Volume 3, Issue 2
August 15, 2007


Welcome to the eighth issue of "Heavy Metal" -- the newsletter of the

Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles (VMMV). Our mission is our motto -- by working to restore armored fighting vehicles, artillery, small arms, uniforms, and accouterments of the US military and other countries, we hope to share the legacy of the sacrifice and courage of our fighting men and women with future generations of Americans. Located in Northern Virginia, our collection has grown to over 90 vehicles, starting out with the first US tank, the M 1917 through such legendary US vehicles as the M4A1 and M4A3 Sherman , M3A1 and M5A1 Stuart , M24 Chaffee , M3A1 Half-track , M36 Jackson and M3 Lee along with a few vehicles you might not know existed -- such as a prototype of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) tank.

Get to know your VMMV staff & vehicles

In this section we will introduce you to the people and armor of the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles. We will chat with the VMMV staff, so that you can get to know the people who "keep 'em running" and work so hard behind the scenes. And also provide a behind-the-scenes look into the history of individual vehicles in the VMMV collection. In this, our eighth newsletter, we talk with Larry Tucker, one of VMMV's highly skilled volunteers, restoration specialist, communications technician, and website expert.

Welcome to "Inside the Mind of Tucker."

Wow Larry, that is quite a long list of skills….how did you bring those skills to VMMV?

Well, I first met Mr. Cors about 20-25 years ago at a military vehicle rally down in Fredericksburg, VA. At that time, he only had one jeep--my how the collection has grown from such a humble beginning!!! Since we shared the same interest, we stayed in touch over the years, and then as the collection expanded, the need for restoration work increased. I used my experience from the work site to help with each vehicle's electrical system. In addition, as we started our first couple of Open House's I put together a PA system out of old parts from a missile system! And most recently, I built, maintain and update VMMV's website.

Where did you become an electronics supergenius?

It started with a phonograph oscillator in the 40s that was a very low power transmitter in the AM broadcast band. I connected a microphone and record player to it that became a neighborhood radio station. I enjoyed then and now working on old radios which were surplus after WWII. The next step was getting a amateur radio license (K8RKB now WB4GZU). In the early 50s, I joined the Civil Air Patrol and talked the local Air Force recruiting office out of a Link Trainer they had that was in pieces. It became a real challenge as it filled up half of my father's three stall garage. It took me a year to get it together and working properly. As it was a blend of mechanics and electronics it became a great learning experience. But that Link trainer got me in trouble with my dad and school. You see, I would work all night on that trainer, adjusting the mechanical and electrical circuits, so much so, that I would be exhausted in the morning. I would fall asleep in the middle of class! That didn't go over very well with my teachers. And when my neighbors asked my dad why the lights were on in the garage all night-the jig was up. I stopped working all night on that trainer and did better in school. The next step was the U.S. Air Force where I spent four years in Airways Air Communications Service (AACS). The career field was with high power transmitters and all types of communications equipment.

Once I was out of the Air Force, my first civilian job was with Western Electric, then to Bell Tel. Labs. I got to see the computer come of age through the first generation electronic switching systems used in Autovon. The network evolved to digital and light wave transmission. The first machines were the size of a house, to the dawn of the digital revolution. During that time, I worked on communications and electronic equipment at sensitive sites all around the Washington DC area.

Larry, what are your future plans for the VMMV website?

I try to keep the site fresh with regular updates, no matter how small. I try to keep it interesting. As I learn more about websites, I try and optimize the site for fast loading, so that folks with a dial-up connection can enjoy the pictures of our collection as much as we enjoy putting them back together. I take care of emails to the museum and I have automated the registration process for the Open House. That has helped save a lot of man-hours.

Ok, now we get to know more about Larry the person. What is your favorite tank of all time?

Hands down the M-24 Chaffee. I have worked on it, it is a sweet driver for old guys like me and just an all around beautiful tank. And that is also my favorite tank in our collection!

What was the best battle rifle of all time?

The M1 Garand……during WWII it was the best infantry rifle on the battlefield. Gen. Patton had it right-it was the best battle implement.

Ketchup or Mustard?

Mustard Onions and Spicy Chili (The only way to serve a hot dog) !

VMMV's Roving Reporter Reports In

What has four thousand military vehicles, Field Marshal Montgomery, a Spitfire Flyby, consumes 250,000 pints of lager and has its own radio station? Perhaps you guessed the Allied Armies marshalling in England in late 1943/early 1944. You were close, but in this case we are talking about the 2007 War and Peace Show at Beltring, England--the biggest military vehicle event in the world. Thousands of people come to Beltring to dress in period costume, show off their restored vehicles, see tanks parade by in the arena, participate in re-enactments, or perhaps to shop around the vendors looking for that hard-to-find part.

This year, VMMV's ace journalist Marc traveled to Beltring on behalf to VMMV to look for tank bargains and pick up a few spare parts to help restore our vehicles.

Marc, for those that have never been to Beltring, can you describe it?
Beltring has been going on for about 25 years and draws participants and visitors from around the world. It's the biggest grouping of "all things military" in the world. The French, Germans, Swiss, and Danish all have large contingents. I even saw a few vehicles from Poland and Czechoslovakia. The event took place from 18-22 July this year at the Hop County Farm Park in south-eastern England.

To give you an idea of the immense size of Beltring, the British Army brought a Challenger II main battle tank--which was displayed alongside a privately owned Challenger I. Either one of those would make commuting on the Beltway a whole lot easier.

In addition to model makers, gun collectors, living history shows, and re-enactors, Beltring is about unique military equipment. Two displays this year caught the eye of this reporter--the first was an entire platoon of US WW II recon vehicles-four M8 armored cars and one M5 Stuart were all painted with correct platoon markings for the late 1944 period. It is great to see armored vehicle owners band together like that. As neat as that was, I think the living history exhibit of a captured V-2 site was the most unique exhibit at Beltring. The tremendous amount of work in fabricating, transporting and erecting such a large exhibit really paid off as it was correct in every detail. Great job!


Mike, I am signing off now as I am off to buy some FV 432 and Scorpion powerpacks now. I'll join y'all back at VMMV when I get back from Beltring.

VMMV Acronym
The lexicon of armored vehicles is filling with a bewildering amount of acronyms. And at the VMMV we have a few of our own. Here we will have the VMMV word of the day so you may better understand the conversations you might overhear at VMMV.

MIG = Even tho the VMMV collection is located on an old airstrip-Aden Field-we don't have any Soviet MiG fighter aircraft, but sometimes you might hear us talking about MIG. Does this mean we are branching out? No, MIG in this case stands for Metal Intert Gas--a specific type of welding, vice an old Soviet fighter plane. MIG welding got its start in WWII and is still in wide use today because of its versatility, speed and low cost. In MIG welding, a welding gun feeds an electrode which is consumed during the welding process. An inert gas--also fed via the welding gun--shields the welding puddle from the atmosphere until the welding puddle has cooled sufficiently to prevent the introduction of impurities which might weaken the weld. VMMV restoration experts use the MIG welder to help fabricate parts or join them together.

Have a great summer from all the staff and volunteers of VMMV.

Mike Panchyshyn-Editor