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"Haunted Tank: "The Breaking Point!"": On a wintry day in the Vosges mountain region of France, the Ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart watches as three of the crew of the Haunted Tank, Rick, Slim and Gus, desert their post in the heat of battle. Their commander, Lt. Jeb Stuart, pleads with them to c


Quote1 Slim! Gus! Rick! Come back! You can't desert in the face of the enemy! Don't force me to shoot you! Quote2
-- Lt. Jeb Stuart



Appearing in Haunted Tank: "The Breaking Point!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

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

Other Characters:

  • American Major
  • American Infantry soldiers
  • American paratroopers
  • American pilot

Locations:

Items:

  • M1911 pistol

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer tank
  • German Panzerkampfwagen III
  • German Panzerkampfwagen V Panther
  • German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter aircraft
  • American Douglas C-47 Skytrain
  • German Volkswagen Kübelwagen car

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "The Breaking Point!"

On a wintry day in the Vosges mountain region of France, the Ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart watches as three of the crew of the Haunted Tank, Rick, Slim and Gus, desert their post in the heat of battle. Their commander, Lt. Jeb Stuart, pleads with them to come back, even threatening to shoot them if they don't. Jeb realizes that things have been hard on them over the past couple of days. Attack after attack, one after another. He should have noticed when they first started to crack, during their first fight with a Jagdpanzer tank. The Germans relentlessly surrounded them from both sides, firing their flamethrowers onto the little tank and nearly frying the guys inside. Rick was able to quickly take out the Jagdpanzer with their cannon, but a few minutes more would have cooked them. Then there was the Mark III Panzer that slammed them over a ravine. The Haunted Tank plummeted down the steep cliff, and while landing softly into the snow below, nearly rattled the brains out of the guys inside. While the Panzer above fired down onto them, it took awhile for Rick and Gus to get their bearings after being knocked around. With Jeb yelling at them to hurry up, Rick finally gets the shot he needs to take out the Panzer. But the damage has been done and Rick begins to believe that their luck us about to soon run out.

Jeb decides to give his crew a much-needed breather, allowing each of his crew a chance to ride topside in the fresh air. But when it was Gus' turn, they are spotted by a German Messer plane who loops around to attack. Gus open fires at the plane with the machine gun, yelling at the others to fire the cannon onto the plane. The make a direct hit, but the plane comes down hard to crash directly in front of the Haunted Tank only a few feet away. Gus is battered and burned by the fire of the explosion, and covered in the blood of the enemy pilot. He begins to freak out, and Jeb quickly orders him back below and away from the carnage. Having had enough, Jeb radios back to base and gets orders to return. The men break out in laughter at the news, mostly from relief that it was all over, but then headquarters radios back with new orders. The enemy has been spotted heading for the bridge at Fouraix, which is currently being held by a squad of G.I.s. The Haunted Tank is closest to them, and are to divert to support them until the Airborne can drop in to back them up. The Haunted Tank is to hold that position at all costs. The laughter from below turns into a frozen silence.

As they arrive at Fouraix, Jeb sends the other three out to find the G.I.s and tell them that the Haunted Tank is there to cover them. But upon reaching their position, all Slim, Rick and Gus find are dead bodies. The three have had enough and just continue walking across the bridge and away from the tank. Jeb yells at them, even threatening to shoot them if they don't, but nothing he says can make them turn around and come back. They continue to stumble across the bridge like sleepwalkers trying to escape a nightmare. Jeb asks his ancestor's ghost what he would have done if this had happened to him, but the ghost of the General doesn't know. Then, the radio switches on and warns Jeb that it is too foggy for the paratroopers to jump in the area. Jeb can hear the sounds of the planes overhead turning around and leaving the area. Suddenly the realization hits Jeb that he is well and truly alone in the fight.

