Thursday, November 29, 2012

Armor and Marine Corps Historians step up...I need your help.

Photo caption: "Iwo Jima, February 21, 1945. Burrowed in the Sand: A Marine medium tank that couldn't navigate the soft volcanic sand on Iwo, is track deep in a pit off the beach. This loose sand of the island proved an asset to the Japanese defenders."
From the Photograph Collection at the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections
Notice the barbs around the crew hatches?  I haven't seen it on another vehicle and there is no indication of why (I assume they're anti-personnel in nature) this particular crew applied them.  Also missing is whether or not this was a platoon level modification or higher.  Any info would be appreciated.


  1. On the M60's you get into a combat locked hatch using a hammer and the brim of your cover. I wonder if this was done to prevent something similar from happening?

    1. damn. i didn't know that! geez. i thought i was a knowledge God when it came to the Marines. gotta lot more to learn.

  2. It's a new one on me. I poked around and found this on the "Online Pacific War Encyclopedia" (I never heard of it before either):

    "In the Pacific, Marine tank crews found that the sponson armor was vulnerable to the Japanese Type 99 magnetic mine, and they responded by welding U-shaped steel channel to the armor and bolting 2" by 12" (5cm by 30 cm) wooden planks to the channel. This created a dead air space between the wood and the hull that enhanced its effectiveness. A small number of tank crews poured concrete between the lumber and the armor plate, which may have been counterproductive. Later in the war, many tank crews welded nails or iron rods to their vulnerable hatches to create an air gap between the hatch and any Japanese satchel charge thrown on the tank. This reduced the effectiveness of the satchel charges."

    I think the fact that the nails are welded on to periscopes and ?ventilators? supports the idea that it was weak points in the roof armor, not necessarily just hatches that could be opened, that were being protected. It sure looks like there's wood on this tank too, so maybe the OPWE got it right.

    There's a fair amount of online chatter about these kinds of modifications among model builders and that seems to indicate a lot of variation down to the individual vehicle level, never mind the platoon level. See a pic of the similarly attired "Davey Jones" here:


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