BY T.P. SCHWEIDER
It was always entertaining when I first moved up to 29 Palms to go to Model Competitions with Sgt. Major Mumma. He stood 6’2”, at 200 Lbs. And definitely had a command presence to go with his billet as Sgt. Major of 1st Tank Bn., USMC. He’d started in the M60 and had transitioned to the M-1 Tank, and was an avid armor modeler. He’d won awards for his work in the past, but the training tempo was crimping his production, but when the schedule permitted, we rode off to a show.
He took a certain perverse delight in critiquing otherwise excellent work that was flawed in its accuracy. Having a strong historical bent myself, I shared in his annoyance, but was less expressive about it. He never hesitated to point out the flaw in a strong voice, regardless of the number of people around.
One show, an unfortunate modeler caught his ire, with a German Tiger I Tank. It was well constructed, accurately painted, BUT!……….from the muzzle back to halfway down the main gun tube, it was smudged BLACK!
“You can really tell some dumb civilian did this one!” the Sgt. Major laughed. The modeler, a young dude in his mid 20’s was standing at the table, naturally upset by this comment, asked “WHY?” The Sgt. Major then proceeded to explain that modern propellants DO NOT LEAVE RESIDUE, he did not think that the Tiger was armed with a muzzle-loading, black powder propelled cannon, and that therefore THERE SHOULD NOT BE A SMUDGE!
Tiger I Tank during wartime with no smudges on muzzle brake or gun tube.
The poor kid made the mistake of asking how the Sgt. Major knew such a thing and got a short exposition on the number of main gun rounds the Sgt. Major had fired over the years without a smudge and how many main gun rounds had the modeler fired? At which point the red faced modeler left for another portion of the hall, the small crowd dispersed, and the Sgt. Major laughed, having struck another blow for accuracy in modeling.
I suspect that sometime in the past, some armor modeler, looking at the aircraft on display, saw one with smudges on the wings in the back of the wing guns, decided it looked “cool”, BUT IT AINT REAL!
So please, save your smudges in the future for muzzle loading muskets and black powder cannons, and remember that 20th and 21st century propellants in tank main gun ammo do not leave that kind of residue. NO SMUDGES!!!!!!!
Active Abrams M1 tank in Iraq. Check out the muzzle.