Craggie Farms | Military Collectors Season 2

November 9, 2019

– This week on Military Collectors we’re moving
out to to Central Florida, Craggie Farms, a good friend of mine is a re-enactor from
World War II, a famed armor battle, it’s all about Allied and Axis powers this week on
Military Collectors. [music] [gun fire] [tank engine noise] – [commander] Cease fire! – [Soldier] All clear. [Solider With Bag] All Clear! All clear! Folks, on Military Collectors this week we
are in Central Florida at a World War II Reenactment Facility. This is going to be an awesome program. We’ve got the commander of troops, he’s gonna
join me as soon as he gets off his tank, but what you see today is World War II history
reenacted right here by the commander of troops, Rabbi Rob Thomas. It is a show I know you’re not gonna wanna
miss. We’re gonna talk to Rob as soon as he jumps
off his track, follow me, let’s go see how it’s done. Folks, joining me today is the commander of
troops, Rabbi Rob Thomas, right here at the Central Florida World War II Reenactment Facility. This guy, not only is he an avid collector,
all these toys are his, how would you like to have this as your playground? Man, what a, what a, ah! I just can’t tell you, this is awesome! It’s hot, it’s just like it oughta be, okay,
takes me back to my days, but Rob, listen, welcome to Military Collectors this week. Thank you very much. Listen, you guys have got a great show that
you put on here. This is just a wonderful facility. Tell me about all the things that you do and
how you do it real quick. Well for us it’s all about preserving history. The men in machines, World War II armor, were
brave and they were victorious. By the end of the war, they had killed more
German tanks than German tanks had killed of us, and that was because of their adaptability. As you know, you’re a military man, assess,
adapt, and overcome. We still do that today, keeping 70-year-old
beasts running is no easy task, but thanks to all the volunteers and full-time staff
here, we’re able to do it, we bring it all across the country. You want us there, and you’ve got room for
us to run, and you don’t care about your lawn? We’re there. Well listen, I’m looking forward to seeing
the rest of the collection with that, folks our commander of troops, my host today, Rabbi
Rob Thomas, right here at the World War II Training Facility, stay tuned, when we come
back we’re gonna talk more about what this guy’s got on station, and his toys that he
loves to play with. – [Announcer] Stay tuned, when Military Collectors
returns, we take a look at the collection of World War II tanks that Rob Thomas has
collected and why it’s important for him to preserve this part of American military history. If you have missed any past episodes of Military
Collectors, be sue to go online, at, and you can see not only past episodes but
also read in depth features on the people on their passion on their military collections. We’re back with commander of troops, Rabbi
Rob Thomas. But before we go down and talk about his collection
of great armor vehicles in this segment, we gotta talk just a little bit about what we
saw in the battle, in the reenactment. You know Rob, I tell ya what, walk us through
just a little bit about that tremendous battle that we saw today because it’s just fantastic,
you guys do such a great job. Well thank you very much. So what we try to do is recreate the tactics
of the time. What you saw was combined arms at it’s finest,
the infantry leads the way, they make the breakthrough, they find contact, they then
call in the armor to clean up the mess. We’re always cleaning up the mess. Once we take the position, they then move
forward and repeat. It’s exactly how they did it in World War
II, it’s exactly how we train to do it, and so when people see us, they see a historically
accurate representation of the time. Well, Rob I will just tell ya, my hat’s off
to you guys okay, but I’ve got to talk about your collection and I’ve gotta talk about
your passion and I know, thank you again for your service to our country, but I have to
ask this loaded question. How does a guy from the Navy get into armor? Okay, give me a little bit of background about
you and this passion that you’ve come to grow into. So I joined the Navy as a hospital corpsman,
thought I’d be in air-conditioned hospitals, and they sent me to be with the Marines. Once you get the green in your blood, you
never lose it do you? And I decided I wanted to have a World War
II Thompson, once I had the Thompson I knew I had to have a Jeep, once I had a Jeep I
knew I needed to have a heavy machine gun, and you know the long and short of it, Bob,
is I have the world’s most patient and understanding wife. You know, I have one of those too, my collection
is not as vast as yours, but what I get away with is probably all I’m to do, but listen,
let’s talk armor now okay because again, armor during World War II was just one of those
significant historical pieces of equipment. At the front end of the war we really weren’t
prepared for what we were about to see in North Africa, as you well know, but this has
turned out to be I know a passion that you have and a big part of your reenactments. Let’s talk about, and we’ll just go down the
line– Certainly. Let’s talk about your collection here. So what we have here is a M5 Stuart, this
one actually began as a high speed tractor. It did see action in World War II, but as
a tractor. The previous owner then made a replica M5
Stuart out of that chassis. – [Bob] Oh wow. – [Rob] The M5 Stuart was a reconnaissance
tank, it was a light tank, very light gun and it’s job was to figure out where the enemy
