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NZ 30549 - Early Construction M41's

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Old 02-02-2017, 06:33 PM
  #1  
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Default NZ 30549 - Early Construction M41's

One of the New Zealand M41A1’s has been under restorationfor a while, the last part being to get it running again. That has nowhappened, due to a set of spark plugs imported from the States.
In NZ Army service, 10 M41A1’s were purchased in 1960,arriving here in November 1960. They served in a training capacity, through to1985, when they were replaced by Scorpion CVR()Ts.
Colour wise, they were Olive Drab, or sometimes British ArmyBronze Green (a lot of our military vehicles were purchased from Britain –Ferrets, Centurions, Land Rovers, Bedford RL’s etc.).
In 1977 – 78, the NZ Army started to use the US MERDCscheme, mainly the Red Desert variant – Sand Yellow/Red Brown/Black/White – asthat suited the Waiouru Training Area where the M41’s were based, although someM41’s remained Green throughout their service.
There was some MERDC experimentation – Scorpions (MERDCVerdant Green) - - , Bedford RL – -, L5 105mm Pack Howitzer – -

The NZ M41’s are special, unlike most M41’s produced(3,729), the NZ ones are all early construction. What that means is that theyall have the early turret, with the prominent weld, in line with the bottom ofthe turret bustle, which you’ll be familiar with, from most of the referencebooks out there.
Unfortunately, what most of the reference books neglect tomention (RP Hunnicutt does mention it, though the drawing in his book‘Sheridan’ isn’t quite right) is that the hull of the early construction M41’sis different from the later ones. There are 3 main areas of difference – theglacis, the upper hull area (from in front of the drivers hatch, to behind thefuel filler caps behind the turret ring) and the engine grille covers.

Most of the M41 reference books, comment that there wereseveral marks of Walker Bulldog – M41, M41A1, M41A2 & M41A3 (the latter 2are the same as the first 2, but with fuel injection) and that the differencesbetween them were all internal – to do with the Fire Control System.
However, this ignores early construction M41 & M41A1’s,which are externally identifiable – if you know what to look for.

TURRET
The first, most obvious difference is the early turret with theprominent weld. These turret’s (X7404114 – cast part number) utilised more cast armour in their construction, and wereof a ‘fuller’ shape compared to the later turrets. – -
Casting marks appear on the LHS of the turret wall,just behind the mantlet, around the lifting eye. --
The turret hand holds – very early production turrets had no handholds at all – there is a video of the roll out of the then new M41 in theearly 1950s which shows this. ( The Hunnicutt drawing reflects the lack ofhandholds) – -
Presumably, to improve access & safety, hand holds were added,the early turrets rec’d a basic style, directly welded to the turret wall. - The later style, featured a ‘Tail’, which increased the contact/weldarea. - -
One aspect of the early turret, the turret wall below the TC isslightly concave – dished in – perhaps a shot trap? - -

You might ask how many of these were built? – Good question, but Idon’t have a good answer. Going by the casting marks, over 200, the highestcasting mark serial number I’ve seen - The latter also shows the different textures between cast & rolledplate.

One thing to be aware of, sometimes a vehicle may have been returreted, where the turret has been changed from one vehicle to another – as inthe case of mine damage to a hull, when this happens, you’ve got a ‘bitsa’which can make identifying the vehicle difficult. In theory, checking thevehicle name plate for the serial number – found in the drivers compartment,left hand wall, or sometimes repeated on the modification plate , exterior rearplate, beside the infantry/tank telephone – should remove all doubt. However onthe NZ vehicles I’ve checked the name plate was missing & the modificationplate blank. – – Non blank modification plate -
Some of the Australian Centurion restorations fell afoul of this,they had a number of mine damaged hulls during the Viet Nam war, where theturret was swapped out to a good hull (some purchased from NZ).

