Stories of Interest

I have a number of items of interest that have come in just recently, and figured I’d put them all out today in place of a typical article. So…

1) I joined the Gun Nation podcast again last night, with Grant Cunningham, Doc Wesson, and Average Joe. This was the first of what will be a regular feature on the show, looking at unusual but still affordable and available military surplus guns. I kicked it off with a chat about the Steyr M95M, a way to have a straight-pull Mannlicher rifle and be able to feed it 8×57 Mauser ammo instead of the exorbitantly expensive 8x56R. You can download the episode here: Gun Nation Episode 102: Armed but not Polite.

2) Jaques Littlefield’s staggeringly immense armored vehicle collection will be auctioned off next month. Littlefield was one of (if not the) preeminent collector of tanks and related vehicles in the US until his death in 2009. A total of 114 vehicles and guns will be sold off, including both WWII and more modern designs – everything from Shermans to a Scud missile launcher. You can see photos and descriptions of everything at Auctions America.

M3 Grant tank
US Grant tank for sale, among many others

3) Joe Trevithick found three TRW Low Maintenance Rifles at the Washington Navy Yard, and wrote a brief article on the gun alone with a couple photos. The photos are excellent, and well worth checking out.

Prototype TRW Low Maintenance Rifles, serial number 3 (top) and 4 (bottom)
Prototype TRW Low Maintenance Rifles, serial number 3 (top) and 4 (bottom) – photo by Joe Trevithick

4) Not one but two WWII airborne vets who jumped into Normandy 70 years ago in 1944 are planning to do so again for the anniversary of the Allied invasion. One is American Jim Martin, 93, formerly of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne and the other is Scot John “Jock” Hutton, 89, formerly of the 13th Battalion Parachute Regiment, 6th Airborne Division. Both men will be making tandem jumps for safety’s sake, much to Martin’s annoyance.

Update: Turns out the photo I initially used of Martin in WWII gear is actually a reenactor (and the Hearst Corporation threatened to sue over my posting of it). So I’ve replaced it with a picture from’s story about PFC Martin:

Jim Martin, 93, formerly of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne.
Jim Martin, 93, formerly of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne.


  1. Whoa!
    I just clicked on Jock Hutton and a site shows him in post war ‘Special Operations’ uniform! No other explanation. Wouldn’t you love to sit down in a congenial pub with a few beer and chat with these guys of “The Great Generation”?

  2. Ian, thanks so much for the terrific article! Please note that the M3 Grant was really the British-issued service version of the American-issued M3 Lee, sans the additional 0.30″ MG cupola of the latter.

    • The British Army didn’t like the upper MG cupola of the M3 Lee, and also wanted a big enough bustle on the turret for the radio gear.

      Also, the Lee turret, while nominally a two-man (commander and 37mm gunner, who also functioned as loader) was frankly a bit cramped for that arrangement. The British were used to a two-man turret on the Matilda 2 with its two-pounder, and wanted more elbow room for both men.

      The redesigned Grant turret, with a simple split hatch, fulfilled their requirements quite well.

      I’d love to see that Grant redone in British 8th Army, 7th Armored Division camo and markings. In fact, there’s a good chance that the “Desert Rats” were its original “owners”.

      Floreat Jerboa!




      • I’m afraid there is no chance of it being a “Desert Rats” tank. It’s an Ex-Australian tank. Readily identifiable features include M4 type bogies and the remains of the mounting points for the appliqué armour fitted over the transmission housing.

      • Note that the practice of given names of heroes to tanks is originally British and the fact that we have nowadays designation “M1 Abrams” not say “M1 Tank” is caused by US-British cooperation during WW2. The inter-war era American has no their names. It has also a real profit – it is easier to mistake M3 [light] with M3 [medium] than “Stuart” with “Grant”.

        • US tankers, though, usually didn’t use the names and still often don’t. The M1 and later variants are often called just by designation rather than Abrams and it’s predecessor, the M60 Patton was practically never called “Patton” by the tankers (I have heard this from multiple ex-M60 tankers). The same applied to the M47 and M48. The M2 Bradley IFV seems to be an exception, although even that is still often called that just M2. Sherman as a name for the M4 Medium seems to have been occasionally used by US tankers, but not to a degree we see it in post-war literature.

  3. The Trw, resembles a fg42, but how does it work? It doesn’t appear to have a gas piston, M16 tube or some sort of Hk lark?

      • Well I read the manual for it, found on the page about the weapon. And it’s unusual, it might be “low maintenance” because of it’s semi permanent lubricating film. The gas port, I suspect is contained in the sort of barrel end cap to which the front sight is attached to presumably to avoid making a port in the barrel so it’s kind of a bang system design. I can’t see it as being a replacement for the M16, because it’s full auto only. On the photos shown on this page, one of them has a bulbous muzzle cap thing, which again suggests to me It’s using gas from the muzzle really.
        I do wonder, if having the barrel move wouldn’t have been easier…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.