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The_Chieftain #1 Posted Sep 13 2011 - 01:17

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The traffic in the California region can be aggravating at times. One of the nice things about driving the California freeways, however, is the fact that if it’s a nice day (which, in much of California, is most of the year), there is an excellent chance that you will find yourself sharing the road with a classic car. I don’t just mean mass cruises, either, which are always head-turners. I mean someone who is doing some daily business, be it commute or a shop run, or just a Sunday drive, in a car which makes absolutely no sense. From Model As to Plymouth Barracudas, I’ve seen most anything on wheels going wherever they’re going. They’re uncomfortable, unsafe, uneconomical, eco-unfriendly… Sensible and rational owners would have consigned them to the scrap heap years ago. Why are they still out there? I think I know.

I swung by the Blackhawk Museum in Danville last year. It is an astounding collection of some of the rarest, most pristine cars it is possible to find anywhere in the world.


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Photo credit: Blackhawk Museum


Most are in operating condition, I checked with their mechanic. But seem to just sit there, those awe-inspiring creations, looking pretty for all the visitors like me. On occasion, they'll be flat-bedded to a councours. Pretty as they are, though, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

About the only sport I watch is Formula 1, and please no discussion of the current championship in the forum as I have a few races recorded I have yet to watch. I took the following photograph at the Hungarian Grand Prix a couple of years ago, I show it, if you’ll forgive the poor quality, to demonstrate a point.





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F1 aficionados may recognize the Brabham Cosworth BT49D fighting to defend its position from the Arrows A6 following close behind.  It would be tempting to think that I was watching a re-run of a race from the early 1980s, but no, the video stream was live. The drivers were hurling these rare vehicles, and compared to today’s cars, they're downright deathtraps, around the track, fighting each other for position. It would be so easy for one vehicle to spin out, crash, catch fire, or otherwise be destroyed. Or worse, collide with another vehicle and both would be totalled. It would be a shame for such a vehicle to be lost to the world. These people, however, evidently believe that it would be an ever greater shame for such a vehicle not to do what it’s supposed to, and that’s race. Below is a picture of Tyrrell P34 also in the same race for sheer cool factor. Where would you even start to find a new front suspension for this if it's damaged?





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So when you go visit a tank museum, you can’t help but somehow feel a little sad. Yes, it is true that at least they weren’t torched and melted down for scrap. But when you look at that Centurion or M4 sitting there, you can’t help but wonder when was the last time its engine roared, or the turret motors whined. Let alone the last time that it sent a round downrange, eyes eagerly watching the impact. Aberdeen Proving Ground’s collection was particularly depressing, as vehicles rusted away, exposed to the elements.

The Danes, though, came up with a solution to such melancholy. A while ago, they decided to finally get rid of all that surplus 76mm and 105mm ammunition that they had in storage. The Danish Army has standardized on the Leopard 2A5DK, and has no further use for the obsolescent ammunition. Most militaries, when they want to dispose of unwanted ammunition, put it all in a big pit and blow it up.  The Danes had a better idea. They went to the museum to see what they could do.




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Photo credit www.jdrveteranpanser.dk


The old warhorses were back in action. Moving on their own power to the firing line. M41, Centurion, Leopard 1. The event, held every year, is called “Open Heath” (Åben Hede), a sort of mini-TankFest, but with live ammunition.





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Photo credit Armored Vehicle Veteran Association

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Photo Credit “Dachs”, SimHQ


These guys have the right idea.

Now, most musea can’t go that far. Even if they had the various licenses for the ordnance, they wouldn’t have the room to shoot them. What they can do, though, and credit to the dedicated mechanics, usually volunteers, who do it, is at least get them running.

Last week I had the privilege of attending and (because anything beyond basic gofer assistance generally wasn’t required) providing moral support at, the reactivation of an M4A3E2, a “Jumbo”. There are only six of these left, so it’s a bit special. It had been partially restored by Jacques Littlefield, then parked in the display hangar. Please forgive the sound issues at times, Canon did not design my camera with operation inside tanks in mind.