Pt 2 to follow

Mal

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Old 02-02-2017, 06:40 PM
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GLACIS
2[SUP]nd[/SUP] most prominent feature isthe 2 pairs of horseshoes on the glacis – yep, horseshoes (betraying it’sCavalry roots). – -
The ‘horseshoes' are actually splashguards – 1 pair per side – - for the hull penetrations through which theheadlight wires enter the vehicle. The drawing in the Hunnicutt book showstwinned headlights – white lights & IR – although the original vehiclesonly had white lights – The Ordnance Drawing in Doyle’s book also showsthis – -
However, when the vehicles weresubsequently modified with the later style headlights (twinned with IR), thesewere mounted on brackets above &behind the horseshoes. – -




On the later vehicles, a single largesplash guard per side was used, on top of which the headlights where placed,offering better protection to the lights wiring. – -


ENGINE GRILLE HATCHES

Not quite as prominent, but definitely a feature, the earlyconstruction M41’s engine grille doors are different from the later vehicles,which have 3 grille doors per side, most noticeable from ground level due tothe 3 hinges & stops along the top of the hull. – -

The early vehicles have more grille doors – 5 on the leftside & 6 on the right, again, the row of 5 hinges & stops on the leftside & 6 hinges & stops on the right side are quite noticeable. – - The design of the grilles themselvesis also different, the early grilles have an extra rib running fore/aft throughthe centre of the grille.

The drawing in the Hunnicutt book got these partially right,though only 5 hinges & stops on the RHS – -


Pt 3 follows

Mal


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Old 02-02-2017, 06:50 PM
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UPPER HULL AREA
Less noticeable if you’re not aware of it, on the earlyconstruction M41, this area is cast, (whether a single piece, or multiplecastings welded together – I’m not sure)
The giveaway is the rounded edges on the hull top, bothsides. – 30The external fire extinguisher pull handle is protected by anL shaped plate on the early ones (The Hunnicutt drawing gets this wrong, onlyshowing the later vehicle item). – -
In the middle of the drivers roof plate – a casting partnumber – 7384712, date & PSF (Pittsburgh Steel Foundry), on the line abovethat, the SER (Serial number?) & REV (Revision number?). – -
There are deck detail differences on the turret ringsurround forward of the fuel filler cap LHS & the APU exhaust port on theRHS, a raised circle and a downward curving, outward protrusion, repeated onboth LHS & RHS. – ( The RHSdetail should show on the Hunnicutt drawing, but does not)
On the later vehicles these areas are made from weldedplates – the square edges being fairly evident. – -
The external fire extinguisher pull handle is an exception,and appears to be made from curved plates, welded in place. Russel – -

GUN TRAVEL LOCK SWINGARM & MOUNTING
The GTL mounting fitted to the early vehicles was anotherpoint of difference, the early mounting had the pivot point overhanging therear of the mounting, which could be a weak point. – & broken – - . The later mounting had the pivot point centred over the mounting –
The swing arm which attaches to the mounting, and has thetravel lock at the top of it, was also different from the later vehicles. Theearly Swing arm is distinctly angular – - , versus the later curved version. - (The Hunnicutt drawing shows the later curvedversion – The M41 at Fort Shelby, Mississippi is also like this, as is theCantigny M41 – .ie. early constructionM41, with a curved GTL swing arm, but early GTL mounting)

Pt 4 Follows
Mal

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Old 02-02-2017, 06:56 PM
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Other Differences
Fenders
Early M41’s had squared fenders, fore & aft, versusangled on later vehicles. This is not a reliable ID feature, in NZ use, thesquared fenders were cut to the angled configuration. No doubt other users alsodid this. –
Early Tow ropebrackets & guides.
Early Rear Tow Rope bracket – Two prong –
Early Mid mount Tow Rope brackets –U shape brackets, 2 bolts– - .
Early Cable Guide - Z bracket mounted on the edge of theforward LHS fender stowage box – -
Later rear Tow rope Bracket – Single prong –
Later Mid Mount Tow Rope brackets - large pressed steelbracket, 4 bolts – -
Late Cable Guide - Half tube welded to base plate, on theside of the forward LHS fender stowage box –
Idler Wheels
Early Idler Wheel - All steel, with lightening holes –
Late Idler Wheel – Like the Road wheels, with Rubber tyre –
Serial Number 2611 – Rubber tyre idler added, replacing allsteel idler – 70% had the all steel idler

While each of these is quite distinctive, they’re not aguarantee of an early M41, wheels get replaced when worn, the tow rope brackets& guides are vulnerable to ‘side swiping’ by trees, buildings, rocks, otherAFV’s, etc. – so could be replaced.
With 70% of the production being fitted with the earlyidlers – finding pictures of late idlers is quite difficult.


