M5A1 Stuart Light Tank "U-Go" Restoration
After nearly five years of painstaking effort, the Fort Snelling
Military Museum Volunteers completed the restoration of an M5A1 Stuart light
tank to mint operating condition. This particular M5A1 tank was
manufactured in 1943 in Racine, Wisconsin by the Massey Harris Company,
and bears the serial number 9876. The Army registration number of this
tank was 3059180. Based on battle casualty reports referencing similarly
numbered tanks, it is believed that #9876 may have seen combat in
support of the U.S. First Army in the ETO. While little of this
vehicle's exact history is known, a rebuild plate on the
vehicle clearly establishes that this tank was refitted in Italy during the
This beautifully restored and fully operational M5A1 light tank, now dubbed "U-Go," was proudly displayed at the Fort Snelling Military Museum
(FSMM) at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and took part in several parades and recruitment exercises. It remained in the collection until 2011, when a Base Realignment and Closure program forced the closure of the Fort Snelling Military Museum. Fortunately for all, "U-Go" was transferred to the U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, Georgia, where it remains on display in its 752nd Tank Battalion markings, alongside a wide range of other historic fighting vehicles. There is no greater place of honor for "U-Go" to reside.
There is real significance to the 752nd Tank Battalion markings and the "U-Go" name on this M5A1 tank. Fort Snelling Military Museum was affiliated with the US Army's 88th Regional Support Command, whose lineage traces to the famed 88th Infantry ("Blue Devils") Division. The 752nd Tank Battalion supported the 88th Infantry Division in combat in Italy, so the choice of markings seemed very logical and appropriate. After obtaining the necessary approvals, the Museum restored
this M5A1 as a vehicle of the 752nd Tank Battalion's D Company, which played an instrumental and perhps even heroic role in support of the 88th Infantry during the battle of Verona, Italy in April 1945.
Specifically, this M5A1 has
been marked as Tank D9, nicknamed "U-Go," which was one of five M5A1 tanks in the 2nd Platoon that participated in the
battle of Verona. With the medium tanks of the entire 5th Army unable to cross the Po River until pontoon bridges could be built, "U-Go" and the four other light tanks in the platoon were floated acrosss the swiftly flowing river on rafts, and became the armored portion of an 88th task force that ran in fast pursuit of the enemy in their attempt to escape across the Brenner Pass to Germany. Althought there was action along the way, "U-Go" took part in an amazing fast-moving pursuit and route of the disorganized German army in the heart of Verona. The following morning, the scene of this action was called "Bloody Corner" by the GIs, for obvious reasons.
"U-Go" was commanded by Sgt. Clarence Johannes, with crewmembers Joe Acquista (Gunner), Willon Underhill (Driver), and Walter Lupkes (Assistant Driver/Bow Gunner). On 25 May 2005, FSMM and the US Army's 88th Reserve Readiness Command conducted a ceremony dedicating the restored M5A1 to these crew members. Walter Lupkes and
his family were proudly in attendance.
The story of "U-Go," its crew, and the action they saw in Verona
was constructed by 752 historian and webmaster Bob Holt, based on phone interviews with Walter Lupkes in June, July, and November 2002. We are
exceptionally grateful for Walter's willingness to share his recollections, photos, and memorabilia in the development of this
story, and for the opportunity to integrate this material into FSMM's static display.
photograph of "U-Go," taken by an Italian civilian as the 752nd liberated
Cornuda on 30 April 1945. The tanker standing on top of "U-Go" appears to
be the gunner, Joe Acquista. This street is known today as Via XXX
Aprile 1945, in honor of the liberation of Cornuda.
Another photo of "U-Go" in the
same location, as German prisoners are escorted to the rear.
The Caffe Commercio shown in the background still operates today under
the same name.
The following photographs provide a sense of just how extensive this restoration process was. Quite literally, every nut and bolt and accessory was removed, cleaned, and painted, and meticulously re-assembled.
hull and interior of the M5A1 have been painted. The drive train,
transmission cover, turret, and tracks will be installed later.