Half a mile from the bridge, halted by the fog, the German forces listen as the American planes fly overhead. The German commander orders his men to open fire if the Americans are crazy enough to drop their bombs in the fog. Rick, Gus, and Slim, meanwhile, continue their walk through the bone-numbing cold unaware of the enemy nearby. Above in the lead drop plane, the major in command orders his planes to make one final sweep of the area hoping to find a hole in the fog, but the weather looks too risky for the paratroopers. And on the bridge, the Haunted Tank is spotted in its solitary guard by a German patrol. Jeb opens fire, wiping out the patrol, but not before they are able to radio back to tell their forces of only a single tank between them and victory. As the planes finish their final sweep of the area, the major spots a signal fire coming from the ground. It could be a German trick, but the Major decides to take the chance and risk it. Below, Slim, Rick and Gus have finally stopped their walk to build a fire to keep warm, deciding they'd rather risk being shot than freezing to death. Rick looks up to spot the paratroopers gliding down towards their fire. Slim quickly orders the others to start building more first in the shape of a triangle to help the paratroopers see their landing zone. Not far away, the German commander listens as the last of the plane's engines disappear into the distance. Satisfied that the threat has left, he orders his men to continue on towards the bridge and the Haunted Tank's position. On the bridge, Jeb is quickly trying to fix his machine gun which got jammed during the last firefight. The General's ghost asks Jeb what he plans to do. Jeb's answers as he pulls out his pistol - fight until he can't fight any more. The Germans begin to appear from out of the fog, and Jeb open fires into them, killing one German with a bazooka sent to take out his tank but the odds are grossly against him. Then, from behind, the German force is attacked by an unseen force which destroys their vehicles and forces the German soldiers away from the bridge. It is the paratroopers, led by the missing crew of the Haunted Tank! As the enemy is driven away from the Haunted Tank, the three run up to Jeb surprised to see that he held his position and didn't break under the pressure. He must not have a breaking point, like they did. Jeb explains that he does, only he was able to pass his!

Appearing in OSS: "Death is a Handful of Pennies"

Featured Characters:

  • Agent "Daniel"

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • Colonel Feldner (Dies)
  • German Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • Heloise
  • R.A.F. Wing Commander Forsythe
  • French Maquis soldiers

Locations:

Items:

  • Parachute
  • Super radio magnetic pennies

Vehicles:

  • British de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito plane
  • German staff car

Synopsis for OSS: "Death is a Handful of Pennies"

At O.S.S. Headquarters in London, Control briefs his agent, code-named "Daniel", and R.A.F. Wing Commander Forsythe on their newest mission. Two days before, Gestapo Colonel Feldner raided a suspected Maquis hideout just south of Valois, France and took many prisoners hoping to extract the identities of the Maquis leaders. What Feldner doesn't know is that he is actually holding the leaders captive, one of which is Daniel's own wife Heloise. The O.S.S. can't risk the captive leaders breaking under Gestapo torture, so the prisoners must be rescued... or sacrificed. Daniel's mission is to locate the secret Gestapo headquarters in Valois and, with the help of Forsythe's Mosquito fighter bombers, rescue the prisoners. Control gives Daniel a stack of super radio magnetic pennies that together can send a powerful radio beam that the Mosquito planes can pinpoint. Forsythe tells Daniel that his planes will drop light bombs on the roof to create a diversion for him, but twenty minutes after they will return and drop blockbusters to flatten the target and kill everyone within. Daniel has twenty-four hours to complete his mission. With his wife's life on the line, it will be his toughest assignment.

Outside Valois, Daniel is dropped by parachute near the enemy lines and is quickly spotted coming down by an enemy patrol. He is taken prisoner, which is all part of his plan to quickly get into the Gestapo headquarters. But before they take him is is searched and the pennies are found. However, thinking they are worthless, the Germans just toss them aside to the ground. A short time later, Daniel is brought to a school within Valois, which is secretly being used by the Gestapo. As the car carrying Daniel pulls up to the courtyard, he spots two of the Maquis prisoners being shot execution style. Daniel is relieved to see that Heloise wasn't among those executed. He is taken before Colonel Feldner, and the guard tells the colonel that the prisoner was captured with only a handful of pennies on his person. Feldner asks to see the pennies, but the soldier tells him that he threw them away. Furious, Feldner orders the soldier to find them, since he knows that a spy never carries anything useless. Daniel is then taken to the basement with the rest of the prisoners. There he is reunited with his wife Heloise, but now that he is behind German bars has failed his mission.