There is also the possibility that US vehicles may havesuffered from the same problem as the Panzers – new parts arriving in thefactory & blocking access to existing older stock during assembly – thiscould result in older vehicles getting newer components, newer vehicles gettingolder components.


Why haven’t these differences been noticed previously? Goodquestion, part of it being the rarity – 200 odd of 3729 vehicles produced. (214 of3729 = 5.7%)

Part of it – that phrase about the differences all beinginternal – if you believe that, are you going to look for differences?

Part of it – Hunnicutt did acknowledge there was an earlyM41, unfortunately he didn’t go into the detail, nor was his drawing quiteright, examining the photos closely gets you further – Doyle’s book with earlyphoto’s is similar, plus he has the Ordinance drawings, which share some of thesame problems as the Hunnicutt drawing, though the Ordnance drawing has thecorrect GTL swing arm.

Part of it – I suspect that the early M41’s were treated asthe ‘runts’ of the pack, when the later welded ones came along, either put intostorage (the NZ ones were like this & suffered torsion bar fatigue) orfarmed out to museums – Fort Shelby, Mississippi, Big Red One Museum, Cantigny,Illinois, Post 5315, Baldwin, Missouri. This would also explain why USservicemen weren’t that familiar with them either.

More to follow
Mal


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Old 02-02-2017, 07:05 PM
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If all that’s right, how do I know? Blame Heng Long, I gotone of their M41A3’s years ago, and wanted to model one of the NZ M41A1’s(NZ30543 - now in the RAAC Museum,Puckabunyal, Australia - which I had photographed in NZ in 1982), but thenstarted to note the differences, as well as all the stuff HL got wrong – Tracks& Fenders too wide, turret too small & wrong shape, gun too fat &short, hull too high, wrong road wheels- too big & 6 bolt hub - driversperiscope fantasy, transmission & battery hatches at wrong angle – just themain points. And no, I wasn’t instantly aware of all the short comings, sometook a while to notice.


M41 Improvements-bySerial Number
SN 261 – Driver IR Periscope added – 7% without IR periscope
SN 1368 – APU muffler added above rear RHS exhaust,previously no muffler – 36% had no muffler
SN 1791 – Track deflectors added – 48% with no deflectors
SN 1803 – New Gun Laying system added (& 12 earliervehicles updated) –Ammo stowage, now 21 rounds vs 13 rounds in turret – 48% oldsystem
SN 2290 – APU muffler changed to front RHS fender – 39% withfront muffler, 25% with rear muffler
SN 2593 – Angular Fenders added, replacing squared fenders& sand skirts deleted – 69% with squared fenders
SN 2611 – Rubber tyre idler added, replacing all steel idler– 70% had steel idler
SN 2908 – Track skids added under fender – 77% with no trackskids
SN 3334 – Geared Drivers hatch replaced Cam Actuated Drivershatch – 89% with Cam actuated hatch
SN 3376 - Contouredtyres on return rollers & road wheels, replace flat profile tyres – 90% hadflat profile tyres
SN 3729 – Last M41 produced

A word of caution on these figures, which are taken from thetank manual, they relate to the changes made in the factory during production.Subsequent retrofitting to older vehicles is not covered. Percentage figuresrounded.

Where can examples ofthese early vehicles be found?
Australia
NZ 30543, RAAC Memorial & Army Tank Museum, Puckapunyal,Victoria.
New Zealand
NZ 30542 – Hard Target, Anti-Armour Range, Waiouru
NZ 30546, NZ 30548 – National Army Museum, Waiouru,
NZ 30547 – RNZAC Memorial, Linton Army Camp, PalmerstonNorth,
NZ 30549 – Armoured Museum Charitable Trust, Huntly,
NZ 30550 – Featherston Museum, Featherston.
UK
NZ 30544, BovingtonTank Museum
US
Fort Shelby, Mississippi,
Big Red One Museum, Cantigny, Illinois,
Post 5315, Baldwin, Missouri




Not an exhaustive list, there are 2 more in NZ, eitherprivately owned or in pieces


Back to NZ30549, post facelift. The paint job doesn’t quite look right, the brown is too dark, should be red brown, but it should fade eventually.
Though MERDC is a standard pattern, the original application to the NZ M41’s was sufficiently different, that each vehicle was recognizable by its unique pattern, which is not reflected in the current paint job.
Having said that it’s still good to see the TLC lavished on the vehicle



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Old 02-03-2017, 04:12 AM
  #6  
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Great write up. Thanks for doing it with so much detail.
Jimmy
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Old 02-03-2017, 07:19 AM
  #7  
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This is indeed an interesting write up! The Bulldog looks best in the New Zealand camo or as one in the Bundeswehr.




