Thunderbolt VI - US Armor & Vehicles | Gallery

Thunderbolt VI

a m4 sherman named Thunderbolt VI was under the command of Colonel Creighton Abrams (right) was the united states leading tank ace with at least 50 tank kills. he would later become a general in vietnam

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

The Colonel a tank "ace". Highly unlikely. He did command a tank Bn in the relief of Bastogne. But a tank ace as a Lt Col>?

One of the Thunderbolts was posted as a monument on my home station in Germany, as was Cobra-King, the lead Sherman (a Jumbo) in the breaking of the Bastogne encirclement. I believe that thunderbolt is still sitting at Vilseck Kaserne in Germany.Cobra-King is presently at Ft. Benning the new Armor museum. Gen. Abrams visited Germany in the early 70’s, and went to visit his old tank at Ferris Barracks while he was in town.

Gen. Abrams was considered to have been an elite armored commander. Whether he is a true “tank-ace,” I don’t know. I do know he led his tank(s) into combat and personally engaged and killed several panzers. He also was as responsible as anyone for the development of tactics to contend with the superior Panthers and Tigers in combat. I believe the number of kills, fifty, comes from Soviet/Russian sources…

He was a general before Vietnam, and in 1964 or so was one of four officers considered to lead U.S. forces in the Vietnamese War. Unfortunately, Gen. Westmorland was selected and it is considered to be one of the worst American senior military appointments ever made as Westmorland is generally considered not to have understood the political dimensions and realities of the war, and his basic strategy of thinly veiled “attrition” by use of massive firepower was a failure. Abrams took over after Tet in 1968, but by then the public opinion had turned against the war and the long, painful withdrawal had begun. Despite this, many saw the triumvirate of Gen. Abrams, CIA Station Chief Colby, and Ambassador Bunker as essentially defeating the Viet Cong/Nat’l Liberation Front insurgency aspect of the war and securing the vast majority of hamlets in South Vietnam and bringing the entire population under control of the hapless Saigon Gov’t. Abrams also oversaw Vietnamization, which should also have coincided with U.S. intervention in 1965, not 1969 and they made some inroads with the recreation of their militia into the ROPOS, or the Popular Forces (local village militias) and the Regional Forces (reorganized Civil Guard). Abrams fundamentally changed the onus from trying to kill as many Vietnamese communist forces as possible and “body count” to essentially preempting offensives by seizing the North Vietnamese caches of arms, equipment, and food and forcing U.S. commanders to stop the large scale “search and destroy” sweeps that telegraphed all intentions to the enemy in favor of small units conducting local security and patrolling over wider areas. They would then only operate as larger units to “pile on” the NVA/PVAN forces when found. This also allowed U.S. soldiers and marines to bond with the population rather than see them as some alien people of worthy only of mistrust and scorn…

The book “A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam” delves into all this. I think if Gen. Creighton Abrams had been app’t in 1965, before the “Saigon Press Conferences” so damaged the credibility of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, there might well still be a Republic of (South) Vietnam today. On the downside of that is of course we still would have a number of troops there…

The name of Abrams was given to the US.Army’s MBT M-1. Cheers, VS