was and let the bigger boys know so they could take care of it. – [Bob] So he would shoot and run back and
say, hey– – [Rob] Shoot and scoot! – [Bob] There ya go, okay. Well let’s talk about the next one here we
saw today. This is the M18 Hellcat Gun Motor Carriage
tank destroyer. This is the fastest tracked vehicle ever made,
it will beat an Abrams. In World War II in a test track, it was clocked
at 74 miles an hour, it regularly hit 50 miles an hour out in the field. This is a tank destroyer, it’s job is to find
the German armor, or listen to the Stuart tell us where it is, and take it out. Later in the war it was used as an infantry
support tank, because it had an excellent gun for that purpose, very high speed. It’s very lightly armored, but then it was
never supposed to go up against the armor directly, it was supposed to sit back, shoot
and scoot like a sniper. Well look, before we go on to see the rest
of these folks, okay as a collector, where did you find this stuff? Okay I mean, and not revealing any secrets
but I mean, this is not for the weak hearted here nor light pocketbook either because this
is a big deal. These are rare and they are expensive. I’ll tell you right now, if you’re thinking
about getting into collecting these, the price you pay after you buy it is the higher price. It takes a lot to keep these running, it takes
a lot to find one that is already running, or at least running enough. When we get ’em, there’s usually six to twelve
things seriously wrong with them. We then bring them back up in our shop, so
that they’re ready for the field. Our goal is that they operate as they would’ve
operated in World War II. So they do all the things they could do in
World War II, and nothing shy of it. So you don’t swap out the power packs, so
you try to keep the original engines and all those main components of the dry frame. Everything you see is original and fully functional. Now, finding these. Here in the United States, overseas, or just
all around the world? All around the world, I’ve bought about half
in the United States and the other half I’ve bought overseas. It’s mostly other collectors getting out of
the business. Your onesie-twosies or even large collections. Wow. It’s a small community as you can imagine. It is. So they’ll ring me up and say, “Hey Rabbi,
I’ve been thinking of selling my Sherman tank,” and then off it goes from there. Oh my goodness, well let’s– we gotta get
down to the next one. Okay now this is yours, you must be partial
to this one because again this is the commander’s track. This is the commander’s track. This is my favorite in the collection. This is an M4A1 Sherman tank, it is this main
tank of World War II for all the Allied forces, frankly. It’s an excellent tank, it gets besmirched
a little bit, and I find that personally offensive. So I’m gonna tell you a couple of key things. First off, at the end of the war, the kill
ratio between German and American armor was 2.75:1. For every 1 American tank or tank destroyer
lost in the war, the Germans lost 2.75. Right. When one of these was hit, on average 1.1
crewman became a casualty and of course that’s tragic. The German’s lost crew at eight times that
rate. This was a surviveable tank, it was a reliable
tank. It was operational 89.6% of the time, the
German’s best was 60%. Well you know Rob, again, I know you’re partial
to this vehicle here because you look great! And it feels great! You’re just like a commander oughta be. You know, one of the things that’s key about
collecting, is again, is the family that you create, and you’ve got a wonderful family. Thank you. This whole team here, I know you’re just so
proud of them, and they’re all volunteers, but my hat’s off to you on this armor collection. Thank you very much Bob. And with that folks listen stay tuned, when
we come back, we’re gonna see more of this great collection, and we’re gonna look at
his World War II wheeled vehicle collection so stay tuned, won’t ya? Well we’re back, and Rob Thomas has really done a gentleman’s job
with showing us around the compound here, and now we’re gonna talk wheeled vehicle collection. I first have to let all the people know, of
all the vehicles that you have, how many do you have in your collection? Now, I guess that would be running and non-running? Yes, there are a couple that are being restored
right now, and various degrees of restoration, but I’d say the total is about 25. Wow, Rob that is a tremendous, well it’s just
a tremendous on-taking, I mean the upkeep and of course I’m talking to the choir here,
my little minuscule collection’s nothing compared to this, but you put it to great use. The wheeled vehicle collection, let’s talk
just a little bit about these because these are integral parts not only to the reenactment
but to moving the troops. That’s absolutely correct. During World War II, for every combat soldier
there was between six and twelve people behind the lines making it possible for the war fighter
to get the job done. There is no such thing as being ashamed of
being in the rear with the gear. Without the gear we don’t get anything done. So the CCKW truck here was a troop carrier,
a weapon carrier, ammo carrier. This thing was what made the Red Ball Express
and those fine drivers possible. This is what kept us supplied through Europe
and beyond. Now listen, I haven’t rode in those for real
but I’ve rode in the back of one. Let’s move over, let’s talk about this hummer
here because this is probably one of the more famous pieces that you see in every war movie
or whatever. Tell us about the half-track. Actually this is an M3 White scout car, this
