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Armor of Freedom

Authors Boštjan Kurent mag. Janko Boštjančič Expert Assistance Military Museum of Slovenian Army Translation Nejka Ritonja Design Pisarna

Sonja Dolenc, Andrej Rijavec, Boštjan Martinjak

Materials dr. Bojan Dimitrijević


Foto centar Odbrana

selection by dr. Bojan Dimitrijević (armored vehicles)

Military Museum of the Slovenian Armed Forces Defensor d.o.o.

selection by Boris Knific

National Museum of Contemporary History Renato Trampuž

(private collection)

The exhibition's catalogue was compiled with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia as part of the non-governmental organisation support programme (NGO Small Grants Program). © Park of Military History Pivka, 2013

Armor of Freedom The U.S. Military Support to Yugoslavia in the 1950’s

The catalogue of the exhibition in the Park of Military History Pivka

American-Slovene relations

Despite the enormous geographic distance between the two countries, the historical connection between Slovenia and the USA is rather impressive. The nature of this connection is very diverse; it reaches from common emigration to economic and military cooperation of the countries. One of the closest links to the USA is certainly the Slovenian immigration. The Slovenians immigrated in great numbers to the USA as early as the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century. A new wave of Slovenian immigrants followed in the years after 1945. In the year 2000, 175,099 American citizens claimed to be of Slovenian origin. Unofficial estimations about the number of Slovenians and their descendants in the USA are considerably higher, reaching from 300,000 to 600,000 people. Although the first Slovenian immigrants faced many problems with integrating into the American society because of cultural, social, and linguistic differences, their children and grandchildren smoothly accepted the American way. Increasingly more of the Slovenian descendants graduated from various universities and many of them proved themselves as successful businessmen, scientists, artists, soldiers, politicians etc. There are strong connections between Slovenia and the USA in the military aspect as well. In George Washington’s Continental Army one can find some soldiers with typical Slovenian last names such as Gorshe, Vavtar, Vertnar, Cherne, and Vidmar. Thus, Slovenian immigrants and their descendants later on fought as American soldiers in the American Civil War and in both World Wars. It is necessary to emphasize World War II military support the Allied countries offered the partisans both throug the weapon supply and the medical treatment of the wounded in the liberated parts of Italy. In order to coordinate the support and to conduct intelligence missions, groups from the western Allied countries were active in the partisan units from the summer of 1943 on. First came the British


mission, then the Anglo-American and finally two separate British and American missions. An important connection between the Allies and the Slovenian partisans developed also through the rescuing of the allied pilots whose aircraft were shot down over Slovenia; quite a high number of pilots who survived were rescued and transported to the Allies’ bases in Italy. Indirectly, the forming of the 1st Tank Brigade can be considered as a part of the U.S. military support as well, since it was armed and trained by the British and comprised the American Stuart tanks. After WWII, when the Communist Party prevailed, the USA again became a frequent destination for the massive immigration from Slovenia. The relationship between Yugoslavia and the USA, which came out of WWII as a world superpower, was becoming increasingly grave and probably reached the lowest point when a Yugoslav aircraft shot down an American C47 aircraft near Koprivnik in the Gorenjska region. After 1948, when Yugoslavia parted from the Soviet Union with the so-called Informbiro resolution, the circumstances quickly changed for better. Yugoslavia even hinted at its possible joining the NATO pact. After Stalin’s death, Yugoslavia both improved its political relations to the Soviet Union and preserved a relatively healthy relationship with the USA. The Independent Republic of Slovenia was recognized by the USA on 7th April 1992. It became a NATO member in 2004.

The U.S. Military Support to Yugoslavia in the 1950’s

As a post-WWII communist country, Yugoslavia became economically and politically dependent on the Soviet Union. Its dependence had a military component as well since it was in the Soviet Union where the Yugoslav weapons were bought and where the Yugoslav officers received their education. Furthermore, the Yugoslav soldiers were trained by many instructors from the Red Army. This first post-war period ended in 1948 with the so-called Informbiro resolution that excluded Yugoslavia from the countries gathered around the Soviet Union. Threatened by the Red Army, Yugoslavia had to contact the western countries, since its army was insufficiently armed and equipped. Apart from the military danger, the Yugoslav government was forced into negotiations with the West also because of the economic crisis and several subsequent years of drought severely affected the country. Several high military and political summits took place and finally, on November 14th 1951, an agreement on the American military support was signed by the representatives of Yugoslavia and the USA. The Americans were especially interested in the defense plans on the so-called “Ljubljana direction”. A successful breakthrough of the Soviet and satellite forces from west Hungary along the Drava river towards the Ljubljana (Postojna) Pass and further towards Trieste would have provided the Soviets with access to the Adriatic sea; it would have directly endangered Italy and other allied air and nautical connections in this part of the Mediterranean, and a large part of the Western Europe would have been within reach of the Soviet armed forces. Through careful diplomacy, the Yugoslav government showed the intention of forming a firm alliance with the western democracies and even of joining NATO. By sending military help to Yugoslavia, the USA wanted to protect it from any military actions from the East and also, indirectly, to protect Italy and the Mediterranean. Great Britain and France also sent a reasonably small quantity of weapons and equipment. The military support

