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"Haunted Tank: "The Tanker Who Couldn't Die"": Returning from patrol along the road north of Anzio, Lt. Jeb Stuart watches through his binoculars as his squad is ambushed by a pair of Panzer tanks. One of the American tanks is hit, and its commander, Lt. Boxer Bannion, is blown out and onto the


Quote1 God doesn't forget a single sparrow who falls! Quote2
-- Gus Gray



Appearing in Haunted Tank: "The Tanker Who Couldn't Die"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • German Artillery soldiers

Other Characters:

  • Lt. Boxer Bannion
  • Captain J.J. Jamison "Skipper"
  • American doctors
  • American Artillery soldiers

Locations:

Items:

  • German Rocket launcher

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • Panzerkampfwagen IV
  • American Willys MB Jeep
  • German Junkers Ju 87 Ground-attack plane

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "The Tanker Who Couldn't Die"

Returning from patrol along the road north of Anzio, Lt. Jeb Stuart watches through his binoculars as his squad is ambushed by a pair of Panzer tanks. One of the American tanks is hit, and its commander, Lt. Boxer Bannion, is blown out and onto the ground. Even though he is dazed from concussion and shredded by shrapnel, Bannion, an ex-heavyweight boxer, continues to survive. He rolls out of the sight of the machine guns before they can get a bead on him, but he is quickly running out of luck. Jeb orders Rick to open up on the attacking Panzers before they can spot them. Rick quickly takes out the first and closest Panzer tank, but the second is able to swing around and take a shot at the Haunted Tank. The shot misses, and Rick destroys the second Panzer before it can give off another shot. With the battle over, Jeb and the others quickly get out to help the wounded Bannion. They find the man bloodied and bruised, delerious. He believes himself to be back in the boxing ring, still with some fight left in him. They carefully load Bannion onto the Haunted Tank and then head back towards base.

On their way back, Jeb is visited by the ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart, who tells Jeb that Bannion is fighting a battle with death itself. He should not be counted out, until hangs up his gloves himself. Back at base, as Bannion is being carted off towards the hospital, Skipper informs Jeb that he is scheduled to leave immediately for a month-long tank officers' intensive training course. Jeb doesn't like the idea of leaving his crew, but Skipper tells him that he's giving the crew a three-week furlough while he's gone. At the base hospital, doctors are treating Bannion's wounds. X-rays show fragmented pieces of metal throughout his body. But the training he has had over the years as a boxer has developed his muscle strength that his vital organs were protected from the shrapnel. However, they are more concerned about the trauma to his brain and the damage it could have caused him mentally.

One month later, the crew of the Haunted Tank return from their furlough to find that they have been assigned Lt. Boxer Bannion as their new commander until Jeb returns from his training. Boxer proves his fitness to return to duty by allowing one man to shoot him directly in the stomach with a pistol. The bullet hits him, but Bannion just shakes off the slug and smiles. He then orders the others to check out the tank and load it up with extra ammo and fuel, telling them that "when you're in Boxer Bannion's corner you don't come home 'till the fight's finished". Slim, Gus and Rick are worried about Bannion... and their own safety.