Jeff
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:26 PM
  #8  
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Hi Guys
Thanks. Been planning on doing a write up on the differences for quite a while, but lacked all the required photos previously.

Mal
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Old 02-07-2017, 07:28 AM
  #9  
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I'm loving that paint scheme for sure! The M41 is a very popular tank, I'm surprised we haven't seen a few different paint schemes for it.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:27 PM
  #10  
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Hi Erik
True, unfortunately most tend to go the OD route.
You mentioned a while ago that Taigen was going to update an HL tank - the Bulldog would be a very good candidate for that - lots to improve.

Mal
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Old 02-07-2017, 02:07 PM
  #11  
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I wouldn't call it update so much as a brand new tank from scratch We have lots planned for this year, some will be big surprises for sure! If we did do an update I would make sure you were first to know of course!
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Old 02-07-2017, 02:15 PM
  #12  
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Hmm,.... you're teasing again.

Mal
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Old 02-21-2017, 07:27 PM
  #13  
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A couple more pics of NZ 30549

Also, in view of the many problems with the Heng Long M41A3, it would be a good candidate to redo from scatch - hint, hint Erik....

Mal
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Old 03-16-2017, 05:46 PM
  #14  
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Had the opportunity to get up close & personal with NZ 30549 which was atthe Frankton Thunder 2017 event – March 4[SUP]th[/SUP] & 5th.
A couple of things I noticed that stood out – the castingnumber on the mantlet, below the telescope cover –
The bulge under the mantlet at the bottom of the turret –- this later pic is the Baldwin M41 - the bulge is easier to see in mono chrome.
‘This Side Out’ marking on the sprockets –
The cast turret rear beneath the bustle –
The asymmetry of the LHS & RHS turret beneath the bustle–
The cast final drive housings on the rear plate – - which is a detail I forgot to mention above - the standard M41 final drives are welded

You might like to consider early construction M41's as the equivalent of Sherman M4A1's with extensive use of castings, however in the case of the M41, it's a lot more subtle.

Mal
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Old 03-16-2017, 05:54 PM
  #15  
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Beneath the drivers hatch –
Dimpling of the armour plate on the turret, that happensduring the rolling process –
Early cable guide – side on –
Five engine hatch stops on the LHS – -
Had a good look at the early angular GTL – thisis slightly twisted, possibly in collision with another AFV – the rear liftingeye was broken & the LHS rear fender bent – possibly at the same time – - cut out in fender - - casting number at the top of thebracket – – the wing nut was made up to replace the original – – GTLmounting
Tapered sprocket teeth –

Mal
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:11 PM
  #16  
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Raised centre engine deck – – telephone box casting number – – Towpintle – 48 – Phone box, mod plate, 60 in pry bar -
LHS Rear Light – – RHS Rear light -
Bustle stowage – – underside of bustle stowage box -
Nuts on the rear LHS battery hatch – 25mm X 25mm, 8mm holein centre -
Top of muzzle brake – they lowered the gun so I could getthis pic – airsoft gun display in background – -
Tow rope clamps -
External Fire extinguisher pull plate – front – –behind – -
Extra handhold on turret LHS – – Handholds, 231mm long,59mm high
Mal

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Old 03-16-2017, 06:16 PM
  #17  
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Checked the angles of the Transmission front access – 35degrees & rear access hatches - 10degrees –
Behind turret ring, in front of fuel filler cap – -
APU exhaust sitting on 2 L angle irons atop the main exhaust-
Footman’s loop between stops behind the APU exhaust -
Casting numbers on the TC’s hatch struts -
The slope of the casting between the turret & glacisbeside the driver –
The horseshoes – – notice they’ve the right way up – sothe luck doesn’t fall out. The holes in front are for water to drain.