was of unimaginable proportions: 599 M4A3 Sherman tanks, 319 M47 Patton tanks (then, they were considered to be the most up-to-date tank constructions), 399 M36 Jackson tank destroyers, 10,000 trucks and more than 400 aircraft. The substantial donation led to the over-armament of the Yugoslav People’s Army; especially the modern turbojet aircraft fleet supposedly deterred Stalin from any military intervention in Yugoslavia. After the reconciliation and the improvement of Yugoslav-Soviet relations the Yugoslav government decided to suspend the American military support. The suspension was officially announced in July 1957. The armored vehicles of the U.S. military support belong to the most valuable exhibits of the Park of Military History. It was therefore decided in the Park to arrange an exhibition on this rather unknown topic. A capitalist superpower’s donation of weapons caused a sense of discomfort to the Yugoslav political leadership and was never openly or publicly debated. After reconciliation with the Soviet Union, the knowledge about the USA military support subsided and eventually vanished even faster. The idea for installing the exhibition emerged due to the bewilderment of many visitors of the Park, who were amazed by the fact that such high numbers of American vehicles and military equipment belong to the heritage of the Yugoslav People’s Army. The management of the Park succeeded in inspiring the Embassy of the United States in Slovenia, which has supported the exhibition within the framework of the NGO support. The title of the exhibition, “Armor of Freedom”, comes from the fact that the main emphasis is on those armored vehicles exhibited in the Park that came to Yugoslavia (and Slovenia) with the U.S. military support. It was because of this help that the Soviet forces did not invade Yugoslavia, which consequently remained a sovereign country.


Greeting of the 1st Tank Brigade in Bovec, 1945.

The M3A3 tank belongs to the series of M3-M5 tanks, which are named in honor of the American Confederacy general James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart. At the beginning of the Second World War, the U.S. Army regressed both in the development and in the doctrine of armored warfare usage. After Germany’s invasion of France, even the most vigorous tank opponents realized what was the true importance of tank warfare. Subsequently, a rapid development of all kinds of armored vehicles followed, including the development of the M3. The M3A3 Stuart was actually an improved version of its predecessor, the M3A1. It already had welded armor and more importantly, the degree of protection, working conditions of the tank crews,


and the combat radius significantly improved. Nevertheless, the Stuart could never match the German tanks, mostly due to its conceptual obsolescence and the rapid development of medium battle tanks that began to take over the battlefield. Thus, the Stuarts were reassigned only to reconnaissance tasks or to the training of tank crews. They were also sent to the Allied countries, amongst others to the Partisan troops in Yugoslavia. Despite their relatively unsuccessful performance in Europe, the Stuarts will remain in good memory of the U.S. Marines in the Pacific battlefield, where the low silhouette and weight of the tanks proved advantageous for the rough terrain on the Pacific islands.



gun 37 mm M6 3 x machine gun 7.62 mm 30-06 browning M1919A4

Armor thickness 

13-51 mm

Crew 4 Dimensions 


Combat weight  Engine 

4.52 m


2.51 m


2.3 m 14.5 t

7-valve, gasoline, 186 kW, Continental-Wright

Maximum speed  Cruising range 

58 km/h 120 km

Exhibited in the Park

The Stuart in Yugoslavia

The 1st Tank Brigade on its way from Split to Šibenik on March 2, 1945.