Two hours after the Haunted Tank embarks on its mission, a jeep pulls into camp carrying Jeb Stuart back from his training, earlier than scheduled. Skipper informs him of the Haunted Tank's mission, and Jeb is astonished that Bannion is still alive, much less in command of his tank. Skipper tells Jeb that they had received a radio message from the Italian Underground about a new threat, something the Germans are calling "Thor's Thunderbolts", and that he had sent Boxer and his crew to check on it. Suddenly, enemy fire pours out from the sky into the camp, destroying many of the tanks and killing the men. Jeb realizes the enemy fire must be the new weapon, coming from a secret rocket launcher. He turns the jeep around and heads out to his his tank and crew, despite Skipper's protests. Meanwhile, the Haunted Tank has spotted the rocket launcher behind a rocky wall but are attacked before they're able to even move. The tank is hit, and Slim and the others begin to climb out of the smoking shell. Bannion orders them to return to the tank and get back inside, and pulls his pistol on them. He threatens to shoot them all for deserting their posts. Jeb arrives, and spots Bannion holding his crew at gunpoint. He quickly jumps Bannion just as he fires, but Boxer knocks Jeb out with a blow to the chin. Boxer then brings his pistol to bare on Jeb. Then, Boxer realizes what he has done, nearly killing the man who saved his life before. Coming to his senses, Boxer hops into Jeb's jeep and speed towards the enemy rocket launchers to finish the fight alone. Jeb, now recovered from the blow that Boxer gave him, orders his men back into the tank to stop him. In the jeep, Bannion spots an enemy fighter plane on the ground readying itself to take off. He slams on the gas and rams the plane in the nose. The Haunted Tank just avoids a shot from the rocket launcher, and hurries up to attack before it has a chance to reload again. Moving into position, Rick fires directly into the cave housing the "Thunderbolt" turning it into an exploding inferno. With the enemy defeated, the crew find Boxer near the wreckage of the jeep still alive and kicking. They load their wounded friend onto the tank and head back home. As they leave, the General's ghost reappears, and Jeb tells him that he learned something from Boxer that could never be taught at training school... you can't always win wars fighting by the book.

Appearing in OSS: "Rolling Fortress"

Featured Characters:

  • Unnamed Female O.S.S. agent

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

  • Agent Nick
  • Driver Kutscher
  • Joseph Stalin

Locations:

Items:

  • Hitler's secret plans
  • acetylene torch

Vehicles:

  • Von Noedler's "Wheeled Fortress" car
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV
  • German Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 half-track

Synopsis for OSS: "Rolling Fortress"

At O.S.S. Headquarters in London, Control is briefing a mysterious agent on their next assignment- to steal Hitler's latest battle plans from his military strategist General Gerhardt Von Noedler. But the mission will not be easy, as Hitler has armed Von Noedler with a million-dollar armored car equipped with bullet-proof glass and armor plate, a smokescreen from its exhaust, and machine guns recessed in the fenders. The French Maquis have tried to steal the plans before, but each time the car has torn through them leaving only charred corpses in its wake. Control tells his agent that they believe the plans reveal Germany's latest dealing with Russia, and that they must know what they are no matter the cost.

A day later, near a coastal town in France, Von Noedler speeds down the streets at top speed. Rounding a corner, the car is unable to stop before hitting a young woman in an S.S. officer's uniform stepping off the curb. General Von Noedler orders the car to stop and his men get out and help the injured woman into the car. But just as he orders his driver to take them to the nearest doctor, the woman pulls out a pistol and aims it straight at the General's neck. She tells them to do exactly as she says, and the General congratulates her for daring feat and bravery. She shoots Von Noedler, then his men, and then climbs in front of the steering wheel and speeds off. But her departure is noticed by a nearby German sentry post, who notify their headquarters that the car has been hijacked.

Out in the countryside, the woman drags the bodies out of the car and searches each one of them, but can find no trace of the secret plans. Knowing that they have to be hidden inside the car somewhere, she decides to take the car to her designated rendezvous point without wasting time. Her escape route is blocked by a German Panzer tank. She turns the car off road to escape the road block, but her path is blocked in the other direction as well. Realizing that there is no way she can escape them, she turns the car towards the cliffs. She hits the accelerator and drives off the cliffs and into the Channel's water below. The car sinks to the bottom, but its airtight construction keeps the agent alive until the rendezvous ship can find her using their SONAR. They fetch the car from the bottom of the Channel using a crane, then head towards Dover and safety.

