Re: odd US military depressed center flat car
A little digging on the web page where the original photo was shown at:
gives a very nice history of the development of this series of tanks (although the translation is rough at times!).
As several folks have noted, this appears to be a T43 test vehicle and not an in service M103. The depressed center car was needed overseas because of tighter clearances.
Given that the T43 prototypes were sent from the Detroit Tank Arsenal to Aberdeen and Fort Knox for testing and with a weight of around 60 tons, these would have required an appropriate flat car for transport (probably NOT the overseas flat car in the photo). This sort of "rare" load may only appear a few times as the prototypes made the trip from factory to test facility and back to the factory (and perhaps back to the test facility after modifications), but it can be an excuse to "bump" era a bit... for example, I have an M26 Pershing model that I purchased before realizing it was too modern for me... however, the T26E1 is just about perfect to send to Aberdeen.
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMHWWIJ-e94 for a brief video of the T43 undergoing testing.
From: STMFC@... [STMFC@...]
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 12:48 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: odd US military depressed center flat car
I think you're right and this is a tank in its development and testing stage.
Of course, if that's the case the photo could date from anytime from the late 1940s through 1957-58 when the tank was deployed as the M103.
For a lot of details on the tank - see M103 Heavy Tank 1950-74 (New Vanguard)
Might be interesting to send the photo to the author and see if he can offer more details on the photo, which I'm sure he uncovered in his research for the book.
But don't get confused into thinking this was an "Army" tank - it was the mainstay of the Marines armored elements for two decades - the Army never really wanted the thing.