On 16 th July 1944, the 1st Tank Brigade of the Yugoslav National Liberation Army (YNLA) was founded in Gravina, Italy. The Brigade comprised 56 Stuart tanks and despite all their weaknesses they proved rather successful in the Yugoslav battlefield. Similarly to the Pacific battlefield, the small dimensions of the tank enabled it to move quickly on difficult terrains and moreover, the experienced tank crews more than compensated for the light armor and weak armament (37 mm gun). An important factor in the Tank

Brigade’s success was certainly also the fact that the Germans did not expect the partisans to have tanks and were therefore not sufficiently equipped either with armored or anti-tank armament. The Tank Brigade YNLA was first transported to Vis Island and from there to the mainland, near Split. With the Stuarts, the unit made its long and bloody battle path from Herzegovina, Dalmatia, the Northern Adriatic and Slovenian Primorska to Trieste and Koroška. The reliable chassis served also as the ideal base for Partisan unique solutions, such as the self-propelled gun Stuart/pak that was equipped with a 75 mm anti-tank gun, or the Stuart/flak with four-barrel 20 mm anti-aircraft gun. After the War, the Stuarts were removed from the shock troops and transferred to “B” units where they were used primarily for training purposes. The gradual lack of spare parts led to the dismantling of some Stuarts in order to get the others going and consequently only 32 were still in use in 1960, when they were finally withdrawn from service.

Units of the 4th Army lined-up on the piers of Trieste after combat, May 3, 1945.

James Ewell Brown Stuart »Jeb« 1833–1864

James Ewell Brown Stuart, nick­ named Jeb, was an officer of the U.S. Army and later, during the American Civil War (1861–1865), also one of the Confederacy’s generals. Stuart was a cavalry commander, known for his mastery of reconnaissance tasks and of the use of cavalry in offensive operations. His romantic media image only contributed to his reputation and to the raising of the Southern morale. Due to his successful operations in the first stages of the war he quickly became famous as a determined commander. During the Battle of Chancellorsville he even took over the temporary command of the Confederate infantry. Nevertheless, Stuart’s success remains marred by his defeat at Gettysburg, where his units were unexpectedly attacked by the Union cavalry and were consequently isolated from the main part of the army. General Robert E. Lee thus did not receive any reliable information about the Union Army’s movement. Stuart was severely criticized after the battle and even nowadays, historians cannot agree on Stuart’s true influence on the eventual Confederacy’s defeat. Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded a year after Gettysburg, during cavalry attack. Only a few months before his death he wrote:“A military man without aspirations is like a vessel without sail – a compass without a needle.”


The M4 Sherman medium battle tank was named after the famous American general of the American Civil War, William T. Sherman. The M4 is renowned as the first true modern tank manufactured in the USA since it was practically in all aspects superior to its predecessor, the M3 Lee/ Grant. With the Sherman, the Western Allies finally got an armored vehicle that was equal or even superior to its German counterparts, at least until the famous Panther entered the battlefield. Nevertheless, by the scale of production and service length only the Soviet T-34 could beat the M4. In total, approximately 50,000 of the Sherman tanks were produced; 11,000 of the M4A3 version alone. The main armament of the tank was the 75 mm gun, which was soon no match for the heavily armored German tanks. Therefore, it was grad6

ually replaced with the new 76 mm gun. The Sherman’s high silhouette and weaker armor were compensated with high levels of mobility and mechanical reliability. The reliable chassis also served as a basis for the development of many different purpose vehicles, such as tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery, and armored recovery and engineering vehicles. The wide range and standardization of production in WWII led to the situation where individual American infantry divisions had more tanks at disposal than the German armored divisions. A high number of the Shermans were transported to the Allied countries, during the War to the Soviet Union as well. The M4 also played an important role in the Korean War, the Arab-Israeli War and even in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.



gun 76 mm M1A1 machine gun 12.7 mm M2HB 2 x machine gun 7.92 mm M1919A4

Armor thickness 

13-89 mm

Crew 5 Dimensions 


5.91 m

Combat weight  Engine 


2.74 m


2.61 m 33.3 t

Ford GAA, V8-valve, gasoline, 298 kW

 Maximum speed  Cruising range 

42 km/h 209 km

Exhibited in the Park

The Sherman in Yugoslavia

Maneuverability demonstration.

After 1953, the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) received as many as 599 Shermans as a part of military help from the USA. The tanks enabled the Army to fill the gaps in the armored units that started to occur after the Soviet deliveries had been suspended in 1948. With the M4 tanks, Yugoslavia formed five tank brigades (approximately 80 Shermans per each) and four tank battalions (31 Shermans per each). At first, the USA intended to send the older M4A1 version, which had less powerful engine and weaker armament, however, after long negotiations, both parties reached a compromise. The YPA received the M4A3 tanks with an older turret type, but with a stronger 76 mm gun. This version had a common designation of M4A3E4. All the received Shermans had gone through a general overhaul and as such truly represented highly functional and quality weapon systems. After a period of isolation, the arrival of new weapons brought about a certain state of euphoria amongst some members of the Army as well as the emphasizing of superior­i ty