That night, back at the O.S.S. garage, the men tear the car apart piece by piece trying to find the plans, as Control and the agent watch. Having stripped the car and found no plans, the men are about to give up when the flame of an acetylene torch cause a diagram to appear on the windscreen. They had been written in invisible ink onto the glass, and the heat caused them to reappear! Months later, Stalin address his people that the Russian Army alone defeated the Nazi forces that had attacked them. Control listens to the broadcast on the radio, and states that history will never know that it was his agent who brought back Hitler's secret plans to break their mutual pact by launching a surprise attack against Russia.

Appearing in "The Graveyard Ace"

Featured Characters:

  • Captain Phil Yancey

Villains:

  • German pilot (Dies)

Other Characters:

  • American pilots
  • American Field medics
  • Baron Von Richthofen (Mentioned only)
  • Captain Ray Brown (Mentioned only)

Locations:

  • France
    • Soissons (Mentioned only)

Vehicles:

  • American Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter plane
  • German Fokker Dr.I triplane
  • French SPAD S.XIII biplane

Synopsis for "The Graveyard Ace"

Captain Phil Yancey waited anxiously for the return of his pilots at a forward base in France. Now he saw them limping back, their tails afire, with a strange story that they were attacked by an all-red Fokker triplane that mysteriously appeared from out of the sun. Captain Yancey dismisses them, stating that no one has flown a Fokker triplane since Baron Von Richthofen in World War 1. Early next day, Yancey takes a Hellcat up himself, determined to put a stop to all this wild talk about ghost planes before it ruins his whole squadron. But as he turns his plane towards the sun, from out of nowhere the red Fokker appears. Yancey can't believe his eyes! The Captain rolls his plane out of the enemy's sights, but the Fokker is too slow and Yancey overshoots and misses him. The Fokker takes this advantage and fires into the Hellcat, sending a rain of bullets into the plane's engine and setting it alight. Yancey brings his Hellcat down, clipping the grass below. He is able to shake the Fokker, and them limps back to base in disbelief.

Three days later, the crimson Fooker triplane soars free in the sky towards the sun. It's German pilot is confident in his invincibility, grinning wildly as he waits for his next kill. Suddenly, tracers slash into the astonished German's cockpit. The pilot stalls the Fokker into a lazy fall to escape the rain of bullets, but once again he is caught in a hail of lead. He is unable to shake his attacker, and his enemy gets the best of him. The red Fokker bursts into a fiery glare and bombs down in a trail of smoke to crash to his death. Captain Yancey appears from out of the sun, flying an antique French SPAD biplane he had borrowed from a museum. Beaten at his own game!

Appearing in Haunted Tank: "The Snow Killers"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • German pilot (Dies)
  • German Infantry colonel
  • German Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • Sharpshooter Marina Vorski
  • Captain Lev
  • Russian Infantry soldiers
  • Mayor of Borogrod
  • Russian citizens

Locations:

Items:

  • Haystacks

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Junkers Ju 87 Ground-attack plane
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "The Snow Killers"

The Russian Winter has caught the Germans by surprise. Relentlessly they fired massive barrages across the river, which kept the Germans from the prized city of Borogrod. The citizens hold out against the onslaught, hoping that help would come soon. To the west of the city, a thin line of Russian soldiers hold their ground. Their commander, Captain Liv tells his men that as soon as their lookouts signal the approach of the American forces, they will counter attack and drive the Germans back. A woman, Marina Vorski, runs down the hill towards their line, shouting that the Americans are coming. All eyes are on the hill, just as a single tank, the Haunted Tank, emerges from over the ridge.

Lt. Jeb Stuart watches as the Russians wave to greet their approach just as the ghost of his ancestor, General J.E.B. Stuart, appears before him. Jeb complains about the bitter cold, but the General reminds him that war knows no temperature. Jeb explains that they are there to demonstrate the speed and maneuverability of the Stuart Tank, and are under orders not to fight. Unknown to Jeb, the tank is spotted by a German fighter plane, which swoops down to attack. Slim wants to fight, but Jeb orders him to just take evasive action. His orders don't go down well with his crew, but they obey. The Russians see the tank turn and run away, and open fire on the plane. The plane then turns its attention on the Russians. Marina, not wanting to set a bad example in front of the Americans, uses her sharpshooting skills to bring the plane down singlehanded. The Haunted Tank returns, and Jeb is impressed with Marina's skill. The Russians are surprised by the single tank, expecting a whole battalion of tanks and planes to help them out.

