It was during the winter of 2009 when Angelo Salvadore discovered what would become his newest project. While in a conversation with Herman Morrill of Hubbardston, Mass., Angelo shared stories about his hobby of restoring older vehicles.
Herman told Angelo that he had an “older military jeep” in his backyard and would be willing to give it to him if he was interested. Upon seeing the Jeep, Angelo recognized it as a “military cannon jeep.” Upon further investigation, it was revealed to be a 1952 M38A1C Jeep. This particular jeep was rare to “find in whole”—most of were cut into pieces with a torch and scrapped. Without hesitation, Angelo decided to take on this restoration.
In May 2010, Angelo pulled the Jeep out of Herman’s back yard and went to work. He had one goal in mind: Drive it in the 2011 Memorial Day parade in his hometown of Barre. He planned a complete frame-off, rotisserie restoration. He planned to completely restore the Jeep to full 1952 functionality.
ABOUT THE M381AC
The battle against armor during WWII led to some frustrating conditions and also for a need of a weapon to counteract these vehicles. These conditions gave birth to the small hand-shoulder or tripod mounted weapon known as the recoilless rifle.
These small, but lethal, weapons gave the necessary edge the foot soldier needed to hold his ground. Among these weapons were the M18 (57mmm) the M20 (75mm) and the M27 (105mm) – each weapon increasing in velocity and range as the war progressed.
Later, a .50 caliber rifle was added to insure the first round hit. The M40s were used for many years and can still be seen in many countries especially the Middle East.
Angelo worked on it just about every night from 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Gathering parts for the restoration from all over the world on eBay. He found a company Wee Bee Webbing out of Richmond, Ohio, that stitched the original seats for these 1952 Jeeps, and are still in business and making seats for modern military vehicles today.
The 106mm cannon came from Brent Mullins in Texas that had it in three pieces. They welded together and sent it out. The casings and shells for the cannon were purchased from an Army & Navy store in Pennsylvania.
As for the engine, Angelo completely disassembled and rebuilt it. The rebuild consisted of using new 20-over pistons, rings and bearings to make the 4-cylinder Hercules engine run like new.
Angelo completed the restoration by himself with the exclusion of the paint work, where he employed his own body shop “Salvadore Auto Body,” but he carefully supervised the work.
After many hours, Angelo was able to meet his goal and take the M38A1C on its maiden voyage at the 2011 Memorial Day Parade — he couldn’t have been happier!
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