of the American weapons over the Soviet ones. The M4 Sherman, which actually originated from WWII, was thus in 1953 represented both by the Yugoslav military representatives and by the media as an example of “the newest tank technology”, “recently gained as support from our military allies” and “better than the Soviet T-34”. Sherman persisted in the YPA until the beginning of the 1970’s when it was due to its obsolescence and the arrival of new Soviet tanks sent into the reserve units and finally to numerous polygons, where it was used primarily as a target for anti-tank warfare. The last Sherman platoon remained in use on Vis Island where its narrow driving construction enabled the tank to move quickly on the narrow island tracks.

The 1st Proletarian Division lined-up in Postojna, 1955.

William Tecumseh Sherman 1820–1891

William Tecumseh Sherman was one of the most famous generals of the Northern Army during the American Civil War. During the war, Sherman proved to be a brilliant commander with a great sense for strategy; however, he was also criticized for the use of the “scorched earth” tactics – a form of total warfare he used against his enemy. Because of that Sherman is considered to be “the first modern general” as well. Between 1862 and 1863, when he was under the command of general Ulysses S. Grant, and after 1864, when he became the Union commander in the western theater of the War, he crucially weakened the Confederacy’s capability to fight. After Grant’s election for the President of the USA in 1869, Sherman became the Commanding General of the Army and remained in this position until 1883. Despite many appeals he refused to become politically active. Sherman was a determined general who experienced war cruelties on his own skin so during a speech at the Michigan Military Academy, he thus sent a clear message to the cadets: “War is hell.”


Yugoslav Army recieved as many as 399 Jacksons.

The American self-propelled anti-tank gun M36 Jackson was named after the Confederacy general Thomas “Stonewall� Jackson by the British soldiers. The M36 was a logical upgrade of its predecessor, the M10 Wolverine. Because of its 76 mm gun, the M10 could no longer oppose the heavy German tanks such as the famous Tiger or the Panther. Thus the planning of a new vehicle began in the last months of 1942. The vehicle kept the proven M10 chassis and got a new turret with a 90 mm gun. Although the first Jacksons appeared in the European battlefield only in 1944, they quickly grew extremely popular


with the Allied units since they represented weapons that could destroy the German tanks within a much longer distance than the M4 Sherman. In spite of the great demand, only approximately 1,400 of such vehicles were produced by the end of the Second World War. In order to somewhat fill the lack, 300 of the Sherman chassis were fitted with new turrets, originally designed for the M36 tank destroyer. The mentioned version was designated as the M36B1. The Jackson was successfully used also in the Korean War, where it was considered as one of the rare weapon systems that could match the Soviet T-34.


gun 90 mm M3A2 1 x machine gun 12.7 mm M2HB

Armor thickness 

9-108 mm

Crew 5 Dimensions 


7.46 m

Combat weight  Engine 


3.05 m


3.28 m 29 t

Ford GAA, 8-valve, gasoline, 336 kW

 Maximum speed  Cruising range 

42 km/h 240 km

Exhibited in the Park

The Jackson in Yugoslavia

Training on a tank simulator.

As one of the recipients of the U.S. military support, Yugoslavia received 399 Jacksons in versions M36 and the M36B1. The vehicles were assigned to the artillery anti-tank divisions of the YPA. Soon after the arrival of the M47 Patton, with the same 90 mm gun, the Yugoslav industry began developing new ammunition for the above caliber; i. e. the instant blasting cartridge M-67 and later on the HEAT M-74 ammunition as well. In the 1970’s the M36, unlike the rest of the American armor technology in the YPA, went through a complete

and thorough modernization. The greatest change was the replacement of the original Ford petrol engine with a diesel V-55 engine that was originally designed for the T-54/55 tanks. Because of the larger dimensions of the new drive shaft, thorough modifications of the rear part of the vehicle were needed. A new fire protection system with sensors placed all over the vehicle was installed. The original radio stations were also replaced by the Yugoslav ones and so were the electrical wiring and the outer reflectors. The modernized Jacksons remained in the YPA practically till the downfall of Yugoslavia. During Slovenia’s war for independence, the Jacksons appeared on Slovenian roads and in the streets, and practically all of the opposing sides used them during the wars on the Balkan in the 1990’s. Around 20 of the M36 vehicles were taken over by the Slovenian Armed Forces after YPA had retreated from Slovenia. Until 2000, they were positioned along the Slovenian coast as coastal artillery. Nowadays, the M36 Jackson represents an extremely rare and valuable exhibit.

