Hobby Master HG5303 ARVN M41A3 Walker Bulldog Light Tank - Bong Son, 1972 (1:72 Scale)
"Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America - not on the battlefields of Vietnam."
- Marshal McLuhan
The M41 Walker Bulldog was a U.S. light tank developed to replace the M24 Chaffee. It was named for General Walton Walker who died in a jeep accident in Korea. On November 7th, 1950, the US Ordnance Committee Minutes (OCM) issued item #33476, redesignating the heavy, medium, and light tank, according to the armament; the 120mm (heavy) Gun Tanks, 90mm (medium) Gun Tanks, and the 76mm (light) Gun tanks.
While the M24 Chaffee was a successful design, its main gun was not effective enough against well armored opponents. Although the primary mission of a light tank was scouting, the U.S. Army wanted one with more powerful armament. The development of the new tank, T37, began in 1947. The vehicle was designed to be air-transportable, and the desired anti-tank capabilities were provided by installing a long 76 mm gun with an advanced rangefinder. In 1949, with the adoption of a less ambitious rangefinder, the project's designation was changed to T41. Production started in 1951 at Cadillac's Cleveland Tank Plant, and by 1953 the new tank completely replaced the M24 in the United States Army. Initially it was nicknamed "Little Bulldog", then renamed "Walker Bulldog" after General Walton Walker, who was killed in a jeep accident in Korea in 1950.
The M41 was an agile and well armed vehicle. On the other hand, it was noisy, fuel-hungry and heavy enough to cause problems with air transport. In 1952, work began on lighter designs (T71, T92), but those projects came to naught and were eventually abandoned.
The Walker Bulldog saw limited combat with the U.S. Army during the Korean War, but for the most part, the conflict served as a testing ground to work out the tank's deficiencies, especially with its rangefinder. At the time, it was designated as the T41, and was rushed to the battlefield even before its first test run. This was due to the fact that the North Koreans were supplied with Soviet T-34 tanks, which were superior to the M24. By 1961, one hundred fifty were delivered to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to supplement their Type 61 medium tanks.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a US-built M41A3 Walker Bulldog light tank that served with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam at Bong Son during 1965.
Length: 5 inches
Width: 2 inches
Release Date: December 2012
Historical Account: "Iron Triangle" - The Battle of Bong Son was the second major battle for the US 1st Cavalry Division, an airmobile unit of divisional strength, during the Vietnam War. It also was called Operation Irving. A month earlier in 1965, in the Battle of the Ia Drang, the 1st Cavalry used all the division infantry, but one brigade at a time. One of the realizations that affected Bong Son was that with adequate helicopter lift, the traditional need to keep a strong reserve was less requiredthe least involved unit usually could break away and go where it was needed.
At the operational level, it was begun as a pursuit of the Vietnam People's Army (PAVN) 2nd, 18th, and 22nd Regiments (forming the NVA 3rd Division) by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 22nd Division, commanded by Brigadier General Nguyen Thanh Sang and assisted by the Republic of Korea Capital Division. The NVA fought back strongly and Sang asked for reinforcements by two ARVN airborne battalions, which still were not enough.
During the Battle of the Ia Drang, 1st Cavalry commander Major General Harry Kinnard had considered operations on the Binh Dinh plain, part of the area involved in Bong Son. He now had time to implement those ideas. Even through the ARVN needed help, the Cavalry prepared systematically.