Not far away, the German Commander watches as smoke rises from the besieged city. He receives a report on the downed plane, and believing that an American garrison has arrived he summons a meeting with his officers to plan a defense. Back in the hills, Marina Vorski is ordered to lead the Haunted Tank through the growing snowstorm and into the city. As they cross the snow covered fields, they spot mounds in the snow near an abandoned farmhouse - snow-covered haystacks. The storm becomes to much to navigate, and Slim parks the tank in a field to wait it out. Unknown to them, a squad of German Panzers and infantry are approaching the farmhouse and field where they sit. Marina spots their approach, but Slim is unable to get the tank moving again because the controls have frozen up. Jeb orders them to fire, but Rick tells him that the guns are frozen, too. Marina pups up above and fires into the enemy with her rifle. The Germans think that they are under attack by a sniper and wildly fire in all directions. The haystacks are set ablaze by the gunfire. Using the flames as a diversion, Jeb sneaks out sets TNT charges onto the nearest Panzer, destroying it. The Germans now think they've been outflanked by the American army and are panicking. The flames from the haystacks begin to thaw out the Haunted Tank's systems, and Slim uses the advantage to break free and begin an attack from the rear. The Germans are surprised by the attack and are easily wiped out, with Rick quickly taking out the remaining Panzers.

Later, as the triumphant Haunted Tank enters the liberated city of Borogrod, they are greeted with confused stares. The Russians can't believe that the Americans drove the Germans out of their city with just one tank. Jeb apologizes for the condition of the tank, having been more than dented in the fight. They are thanked by the Mayor of Borogrod himself, who leads his people in a cheer of appreciation to their new American friends.

Appearing in OSS: "Death Rises at Dawn"

Featured Characters:

  • Agent Williams

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • S.S. Major Wilhem Wulf (Dies)
  • German Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • Partisan fighters

Locations:

Items:

  • Parachute
  • Nazi flag
  • Yugoslavian flag

Synopsis for OSS: "Death Rises at Dawn"

In wartime London at O.S.S. Headquarters, Control briefs his new agent, code-named "Williams", on his latest mission. In Yugoslavia, S.S. Major Wilhem Wulf has swore to break the back of the resistance in that country. Each dawn at the S.S. parade grounds, he marches out six captured Partisan fighters to be executed before a firing squad, refusing them the blindfold so that the last image them have in life is of the Nazi flag waving triumphantly over their country. The flag is raised each morning, and when it reaches the ball at the top of the flagpole the order is given to fire. Major Wulf has ordered the routine to be repeated every morning until the Resistance has been broken. Control gives Williams his mission - to drop into Yugoslavia and execute Major Wulf and release the prisoners.

At midnight, Williams is parachuted into a clearing in the woods, making his way towards the S.S. barracks. He disables the sentries along the perimeter. Just before dawn, the next group of Resistance is marched out to the place of execution but when they arrive they find, flying high on the pole, the flag of Yugoslavia. Major Wulf is furious, and orders his men to take it down immediately. The Yugoslav flag is removed, and replaced with the Nazi flag. The soldiers raise the flag, but when it reaches the top the flagpole, along with the flag, explodes in a fireball! In the confusion Williams attacks, killing the firing squad and freeing the prisoners. The Resistance grab weapons to help him, killing the remaining S.S. personnel and liberating the camp. Williams explains that he had booby-trapped the flagpole with explosives at the ball on top, activated by the cord wound around the hook at the bottom. As Williams and the Resistance members run free into the woods, the tattered remains of the Nazi flag fall to the ground to land on the body of Major Wulf.

