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Handmade wooden M3 Stuart Tank. English unit markings. Trench art?

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Posted 2 years ago

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Dr_Rambow
(88 items)

First let me say that I need some help from the WWII guys, I need to know what Canadian units were using Stuart tanks during the war so I can try to track this thing. Some shallow digging came up with "5th Canadian Armoured Regiment", but I haven't gotten any specifics.

Anyway... This 14" long monster is large and in charge, not to mention highly detailed and accurate. Each piece of thick grain wood is unique, implying that it was not professionally made but instead made with enthusiasm. The person who made this wasn't perfect, but they cared enough to make many many little details.

The machine guns are made with thin brass pipe. There is a hand machined cooling shroud on the barrel of the coaxial machine gun on the turret (which I absolutely love).

The treads are canvas straps with individual pieces of irregularly cut angular dowels glued on.

The fenders are made with steel, what is interesting is that they are covered with *welding slag*, implying that they were probably scraps from a larger job.

The red-white-red marking on the sides designates a Canadian tank, which is a rather peculiar, very specific thing to put on a model tank. It was an American tank and most were used by the Brits during the war, so someone would have had to have a good reason to make this Canadian. **see comments below**

All the little details come together, I'm inclined to think that this probably was not made by your average guy in his garage. Even if it isn't wartime, I'm almost certain it was vet made.

I got this from England, took over a month to get here since it was sent by ship! I was beginning to think it wasn't going to show up.

Unsolved Mystery

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Comments

  1. Dr_Rambow Dr_Rambow, 2 years ago
    The AAF Tank Museum in Danville VA has a tank with similar construction, I'm fair certain that it was made by the same person or for the same group of people. It shows another WWII English-used tank, the Crusader Mk II.

    It's next to the orange and blue Marx Doughboy tank on the right of this image: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3195/2963684788_08e0f82499_o.jpg

    I've contacted the museum about the piece, so hopefully they can shed some light on it.

    Thanks for the love everyone!
  2. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    I don't know if this helps but this article would indicate that there were M3's ordered for Canadian army in North Africa and they called them the "Lee". The turrets swapped out for a lower profile that they called the "Grant" . Here is a link to the page -> http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/vehicles/tanks/mainbattletanks.htm
  3. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    Oh... and here is a preserved M5A1 Stuart at CFB Borden in Ontario Canada
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v331/ipmswinnipeg/Ontario/borden0009.jpg
    And...
    There is a couple more on this list.
    http://www.ipmswinnipeg.ca/CDNAFV.htm
  4. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    From what I can gather the 5th Canadian was was attached to the British 8th Army from 1943 - 1945 in Italy. They left their equipment in the UK and used the British equipment that had come through North Africa. It seems that 36 M2's were shipped to the British Army at the start of the war but shipment canceled in favor of the M3. The M2's it seems went with the 8th to North Africa. It doesn't seem that the Canadian Army was using M2's other than when attached to the Brits. Even in the US the M2 was a training tank. This is an amalgamation of information from various sources.
  5. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    Oh... Check out this forum conversations about the red-white-red markings. I had my suspicions that these where British markings and this would confirm that. WWI British tanks had white-red-white markings. Seems that they changed it up for the North Africa/Italy campaign. The red and white maple leaf flag wasn't the Canadian flag until February 15, 1965. http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=141818&page=1
  6. Dr_Rambow Dr_Rambow, 2 years ago
    That last bit is interesting, while it means that these might simply be English rather than Canadian, the use of that marking is still fairly specific (which helps). The M2 is a fairly early vehicle that was quickly modified to the more contemporary Stuart we know and love, so I suppose if we can chase down the M2s that would have the Red-white-red markings we would be on the right track.
  7. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    I would say that you can track these tanks to the British 8th Army in North Africa and later in Italy. All the vehicles in the European countries were marked with a white star after 1944 when Americans joined the fight. The Americans must not have been involved as much in the North Africa campaign as the white star wasn't used on those vehicles. The Canadians often painted their white star with one point facing straight down so they would be different than the Americans. What a bunch of rebels. lol Canadian Flash mark was horizontal black-red-black with yellow maple leaf overlaid. Too bad the maker of this model didn't put the serial/regiment/squadron marks on it. is there anything on the other side?
  8. Dr_Rambow Dr_Rambow, 2 years ago
    I made a typo in my first comment, I should have said the model at the AAF Museum is a Cruiser MK II. That being said, the turret looks more like a Valentine version of some sort. In any case, both served in north Africa and would fit the same profile as this M2.

    jjackson, Only the red-white-red marking is on each of the four sides. The bottom of the tank has "U.S.A GEN STUART" (note missing "." after A).

