finally and perhaps most importantly, kudos to the members of American Legion Post 264 for keeping the tank in such good shape and sharing history with us.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


US Coast Guard Response Boat Medium (RB-M) 45754 Stationed In Saint Joseph, MI

We were walking on the south pier in Saint Joseph, MI, on a fine June evening enjoying the cool Lake Michigan air. Coming in from the lake was one of the US Coast Guard boats that are stationed here. As it came in I decided to snap a number of photos plus look up just what the boat was when I had an opportunity.

In doing some digging, the vessel was a Response Boat Medium (RB-M) and the hull number 45754. It was delivered to the Saint Joseph USCG station in May 2014.

The RB-M is a 45-foot versatile utility boat used for search and rescue, The USCG has the following to say about the design:

The 45-foot RB-M is being procured to replace the 41-foot
utility boat (UTB). It is an all-aluminum boat that has a wire-
less crew communication system and is powered by twin
diesel engines and water jet propulsion. Unlike the 41-foot
UTB, the RB-M has the ability to self-right if it should ever
capsize. This feature allows the RB-M to operate in higher
seas, ensuring the crew (and rescued survivors) comes
home safely. For example, RB-Mโ€™s survivability parameters
are 12-foot seas and 50 knots of wind, whereas the UTBโ€™s
limits are 8-foot seas and 30 knots of wind. The RB-M has
a top speed in excess of 40 knots and cruises at 30 knots,
compared to the 41-foot UTB top speed of 26 knots. All 174
RB-Ms have been delivered.
(Click here for the USCG equipment guide PDF that I extracted the above info from)

So, it’s a pretty cool versatile boat. Here are the photos that I took:

We definitely appreciate the service the USCG Coasties provide the nation and our community. I thought it would be cool to share these photos in case others might like to see them.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



June 2021 Lest We Forget Event Was Held in Benton Harbor, MI

Lest We Forget is an organization dedicated to keeping the memories of what our military has done for us. The 2019 event was the last one for WWII, 2020 was cancelled due to COVID and 2021, this year’s event, remembered Korean War veterans. They have static displays, food, vehicles you can ride on and re-enactments.

We arrived a bit late on June 19th due to family commitments but I did have a chance to snap some photos of the various vehicles on display that including a M3 halftrack, a DUKW 6×6 amphibian, an M37 dodge and a M59 APC to name a few.

Here’s the slideshow:

If you ever get a chance to attend a Lest We Forget event, I highly recommend it. The atmosphere is family oriented and everyone there wants to share and have a good time.


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The M103 and M60 Tanks At The Dowagiac, Michigan, National Guard Armory – Cold War Armor

My wife and I like driving around and war memorials, VFW displays, and military tributes are always likely to cause us to stop, read and take pictures. Dowagiac, MI, is about 45 minutes from where we live and one fine summer day we decided to stop at the National Guard Armory there and take pictures.

It wasn’t until I was researching for this post that I found out that Dowagiac was the “Home of Armor” for the Michigan National Guard. From sometime in the 1940s until October 2006, the armor batallion was located there. Click here if you want to read more about the armory’s history.

Today, when you drive by the armory you will see two tanks and lets start with the M103 Heavy Tank stands at the corner West Prarie Ronde Street and Middle Crossing Road.

The M103

The 120mm Gun Combat Tank M103 began with the designator “T43” and was meant to counter Soviet armor at a distance. It suffered from an underpowered gasoline engine and then they moved to a diesel to try and improve matters. The M103 served with both the US Army and Marine Corps – 80 units with the Army and 220 with the Marines. They were in use from the late 1950s until 1963 when the Army started switching to the M60 Main Battle Tank and with the Marines until 1973. Wikipedia has a good history if you wish to read it – click here.

The following photo gallery lets you see some different angles of the M103 on display and you can see its current shape as well. The following is a gallery so if you click on a small photo to begin, a larger photo will pop up and then you can navigate through the larger photos:

The M60

The M103 at least sits by the corner displayed with a bit of aging pride. Behind a fence on the Middle Crossings Road side of the armory you can see an M60 sitting in the weeds sinking into the ground. I realize there is probably little budget or time to put much care into these tanks but it is a shame to see their current state at an actual armory no less.

The M60 was a second generation main battle tank that evolved from the M48. Over 15,000 of them were built by Chrysler. The first combat usage of a M60 was Israel in the 173 Yom Kippur war. The largest US deployment was in the 1991 Gulf War. The tanks were phased out from front line use after that and even retired from national guard use in 1997. The M60 is still in use by a number of militaries around the world. Wikipedia has a through write up on the history and evolution of the M60 and its various models – click here to access it.

Because the M60 was behind the fence at the armory, I was limited to the photo angles I could get. The following is a gallery also so click on a small photo and a large one will pop up:

In Summary

Dowagiac is a neat town to visit. They have some very good restaurants on their main street plus a number of memorials – we still need to stop and get photos of some of their others – I did do a post about their German trench mortar a few years back.