Appearing in Women at War: "Annie's Got a Gun"

Featured Characters:

  • Annie

Supporting Characters:

  • Private Lewis

Villains:

  • German pilot (Dies)

Other Characters:

  • American pilot

Locations:

Items:

  • British QF 3.7-inch Anti-Aircraft gun

Vehicles:

  • German Heinkel Flugzeugwerke fighter plane
  • British Naval destroyer
  • British Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane

Synopsis for Women at War: "Annie's Got a Gun"

On the cliffs of Dover, overlooking the English Channel, an American WAC named Annie and her British boyfriend Lewis sit having a quiet picnic. It is peaceful, and the only signs of the war is an artillery gun placed nearby in case of attack. The quiet is interrupted, and Annie hears the sound of a German plane approaching. It is a Heinkel on it's way to London, and it attacks and kills the men manning the gun. Lewis jumps up and runs over to take control of the gun, but he is shot and wounded before he can reach it. Annie rushes over to him as the plane disappear into the distance. The sounds of its engines sticks in her mind.

Annie cares with her wounded boyfriend, waiting for help to arrive. The two spot a destroyer returning towards the ports at Dover, its hull smoking and shell torn. Then, she hears the sound of another plane returning. Lewis orders her into the seat of the artillery gun, even though she's never fired a gun in her life. As it grows closer, she recognizes the sounds of the engine as the same plane that attacked them earlier and wounded Lewis. The plane swoops in and makes an attack run. Lewis tells Annie to rotate the gun and get ready to fire, but she is unable to elevate the turret high enough to take aim at the plane. Then, the plane turns its attention towards the damaged destroyer. Annie can't wait any longer and fires the gun. She misses, her only shell exploding too low and below the plane. Just as the German plane begins its final attack run on the destroyer, a Spitfire appears in the sky and destroys it. Annie reveals that she had seen the spitfire, and by firing beneath the Heinkel she had hoped to drive him up so that the Spitfire could see him as well. Lewis is impressed, and the two share a kiss just as the medics arrive.

Appearing in Haunted Tank: "Breaking Point"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • German Artillery soldiers
  • German Infantry soldiers
  • German pilot (Dies)

Other Characters:

  • Captain J.J. Jamison "Skipper"
  • Lt. Marty Burns (Dies)
  • American Artillery soldiers
  • French women

Locations:


Items:

  • German Stinger canon
  • German smoke bomb

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV
  • German Junkers Ju 87 Ground-attack plane
  • German Motorized flatboat
  • American Willys MB Jeep
  • Hay truck

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "Breaking Point"

The Haunted Tank has been in continuous bruising action for so long, Lt. Jeb Stuart was beginning to worry about his men's sanity. So was Skipper, the squadron's C.O., but he had no choice but to send them out to defend a nearby bridge from German hands. Miles out and a few hours later, the tank comes across a civilian truck hauling a huge bushel of hay. Without an explanation, Jeb begins to open fire on the civilian truck with his machine gun, perplexing his crew inside. However, Jeb's hunch proves to be true when the turret of a Panzer tank appears out from under the haystack and fires back. Jeb orders Slim to move the Haunted Tank out of the line of fire while the others have a chance to load. Rick takes aim and fires, destroying the tank before it has a chance to retaliate.

Out of the smoke from the wreckage, the ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart appears. Jeb tells his ancestor that they were lucky, but the ghost warns Jeb that luck must be made in war, if they are to survive. The others hear Jeb talking above and begin to question his sanity once again, but Slim reminds them that Jeb, and the General, has always brought them luck. Rick prefers to trust in the luck of his own gun. As the Haunted Tank follows the course of a shallow river, they are surprised by an attack from a motorized flatboat with a Stinger. Jeb orders Slim to back up while Rick takes careful aim. They fire and are able to destroy the Stinger before it can reload for another shot. General Stuart compliments Jeb on his crew's speedy reaction under fire, which is high praise for a group of Yanks. Finally the Haunted Tank reaches it's destination - the bridge leading into a tunnel through the mountains. The bridge is needed by both sides for their attack, both careful not to destroy it. As they approach, they are bombarded with artillery fire from miles away. But before they can counterattack, HQ recalls them back to base.

