Rare Locust tank designed for a World War II glider joins the collection at the Museum of American Armor

The M22 Locust, an American tank designed to be flown into combat during World War II onboard a massive wooden glider, has joined the collection of operational tanks at the Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Old Bethpage, New York.
“Few were built, fewer saw combat and still fewer survived into the 21st Century,” stated Museum Trustee Larry Trivigno, an executive with Bethpage Federal Credit Union. “While it failed to meet its potential in combat, this is a rare tank that sought to address the need for paratroopers to have armor support as soon as they landed in enemy territory.”
The Locust is one of many artifacts and exhibits that have been donated to the museum by the U.S. Military Museum of Danbury, Connecticut. The New England based institution closed its doors after twenty years of operation and gifted its contents to the Long Island museum as a means of sustaining its legacy.
Al Barto, who had served as secretary of the U.S. Military Museum, explained, “Development of the Locust began in 1941 after the British War Office requested that the American government design a light tank which could be transported by glider into battle to support British airborne forces. The company Marmon-Herrington designed and built a prototype, and by 1943, the British would receive 260 of the 830 that were ultimately built.”
Its initial combat debut quickly revealed its shortcomings. In March, 1945, the RAF flew eight Locusts in massive gliders over the Rhine and into battle. Several were damaged during landing and one was quickly knocked out by German fire. Only two Locusts were able to reach their planned rendezvous point and go into action. Drawing more fire from enemy guns and less able to defend airborne troops, they were forced to withdraw and await reinforcements from advancing British armor.
The Locust never saw active service with the British Army again and was classified as obsolete in 1946. A number of Locusts were used by foreign militaries in the post-war period, with the Egyptian Army using several Locusts during the 1948 Israel War for Independence.
Museum director Mark Renton observed, “This Locust is still operational but its power train is very fragile, so our plan will be to operate it on rare occasions or on anniversaries that mark the achievements of all Airborne troops in the defense of freedom.”
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children (5-12), seniors (60+), handicapped, volunteer firefighters (firefighters need to show ID).

 

 

For more information go to www.museumofamericanarmor.org or friend them on Facebook.