Identify US vehicle by id number?

My uncle was in a field artillery unit in Korea and my family has several photos of 155mm and 105 mm guns, half tracks, and one mysterious tracked vehicle that I first thought was a High Speed Tractor, but now looking at photos of the M4, M5, M6, and M8-none look right. I do not have a copy of the photo-only a screen shot that I saved as a word document. I haven’t used this forum enough to figure out how to post the screen shot, but the ID number on a storage container is clearly visible: 913252. From what little I have found on-line, this is the correct starting number for a high speed tractor. Any way to find out what type by just the id number?

No idea from just the number. If you cut/copy the pic and paste it into PowerPoint, then save it as a .jpg, you can post it here. I’m sure we can ID it from the pic.

You could also copy the picture from the word document (ctrl-C)
and then simply paste (ctrl-V) it into the editing box when you type the post

The first digit or two digits on WWII era US Army vehicle serial numbers denoted the vehicle type. 30 was the prefix for tanks. According to the list of prefixes on Wiki, a 9 prefix is for full and half tracked tractors. The remaining digits would be the individual vehicle serial number.

Thanks for the responses. I’ll see if I can get a better copy of the photo and post it.

Dave

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Got some jpg files from my brother. My uncle is on the right. It looks like a tank chassis of some type, but the hull does not look like an M8 that I can see. Maybe the experts can figure out the type by the roadwheels and track layout??


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It is built on an M18 Hellcat chassis.
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It is an M39 armored utility vehicle.

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Fantastic! Thank you. Any idea if any one makes an injection molded one in 1/35?

Academy did a M39 version of their M18, but it was only released in Europe. At least according to Perth.
Legend makes a conversion kit

https://www.scalemates.com/search.php?fkSECTION%5B%5D=All&q=M18+Hellcat+M39&fkSCALENORMALISED%5B%5D=%221:00035%22

Thanks everyone for the assistance. Mystery solved! I think that I will concentrate on the 105 and 155 howitzers in the unit. I think that we have some photos of either M4 or M5 high speed transports as well.

Dave

Looks like they are all drinking Buds. Interesting wooden contraption over the .50cal. Makes for an interesting vehicle or diorama to build.
Ken

In most cases you can. There were several exceptions (where numbers were re-used) but the total number of vehicles involved is small compared to total production. The biggest impediment is that not all the numbers (registration numbers, by the way) were recorded in the same place and many blocks have never been found.

This is an interesting case because the vehicle is a T41/M39 Armored Utility Vehicle and these were issued only two blocks of numbers, the second being 9132509 - 9133148. Note that these are seven-digit registrations while your uncle’s vehicle has only six digits, and 913252_ is in that range.

Looking through the lists a 913252 does not appear, but 913170 - 913187, 913294 - 913297, 913298 - 913305, and 913306 - 913360 do, all assigned to M1 and M2 Corps of Engineers Light Tractors, along with several unlisted blocks.

So, we know

  • What numbers should be on a M39,

  • That your number is a partial match for a legit M39 number, and

  • Your number was likely officially assigned to a different type of vehicle, 3 or 4 years before any M39s were built.

It’s a good bet that the number in your pictures was a mismarking during a repainting, where a digit was lost. After looking at and researching hundreds of numbers and vehicles over the years, the most common error of this type was dropping or adding a duplicate digit when making the stencil. For example 12344 is marked as 1234 and 1234 is marked as 12234. I suspect your uncle’s M39 was really 9132522 or 9132552, both legit M39 numbers.

(Another error I’ve seen is one side of the vehicle painted 12345678 and the other 12346578. If you ask the railfan community they have similar examples of freight car number errors. Goof ups are common when humans are involved.)

KL

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Thanks for the info Kurt. Very interesting! As far as I know, my uncle was not a crewmember of the M39. He was in fire control I believe. Of course, later in life he had to have hearing aids! I’ll be on the look out for Legend conversion kit at future shows.
Dave

There’s a review on PMMS :
https://www.perthmilitarymodelling.com/reviews/vehicles/legend/lf1138.htm

H.P.

Thanks! If I can’t find it the conversion kit, then maybe I can use the photos as a reference if I ever decide to kitbash my own M39.

David, I was at the American Heritage Museum on Saturday and they have an M39. I remembered your post and photographed it for you the best conditions would allow. It’s really wedged in there. You’re not allowed to walk up to it, climb on it, or get behind it.








David

There’s a walkaround of a preserved M39 on svsm.org that may help :

http://svsm.org/gallery/m41?page=1

Another one on Primeportal (it’s an ex-German Bundeswehr one ) :

http://www.primeportal.net/ce/david_lueck/m39_armored_utility_vehicle/

H.P.

Tom and Frenchy,
Thank you both for the photos and the links. May not be too bad of a conversion project. My brother sent me some more photos from my uncle’s time in Korea. I knew that I had seen a high speed tractor, but it turned out to be an M5, so back to the conversion sets/resin kits ): Maybe I will just build the guns!

David

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