It’s a small thing, as the vehicle had been restored to running condition a few years previously, but ever since then, it was parked on display and the motor never roared again. This appreciation of even this small victory can be heard in the voices of the attendees, and the smile on the chief mechanic’s face, at the driver’s controls.

As for those guys driving on the freeway in their 1965 Pontiacs? You’ll see a smile on their faces too, and appreciation and cameras clicking from the people driving around them. They’re designed to drive, and that's when they're in their element.

CdtWeasel #2 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 18:08

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Man I like those Danes thinking.  There are a couple museums/collections here in VA that have running tanks, they are definetly something to see and hear and smell running.   Really helps to put things in persepective.

Valontinian #3 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 18:09

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Great film!  It's always great to see old warhorses up and running again.  What a great treat to be able to be there and film it for the rest of us to see.  Thanks much!

Chiyeko #4 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 18:32

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Wonderful to see the old beasties get up and going again :)

PanzerSchofield #5 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 19:04

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The reactivation made me smile, and when I wandered around my old army post and looked at all the M4's, Patton's, and Chaffee's on their little pedestals sometimes with out placards it did always make me feel a little sad.

Of course now all I can think about is trying to figure how I can convince the owner to let me drive that Jumbo Sherman ;)

the_moidart #6 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 19:18

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Restoration to working order has its place, especially in terms of outreach to the general public, but it has its dangers too. In just the past year we've lost a B-17 and quite a few other planes due to various accidents. Tanks aren't in as much inherent danger, but still...

Thanks for the video anyway.

NollieFlipX #7 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 19:47

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You know Chief, I believe that museums like that one - with tanks I mean - would earn a nice amount of money if they start some kind of scheduled "ride in/on the tank" program, so people can feel the tank, have fun and obviously learn about the tank and history behind it. Not to mention, those machines would be proud and happy to keep operational that I'm sure about. =p

beawis #8 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 20:37

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Cryining every time i see on of the old m41 dk-1 driving like a dream  :Smile_great: was driver on one from 93-98 when they was replaced with the Leopard 1.
it was mosly operating as a recon.

Some data on the DK1 version of the M41. The turret modification is clearly visible. The old gasoline engine was replaced by a new turbo-charged diesel powerpack (Cummins VTA-903TR developing 465 hp at 2.800 rpm). The 76 mm gun remained, but a new type of high performance anti-tank round (APFSDS from AAI International) was bought.
Other improvements includes an NBC system, thermal night vision system (Jahn Anderson) with integrated laser rangefinder (Ericsson Radio Systems), night vision periscope (Texas Instruments) as well as Halogen searchlight mounted on the gun mantlet. The fire control system was made by AEG Telefunken using American, Danish and German components.
Wegmann smoke dischargers were added to the turret. Fire suppression is handled by a system from Graviner (Firewire).
Note the Leopard 1-like side skirt.
Fuel capacity was increased to 930 liters (204 gallons) and range to 750 km (468 miles).
17 tanks were cannibalized in 1997 to keep the remaining 36 tanks running.
The M41 DK1 was demobbed in 1998 - 1999. One went to the Armor Museum at the Army Combat School in Oksboel Base Training Area, some are used for target practice and the remainder have been scrapped.

beawis #9 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 20:51

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View Postbeawis, on Sep 16 2011 - 20:37, said:

Cryining every time i see on of the old m41 dk-1 driving like a dream  :Smile_great: was driver on one from 93-98 when they was replaced with the Leopard 1.
it was mostly operating as a recon.

Some data on the DK1 version of the M41. The turret modification is clearly visible. The old gasoline engine was replaced by a new turbo-charged diesel powerpack (Cummins VTA-903TR developing 465 hp at 2.800 rpm). The 76 mm gun remained, but a new type of high performance anti-tank round (APFSDS from AAI International) was bought.
Other improvements includes an NBC system, thermal night vision system (Jahn Anderson) with integrated laser rangefinder (Ericsson Radio Systems), night vision periscope (Texas Instruments) as well as Halogen searchlight mounted on the gun mantlet. The fire control system was made by AEG Telefunken using American, Danish and German components.
Wegmann smoke dischargers were added to the turret. Fire suppression is handled by a system from Graviner (Firewire).
Note the Leopard 1-like side skirt.
Fuel capacity was increased to 930 liters (204 gallons) and range to 750 km (468 miles).
17 tanks were cannibalized in 1997 to keep the remaining 36 tanks running.
The M41 DK1 was demobbed in 1998 - 1999. One went to the Armor Museum at the Army Combat School in Oksboel Base Training Area, some are used for target practice and the remainder have been scrapped.


