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135
G.I. Combat’s THE HAUNTED TANK

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BACKGROUND
As a kid growing up in the 70’s, one of my favorite comics was G.I. Combat – Featuring “The Haunted Tank” from DC Comics. The Haunted Tank series was first introduced in issue #87/May 1961, and was the creation of legendary writer and editor Bob Kanigher, and originally drawn by artist Russ Heath. The original Haunted Tank was an M-3 Stuart light tank crewed by tank commander Lt. Jeb Stuart, driver Slim Stryker, loader Arch Asher and gunner Rick Rawlins. The tank was “haunted”, or rather guided, by the ghost of Confederate Cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart, who the tank commander and the tank itself was aptly named after. To impress its ghostly guardian to whom only he can see and talk, Lt. Stuart flies the Confederate Stars and Bars flag instead of the regular United States Stars and Stripes. In issue #150/Oct 1971, entitled “Death of the Haunted Tank”, the M-3 was knocked out by a German AT gun while crossing a river so Jeb and his crew had to ditch it. As the battle raged on around them, and with no other spare tanks available from the HQ, they were ordered by their CO to immediately proceed to a nearby “tank graveyard” and assemble their own tank!

Through the miraculous timeline in the world of comics, the crew scavenges parts and wreckage of other dead tanks and immediately builds the “Jigsaw Tank” which is made out of different tank parts. The Haunted Jigsaw Tank would serve Jeb and his crew from the hot deserts of Africa, the frozen mountains of the Aleutians, and a roundabout trip of survival penetrating deep inside Germany and back to France destroying Tigers, Panthers and any other panzers the Germans could throw in its path. They would always be the subject of ridicule by both fellow US tank men and German panzer crews for the tank’s reputation of being made out of “cannibalized” dead tank parts. The Jigsaw would be destroyed the first time by a bomb from a Focke-Wulf, and was temporarily replaced for two issues by a Pershing, which the crew named “Haunted Tank 2”. Another Focke-Wulf crashing kamikaze-style finally destroys the Jigsaw Tank permanently in the “No TAPS for a Tank” episode, and it is briefly replaced by the old M-3 which gets knocked out for good later on. Jeb and his crew would spend the rest of the war using an M4A1 Sherman, to protests from the ghost Gen. Stuart.

THE SUBJECT
As illustrated (fig.1) from issue #158/Feb 1973 and drawn by artist Sam Glanzman, Jeb explains the Jigsaw Tank as having a modified T-34 hull, seemingly shortened with only four Christie suspension bogie wheels. The drawing also depicts something like an upper rear engine deck from a Panther, and the turret commander and loader hatches are similar to those of a Sherman. Sam Glanzman also drew the tank with a couple of noticeably post WW2 parts, the most obvious of which is the fume extractor on the 76.2mm main gun, and the T91E3 track (M41 Walker Bulldog) which can be clearly seen in later issues.

Comics artist Walt Simonson built the only known Jigsaw Tank model (fig.2) which was shown in the Letters to the Editor section of issue #185/Dec 1975. A later issue explains that Walt used a T34 hull, some Panther parts like the front drive sprocket, rear idler wheel, main gun and gun mantlet, and a modified Chaffee turret. He also noted using buttons for the bogie wheels. I have always been fascinated with the Jigsaw Haunted Tank and wanted to build a model of it. I knew it would take at least two or three different kits, as well as a lot of modification and scratch building to build one. This article will show how I built my own version of the Jigsaw Tank following the Sam Glanzman illustration as much as I could.

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About the Author

About Rei (muttley)
FROM: ONTARIO, CANADA

I started building armor and aircraft models when I was 9. The passion for the hobby was on and off depending on my other interests in life - like serving in the military, working overseas, getting married and all that stuff. I decided to go back and polish on my building skills once again, probabl...


Comments

I was glad to see this. I have been a Haunted Tank (G.I. Combat) fan since my early youth!! I always really enjoyed reading about Jeb and the boys!! I have entertained the thoughts of scratch-building a project like yours myself for years but have just never done so. Now thanks to you I have a renewed enthusiasm to do so!! Thank you, Randy
AUG 04, 2012 - 02:32 PM
This is really cool!
AUG 04, 2012 - 04:04 PM
this is a realy cool build,thanks for shareing.
AUG 04, 2012 - 06:30 PM
very unique project - well done ! really brings back some memories for me in the 70`s as a kid in Calgary, walking over to the 7-11 to get the comic GI Combat and Sgt Rock. I can also vaguely remember some story about a german tank crew that were disfigured from burns? anyone else remember what that was? cheers Mark
AUG 05, 2012 - 07:24 PM
Excellent work... Rei! Look's great! Bring's back a lot of great memories. David
AUG 08, 2012 - 02:09 PM
Rei, I grew up in the west end of Toronto (Etobicoke) during the 1960s, so The Haunted Tank I fondly recall --- it was 12 cents then --- was the old M-3 Stuart light tank (which neatly tied together the name of the tank commander and its ghostly Confederate cavalry patron). As an eager reader back then, it took plenty of disbelief to accept the miraculous bottom-of-the-hull-as-it-comes-over-the-hill shots by which the little tank regularly blew Tigers (and, occasionally, Messerschmidts) to kingdom-come, but I was an optimistic kid, as most kids are by nature. I agree with the preceding comments --- you've done a heckuva job reproducing the comic's "replacement" tank --- part-Pershing, part-Comet, all ugly. I'm glad I'd been distracted by girls before the "new, improved" version (with its idiotically oversized machine gun position) came along. A job well done. My only regret? I don't think Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos -- that ghastly comic named as the result of a bet between Marvel Comics' Stan Lee and his publisher that he could create a success even with that dreadful a title --- ever featured a tank. Oh, well ... there's always Sgt. Rock!
AUG 09, 2012 - 10:16 AM
Thanks guys Fred, I believe this is the Haunted Tank you grew up with I actually built it after I did this Jigsaw, more of it at this campaign link LINK
AUG 10, 2012 - 01:48 PM
Jeff Stringer: this Haunted tank is a different build than the one being chronicled over on FSM. FYI Both are neat interpretations of the comic book version, though.
AUG 11, 2012 - 01:03 AM
Thanks, Rei. That's a beautiful model of the little Stuart. Speaking of mysterious Stuarts, Season 5 of the Twilight Zone TV series had an episode titled "The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms" in which the crew of one such tank --- a national guard unit on military manoeuvers near the site of the last stand of Custer and the 7th Cavalry 88 years after the battle --- find themselves transported back in time to the battle itself, in which they dismounted to join the ranks of Custer's doomed command. Rod Serling himself wrote the episode. Why he had the crew leave their tank, I'll never know...
AUG 12, 2012 - 10:37 AM
I loved the story and the model,but I remembered in one of the issues' letter pages they (editors) said the turret was a Panther turret,with a T-34 hull and 76.2 mm main gun,and a 20 mm gun in the glacis plate.The M-24 Chaffee did not enter service until the last year of the war,so a Chaffee turret would not be "authentic" for the period in the war the story portrays.
SEP 03, 2012 - 05:41 PM