Here is when Flip and I saw REAL WWII vehicles here in Loveland, CO
On Sunday, September 22, 2002, Andrew and I were able to tour the personal collection of Russ Morgan of Loveland, Colorado. Russ has a barn full of 1:1 vehicles that include; the World War II DUWK, British Bren Carrier, the M5 A1 Stuart Tank, Dodge Command Car, Vietnam Mule, and many weasels. Seeing these old vehicles in person was Awesome! Russ is worldly known for his WWII Weasel parts and vehicles, but out of the 76 remaining Stuart tanks in existence, Russ has 1 of the 20 that still run.
Russ Stuart Tanks story starts back in 1944, when this particular variation on Stuart was being produced. This tank was brought from America to England, than on to Europe to participate in battle until the tank was lent to some Canadian allies for use till the end of the war. After WWII, the tank was then sold to the Portuguese, in which it saw battle again fighting in the Angolan Revolution in Africa. From there it sat in the Portuguese countryside for 30 years until a lumber company from Detroit bought the tank and shipped it back home. From there it was sold as a collectible and found its way into Russ hands.
As you recall, the Stuart Tank is 15 tons, runs a max speed of 50 mph, even though the speedometer goes to 80, and was used as purely reconnaissance by the Americans in WWII. After the initial disaster of trying to use it as the main battle tank in operation Torch by the Allies, the role of main battle tank fell to the Sherman, as the Stuart would scout ahead. In North Africa, the Stuarts that landed before the Shermans were outgunned by Germanys Panther III tank, which was but a glimpse of things to come from Germanys war machine. The Stuart was in every major battle in WWII and every theater.
The Stuarts main gun is the 37mm with 3 .30 cal machine guns. The question posed to Russ was would there ever be a possibility of mounting a .50 cal mg or screamin mimi rocket system on the Stuart? Russ reply was, if you could field mount it and get your hands on it, why not?! The 15-ton Stuart could handle both modifications Russ explained. Now Russ gets 3 miles to the gallon on the Stuart and shes got an 86-gallon tank. So were not saying shes fuel efficient, but it does go twice as fast as the Sherman tank. Other questions asked were about the skirts on the side of the tank and the hedge cutter on the front. Russ research points to the Skirting being a stock item of the tank, but crewman would yank the skirts off in battle first chance they had as for easier access to lube and grease the treads. As for the hedge cutter, that would be a field modification. Also, seeing the tank loaded down with gear, sandbags and old treads was commonplace for two reasons. One was that when going out on a mission, the crew needed all supplies not just to fight, but to eat, sleep, etc. The second was that the armor is only 11/2 inches thick, so any help to beef it up was always needed.
Russ was extremely kind as Andrew and I were taught how to traverse the main gun, talk over the radio system, how one would fire the weapons and drive the tank! As for how much the tank is worth, Russ only quipped that he has turned down 2 offers for it at $65,000. Now Russ also has an M8 Greyhound and M20 but well review those another day! As for 21st Century Toys version of the tank&. Almost dead on, on scale, detail, and movement.