JapaneseBoombox #10 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 21:32

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Fun read, I like these articles. :D

MR_magician_PK #11 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 22:58

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military specialist?

The_Chieftain #12 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 23:20

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View Postabdulrehman234, on Sep 16 2011 - 22:58, said:

military specialist?

Seemed more appropriate than the "developer" tag I had had previously.

Relorian #13 Posted Sep 16 2011 - 23:29

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You might wish to go to Planes of Fame in Chino.  I remember them having a few tanks on static display but its been years sense I was there.  Of course for WoWP, you might wish to go there anyway as they have a number of the planes you will be modeling.

__Worm__ #14 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 00:40

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nice post, thanks!

BMCha #15 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 01:16

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View PostRelorian, on Sep 16 2011 - 23:29, said:

You might wish to go to Planes of Fame in Chino.  I remember them having a few tanks on static display but its been years sense I was there.  Of course for WoWP, you might wish to go there anyway as they have a number of the planes you will be modeling.
I was at their annual airshow in May this year and they did have a Sherman (not sure if theirs or not) running over by the reenactors.
Got a few pictures of it while it was being backed up (you can see some dirt coming off the front of the tracks).
http://i.imgur.com/rmoqa.jpg (WARNING 3188x2125 IMAGE)

Tomoya_kun #16 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 03:21

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Well, my grandfather says he still remembers the roaring engine of a tank from his days during the war.

Which war?  Well, he fought for the PRC's Peoples Liberation Army against the United States.

He drove a T-34/85 (Commander), and is sure that he killed what is either an M46 Patton or an M26 Pershing.  He notes that the tanks look very similar and he cannot determine which it is that he killed.

He fired from a range of about 45m into the side of the turret which set the tank on fire, and the tank exploded after about a minute.  

He brought back a shard of metal, but it's far too small to identify.  Though certainly, a shot at 45m into the side of either's turret would surely be painful!

Dominatus #17 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 03:54

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View PostTomoya_kun, on Sep 17 2011 - 03:21, said:

Well, my grandfather says he still remembers the roaring engine of a tank from his days during the war.

Which war?  Well, he fought for the PRC's Peoples Liberation Army against the United States.

He drove a T-34/85 (Commander), and is sure that he killed what is either an M46 Patton or an M26 Pershing.  He notes that the tanks look very similar and he cannot determine which it is that he killed.

He fired from a range of about 45m into the side of the turret which set the tank on fire, and the tank exploded after about a minute.  

He brought back a shard of metal, but it's far too small to identify.  Though certainly, a shot at 45m into the side of either's turret would surely be painful!

It'd be funny if our grandfathers knew each other, but he was in the artillery at the time, and later switched to mechanized infantry, and stayed in China during the Korean War. I say this because my mother met the son of my grandfather's friend (a commissar) randomly in her store a few years back. It's a small world.

I wonder if he remembered the roar of a tank before Tianamen Square. Must have been something to behold. More likely though, his memories lean more to horses than tanks (being an artilleryman, afterall).

darkestsoul00 #18 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 05:01

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i have been there when i was living in cali it is a awesome place and a must see destination

machinech #19 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 05:58

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I left the Army back in 94 after my stint as active duty. I ran the chain from the basic M1 Abrams up to the, at that time pinnacle, M1A2 "Heavy"... I STILL miss two things to this day... The sound of those turbines winding up in the early morn, and the smell of diesel fuel. The later gets me to remembering, the former, at those rare times I get the chance, gets me to grinning from ear to ear. That M4 running sounds awesome! I'm a wee jealous, and grateful for ya sharing, thanks MUCH!!

SgtGrunt #20 Posted Sep 17 2011 - 07:28

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Awesome stuff. Thanks for posting Sir:Smile_honoring:




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