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August 07, 2006

The rest of the story - the M36's from Iraq.

Castle Argghhh! Salvage 'Я Us!

Owen having twitted us about our weapons being used against us and our Allies, and my pointing out it was old news... what with the pictures of the M36 Jackson in Yugoslavian colors - along comes Blake, who is doing with M36 Jacksons what Beauchamp Tower Corporation is doing with the USS John Rodgers - repatriating them, so they will do no more harm to American Interests!

Well, the Rodgers *was* serving American interests, and mine. By preserving her for us until we were ready for her!

Here's Blake's tale:

Blake and his M36B1 Jackson TD in Iraq

John,

Well, we got our pair of M36's to the point where we feel like we can relocate them to the area where we're going to stage them for movement. We've got towing shackles in place, and we have the turrets and guns restrained so that I'm confident that we aren't going to have anything swinging wildly around in transit.

Some volunteers assembled by the Division Historian got the turret traverse on the M36B1 unjammed. Unfortunately, the driver's hatch is still stuck in the open position. If we rotate the turret clockwise, the turret bustle won't clear the open hatch. If we try to rotate the turret counter-clockwise the cannon barrel won't clear the hatch. Either way, we're stuck.

The problem with the driver's hatch is that there is a VERY robust spring-loaded detent pin which comes up through the top of the hull to engage an indent in the bottom of the driver's hatch hinge to lock the hatch open, and that detent pin is frozen in place. Nothing that we've tried has broken it loose, and I'm simply not willing to try to remove the hatch entirely by pulling the big pin/bolt on which it rotates, given the relative paucity of tools we've got available. Leave that for a later time. So what we've done is to get the gun itself into the elevation lock, then we've put a heavy chain bridle around the barrel of the cannon to keep the turret positioned with the gun facing forward on the center line of the vehicle. See the attached "ready to tow" picture. [Note the lavish accomodations in the background! .ed] It's not an ideal solution, but it's about the only one that seems workable, especially considering that I found the B1's turret traverse lock mechanism lying loose in the bottom of the hull today.

The M36B2 is in rather better shape. We've got the turret turned around over the back deck, and the turret traverse lock is mounted and engaged. Unfortunately, the travel lock for the gun barrel is badly bent and cannot be used, so again we've been forced to resort to a chain bridle to secure things. CSX, the railroad which provides us with service between Fort Campbell and our normal CONUS port of embarkation/debarkation, always likes to see some sort of external restraint on big rotating bits of a load, even if we DO have internal locking mechanisms engaged, so having the bridle in place will make
them happy. The elevation gearbox in that turret seems to be jammed, and
has no crank handle anyway, so I'm not worried about the gun shifting in elevation.

We've got some loose parts lying around, too. One of the engine hatch
covers fell off the B1, evidently because the hinge-pins sheared. Nothing wrong with it that isn't repairable, though, presuming that someone wants to put some time and a little money into the project. And in addition to the turret traverse lock I picked the elevation gearbox up off the turret floor of the B1. Now I have to find a stout wooden box or pallet for this stuff to to containerize it and ship it home. The B1 is in really poor material shape, both from exposure to the elements and from abuse/theft/neglect. The pictures of the gunner's position in the turret and of the hull interior are typical of the interior condition of the vehicle. The hull-gunner/radio-operator's position is completely stripped. Not even a seat frame left.

It's also interesting to see that these vehicles did not seem to have a full turret basket, as do modern tanks. There's a turret floor under the gunner and TC's position, but the loader evidently was expected to walk around on the tops of the stowage compartments at the bottom of the hull. Since this vehicle was built before the US bought into the idea of torsion bar suspensions for armored vehicles, the actual bottom of the hull is an unobstructed flat steel plate onto which one can install pretty much anything one wants. In this case, it appears to be mostly stowage for ammo. The M36B1 was designed for 11 ready rounds of 90mm in the turret bustle and another 36 semi-ready rounds in hull stowage, and the compartments under the floor are about the right size for 90mm rounds.

I'll attach some other photos of the M36B2 and such in a later e-mail.

At another location on this FOB there is an Italian CV 3/33 tankette, engineless, and without armament (originally, it mounted twin Breda machine guns,) but still in possession of all of its tracks and running gear. I'm hoping to have some pictures of that in the not-to-distant future. There's evidently a bit of a tug-of-war going on over the little thing, with more than one museum in CONUS trying to lay claim to it. I suspect that for the time being at least it's a matter of possession being nine-tenths of the law.

That's about it for the moment.

Regards,

Blake