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Mining Review 1/7: New Look For Tanks (1948)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The commentary doubles as a synopsis, and has therefore been reproduced in full:

Sherman tanks proved their worth during the war, but the war's been over for some time - or has it? What happens to these old tanks?

Here's a dump of eighty Shermans in Staffordshire. Someone has thought up a new use for them. A tank is picked out and driven into the adjoining factory. First of all, the tracks are shortened by oxy-acetylene cutters and the steel bodywork cut away. There are two engines in a Sherman - both are taken out. One of these is not going to be used. The other is thoroughly overhauled on the bench.

New parts are cut for the body. Here's a sideplate going into position. The whole body has been rebuilt and is spot-welded. Now the bogies are put back, and the welding team goes into action again. Now we're getting somewhere. There's a cabin for the driver. Wherever he's going, he'll be well protected!

The engine goes back - the one we saw being overhauled, remember? The coupling link secures it. The last nut is tightened, the driver gets the OK for the self-starter, and the mystery is solved. It's not a tank now, it's a tractor. But for special work. These tractors are used in open-cast mining to help shift the overburden so that the coal can be scooped up.

Many of these vehicles had an honourable record as tanks. Now, as tractors, they're fighting another battle - the battle for fuel. Open cast is one way of backing up the miner in the drive for more coal.

Not a bad way of beating swords into ploughshares.