Time passes, and high in the sky the Mosquito fighter-bombers begin to circle Valois. They have received no signal pinpointing Gestapo headquarters from Daniel. Commander Forsythe orders his fighters to keep circling the area. Meanwhile, in the Colonel's office, Feldner examines the pennies closely but can find no secret message or reason for the coins. In a fit of rage he pushes them off the desk. The soldier who had found them collects them from the floor, and places them back onto the desk in a single stack. The pennies send their radio signal, which is picked up by Commander Forsythe who orders his fighters to begin their first pass. The bombs hit the school, sending the Germans into a frenzied panic. Daniel takes advantage of this and disables his guard, then takes Colonel Feldner hostage. He forces the colonel to release the Maquis prisoners. Everyone retreats to the courtyard, with only seconds to spare before the bombers second and deadly pass. However, Colonel Feldner escapes down a manhole in the center of the courtyard. Daniel and the Maquis chase Feldner into the sewers just as the final pass is made and the bombs are dropped. Daniel catches up with the colonel and kills him before he can escape again, putting an end to his reign of torture in Valois. But the Maquis job is not done until every German is ran out of France, and Heloise decides to remain with her comrades to help in the fight. With his mission completed, Daniel says goodbye before heading to the rendezvous point.

Appearing in "Winged Warrior"

Featured Characters:

  • Private Lester
  • Unnamed Infantry sergeant

Villains:

  • Japanese Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • American Infantry colonel
  • American Signal Corps soldiers

Locations:

  • Unnamed Island, Pacific Ocean

Items:

  • Peanut, the carrier pigeon (Dies)

Vehicles:

  • American GMC CCKW truck

Synopsis for "Winged Warrior"

Moving ahead of an approaching American infantry unit, a Signal Corps detachment swiftly lays communication wire through the dense Pacific jungle. The sergeant in charge of the detachment notices a strange sound coming from inside their truck. He turns to one of his privates, a man named Lester, who uncovers a cage to show him a prized carrier pigeon that the man had been hiding. The others make fun of the man for having the bird, but Lester explains that her name is Peanut and that he thought she might come in useful. The Sergeant grabs the cage to take a look, accidentally opening it and releasing Peanut. Determined to stop the bird before she flies back to headquarters, Lester grabs a thin pole and begins to swing it around. He explains the carrier pigeons are trained to respond to the noise the pole makes. The bird swings around, returning, but is then shot down by enemy fire thinking that she was carrying a message. Lester doesn't give up, and continues to swing the pole around. To the others surprise, Peanut is still alive and well, only stunned by the gunfire, and returns to her cage. The Sergeant and his men attack the hidden Japanese enemy around them but are quickly pinned down by the snipers. Unable to reach the radio to ask for reinforcements, Lester writes down their position and attaches it to the leg of Peanut. he then releases the pigeon.

For what seems like ages the American continue their fight for survival against the Japanese snipers. Then, from out of the sky, an American fighter plan appears and rains death down onto the Japanese sniper nest. The Signalmen are safe, cheering Peanut for saving their lives. Upon their return to headquarters, their colonel informs them that they did get Peanut's message, but unfortunately the pigeon had been shot up trying to reach them and was unable to survive. The men grieve their lost pigeon soldier, until Lester discovers that Peanut had been hatching baby chicks. The Sergeant tells Lester to start training them, because he never wants to go out without a pigeon again!

Appearing in Haunted Tank: "Stand-Off on the Sahara!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

  • Captain J.J. Jamison "Skipper"
  • American radio operator

Locations:

Items:

  • Flare gun
  • German light howitzer cannon

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Panzerkampfwagen II tank
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV tank
  • German Maultier half-track truck

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "Stand-Off on the Sahara!"

Word has reached the crew of the Haunted Tank that General Erwin Rommel has been reported directing his Panzers from multiple positions - his staff car, a mobile HQ, a plane, and even one of his own Panzers, all at the same time. General J.E.B. Stuart, the ghost of Lt. Stuart's ancestor, appears are warns Jeb not to be fooled by the reports. Rommel is only flesh and blood, just like the lieutenant. As the Haunted Tank continues its patrol through the desert, the heat begins to take its toll on the crew inside. With only a few drops of water left in their canteens, their goal is to reach the El Hammet Oasis. Relief comes in the form of action, as a Panzer appears on a collision course with them. Wasting no time, Rick immediately fires at the enemy tank, derailing it.

Far into the night, the Haunted Tank's radio intercepts a constant stream of messages from all over the desert, transmitted by an unseen foe in German. In the dark, Jeb hears something approaching from the rear of them and, after ordering Rick to turn the turret around, send up a flare. In the light of the flare they can see another Panzer sneaking up on them. Rick fires quickly before the enemy can get a shot, destroying the Panzer. All through the night, the Haunted Tank rolls across the desert littered with the casualties of the enemy's fury. As the sun come up over the desert, they are nearly ambushed by a hidden German .88 cannon and its crew. The cannon is quickly taken out, the enemy soldiers killed.