is the predecessor to that halftrack. Okay. This is a reconnaissance car, so they would
put a .50 cal up top, and a .30 cal in the back, and send this out to find out where
the enemy had gone, and where he would be found. The troops loved this vehicle. Very lightly armored, however, so a bit risky
to them, but for off roading it’s the best vehicle that I have. Well, yeah, I mean gosh. You know, when the troops ride it’s always
a good day. Yes it is. So let’s talk about this one now. So this is the M20 armored utility car, this
is what replaced the M3. Okay. So this is a six tire, three axle vehicle,
it can be 6 x 6 drive, the idea was it’s a little more heavily armored, you put a .50
cal up top and in theory it would go places that the M3 would not. In practice, this was actually not a superior
vehicle. Off roading was better in the M3, but on road
this could do 50 miles an hour all day long. Oh yeah, okay. Alright now, let’s move to the next one! This is a Dodge WC63, it’s a 63 because it
has three axles, can do 6 x 6, and it has a wench in the front to pull itself or other
vehicles out of the muck. Again, this was used to carry troops or supplies
to and from the battle. They also would force them into service as
ambulances if necessary. I gotcha. This is a great specimen here, okay. You know, part of the whole thing about having
a collection and having the passion for it is restoring them back to what they’re supposed
to be, and you’ve done just a tremendous job. Thank you. Okay, now let’s move to the half-track. Now this is a half-track. This is the iconic vehicle, along with a Sherman
tank I suppose, of World War II. This is an M3 half-track, it was designed
to bring troops out to the field of battle, and provide them just a little bit of cover. Really, it’s function was to keep up with
the tanks. Whether you put the troops in when you need
them to stay with the tanks, they settle on the half-track ultimately. So there’s a door in the rear the troops could
come out of. Again, they would mount a .50 cal machine
gun and maybe others, carry additional supplies and ammo, bring wounded soldiers out of the
line of fire, they would use these for that as well. Well listen, I have to ask you this because
again, reenactment is your business, and what I wanna do is I wanna let everybody know out
there you attend four or so many shows a year, at least four around the country, to showcase
not only your collection but your team. If folks would like to reach out to you, see
these beautiful vehicles on the web and that sort of thing, how can they do that? They should reach out through Facebook, we
are or reach out to us by email [email protected] We are always looking
for more armor friendly World War II events, this is what we love to do, we have a passion
for it, so please invite us to your next event, we’d like to be there! Well I know you would, and folks listen, log
onto and you’ll find this young man right there with all of his
great collection here and he is one of those special guys with a passion, and that’s what
Military Collectors is all about. Thank you my friend. Thank you. Oh man, I’ve just gotta walk down one more
time. Let’s take a look one more time at all this
great collection. – [Announcer] If you have missed any past
episodes of Military Collectors, be sure to go online at and
you can see not only past episodes, but also read in depth features on the people and their
passion of their military collections. Our email note this week comes from Charles in
Kansas City, Missouri. Charles wants to know what is the world’s
most rarest existing World War II aircraft? Well Charles, this is gonna be a surprise
to most. The rarest World War II aircraft is the Japanese
Aichi M6A Seiran. There’s one still in existence at the National
Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. It’s an odd aircraft, the only attack float
plane designed specifically to operate from an I-400-class submarine. The Aichi M6A Seiran, clear sky, storm, or
mist on a fair day, was a submarine launched attack float plane designed for the Imperial
Japanese Navy during World War II. The first production examples of the Seiran
were completed in October of 1944. It was intended to operate from the I-400-class
submarine, whose original mission was to conduct aerial attacks against the United States. A single M6A1 has been preserved and resides
in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.. The Seiran was surrendered to an American
occupation group by an Imperial Japanese Lieutenant who ferried it from Fukuyama to Yokosuka. The U.S. Navy donated it to the Smithsonian
in 1962. Restoration work on the Seiran began in June
of 1989 and was completed in February 2000. Charles, thanks for your note, I hope that’s
answered your question, and keep those email notes to the front lines coming. – [Announcer] If you would like to have your
military restoration project or collectible featured on the show, just send an email with
your photos to [email protected] Well that’s our episode this week of Military
Collectors, I gotta thank you my friend. Thank you, Bob. Rob, this is such an awesome group. My hat’s off to you, not only for the reenactment
for history, but for your service to our country, what you’re doing now to show all these kids
what World War II was all about and what service to our country is about. So thank you for having us down here, this
has been an awesome program. Thank you Bob and Semper Fi. You bet man, take care. God bless ya. Alright guys, wage it on. Woo! Yeah man!

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