This M5A1 Stuart in Normandy is Actually a Replica - Tank Historia

This M5A1 Stuart in Normandy is Actually a Replica

Tanks from the Second World War are dotted all over the Normandy region of France, but this particular Stuart is not from the Second World War, nor is it armored. In fact, its not even a tank! It is actually a very, very good replica of an M5A1 Stuart light tank.

It is situated at the famous Dead Man’s Corner in Normandy, France and has become one of the many well known sites in the area. A main road runs just meters away from the Stuart, with most passers-by probably never realising that it is a completely fabricated static model.

Photos of this tank often come up in online tank circles too, showing that this replica is so good that even enthusiasts struggle to spot its true nature.

The back of the Stuart at Dead Man's Corner.
The replica is impressively accurate.

Contents

This Vehicle

The replica depicts an American M5A1 Stuart light tank of the 70th Armored Division that arrived on Utah beach on D-Day. It is a full-scale model with excellent attention to detail, enough to trick even eagle-eyed tank nuts.

It is constructed from thin steel, while areas that simulate cast components – such as the gun mantlet and hull machine gun ball mount – appear to be made from foam or a similar material.

Close view of the Stuart's mantlet.
The gun mantlet and periscopes help to identify this vehicle as a replica.

The running gear is very faithfully reproduced. Even up close it still resembles the real thing, particularly the suspension bogies. One thing that gives it away from a distance is the lack of volute springs within the bogies.

The tracks replicate the rubber-padded T16 type, but instead of rubber they are constructed from concrete and painted black. The end connectors and guide horns are another indicator that this Stuart is a replica, as they are made from thinner materials and have a less sturdy shape.

This Stuart is a static display piece only and does not run, and the tracks are not functional.

Replica Stuart running gear.
The replica running gear. The suspension bogies are particularly well done. The track pads are made of concrete.

It was designed and built by replica-maker Patrick Letouzé in his workshop in Pont-Farcy for the D-Day Experience museum in Saint Côme du Mont.

The project in total took most of a year to complete, with the construction alone taking 5 months. Letouzé designed the Stuart using many reference photos and archive documents. The replica arrived at the museum in 2016.

Prior to creating this Stuart, Letouzé’s work had focused on building replica wartime scooters.

Turret gap on the replica.
Just in case you are not convinced that is not a real tank, light can be seen between the hull and turret.

History

It is not by coincidence that an M5A1 Stuart was chosen for display outside the museum. Its location, known as Dead Man’s Corner, was an important strategic objective in the hours after the D-Day landings.

The corner is the meeting point between two key roads: the D974 that ran from Cherbourg to Paris through Carentan and the D913, which came from Utah beach. The building on this corner was a headquarters for German paratroopers in the area.

BANNER

Paratroopers linked up with tanks from Utah beach and advanced down the D913 towards Carentan. The lead tank, an M5A1 Stuart, was knocked out by a German anti-tank gun as it approached the corner.

The building at Dead Man's Corner.
The building on Dead Man’s Corner. Once used by German paratroopers as a headquarters and aid station.

This moment kick started a legend that continues to this day.

Due to the rush of D-Day there was no time to remove the crew that died inside the Stuart, so they were temporarily left in place. Its commander remained sitting up right in the turret.

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In the days after the landings the tank and its deceased crew became a landmark among Allied troops, who referred to the junction as “the corner with the tank with the dead man in it.” Over time this became Dead Man’s Corner, as we know it today.

Paratroopers next to the knocked out M5A1 Stuart at Dead Man's Corner.
US Paratroopers next to the actual M5A1 Stuart that was knocked out at Dead Man’s Corner. The replica is situated almost exactly in the same spot, but behind the fence on the left.

There is some debate on exactly which crewmen the “dead man” was; some say it was the driver while others say it was the commander. It is also often said that crewmen was slumped out of the vehicle for all to see. In reality though the “dead man” was most likely the commander, and he was probably inside the tank.

The M5A1 replica at Dead Man’s Corner today depicts this exact tank, with the same unit marks on the frontal lower hull.

Location

The M5A1 Stuart replica is located at the D-Day Experience at Dead Man’s Corner, a few minutes from Carentan to the south and Saint Côme du Mont to the north.

  • Its exact Google Maps coordinates are – 49.328555, -1.268571.

To find it, simply travel north out of Carentan along the D974 and you will see the tank and D-Day Experience museum directly ahead.

Alternatively, from the Utah beach and St Marie du Mont direction, head towards Carentan along the D913. After passing over the N13 you will find it on your right a few minutes down the road.

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The tank is also easily accessed from the N13, which has a nearby junction that takes you straight onto the D913.