Back at the base, Jeb and his crew are informed that, due to their long patrol, they are overdue for ten days R&R leave. During their time away, the Haunted Tank will be manned by Lt. Marty Burns and his crew, all who have just arrived and green to the war. Jeb and his men wish the new crew well, informing them that their tank is the best in the fleet and will keep them safe. They watch as Burns and his men leave for their first mission, then head to get cleaned up and ready for their leave. Hours pass and night falls. Jeb and his crew, dressed in their best uniforms, await for their jeep to take them on their leave. The jeep is five hours late, and just before they can leave they see the Haunted Tank being hauled in with its tread shot off. Jeb and Slim crack open the tank to find Burns and his men all dead from concussion. The other men in the squadron begin to believe that the Haunted Tank is a jinx. Rick threatens to beat down anyone who speaks bad about their tank. Jeb requests to man the next mission as soon as their tank is repaired, but Skipper vetos his request and orders them to go on leave.

The four men go on leave, but their minds remain back at the battlefield and on their tank. They are unable to enjoy themselves, and decide to cut their leave five days short and return to headquarters. Arriving back at HQ just in time to see their tank returning with a different crew, they find that the substitute crew are all dead as well, with their Lt. bringing it back with his last breath. Jeb pleads with the CO to let them go out on the next mission, and this time Skipper gives in as long as they promise to not take chances. As they mount up the tank and head out for their mission to protect the bridge, Jeb calls for the ghost of General Stuart to appear and give his some much-needed advice to boost his morale. Even Rick hopes the ghost will appear, his faith in their success in doubt. But the General remains silent. The trip to the bridge is uneventful, but as soon as they arrive they are attacked by a low flying fighter plane. The plane is out of range of the big guns, and drops a smoke bomb on the tank. Jeb swings his machine gun around and fires at the plane taking a pass, hitting its tail and causing it to crash into the mountainside nearby. The smoke begins to pour into the tank and obscures their sight. Hidden within the tunnel on the other side of the bridge is a German Panzer and infantry. The German commander believes that the crew of the Haunted Tank is dead, and orders his men to advance. But as soon as their emerge from the tunnel, the Haunted Tank opens fire on them. The Panzer is destroyed in the surprise, and Jeb and the others pick off the remaining Infantry with their machine guns using the smoke to hide their positions. With the battle over, the ghost of General Stuart finally appears. He informs Jeb that he had appeared twice before only to find two strange crews manning their tank. He informs Jeb that he is his ghostly guardian, and no one elses.

Notes

  • The inside front cover contains an "All About Tanks" Combat Album profile for the Desert Warriors, tanks used in the Western African desert throughout 1941 and 1942, with art by Sam Glanzman.
  • Page 30 contains a one page "Famous Fighting Outfits" profile on Ordnance, the Flaming Bombers, the history of the men of the Ordnance Corps who supplied weapons to the soldiers of the U.S. Army.
  • The inside back cover contains an "Weapons of Revenge" Combat Album profile for the Vergeltungswaffen V-1 and V-2, a particular set of long-range artillery weapons designed by the Germans for strategic bombing during World War II, with art by Sam Glanzman.

Trivia

  • In this issues "Let's Make Tracks" letter page, there is a short written history on the Purple Heart, United States military decoration awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military.
  • The story of Boxer Bannion, told in this issue's first story "The Tanker Who Couldn't Die!", is based on the true story of Bobby Halpern, who had been gunned down while shopping in New York. While the man should have died in the incident, years of incessant training as a boxer had developed his upper body strength and muscles so that bullets couldn't penetrate the walls of his abdomen. As told in this issue's "Let's Make Tracks", the idea was given to Robert Kanigher by a reader who sent him a magazine clipping about the story.



See Also


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Links and References

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