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 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 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:
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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