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Armor/AFV: AA/AT/Artillery
For discussions about artillery and anti-aircraft or anti-tank guns.
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m-18 topped with quad 50
bat-213
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 01:20 AM UTC
hi guys,has anyone herd of this beast? i would to build
one of thease,only drawing i have is the back page of
the hellcat directions,any help would be great.thanks in
advance guys.
Frenchy
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 01:51 AM UTC
Do you mean this one ?



If so this combination is based on the M39 Armored Utility Vehicle, which was a derivative of the M18. Legend has released a M39 conversion set designed for AFV Club's M18 kit.
The M39-mounted quad .50 was used in the Korean War. AFAIK the pictured vehicle (which belonged to the 552nd Anti Aircraft Artillery (Auto Weapons) Battalion may have been unique

HTH

Frenchy
bat-213
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 02:15 AM UTC
thanks Frenchy that is the one,where would i find more
pics of this beast? thanks again.
Frenchy
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 03:23 AM UTC
Unfortunately, this picture (which also appears in a few books about the Korean War) is the only one I know...

Frenchy
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 07:22 AM UTC
I'm currently looking for a real M39 so I can do this for our Korean War exhibit. The 32nd AAA (AW) Bn is the only unit to do this. You can see the bumper code "8A32AA" in the photo. I haven't gotten a count of how many vehicles they did it to, but it makes sense if you're a towed M55 unit with M39 prime movers, why wouldn't you put the turret ON the vehicle!

I will post more info on the vehicle as I find more information. It is definitely one of the more interesting variants!

Jon

Frenchy
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 08:25 AM UTC

Quoted Text

The 32nd AAA (AW) Bn is the only unit to do this. You can see the bumper code "8A32AA" in the photo.



Thanks for setting me straight Jon on the M39 unit...I guess my eyesight is not as good as it used to be Should have checked with a better version of the picture and a looking glass !

I sure would be happy to know more about this variant.

Frenchy
bat-213
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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 05:34 PM UTC
thanks guys for the info,i too would like to know more
about this beast.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 12:36 AM UTC
Should have some documents from the 32nd AAA in Korea coming fairly soon. As soon as I get them, I'll post my findings.
bat-213
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 01:34 AM UTC
thanks Jon,that will be great.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 03:05 PM UTC
Hey all,

Well, I've gotten copies of all of the 32nd AAA (AW) Bn records from the Korean War period that were available at the National Archives. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the M39/M55 combo vehicle in any of these documents, and in fact, according to the documents the battalion was in Japan providing air defense for Johnson, Yokota and Tachikawa airbases for 1951-52.

It has been widely accepted in ADA circles that this was a 32nd AAA vehicle. However, Frenchy pointed out the 552nd AAA in his earlier post. Hq Battery of the 52nd AAA was in-theater and became HQ Battery for the 26th AAA (AW) Bn when it was consolidated with other independent Batteries under the 24th Infantry Division. The only other two battalions ending in 2 were the 82nd and 92nd AAA bns, but both were at the divisional level, so the 8th Army code would not be accurate for either of them. The 82nd AAA code would read 2X-82AA and the 92nd would read 1CX-92AA.

I'm going to see what else I can dig up on HQ/52nd AAA. My hunch is that this was a very-early Korean War photo, prior to the 26th AAA's organization on 31 October 1950.

I will continue to search our archives to find more information on this beast and will post whatever I find!

Jon
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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 11:33 PM UTC
Bingo!

From the January-February 1952 edition of the Antiaircraft Journal in an article on the 26th AAA (AW) Bn:

"The battalion's dream-weapon, an M39 personnel carrier with a quad-fifty M45 turret, again showed up to great advantage. The new weapon was conceived by Lt. Col. Roy A. Tate, Battalion commander. Being mounted on a full track vehicle, more effective fire can be brought even closer because it is not hampered so by boggy terrain or steep ground." p20.

Lt. Col Tate was the 52nd AAA (AW)'s CO and his HHB was assigned to the 26th AAA(AW) Bn shortly after the Inchon landings. There's another article in a 1951 issue of the same magazine that discusses the 26th AAA's opinion on the inefficiency of the towed .50 turrets and how they are much more effective when mounted in a vehicle. There's also a cool, if grainy photo of a CCKW with an M55 trailer in back.

bat-213
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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 11:35 PM UTC
thanksJon,any help you can give will be great.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 12:32 AM UTC
This is gonna be a straightforward but costly conversion. AFV Club M18 kit, Legend M39 conversion, Dragon M55, I'm looking at over $125 just in the basics.

