The ScorpionAs a kid the first AFV I ever sat in was an M56 Scorpion, on display at a local college in the late 1960s. Blame the sting of the Scorpion for my interest in military equipment and models.
This peculiar self-propelled antitank system traces its origin through the dissolution of the tank destroyer concept after WWII and the subsequent requirements projected from the 1949 Armor Policy Advisory Board. Following the Tank Crisis of the US Army and USMC during the Korean War, and the requirement for airborne antitank vehicles, the Army developed the M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion. Oddly, these AFVs revived the role of the WWII Tank Destroyer Command.
Shockingly, both of those systems were classified as "expendable". They were small, light, inexpensive, and considered to be just what was needed by Project Vista. Project Vista was commissioned by the military to calculate what was required of NATO to defend Europe from a Soviet attack.
M56 mounted a 90mm gun. It was carried by a light unarmored chassis that ran on pneumatic rubber tires over tracks. The only armor was the token blast shield for gun.
M56 did fight in Vietnam in small numbers. An unarmored open-top mobile gun was not very useful in the jungle.
This Scorpion is on display at the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City.
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