Minichamps MIN350041000 USMC M48A3 'Patton' Main Battle Tank with Reliability Improved Selected Equipment (RISE) IR/White Light Spotlight - 1st Marine Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Operation Pipestone Canyon, Vietnam, 1969 (1:35 Scale)
"Semper Fi!" (Always Faithful!)
- Motto of the US Marine Corps
When the Korean War began, the US military had no medium tanks in production. The M47 appeared as an interim measure but work immediately began on the M48. The first 'Pattons' were completed in July 1952. Unfortunately, the speed of development resulted in numerous teething troubles for the early Pattons, including poor reliability and a short operating range. The A3 was a highly modified version designed to rectify these failings, and the M48 has been used as the basis for flame-thrower tanks, recovery vehicles, and an AVLB.
Most M48's in Vietnam had the commander's M2 .50 cal. machine gun mounted on top of the cupola on a simple pintle mount. This location gave him a better field of fire, was faster to reload, and was less prone to jamming than when the M2 was placed on its side inside the armored cupola. Unfortunately, this also meant the tank commander was terribly exposed to enemy fire when firing the M2.
Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) were a constant threat in Vietnam, and M48 tanks countered this threat by mounting pierced steel plank (PSP), chain link fence, and spare track blocks on the fenders to prematurely detonate incoming RPG's. Cases of C-rations strapped to the infantry rail on the turret -- like the PSP and track blocks -- also acted as a stand-off shield. Since anti-tank rounds require a certain stand-off distance to function effectively, the C-rations dissipated the force of the explosion away from the armor. It was also the only place to store rations, because space in the vehicle was at a premium and occupied mainly by ammunition.
Now Minichamps has created a gorgeous 1:35 scale diecast replica of the US Army's illustrious M48A3 'Patton' main battle tank. This particular vehicle was used by the 1st Marine Division, when it participated in Operation Pipestone Canyon in Vietnam during the summer of 1969. Comes with a collapsible travel lock for the gun barrel.
Release Date: August 2003
Original Issue Price: $99.99
Historical Account: "Caves and Canyons" - Operation Pipestone Canyon was a major land clearing operation centered around Dodge City and the Go Noi Island area some 10-20 kilometers south of Da Nang. Taking part in the campaign were units of the 1st Marine Division (primarily the 1st Marines Regiment), plus SLF Alpha, the 51st ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Regiment, and the 2nd Korean Marine Brigade. Prior to the war, about 27,000 people lived in this region but by 1969 it had become a heavily tunneled, cave infested haven for the Viet Cong. Most of the island's residents had fled to other areas in Quang Nam Province. It came as no surprise then that this operation was undertaken in the same areas as Operation Allen Brook in May 1968, and later again that December in Operation Meade River. This time around, however, the objective was to clear the estimated seven to nine enemy battalions operating in the area in an effort to re-open Route 4, which ran from Dai Loc to Dien Ban.
The operation consisted of many phases with numerous infantry units moving to phase lines and blocking positions. Units from the Army and Marines cleared 250 acres at a time, completely destroying the area for military use by the enemy. In all, 852 enemy soldiers were killed, a further 58 captured, and some 410 weapons and food caches were seized. USMC losses amounted to 71 KIA and 498 WIA; mostly due to land mines. Afterwards, the South Vietnamese government embarked upon a huge resettlement program aimed at re-populating the newly conquered area.