Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tank Overhaul: The Hellcat

We go to the Tank Workshop in Tooele, Utah where a crew of dedicated restorers race to finish a very special project. Their boss, Karl Smith, has gathered the largest private collection of World War II vehicles in the United States, and he’s throwing a VE-Day party with a big surprise.

The crew has discovered that one of the M-18 HELLCAT Tank Destroyers in the collection is the same machine that a local veteran served in during the Second World War. They have two weeks to tear it apart, install a new engine, and get it running so they can take one very surprised veteran for the ride of his life.

We’ll see the equipment in action and meet Karl’s eclectic crew:

His in-house historian, Geoff Panos, is a former Special Forces op and playwright with a livelong passion for military history and an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things “tanks”.

Randy “HOLLYWOOD” Killen, is a special effects modeller for Hollywood films who has worked on everything from “Blade Runner” to “Star Wars”. For fun, Randy fabricates all the new and replacement parts for Karl’s tanks.

Roger Condron is the mechanic who just about knows how to fix anything – with or without the manual.

And then there’s the Tank:

The HELLCAT is one of those machines that soldiers either loved of hated. It was the fastest tank of the war with a blistering top speed of 50mph. The gun was tough and accurate. It shot two different kinds of ammo – one that was able to penetrate the formidable enemy armour. But to make the Hellcat so fast, US engineers had sacrificed protection. The M-18’s armour was barely thick enough to stop common rifle fire. And in wintertime it was like fighting inside a refrigerator. But in this episode we’ll see how four Hellcats turned the tide in the Battle of the Bulge.


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