by Tammie Moore, Fort Meade Public Affairs
Nearly three years after the Fort Meade Museum closed a contractor team moved a M-3A1 Light Tank from the vacated building April 18-19, 2022. M-3A1 Light Tanks were used in the early years of WW-II by U.S. tankers in the Pacific Theater, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. This specific tank remained stateside to train soldiers, who fought on other American tanks during the War. The M3A1 and a Liberty Mark VIII, which was also removed from the museum, will become part of the U.S. Army Armor & Calvary collection housed in the Armor Training Support Facility at Fort Benning, Georgia. (U.S. Army photo by Tammie S. Moore)
Fort Meade tanks relocate to Texas, Georgia
Fort George G. Meade, Md. -- Nearly three years after the Fort Meade Museum closed a contractor team moved three tanks from the vacated building April 18-19, 2022, so they could be transported to new homes and once again serve as educational tools.
The Liberty Mark VIII and M-3A1 Light Tank will become part of the U.S. Army Armor & Calvary collection at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the FT17/M-1917 hybrid Light Tank will be on display at the 1st Cavalry Museum at Fort Hood, Texas.
“In 2018, the Army Museum Enterprise was directed by the Secretary of the Army to reform the artifact collection and the AME operational footprint,” said Lt. Col. Torrance L. Conner, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Army museums deputy director. “This is a four-pronged effort that includes consolidating museums at multi-museum installations, downsizing the art and artifact collection, reducing the facility footprint across 30 installations, improving management of sensitive items, and optimizing museum programs and education efforts. Fort Meade was one of those locations.”
The Armor Training Support Facility staff assessed the three armor macro-artifacts to determine their historic significance and decide where to rehome them.
“The U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection housed in the Armor Training Support Facility at Fort Benning is the direct descendant of the AEF Tank Corps and the Fort Meade Tank Corps,” Conner said. “As the primary armor collection for the U.S. the Armor TSF was a primary choice for the Mark VIII. The Armor TSF is a very large new building, and the Mark VIII would be kept inside, protected from the elements for the rest of its life.”
In addition, the Armor TSF will also be home to the M-3A1.
“The tank will provide an educational platform of the engineering of the early tanks to the present tank, to give them an idea of how far we came in history,” said Jay Michael Auwae, U.S. Army Center of Military History transportation officer.
The FT17/M-1917 is traveling approximately 1,500 miles to become a permanent fixture at the National Mounted Warfare Museum, which is currently under construction at Fort Hood. It will be displayed in the museum’s rotunda.
“This pristine artifact will also be kept inside a museum and pay homage to mounted warfare,” Conner said. “The NMWM at Ft. Hood was selected due to its Armor background and it is the headquarters of the III Armored Corps, which was activated in May 1917 in France.”
Removing the three tanks from inside the former museum and loading them onto semi-truck beds for transport across the country required a great deal of logistical coordination.
“This is the best 1918 Mark tank in the world,” Auwae said. “We didn't drag it at all during the movement. It was railed to the left and railed forward.”
The movement of the tanks will ensure they are no longer shut in a dark building but can once again be a visible reminder of Army history.
“Every day when we are training Armor soldiers and cavalry troopers at the Armor TSF, we address the significance that these vehicles played within the history of their day, the development of the vehicles technical systems and how they influence today's technology, the tactics that would play an important role in WW-II, ballistics of the weapon systems, and the human factor of these machines,” said Len Dryer, U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection, Armor TSF director. “The machines also introduce science and simple physics to the Soldier on an easy-to-understand level.
For information about the Army Museum Enterprise, visit https://www.history.army.mil.