    I agree, specific unit marking would be really helpful.

    I also just realized that the "box" on the back of the hull deck is a piece of cast iron! Must have come off of some other hardware since it's a neatly cast angular piece with some additional machining (machining that would serve no function for this model).
  9. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    So if you want the down and dirty... check out these two publications that can be read online..
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/45652267/British-Tank-Markings-and-Names-1914-45
    and...
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/87785384/1967-The-Royal-Armoured-Corps-Tank-Museum-The-Second-World-War-1940-1946
    There is a paragraph on page 16 about the M2 Stuart and it's use in the RAC and says that it never saw action but was superseded by the M3 Stuart mkI. If you do internet search's you will notice some of the same photos with different captions. One will say M2 than you see the same picture and it is claimed to be an M3. It seems that no one agrees. I wonder if the M3 Stuart mkI looked much like an M2. As for the red-white-red checkout page 71.
  10. Dr_Rambow Dr_Rambow, 2 years ago
    Thanks for that information.

    I think you are right in that this is probably not an M2. Reason being, your second link shows a M2A4 that has a symmetrical trapezoidal track layout (rear idler at the same height as drive sprocket), while the M3 has the idler lower than the drive sprocket (which is the way it is in my model). The picture I have in this listing shows the same thing. The superstructure is obviously adopted from a M2, which might be the source of the confusion. Later model M3s changed the hull to exclude the machine gun ports on the sides and removed the copula from the turret.

    Mmmmm, I love tanks. All this research is invigorating. Thanks for the fun jjackson, you are the best!

  11. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    lol yes tanks are cool.

    I would say that the other model is an early Valentine. Pictures I see from '41 and '42 the wheel config and fender detail are perfect as is the turret.
    I would say that they are recognition models... maybe they were field made? So here is a really long shot for you! The North Irish Horse was a militia Calvary unit attached to the Brits early in North Africa. They were not mechanized until after they arrived. They were given 'spare' tanks. There are tank inventories for them later on in Italy and they are mostly Churchills by then with some Stuarts used in the recon units. It wouldn't be to far out if they built some recognition models for early training in the field? At any rate both models are early ww2 use tanks. The Germans built recognition models that were very similar construction but had a builders mark on them. Cheers!
    p.s. you're welcome for the fun glad you are enjoying the info bombardment!
  12. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    I take that comment back about them not being mechanized until they arrived in Algiers... Wiki would suggest that they traded in their Valentines for Churchills prior to being deployed and that there equipment was simply delayed after they arrived.
    I missed making my main argument for this unit... Every picture I have seen of their tanks in action they have the red/white/red tactical flash painted on them. However most of those pictures are later on in the war in Italy.
    Cheers
  13. Dr_Rambow Dr_Rambow, 2 years ago
    Sounds good. I'll have to take a look for myself. Both tanks were used in North Africa at the same time, so even if that unit didn't operate them, I'm sure they knew Stuarts were around.

    I forgot to mention that I got good news back from the AAF Museum. They aren't aren't sure about who made them or why, but they are pretty confident that these were made during or shortly after the war. Considering that these are rather "obscure" tanks (and not super popular models like the Tiger, T34 or Sherman, etc), logic would dictate that they were meant to either fill a need or satisfy an artistic urge from firsthand observation. Recognition model is a possibility, which imply a pretty early construction due to how few of these things were in service by war's end.

    The German recognition models are absolutely incredible, It's a dream of mine to get a hold of some of them. The detail is incredible, recreations down to the smallest of details (like hinged mud guards!). Rodach is the maker/term generally applied to those models, from what I remember.
  14. jjackson jjackson, 2 years ago
    I forgot to add this link to a wooden tank model made by a WWII vet. It doesn't have anything to do with yours only it is a cool tank made by a Vet. A true testament to the skills of the servicemen with basic hand tools.
    Enjoy!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiCtae5qu1A
  15. Dr_Rambow Dr_Rambow, 2 years ago
    Woah... The detail on that is mind blowing. Makes mine look absolutely crude!

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