Every Memorial Day the Fort Knox military base opens up their restricted areas for several hours to civilians to have access to the over one hundred cemeteries on the post. While the primary purpose of our trip was to check out the cemeteries, we ran across quite a few of these abandoned tanks along the sides of the road while we were driving.
While most of the public is familiar with Fort Knox as the location where the U.S. Treasury has their bullion depositary guarded, it is also a military base that housed the Armor School up until 2010. The road we were driving was right on the border of the area used for artillery and armor fire, which explains why the tanks were close by. While many of the tanks we passed did have more extensive damage, indicating they may have been used as hard targets, these tanks didn't display any signs that they were on the firing line. These tanks may have been used in recovery exercises, or their time may have never came to be used as targets.
The gallery below has been set up to look at each of the tanks individually so we can admire some of the details of their deterioration.
|This tank is an M60. It was the main battle tank of U.S. forces until it was replaced by the M1 Abrams. Its barrel is packed with dried dirt.|
|The dirt covering the tank has given way to weeds, a sort of natural camoflage.|
|Climbing on top of the tank we can see a small tree has taken root inside growing up through the opened hatch here. The smaller turret, visible behind the tree, would've held an M-85 50 caliber machine gun for use by the commander.|
|The floor boards are covered in dirt, and the tree appears to have grown under and around the front of the shell racks. Each one of these tubes would have held a 105mm shell for the main gun, the tank holding a total of around 60 shells.|
|A view of the rear of the turret, the open hatch on the cupola being visible. The thicker U-shaped piece of metal was a lifting hook, allowing for maintenance crews to lift the turret off the tank.|
|Looking into the hatch we can see what appears to be the only remaining seat in the tank, this one being for the tank commander. The breech of the gun is visible in the bottom right of the photo. Behind the tree trunk a periscope can be seen.|
|A final front view of this M-60. It is buried quite deeply in the dirt.|
|To the right of the M-60 featured above is what appears to be an M-47 Patton, an earlier vehicle not commonly seen anymore. This shot is actually from the rear of the tank, its turret being turned around a full 180 degrees.|
|Like the Patton, this M-60's turret is facing to the rear. The large rectangular box on the side of the tank is for storing tools and spare parts.|
|Notice what appears to be two .50 caliber hits here on the track's road wheels. This is really the only munition damage we spotted on all three tanks, and it was probably an accident.|
|The faint remains of an ID are visible in the picture, above the large rusted area. It is a white box, bordered in black with black letters. The four bolts, making a rectangular pattern, were for attaching another storage box.|
|A fourth tank, visible on the side of the road. It is an M-48 variant of some kind, with a larger than normal turret installed on it. It appears to have taken some small arms fire on the far side of the turret.|