Mal

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Old 03-16-2017, 06:29 PM
  #18  
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And something ironic – recall those times when you’ve beentold to remove sprue burr from the kit parts? Someone else didn’t do thateither –
A major difference – back in 2009 when I originallyphotographed 30549, I spent about 10 mins scrubbing away caked on mud, dirt& dust from the modification plate, so see if it showed the Vehicle Serialnumber. Yes, I specifically took a brush to do that. Anyway, it was to noavail, couldn’t see any numbers. But since the sandblasting & repainting,the numbers are now visible, so took these pics – –unfortunately it appears I forgot to change the setting to macro.
Good to see the 60 inch pry bar in place – – the longblack thing - you don’t often see it onrestored tanks, as they tend to disappear because they’re so useful &popular.
The munted pioneer tool rack - - has been replaced with a new one –
Mal
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:37 PM
  #19  
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Could not access the top of the vehicle – Health &Safety rules mean that if any one climbs on & fall off, the owners areliable.
However Andrew, one of the AMCT crew who I’ve known for afew years, took these for me - -
The previous badly perished Clansmen aerial base has beenreplaced by new Larkspur antenna bases -
General view pics –

Mal
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:58 PM
  #20  
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And a couple more of Andrews pics - And the RHS side fwd of the APU exhaust and same again, LHS

Mal
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Old 03-18-2017, 09:36 AM
  #21  
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Thanks for sharing, Really nice detail photos.
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Old 03-19-2017, 03:27 PM
  #22  
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Thanks Maus
Inspired by my visit to NZ 30549 & the fact that the final drive housings on early M41’s are cast, not welded like the later ones - applied some bog to one of my M41's -
Then to another one - – this one was a bit more difficult, as the phone boxis still in place, so applied masking tape to it to keep excess bog off.

Mal




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Old 04-11-2017, 08:44 PM
  #23  
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Rec’d some more photos from Andrew showing the drain plug atthe bottom of the cast final drive housings – – (my photosjust caught the edge of these, so wasn’t sure if the plugs were there or not)
And 4 of the turret top rear –
Compare with HL turret – - & how far out of place the HL pintlemount is – this doesn’t show up well on drawings, as usually the 50 CalBrowning is mounted in the drawings & obscures the actual position, alsonotice that the orientation of the base of the pintle is not square, butslightly skewed, to allow it to be folded down on to the low rest behind thehatch hinge.
It also shows to advantage, the 3 brackets – 2 x Y, 1 x T,behind the loaders hatch, in front of the blower cap. I think these bracketsare for external stowage of the 50 Cal – sans barrel - and if so are unique tothe early M41’s. There is no mention of these in either the M41 nor the M47 Tank Manuals.

Compare - with HL turret – – note how the blower capon the HL is undersized. A close up of the blower cap – - reveals the capdoes not have a smooth surface – in contrast to that fitted to the later M41s -–
Plus it features a cast number (4401), though whether thisis a Part number or a Serial number is not known. If it’s a serial number,could this be the same vehicle? -
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Old 04-25-2017, 08:31 PM
  #24  
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25th April is Anzac day – commemorating the landing of ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) troops at Gallipoli in 1915, ultimately an abortive operation that cost all participants dearly, the most successful part of which was the withdrawal, which was conducted both without loss of life & without the opposition being aware, until it was all over. For both Australia & New Zealand it was a traumatic coming of age/rite of passage.
The commemoration typically features a Dawn Parade to & from the Cenotaph at which hymns, prayers, speeches are made to remember both the lost, past & current servicemen & women.
In light of that, the AMCT guys wanted to deploy their M41 to their local parade in Huntly, a small town that lies between Hamilton & Auckland.I
n preparation, they water-blasted it on the Sunday prior, also applying degreaser to take the shine off the paint. A 5 min fix to the APU turned into 3 hrs.

The picsPic 10 –either ‘Police Escort in to Town’ or ‘Police car pursued by Tank’

Mal
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Old 08-16-2017, 04:40 PM
  #25  
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Got to spend Sunday morning at AMCT in Huntly. As you might notice, 30549 has had a bit of a makeover – now OD – 3121, 3122, 3123 - being the result of a special project which I can’t detail as yet. Not being in public, got to climb aboard & took a few pics – the bustle stowage box latch which had intrigued me – 3036, 3086, 3088, 3089 - The ‘thin’ sheet metal lid is 1/4in thick & quite heavy.Larkspur antenna base - 3093, 3097, 3092 - turret top stowage brackets – 3098, 3099 –

Mal
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