Upon reaching the area of the El Hammet Oasis, Jeb orders the Haunted Tank to stop in a secure location a distance away from the oasis. He tells the others to take it easy, then grabs the water cans and canteens and walks the rest of the way. At the oasis, Jeb is filling the cans with water when he hears a German patrol sneaking up behind him. He unholsters his pistol, then spins around and shoot them. About a half hour later, Jeb returns with the water only to find that the Haunted Tank and her crew are gone! He guesses that they could have been captured, given the amount of German activity in the area, and begins to follow the tank tracks in the sand. Unfortunately ha has to abandon the water cans and canteens in the process as the extra weight begins to slow him down. It is not long before he finds his tank, under guard by two German soldiers. The others of his crew are within a German half-track, prisoners. Jeb sneaks up from behind one soldier and pistol whips him across the head. The second guard gets his neck snapped. Inside the half-track, the German commander tries to negotiate the whereabouts of the American headquarters with the Haunted Tank crew for glasses of water. They refuse, giving only their names, ranks, and serial numbers. Then, Jeb bursts into the truck with pistol at ready. But it is a stalemate. While Jeb has the Commander's life at his hand, the Commander's guard has his rifles aimed directly at Jeb's back. The two leaders make a deal, the Haunted Tank crew's freedom for the Commander's life. Jeb agrees, and the four quickly get back into their tank and speed off before anything else can happen.

Back at HQ, Jeb rushes into Skipper's tent to tell him what happened, but Skipper hushes him so he can listen in on some extraordinary messages coming over the radio. It seems that General Rommel had almost been captured in his own truck, by a single soldier! Had that soldier been successful, it could have changed the whole course of the desert war in the American's favor. Skipper then asks Jeb what he wanted, but the lieutenant decides it would be best to keep their adventure to himself.

Appearing in "The Other Side of War"

Featured Characters:

  • Private Johnny Bryans

Supporting Characters:

  • American Marine sergeant

Villains:

  • Viet Cong soldier (Dies)

Other Characters:

  • American Marines
  • American Huey crew (All die)

Locations:

Items:

  • Claymore mines
  • M26 grenade
  • Canteen

Vehicles:

  • American Bell UH-1 "Huey" transport helicopter
  • American Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber

Synopsis for "The Other Side of War"

It's Private Johnny Bryan's first patrol with Delta Company. Their mission is to lay claymore mines on the Ho Chi Minh trail used by the Viet Congs. They are dropped off and deployed in an open field, and just as the chopper begins to lift off it destroyed by enemy fire. Johnny is stunned by the explosion, but the Sarge tells not to worry and keep moving. The company head for the cover of the jungle which closes in around them. The men are unable to see a thing in the thick jungle, and the enemy surprises them from under camouflage. Many in the company are killed in the first barrage of bullets. The Sarge orders his men to "frag 'em", throwing fragmentation grenades into the brush towards the direction of enemy fire. Then, and explosion hits right in the middle of the company, killing many more of the men and knocking Johnny to the ground.

When Johnny comes to, he finds himself at the end of the barrel belonging to a young female Viet Cong soldier. She tells him that everyone in his company is dead, and that he is now her prisoner. She orders him to walk, keeping her rifle to bear on him at all times. After a long walk through the hot jungle, they stop for a rest and the woman offers Johnny her canteen to drink. Suddenly, they spot a B-52 bomber appear above them, flying over and dropping its bombs on their location. Johnny screams to hit the dirt, throwing his body on top of the young woman to shield her from the explosion and debris. The cling to each other, sharing the same agonizing breath, and the ground around them explodes in hellish flame. Finally, the B-52 finishes it's daily drop and the jungle becomes silent once again. Johnny and the Viet Cong woman get up, and Johnny then notices that he is wounded in the arm. The woman is surprised that Johnny risked his life and even spilled his own blood to protect her. She smiles at him, realizing that he is no "devil" and lets him go free. But just as the woman begins to walk away, the Sarge and his men appear from nowhere out of the jungle. The Sarge spots her and immediately fires, killing the woman before Johnny can stop him. Johnny is furious, attacking the Sarge like a wild man. The others pulls Johnny off of Sarge, believing that the ambush has made him flip and that he can't tell the difference between friend or foe. But Johnny can tell. Cradling the woman's dead body in his arms, he sees her not as an enemy, but as a human being.

