The Toy Tank

    One of the sources of amusement for the local crew has always been "my" tank. This refers to a WWII M5 "Stuart" Light Tank that's on display at the local VFW. I've always liked armored vehicles, and for a bunch of reasons, I decided I liked this particular tank. The M5-Light Tank came into use during WWII, and was obsolete before the war even ended. Too lightly armored to take a serious beating, and too lightly armed, with a little 37mm gun, to do any harm to late-war German tanks, it got relegated to infantry support and reconnaisance. Interestingly, unlike most "real" tanks, the M5 Light (designed to cope with productions shortages) uses two standard Cadillac V-8 engines. The one in front of the local VFW is in suprisingly good condition for a vehicle that's sat out in the open, basically un-maintained, for the last 50 years or so. Sure, the muzzle of the gun and all the hatches and ports are welded shut, and there's some places where sheet-metal and gratings have rusted away, but other than that, the rest of the vehicle looks decent. It even appears to have its two Cadillac engines still in place. While I seriously doubt they'd support it, there's a part of me that wishes I had the money and clout to get the VFW to let me restore it to running condition (I even know a local company that could supply me with dummy machineguns and mountings for them to complete the vehicle). However, the tank became an even bigger source of amusement when it was repainted, recently. The Service olive-drab paint-job had gotten a little tatty over the years, surface rust popping up in places, and the paint itself pretty oxidized and faded. So apparently they hired someone to sand-blast off the old paint and then prime and re-paint it. This is where the humor comes in. For not only did they re-paint the whole tank; treads, wheels, everything, a single monolithic color, but they chose a singularly odd and amusing color:

    As you can see, the vehicle has been painted what can only be descibed as "army-man green", the sort of slightly glossy green-aqua color of those little plastic toy soilders you get in big bags of 50 or so. This has led to some pretty funny suggestions, like buying a mannequin and doing fiberglas castings in "army man" poses (you know what they look like), painting them a matching color and putting them around the tank in the middle of the night so people going by see what looks like a giant child's playset, in the morning.
    Of course this also sort of pushes my desire to really make it "my" tank, so I can restore it. It's a good thing to paint it, but on a certain level painting it that color seems sort of sad and dis-respectful at the same time. It sure would make a great center-piece for a re-enacting unit....

Back to the Egocentricism page