Monday, August 16, 2010

Belleville's M56 Tank

There is a new landmark in Belleville. One very much in keeping with our proud and ancient military tradition. The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 22 has acquired an M56 Scorpion U.S. Army tank. The tank will be on permanent display at the DAV headquarters, 612 Mill Street. Mounted on a Belgian block-lined concrete pad, it will serve as a constant reminder of Belleville's commitment to liberty. This particular M56 saw combat service with U.S. forces in the Vietnam War. It was deployed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The tank was donated by Picatinny Arsenal.

The M56 Scorpion was an unarmored American self-propelled vehicle, which featured a 90mm M54 gun with a blast shield, and unprotected crew compartment. It was meant to be transported by helicopter or by air drop.

The M56 was manufactured from 1953 to 1959 by the Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors for use by US airborne forces. With a crew of four (commander, gunner, loader and driver), the M56 weighed 6.4 tons empty and 7.7 tons combat-loaded. It had infrared driving lights. The M56 was a fully-tracked vehicle with rubber-tired run-flat road wheels and front drive sprocket wheels. It was powered by a Continental A01-403-5 gasoline engine developing 200 horsepower at 3,000 rpm, allowing a maximum road speed of 28 mph. Its fuel tank carried 55 gallons of gasoline giving the tank a maximum range of 140 miles. A good performer, it could navigate through a 48" trench, climb a 60% grade, overcome a 30" vertical obstacle and could ford water 42" deep. It could change direction by pivoting in place.

Creature comforts were non-existent as the vehicle was completely open. The commander sat on top of the radio, and the loader's seat was on top of the right fender stowage box, leaving the gunner and driver as the only crewmen "in" the vehicle. The ammunition rack was located in the lower rear hull, and the loader was provided with a folding platform from which to feed the gun. Twenty-nine rounds of main gun ammunition were carried.

The tank was unloaded and set in place, a task requiring an hour and thirty minutes, to the satisfaction of the DAV members who had come to watch on Thursday, August 12th. This new town landmark, a tribute to veterans and a reminder of the cost of freedom, will be cleaned and painted and a descriptive plaque will be added to complete the display.

A dedication ceremony will be held on September 9th at 11:30 a.m. We will all be glowing with pride each time we drive by and see it standing there.


Belleville High School Class of 1962 graduates -

A new website / blog has been set up especially for you ! Stop in, enjoy the fun and join the group, your old classmates. Visit us here :

Belleville Class of 1962