Thomas Jonathan »Stonewall« Jackson 1824 –1863 Thomas Jackson, also known under the nickname Stonewall, is one of the most famous Confederacy commanders of the American Civil War. Numerous American military historians regard him as one of the most gifted military tacticians in the history of the USA. Under General Robert E. Lee’s command Jackson took part in several successful operations against the Union, where he proved himself with determination and a great capability to improvise. During the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 he was accidentally shot by one of his own soldiers and died a few days later. His death represented a heavy blow for the Confederacy, both because of the loss of one of the key commanders and the low morale Jackson’s sudden death caused amongst the soldiers and the public. Jackson’s last words were supposedly “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”


The M47 was named after one of the most renowned American generals of the Second Word War, George S. Patton. The M46, M48 and the M60 post-war tanks were named after him as well. At the end of WWII when a potential danger of a conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union dominated the international relations, the U.S. Army found itself in a difficult position since it had no tank equal to the Soviet T-34. As a temporary solution before the eventual introduction of a new tank, the M46 was constructed. It was based on the M26 Pershing, a tank from WWII. However, during the Korean War (1951–1953) many weaknesses of the mentioned


approach came to the surface and, under the political pressure at home, the development of the new tank, the M47, continued with full speed. Despite all, the M47 was just a combination of the somewhat modified, although reliable, M46 chassis and a new turret that was developed for the meanwhile canceled project of the T42 tank. 1951–1953, 9,000 M47 Pattons were constructed, however, this type also proved to be stop and gape solution only. It was soon replaced first by the M48 and finally by the M60, the so called “last Patton”, which was the main battle tank of the U.S. Army until the arrival of the famous M1 Abrams.



gun 90 mm M-36 2 x machine gun 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun 12.7 mm M2HB

Armor thickness 

up to 101 mm

Crew 5 Dimensions 


8.51 m

Combat weight 


3.51 m


3.35 m 46 t


12-valve, gasoline, Continental AVDS-1790-5B, 604 kW

Maximum speed  Cruising range 

48 km/h 130 km

Exhibited in the Park

The Patton in Yugoslavia

Arrival of the M47 at the Rijeka harbor.

The first Pattons came to Yugoslavia on 27th May 1953, only 15 months after they had been introduced into the U.S. Army. The 319 M47 Pattons received by the YPA truly represented “the most recent technological advances”, as they were described by the Yugoslav media upon their arrival. Unlike the Sherman, the M47 Patton was the first generation of the post-war tanks and stood for a major technological improvement of the Yugoslav People’s Army. At the same time, a supply of such modern weapons indicated the USA’s intention of forming a firm alliance. The Yugoslav tank crews thus had an opportunity to deal with state-of-art tanks which were praised mostly for the high level of the crew’s comfort, less physical effort when controlling the tank, the introduction of modern sighting mechanisms and good radio connections. Nevertheless, the tank was fundamentally more complex than the Soviet T-34, it required more training of tank crews and represented quite a problem for the Yugoslav logistics since its 810 hp Continental petrol engine consumed as many as 700 liters per 100 kilometers. The M47 remained the most advanced battle tank until the early 1960’s when it was gradually

replaced by the Soviet T-54/55 and moved to the reserve units. Although the Pattons were finally discharged at the end of 1980’s, some of them were still used in the early 1990’s, during the wars after Yugoslavia’s disintegration.

The demonstration of armored recovery of the M47.

George Smith Patton, Jr. 1885 –1945

George Patton was one of the most famous and popular American gen­e rals of the Second World War and a firm supporter of the use of armored units in the U.S. Army. Despite his reputation of being a rather eccentric and outspoken person, he remains written in history as a general who, together with his Third Army, advanced farther, captured more prisoners, and liberated more territory in less time than any other army in history. Amongst the German military leadership Patton was regarded as one of the best and the most dangerous American commanders; even Adolf Hitler himself supposedly called him “that crazy cowboy general”. George S. Patton died at the end of 1945, in a car accident. Only a few months before the accident, he said: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”


The M8 Greyhound was a reconnaissance armored car of the U.S. Army, the development of which dates back to 1941. The Army demanded a new anti-tank 6×6 vehicle with a 37 mm gun. However, it soon became evident that the 37 mm gun would not be powerful enough against the

The Greyhound in Yugoslavia

The M8 as a part of the Yugoslav UNEF contingent.