Finishing touches of the restoration project will include painting the
insides of the drivers' hatches olive drab, which was done in combat
theaters to maximize camouflage effects.
side view of the M5A1 under restoration. Note the "USA" and
registration markings to the rear of the hull's side. Also note the
rise in height of the rear deck above the engine compartment, which was
characteristic of the M5 series.
view of the drivers' positions inside the hull, with the turret opening
at the top of the photo. The pristine paint job reflects the condition
of the M5A1 as it would have rolled off the assembly line. Tank
interiors were painted white or light green in order to maximize the
reflected light inside the dimly lit tank. Hatch interiors, which would
be exposed when opened, were painted olive drab. Looks pretty roomy in
this photo, but quarters were quite cramped in a fully assembled and
through the front hull toward the rear of the crew compartment. At this
point, the interior is beginning to be outfitted. The area still looks
fairly spacious, but much of this space will be taken up by the turret
basket, drive train, ammunition storage, and drivers' seats.
view of the inside of the transfer unit after reconditioning. The
transfer unit accepted two driveshafts from the twin Cadillac V-8 110
net horsepower engines and Hydromatic automatic transmissions. The
transfer unit then distributed the power to the front drive sprockets.
The M5A1's Hydromatic transmissions had four forward speeds and one
reverse speed, and the transfer unit had two speeds.
engine compartment has been wired and is nearly ready to accept the
engines and transmissions. The view is toward the crew compartment
bulkhead. The two driveshafts passed through the openings at the center
of the photo. The large rectangular opening in the hull floor allowed
for servicing/removal of the transmissions, and was protected by a
large bolt-on plate. The red object is one of several fire extinguisher
discharge horns located in the engine compartment.
of U-Go's two engines is receiving its final touches prior to
installation. Each 246 cubic-inch engine was made by Cadillac, and
produced 148 gross horsepower (110 net horsepower) and 280 gross
foot-pounds of torque (244 net foot-pounds). Each Cadillac engine ran
on 80 octane gasoline, held 8 quarts of oil, and weighed 584 pounds
when completely outfitted.
two Cadillac engines have now been installed. Though it is a tight fit,
there is sufficient room for conducting basic maintenance and minor
repair work. The first signs of life occurred on 26 May 2005, when the
electrical system was switched on. On 1 March 2006, both engines were
fired up together for the first time, and "U-Go" enjoyed its first
operational test drive on 23 April 2006 after sitting idle for many
of the radiators has been installed above one of U-Go's twin engines.
The radiators were installed horizontally, with the radiator fill caps
located to the rear. The radiators were identical, and the two cooling
systems were completely independent of one another. The capacity of
each cooling system was 35 quarts.
photo shows the inside of the "Apparatus Box," which housed various
electrical components. It was mounted inside the tank on the left
sponson. Sticking out of the box on the left side of the photo are the
electrical start and stop buttons, which will be mounted to a cover
which fits over the box. Note the fittings for the electrical cabling
on the bottom and side of the box.
photo shows the electrical apparatus box (seen above) installed. It is
located just ahead of the firewall and the left engine. The box for the
12-volt battery is located just below the apparatus box. The red
colored equipment is the auxiliary generator, used for charging the
battery when the main engines are idle, or to supplement the battery
during periods of heavy current draw.
view of the turret of the M5A1. The turret has been primered before
receiving its final coats of olive drab. The 37mm main gun provided
little effective firepower. The hole at the top corner of the gun
mantlet is for the main gun sighting scope. On the turret's right side
(left side of picture) is the mount for the external .30 caliber
good frontal view of the turret after it received a coat of olive drab
paint. The main gun mantlet shield has been installed, and the grousers
have been mounted on their racks. The searchlight has been mounted on
the roof of the turret.
view of the M5A1 turret. The horizontal brackets on the side of the
turret are for stowing the track grousers. Note the flared track race
shield at the bottom of the turret, designed to prevent bullet splash
from jamming the track race.
turret's exterior has now been completed. Allied stars have been
painted over the olive drab surface, and grousers have been mounted to
the side and rear racks. The radio antenna base and mast have also been
attached to the radio plate on the rear of the turret.
view of the inside of the turret before all of the components have been
installed. The breech ring of the 37mm main gun is clearly visible. The
red and black object on the lower left is the firing lever. The silver
object on the turret roof immediately above the breech is the gun's
travel lock. Yet to be installed are the breech guard assembly, gyro
and stabilizer controls, periscopes, main gun gear box, recoil
mechanism, oil reservoir, sighting scope, and .30 coaxial machine gun.
right side of the breech assembly, looking toward the front of the
turret. The black breech ring of the 37mm M6 main gun is barely visible
inside the olive drab combination gun mount M23. The black box to the
right of the breech assembly is the gyro control, which stabilized the
main gun when the tank was firing on the run. Copper conduit houses the
wiring, which is about to be connected to the switches and solenoids.