The history of armory was interesting to learn while researching for this post plus seeing the two tanks is always pretty neat.


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WWI 4.7-inch Gun Number 395 At The VFW Post 1137 in Watervliet, Michigan

One day when we were driving around, a WWI-era cannon caught my eye. It was positioned in front of VFW post 1137 in Watervliet, MI. Artillery of that era has a number of distinct markings – notably wooden wheels! So, I stopped and took photos – two times actually. One time in the Winter of 2019 and again in July of 2020.

Well, age and the elements are taking their toll but you can still see the 4.7″ M1906 and get a pretty good idea of what it looked like in its prime. Kudos to someone for making a stand to take the load off the old wooden wheels that could never handle it at this point.

Getting The Clues I Needed To Research The Cannon

In most artillery of this age, you can find what you need to start digging on the muzzle and the carriage. With this in mind, I made sure to get some photos as best I could of the info at those points.

The markings were hard to make out with the naked eye due to paint but with some digital photo editing, I could pull out the details. Northwestern Ordnance Co. 2665 Pounds. No. 395.
Getting in even closer and seriously tweaking the photo to enhance clarity, you can see that it says Northwestern Ordnance Co. 1918. The weight is definitely 2665. The initials in the lower right I am not sure of. I wonder if they were the inspector’s initials or some code. I can make out the letter H but not what is before it. You can see the bore area near muzzle still has its rifling.
It looks like there were three initials to the right of the gun’s number – “NO. 395”. The first two initials are too worn for me to make out but the last one looks like an “H”. I’m guessing but “R.B.H” maybe?
The emblem on the carriage was far easier to read and also our single best clue as to where to start digging. It was carriage number 702 for the Model 1906 4.7 inch gun. The carriage was made by Studebaker in 1918.

Doing The Research

From the carriage, I knew to start my Internet searching on M1906 4.7″ guns and Google immediately returned images, books and blog posts that confirmed that.

Here it back in the day! This is from the Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.

Wikipedia gave me some info but then thanks to the Internet Archive Project, I found two scanned copies of US Army books that had lots of old pictures, diagrams and really comprehensive information about the 4.7″ gun. There is so much detail in these books that I am just going to give a quick overview in this post and you can learn more from these books:

Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.

More Details

The 4.7 inch (120mm) field gun was designed and issued by the US Ordinance department beginning in 1906 with the first units being delivered in 1911. It was manufactured by the Northwest Ordinance Co and carriages were made by three firms groups: Rock Island Arsenal, Walter Scott Co and Studebaker Co.

Apparently there were logistical problems with the unique ammunition it used resulting in limited numbers being built. Despite larger orders being placed, only 209 guns and 470 carriages were produced. 64 of the units were sent to France. 994,852 of the 4.7 inch shells it used were produced. Most of the units were used for training and the guns stayed in reserve storage until 1932. [Source – Wikipedia]. Note, that Wikipedia link is pretty cool for a quick high-level summary of the 4.7″ gun.

More Photos of Number 395

The photos below were taken on the two different visits mentioned above. If you click on one, you can see the full-size photo and navigate around as well.

Summary

I’ve heard from guys who grew up in this area and they tell me the gun moved around some over the years before landing at its current location in front of the VFW post. If anyone has more information, I’d sure be curious to hear it.

With that said, I now know a little bit more and hope you found this post interesting.


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Video: Russian Spetsnaz – Into Battle – Some very cool Shots of AK-12s and PKP Pechengs

When I have time, I like to watch videos of foreign militaries. Some dedicated folks create motivational videos that have catchy music and often some very interesting clips set to the music. One of these gifted groups is Military Forces XXI Century that has a channel on Youtube.

They have a new one featuring some very interesting clips of Russian Spetsnaz teams training entitled “Russian Spetsnaz – Into Battle”. What especially caught my eye was the extensive use of optics – both red dots by themselves and with magnifiers – on their PKP Pecheng machine guns. The PKP is the modernized PKM.

PKP with both a red dot and a magnifier.
That’s either a large red dot or some form of prismatic scope — it’s big enough.

Here’s The Video

Be sure not to miss when they are throwing their famous shovels ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you enjoyed the video as much as I did.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.




Video: Birth Of the Alien Tiger Czech Hind Attack Helicopter

I recently posted a video that shows the amazing paint job the Czechs did to one of their Mi-35 Hind-D attack helicopters. Little did I know that there was a “behind the scenes” short documentary about the decision making that went into that paint job and that they won an award for it.

They had a number of conventional ideas that didn’t really wow anybody until they thought of a guy who specialized in the bio-mechanical look.
They do have some footage of the fellow doing the work. It was he, his brother and a few technicians who spent about 200 hours doing the paint job. I wish they had more footage of it and at a higher resolution.

The Documentary Video

Again, if you haven’t seen it already, check out the other post with a ton of footage of this awesome Hind. I hope you enjoyed these!


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.