German tanks, so the vehicle was reclassified to light armored car and was assigned mostly to reconnaissance tasks where it replaced the M3A1 Scout car. The M8’s baptism of fire took place in Italy, 1943. In spite of its high top speed (90 km/h or 56 mph), which could be reached

After 1953, 265 M8 Greyhounds came to Yugoslavia as military support from the USA. The M8 long represented one of the best light armored vehicles in the YPA. The Greyhounds were mostly assigned to reconnaissance tasks; however some of them were also used in the Yugoslav contingent of the UN, which took part in the UNEF I missions on Sinai (1956–1967). Similarly to the Scout Car, the Greyhounds were, until the end of the 1980’s, also used by the special unit of the Slovenian Militia.

only on well-maintained roads, the vehicle turned out to be less suitable for rough terrains. In addition, it was very vulnerable to anti-tank mines. Nevertheless, more than 8,500 Greyhounds were produced until June 1945 and after the war, they were sent to several Allied countries.

M8 GREYHOUND Armament 


gun 37 mm M6 machine gun 7.62 mm browning machine gun 12.7 mm browning

Armor thickness 

3-19 mm

Crew 4 Dimensions  Combat weight  Engine 




2.54 m


2.64 m 7.8 t

6-valve, gasoline, Hercules Model JXD

 Maximum speed  Cruising range 

90 km/h 645 km

Exhibited in the Park

Marshal Tito on a Jeep during his inspection of the 1st proletarian division, Postojna 1955.

The Willys/Ford Jeep belongs to some of the most famous vehicles, since even the word ‘Jeep’ itself has become a synonym for powerful off-road 4×4 vehicles. It was constructed due to the U.S. Army’s demand for a light utility reconnaissance vehicle. Between 1941 and 1945, incredible 640,000 Jeeps were manufactured and afterward remained in use in different armies around the world. The GMC truck was the working force of the American logistics during WWII. In numerous versions, more than 800,000 were manufactured. The GMC CCKW had a key role in the supplying of the U.S. Army during the liberation of Europe. In the “Red Ball Express” operation, an enormous truck convoy system that connected the Atlantic coast to the inland of Europe, almost 6,000 transport vehicles, mainly CCKWs, took part. They daily transported more than 12,500 tons of supplies and thus greatly contributed to the eventual Allies’ victory.

Jeeps and CCKW trucks in Yugoslavia

As a part of military support, Yugoslavia received 2,285 Jeeps, which persisted in the Yugoslav People’s Army until the 1970’s. The vehicle proved to be very useful, robust, and

reliable. Thus, they even strengthened their reputation from the Second World War. Many Jeeps are, both in Slovenia and around the world, still in use by private owners. Before the arrival of the American military support, the YPA units’ needs for vehicles of all kinds were covered only up to one third. It was the lack in transport capacities that was most problematic, since the major part of logistics still depended on carts and harnesses. This problem was partly solved with the arrival of almost 10,000 American trucks, 8,260 of which were CCKWs (in the YPA, they were commonly called ‘James’). Despite the substantial donation, logistics remained a problem until the 1970’s, when the domestic production of trucks and other necessary vehicles finally caught up with the demand.


The armored units during maneuvers in 1953.

Since the U.S. Army was in need of a fast reconnaissance vehicle, the endurable and robust armored car M3 was constructed in 1938. The vehicle attracted several branches of the Army and, simultaneously, demands for partial moderni­z ations occurred. The lengthened and widened vehicle was designated as the M3A1 Scout Car. It was first introduced to battlefield on the Philippines in 1941, and afterward in North Africa, Italy, and in smaller numbers also in Normandy. Soon, the Scout Car’s main weak points surfaced, e. g. bad obstacle crossing, insufficient defense and weak armament. Although the Scout Car’s primary task was reconnaissance, it was used mainly as a command or patrol vehicle, for escorting truck convoys, etc. As early as1943 the U.S. Army replaced the Scout Car with the M8/M20. The majority of the 20,000 manufactured M3A1s were transported to the Allied countries where they remained in use for a long time.


Scout Car in Yugoslavia

M3A1 ARMORED SCOUT CAR  machine guns browning: 1 x 12.7 mm M2, 2 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 Armor thickness  6-13 mm Armament

The Yugoslav People’s Army already had previous experiences with the Scout Car since three of such vehicles were used by the 1st Tank Brigade YNLA during the War. As a part of military support the YPA received additional 300 M3A1 Scout Cars which remained in service for the following 20 years. Despite its weaknesses, the vehicle performed its tasks sufficiently enough; the YPA even asked for additional 500 M3A1s; however the request was never granted. The Scout Car was used also by the Yugoslav peace units on Sinai. Some of the M3A1s were later used by the Slovenian Territorial Defense (TO) and the special unit of the Slovenian Militia (Milica).

