151st Airborne Tank Company

The United States ordinance department received a request from the British to provide a light tank that could be delivered with airborne forces. The Marmon-Herrington Company designed a prototype and upon acceptance in 1943 delivered 830 tanks starting in April 1943 to the military. On August 15, 1943 the 151st Airborne Tank Company was formed utilizing personnel from the 20th Armored Division, the Armor School and the Demonstration Regiment. The company commander was Captain Arthur Cromillion and first Sergeant was George C. Norton. Captain Cromillion was transferred to the newly formed 28th Airborne Battalion and 1st Lt. Richard McCabe took over the 151st Airborne Tank Company. The purpose of the unit was to demonstrate the feasibility of an airborne tank unit supporting airborne infantry units that were typically lightly armed. Initial thought was to deploy the M22 with the vehicle hull slung under the fuselage of a C54 cargo plane with the turret inside. This was found to be impractical since it was time consuming and a C54 could not land on unprepared runways. There was no other way to deliver the vehicle to a battlefield using U.S. aircraft. Much testing of the vehicle was accomplished in 1943 and 1944 with several deficiencies noted; the vehicle was under powered and armor was very thin being easily defeated by 0.50 caliber armor piercing ammunition. Consequently the vehicle development lost interest amongst the Ordinance Department, Armor Board and Air Corps Bureaus. The 151st Airborne Company and 28th Airborne Battalion were eventually deactivated with members being absorbed by other units.

Figure 1 - 151st Airborne Tank Company Headquarters

Figure 2 - 151st Tank Company Training in the field. Notice the four M22 tanks in the background.

Figure 3 - 4th Platoon, 151st Tank Company with Lt. August F. Dreier seated

The following photo is a drawing of the M22 locust. It used a Lycombing O435T aircraft engine that was detuned to handle low octane gasoline. More technical detail can be found at M22 LIGHT TANK M22 LIGHT TANK "LOCUST"

Figure 4 - Drawing side view of M22

Figure 5 - Right rear view of an M22

Figure 6 - Left front view of an M22

Figure 7 - Upper right front view of an M22

Figure 8 - M22 Locust of the 151st Tank Company operating in training area (Reference: Veritas, Sacquety)

Figure 9 - M22 Locust named Bonnie and Crew

Figure 10 - Shoulder patch from the uniform of Lt. August F. Dreier

Figure 11 - Glider wings from the uniform of Lt. August F. Dreier

Copyright 1995 Charles C. Roberts, Jr