right side of the breech assembly at the beginning of the restoration
project. This is typical of the condition of the entire interior and
exterior of the tank. Light rust was everywhere, and many parts and
accessories had been missing for some time. Compare this to the photo
above, and imagine the thousands of hours of labor involved in
restoring an entire tank!
view of the rear turret bustle looks very spacious with the radio
removed. The black items to the left are clips for Thompson submachine
gun ammunition. The hole in the rectangular plate on the rear or the
turret is a pass-through for the antenna cable. The method of removing
the 37mm main gun was to remove the radio, unbolt the small plate, and
pass the main gun through the rectangular opening in the rear of the
turret has been painted and the grousers are now in place in the racks
on the side of the turret. The antenna bracket protrudes from the rear
of the turret. Note the absence of a pistol port, which had been
included in the original design but was eliminated very early in the
good view of the top of the turret. Note the nearly square turret roof
doors, one of which is open (both are open in the photo above). The
round periscope opening in front of the commander's roof door will
house a rotating periscope. The mount for the .30 machine gun is shown
at the bottom right of the photo.
beginning to look more like a tank! The newly refurbished T16E2 rubber
tracks are now in place. The lower front armor plate has been
installed, and the hydraulic lines have been connected. Some of the
hull fittings such as the driver's side service/blackout lights are in
752nd lettering has been applied to the rear plate. The letters are
regulation 3" high, based on fonts that appeared in the Army field
marking regulations dated 27 January 1944. The letters "5A"
signify the Fifth Army, and "752Δ" denotes the 752nd
Tank Battalion. The vehicle number D9 is stenciled on the right side of
the engine compartment door, indicating the 9th tank of D Company, and the 4th tank of the 2nd Platoon.
||The restored M5A1 was destined to become a rolling educational and recruiting exhibit, appearing at
various locations across the U.S. A storyboard provides the 752nd Distinctive Insignia, some
information about the M5A1 tank, and a photo of the 752nd Tank
Battalion in the Bologna town square. The display kiosk includes a
professionally narrated reading of the story of the battle for Verona,
where the 752nd D Company tankers played a critical role.
driver's compartment is nearly completed, and plastic covers protect
the seats as if "U-Go" was a brand new car awaiting delivery. The
driver's seat is to the left, where the driver's control levers can be
seen. The assistant driver/bow gunner's seat is to the right. The teeth
for the turret ring gear can be seen at the top of the photo.
13 May 2006, a major milestone in the project was achieved when U-Go's
turret was re-installed. Much detail work has been completed, such as
the mounting of leather tool straps on the front of the tank. U-Go's
name, which had been previously stenciled mid-sponson, has now been
moved toward the front of the tank based on 1945 photos of "U-Go" that
were discovered in Italy. Some mechanical detail work still
needs to be done, but the project is nearing completion.
||The late Walter Lupkes stands beside the near-completed M5A1 at a
dedication ceremony on 25 May 2005. Mr. Lupkes was an assistant driver/
bow gunner in a 752nd Tank Battalion M5A1 named "U-Go," and the Fort
Snelling M5A1 was named in honor of his tank. Mr. Lupkes and "U-Go" saw action in the Po Valley. Click
here to learn about some of the action they saw in Verona.
in Army Service
On 10 June 2006, "U-Go" was readied for transport to its first fully
operational showing. The tank and its support team were tasked with
supporting a Total Army Involvement In Recruiting project. This directed
mission was executed on 10 June in support of the US Army Recruiting
Commands' Minneapolis Recruiting Battalion. "U-Go" performed its mission
particular vehicle was produced almost 80 years
ago by the folks from the Massey Harris tractor manufacturing plant in
Racine, Wisconsin. If they could have ever known that one of their
tanks would still be in service with the US Army in 2021, they'd
be simply amazed.
Congratulations to all
who donated their time, energy, passion, and talent to bring this
vehicle back to life, and to all those who continue to serve as its caretakers!
This web page was originally created with the approval of Fort Snelling Military Volunteers,
Inc., an independent private organization formed in the State of Minnesota for the express purpose of supporting and providing services to the Fort Snelling Military Museum. This strictly volunteer group was not otherwise affiliated with the US Army Reserve, the US Army's 88th Regional Support Command, the United States Government, the US Army Center of Military History, or the Fort Snelling Military Museum.