Crew 1+7 Dimensions  Combat weight  Engine 


5.63 m


2.1 m



5.67 t 6-valve, gasoline, 81 kW, Hercules JXD

 Maximum speed  Cruising range 

81 km/h 403 km

Exhibited in the Park

The half-track self-propelled M15A1 gun in the Yugoslav People’s Army’s units.

The half-tracks were the solution to the U.S. Army’s demands for improving the mobility of its forces, especially wheeled armored vehicles. Thus the M3 Scout Car was equipped with the Caterpillar track and after some partial improvements and modifications the famous halftrack armored car M3A1 was constructed. In its basis, the vehicle was designed as an armored transporter, but later on, it was adapted and served also as a tank destroyer, a fire support vehicle, an anti-aircraft vehicle (the M15A1), etc. In total (in all versions), 41,000 of the M3 half-tracks were manufactured. The International Harvest company constructed additional few thousands of half-tracks for the “Lend – Lease” program. These versions were designated as the M5 and the M5A1.

Half-tracks in Yugoslavia The YPA received several hundred M5/M5A1 half-tracks. It is interesting that these vehicles were not mentioned in the final report of the American military support, which indicates that the vehicles were acquired by a separate agreement from 1951. The received version M5A1 differs from the M5 by the front mounted winch and some minor modifications. In the YPA, the half-tracks were used as armored transporters for infantry and often also as tow trucks for light artillery weapons. Apart from the mentioned variants Yugoslavia also received around 20 M15A1 half-track anti-aircraft self-propelled guns.

≤ The Yugoslav M3A1, patrolling on Sinai.


The turbojet fighter-bomber F-84 Thunderjet first flew in 1946, however, the aircraft was plagued by many structural and engine problems. For these reasons alone, the program was just before cancellation when in 1951 all of the weaknesses were rectified with the F-84D and the definite F-84G versions. The aircraft thus became fully operational in the U.S. Air Force. The F-84G quickly gained its reputation of being a very useful and robust

fighter-bomber. During the Korean War, it proved to be excellent especially as a ground support aircraft and a light bomber, which operated mainly on low altitudes. The Thunderjets performed over 85,000 flights and destroyed 60% of all ground targets in the war. Additionally, they shot down eight Soviet-built MiG fighters. A total of more than 7,524 of the F-84 planes were manufactured, half of which were then utilized by the Allied countries.

REPUBLIC F-84 THUNDERJET Crew 1 Dimensions  l 11.6


Wing area 

w 12.65


h 3.84


24 m²

Empty weight 

5,200 kg

Max. takeoff weight 

10,590 kg

Engine Allison J35-A-29 turbojet (24.7 kN) Maximum speed 

1,000 km/h


1,600 km

Service ceiling 

12,350 m


Exhibited in the Park

6 x 12.7 mm machine gun  Colt-Browning M2, 300 rpg, up to 2,020 kg of bombs (2 x 250/500 kg)  and rockets (8/16 x HVAR-5) 


* with tip tanks

The Thunderjet in Yugoslavia

The F-84G was the first true turbojet combat aircraft of the Yugoslav Air Force armament. The Yugoslav media paid much attention to the arrival of the 8 aircrafts from the American air base in Germany on

9th June 1953. The editorial of the Yugoslav Air Force newspaper even began with “The Thunderjets have arrived. We can now without any exaggeration claim that we possess the most state-of-art air force […]” At that time, the Yugoslav F-84Gs in fact represented modern fighter-bombers that had only a minimum of flying hours. The arrival of modern technology and especially the media’s extensive coverage strengthened the enthusiasm for the cooperation with the Western Allies. In total, 167 Thunderjets were sent to Yugoslavia as a part of military help and at the end of the 1950’s, additional 60 of these planes were bought in Greece.

The Yugoslav Air Force had 231 Thunderjets.