Appearing in Haunted Tank: "Traitor Tank"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • German Panzer commander (Dies)
  • German Artillery soldiers (All die)

Other Characters:

  • American Military police officer "Charles"
  • American Infantry soldiers
  • American Military Police

Locations:

Items:

  • M1 bazooka

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Sturmpanzer IV tanks
  • German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter aircraft
  • American Willys MB Jeep

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "Traitor Tank"

The Haunted Tank slowly rolls through the dense fog towards a group of G.I.s known as "Dog" Company, who have been pinned down and trapped by the Germans. Unknown to the G.I.s, the Haunted Tank is a decoy, loaded with explosives, followed by three German Panzers. The German commander warns Jeb that their tank is booby-trapped, and if he so much as cries out to warn anyone they will be blown to bits by remote control. Jeb is powerless, caught between saving himself and his crew, and the G.I.s ahead of them. The ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart appears before him out of the fog, but offers him little help. His ancestor tells him that it's a command decision, and he's in command.

Jeb thinks back to how they managed to get into this mess. It all started with a letter the Rick received - a "Dear John" letter informing him that his girlfriend back home has found someone else closer and wants to break up. Rick had went into town, but in his grief picked a fight with a couple of MPs. Rick is arrested for disorderly conduct. The Haunted Tank has been given new orders for their patrol, and Jeb arrives just as the MPs are escorting Rick to their jeep. Jeb explains that he needs Rick for their patrol, and without thinking of the consequences punches the first MP in the jaw. Rick follows, taking out the second MP holding him. Jeb and Rick run off before anything else can happen. Back on board the tank, Rick apologizes for getting Jeb into trouble, but Jeb tells him not to worry about it. They'll deal with the court-martial later.

Some time later, the tank is attacked by a German fighter plane. Slim gives the tank full gas and heads for cover, while Rick and Gus try to nail the plane with their firepower. The plane turns to make another pass at them. Rick takes careful aim, pretending that the pilot of the plane is the man who stole his girl. He shoots the plane dead center, sending it spiraling down into the trees. They get out of the area as quick as possible in case the pilot was able to radio for help. But then, shells explode around them, releasing gas that knocks out Jeb and his crew.

Jeb and the others come to later to find themselves under siege by three Panzer tanks. Their commander informs them that the Haunted Tank is booby-trapped, and that they have been completely disarmed. Jeb follows the German commander's orders, buying time until their chance to strike back. Slim steers the Haunted Tank down the road, followed closely by the three Panzers, towards the position of "Dog" Company. Jeb desperately tries to think of a way out, and the General's ghost appears again to tell him that he's in command and it's his decision. Jeb then makes a split-second decision. Slim slams the tank into full reverse, sending it heading back at full speed towards the lead Panzer. The German commander can't fire onto the tank because of the explosives inside, and the Haunted Tank slams into the front of the lead Panzer. Upon contact, Jeb leaps onto the German's tank and attacks the Commander. He grabs the man's pistol and fires into the tank, killing the Panzer's crew. Slim, Rick and Gus quickly climb aboard the Panzer and take control before the other two Panzer's can react. Rick fires the cannon, taking out one of the Panzers. Unable to get their turret around in time, the final Panzer has moves up in position to destroy them. Then, the final Panzer explodes in a burst of flame and debris! Jeb is stunned when, as the smoke clears, he can see an American jeep from behind armed with a bazooka to save the day. The jeep pulls up next to him, and the two MPs that Jeb and Rick had fought with earlier get out and approach them. Jeb surrenders, but the MPs just laugh and tell them to forget it. After seeing how they fight, they can do more damage up front to the Germans than under arrest in the stockade. Besides, one of the MPs had recently gotten a "Dear John" letter himself, and knows how it can make a man crazy!

Notes

  • Page 45 contains a one page "Famous Fighting Outfits" profile on the 82nd Airborne Division, the "All-American 82nd", from their early days stationed out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina through their relief by Canadian troops at the end of World War II. Written by Murray Boltinoff.

Trivia

  • In this issues "Let's Make Tracks" letter page, there is a short true story of a soldier who couldn't hit any target who, when told to "go shoot himself", came back unharmed because "he missed again".



See Also


Recommended Reading


Links and References

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