From what I'm seeing, it looks like the 26th AAA only did this to one vehicle in the HHB, but I have not confirmed that yet. Should have some documentation in a couple weeks once my researcher is back from leave.

Jon
bat-213
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Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 04:37 PM UTC
well Jon i have the m-18 the guad 50s all i need is m39 and some good pics
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 05:33 PM UTC
Roy,

I'm going to see if I can get in contact with any HHB/26th AAA veterans and see if there are any better photos out there. I haven't seen anything in our archives yet, but I'm still looking. Fortunately all of the Antiaircraft Journals are available online in PDF format, so that's helped in researching this.

One of the reasons I'm so interested is because I'd like to recreate it for the new Air Defense Artillery Museum once we get the building built. It's a perfect example of battlefield innovation and ingenuity in the ADA and definitely would be the highlight of our Korean War gallery.

Jon
bat-213
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Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 07:20 PM UTC
thanks Jon,that would be great.your right about that beast being
born in war time,mind you i can think of a uses for it in peace time.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Friday, November 09, 2012 - 03:06 PM UTC
Paydirt!

The M39/M55 combo was a one-off experiment done by the 52nd/26th AAA Bn in 1950/51. Here's the command report from February 1951:

Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Friday, November 09, 2012 - 11:19 PM UTC
For markings, we're fairly fortunate with the photo we have. Bumper codes are 8A52AA and while we don't know which individual vehicle in the Battery, it would have had HQ codes for the individual vehicle. W number looks like USA 9132876. Single 8" star on the flanks above the 5th road wheel.
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bat-213
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Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 06:44 PM UTC
thaks Jon you have been helpfull.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 09:10 AM UTC
Hey all,

This just arrived yesterday. The plan originally was to remove the ring mount and drop an M55 turret in there, but upon looking at how the ring mount is attached, it's welded and not bolted on. No turret for you!

Still, it is an awesome vehicle and I'm already working on the exhibit for it...

TacticalSquirrel
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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 11:24 AM UTC
Contact the Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury CT. They have an M39 in very restorable shape in the back lot of their museum and their owner was recently killed in a police shooting so who knows what's going to happen with the museum.

Looks like I should have read the rest of the thread.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 03:04 PM UTC
Steve,

I'd heard about the shooting and I'm familiar with the museum. I'd contacted them about a year ago regarding a T-10 halftrack turret they have and also regarding the M39. never heard back.

Jon
TacticalSquirrel
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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 - 09:25 AM UTC
They've got a 40mm Bofors back there right next to the M39 too. I'm not sure who exactly is in charge there anymore, but it's worth trying again right now. I was at Knox at MP school when my dad, who used to be on the board of directors there, told me about John's untimely death, very strange story all around. Apparently they are still open though. There is an interesting back story to that M39 btw.
Cobrahistorian
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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 - 07:18 PM UTC
The pieces are coming together!

I'm currently researching and writing exhibit copy for the Korean War exhibits. One of the things I've found is that the 26th AAA Battalion did not have any M19s assigned. Headquarters Battery of the 26th AAA was originally designated HQ Battery, 52nd AAA. This particular M39 was assigned to HQ Battery but never changed its bumper codes.

LTC Roy Tate, the Battalion commander wanted a more capable platform than the M16 halftracks his battalion had and cites that they had poor cross-country performance and took a significant time to turn around. He needed M19s, but instead made his own vehicle, what we've been calling the M39/M55, but...

They did NOT mount an M55 Quad in the M39. The welded-in .50 cal mount would not allow for the M20 trailer and plus, the 26th AAA didn't HAVE any M55 Quads. They pulled the turret mount from an M16 and bolted it into the troop compartment of the M39 and mounted the M45C turret atop that. So now the question is, how many rings did they use to mount it in, and which width of rings? If I can figure this out, I can not only do it in 35th scale, but doing it in 1:1 scale may happen too, since I happen to have a spare halftrack turret....