The F-84G Thunderjet 10642 restoration The F-84G (52-2910) was, on the basis of the 14th contractual series, manufactured in the Republic Aviation factory (Farmingdale, New York) in the third series (F-84G-31RE) in 1953. This aircraft was allocated to the NATO European forces. It arrived to Yugoslavia as one of the last shipments of Western military help on June 20, 1957. It acquired the Yugoslavian label 10642 in the Yugoslav Air Force. It was initially not painted, but it was later covered with a camouflage pattern of the Yugoslavian Air Force. At first, it was placed in the ranks of the 21st Division or the 172nd Aviation Regiment at the Zemunik Air Base near Zadar. The aircraft also served in the 82nd Air Brigade at the Cerklje ob Krki Airport, where it was taken out of service in 1974 along with other aircraft of this type. Shortly afterwards, it was put on display as a monument at the entrance of the Brnik Airport. After being ex­ posed to external weather conditions for more than 30 years, the aircraft was in an extremely bad condition and in need of complete restoration. The restoration, during which it was painted with the colour pattern it used during its operational period in the Yugoslav Air Force at the Cerklje ob Krki Airport, was completed over several stages between 2008 and 2013.

The aircraft during the restoration phase.


The Sabre was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in Yugoslavia.

The transonic jet fighter aircraft F-86 Sabre is renowned as one of the best planes of the Korean War, where it successfully countered the Soviet fighter MiG-15. Although the aircraft became outdated already at the end of 1950’s, the F-86 proved to be very adaptable and versatile, so it remained operational until the 1990’s when the last of the Sabres were retired by the Bolivian Air Force. Apart from the USA, the aircraft was produced under license also in Italy, Canada, Australia, and Japan. In all variants, a total of 9,860 F-86s were manufactured – more than any other Western turbojet aircraft.


The F-86E Sabre in Yugoslavia For many pilots, the Sabre represents the peak of the Yugoslav Air Force. The F-86E was not only one of the most modern aircraft of the time; it was also very popular among the pilots because of its excellent performance and maneuverabi­lity. Within the framework of the military support program, 150 F-86Es were planned to be transported to Yugoslavia; however, only 43 ever arrived. In 1961, Yugoslavia therefore bought additional 78 F-86E fighters and around 130 F-86D fighter-bombers. One of the first Sabres that arrived to the Yugoslav Air Force was also the first to break the sound barrier in Yugoslavia, on 31th July,

1953. The pilot of that aircraft was supposedly Nikola Lekić, although some claim Stanko Žunič, a Slovenian pilot, was the first Yugoslav who broke the sound barrier. The Sabres persisted in the Yugoslav Air Force until the 1970’s, when they were finally withdrawn from use.

Weapons and Equipment in numbers YPA Land Forces Weapons and Equipment




45.7 mio

12,7 mm machine gun


7.5 mio

60 mm jet thrower



90 mm jet thrower

Thompson submachine gun



37 mm gun



57mm M-1 anti-tank gun



40 mm M-1 anti-aircraft gun



57 mm recoilless gun


75 mm recoilless gun



M1A3 and A1 anti-aircraft guns



105 mm M2 and M3 howitzers



155 mm gun and howitzer



203 mm howitzer



37 and 76 mm self-propelled guns



M36 Jackson (90 mm)


105 mm self-propelled howitzer


M8 Greyhound


M3A1 Scout car


M4A3 Sherman


M-47 Patton


12–18 tonne tractor-truck 1,5 and 2,5 tonne truck

1,001 10,390

Bailly bridge


radio station





YPA Navy Weapons and Equipment


400-tonne patrol boat


400-tonne mine hunter


137-tonne mine hunter







12.7 mm machine gun



20 mm anti-aircraft gun



40 mm anti-aircraft gun



76 mm anti-aircraft gun




Spare engines

YPA Air Force Weapons and Equipment F-84G Thunderjet aircraft


F-47 Thunderbolt aircraft


C-47 (transport) aircraft


T-33 (trainer, jet plane)



Reconnaissance (jet) aircraft



F-86E Sabre aircraft


S-51 helicopter


Hispano aircraft engine


Lycoming aircraft engine


R-1340 AN-1 aircraft engine


A significant quantity of equipment was supplied in addition to the abovementioned weapons and ammunition: gunpowder, explosives, exploders, trailers, car workshops, signalling equipment, mine detectors, flame throwers, aircraft bombs, aircraft rockets, sanitation, fire fighting and other special vehicles, outboard motors, generators, underwater mines, net sounders, aggregates, water filters, engineering equipment, tools, weather stations, pumps etc. 20

Park of Military History Pivka Kolodvorska cesta 51 6257 Pivka, Slovenija +386 (0)5 7212 180 +386 (0)31 775 002 21


Armor of Freedom  

The catalogue of the exhibition in the Park of Military History Pivka (Slovenia), on the U.S. military support to Yugoslavia in the 1950's.