90mm M36 GUN MOTOR CARRIAGE “Jackson”
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Originally designated T71 and standardised in July 1944 as the 90mm Gun Motor Carriage M36, the demand for the new tank destroyer increased soon after D-Day. The Normandy battles showed the 90mm gun to be the only US weapon capable of dealing with the heavy German armour met in the field. By converting M10A1 Tank Destroyer hulls to take the 90mm gun turret and similarly fitting the turret to M4A3 Sherman hulls, production of 90mm Tank Destroyers reached a total 1400 by the end of 1944.

The first M36s arrived in Europe in August 1944 and were immediately committed to action. Experience gained in battle showed the need for overhead protection for the turret and a cover kit was designed incorporating folding armoured plates to protect the crew from small arms fire and shrapnel from overhead bursts. Although its combat use was more like that of a tank than of a tank destroyer or SP artillery piece, the M36 TD was the only US armoured vehicle with the ability to take on the much-feared German Tiger tanks on equal terms. Such was the effectiveness of the M36 that production continued throughout 1945 making the M36 the only US armoured vehicle to be produced after the war had ended with a final total in excess of 2,320 vehicles.

Post W.W.II, the M36 was employed by the US Army in Korea and was distributed to friendly nations including France, where it was used in Indo-China (Vietnam), Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Yugoslavia. An example was even found wrecked amongst hundreds of destroyed Iraqi tanks in a tank graveyard in Kuwait after the 1st Gulf War of 1991.

During the early 1950s, the US government decided to give military assistance to the communist government of Yugoslavia under General Tito, who wished to remain independent of Moscow. Amongst the thousands of armoured vehicles supplied under the Military Assistance Program by the US were a number of M36 GMCs.

East European armies have always favoured diesel engines for their armoured vehicles and the Yugoslav People’s Army was no exception. Lack of space in the engine compartment precluded the conversion of M18 TDs to diesel power but the generous dimensions of the M36 hull made it a prime candidate for conversion. The power plant selected was the reliable and proven V-12 diesel engine from the T-34/85 medium tank, many of which survive in service in Third World Counties today.

With the outbreak of the civil war in Yugoslavia, the world was treated to the spectacle of W.W.II era weapons and vehicles being used in a war in the last decade of the 20th Century. Despite its obsolescence, the M36 was widely used throughout the conflict and almost all of the M36s recovered from Bosnia carry battle damage of some description, mostly hits to the front of the turret from RPGs.

HERE COMES THE SALES PITCH!

This is the final opportunity for North American collectors to acquire a W.W.II era and genuine combat veteran M36 Tank Destroyer. With only three days to go, these vehicles arrived in the USA in the week the State Department ban on the importation of US-made military equipment became effective. Since then, no US made armour has been imported and it is highly unlikely that Uncle Sam will change this policy.

History
These M36 TDs are ex-Yugoslav People’s Army vehicles that have had their Ford GAA gasoline engines replaced with the proven, reliable and economical Russian V-12 diesel engine. This engine, which entered service in 1940, is still in production in modified form, and powers the latest Russian T-90 MBT.

The vehicles are more than 95% complete and spares are still available, especially in Europe and the former Yugoslavia where the sellers have extensive contacts with the army and defence contractors. It is possible to convert the vehicle back to original specification but the V-12 diesel engine makes the vehicle much easier to drive thanks to the extra torque available from the diesel engine. Many users prefer the diesel engine due to its reliability, low fuel consumption and safety (lack of combustibility) compared with a petrol engine.

Potential purchasers have a choice of steel or rubber track and with some TLC and a few days work will have a vehicle, which is a sound investment and lots of fun to drive and operate. The M36 Tank Destroyers available now are presently located in California and Indiana and are offered at a very affordable price for a W.W.II era AFV. If you are even remotely interested, ask the question!

Performance
In August 2005, Stef Sindorf, a collector from Holland took delivery of an M36 from Bosnia Herzegovina. Less than six weeks later, this vehicle took part in the very successful “Tanks in Town” event in Mons, Belgium. Apart from fitting new batteries and painting a white star on the glacis plate, this vehicle was identical to the other M36s recovered from Bosnia. Not only did this vehicle perform faultlessly throughout the day, at 21.00 when the other tanks were leaving the town square to make their way back to the campsite, the crew went out into the surrounding countryside and recovered the other W.W.II vehicles that did not make it around the circuit. They arrived back at the campsite at 02.00 the next morning having successfully rescued all the lame ducks.

Last chance saloon
These are the very last Tank Destroyers of any type available on the US market in unrestored condition. If it were possible (and it is not), you could not purchase an M36 in Europe and ship it to the USA for less money. Such is the demand in Europe, the two M36s in the Summer 2005 shipment from Bosnia, were sold before they left for Western Europe. In subsequent visits to the former Yugoslavia (including another visit just last week) no further examples of either M18 or M36 Tank Destroyers have been located, offered or even mentioned by local army commanders. If you want a vehicle with a genuine combat record and which has seen almost 60 years of military service, then this is your last chance.

Don’t forget that these vehicles are over 60 years old, in almost complete condition, and when they are gone, they are gone!


 

 

Bob Fleming 01427 880584

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