- At 12:24 06-09-1999 PDT, you wrote:
>I'm curious about the rust inhibitor cosmoline and its application toHi Bill,
>armored vehicles. In November 1943 the 741st Tk Bn received new light and
>medium tanks from the Ordnance depot at Tidworth, Wiltshire. Cosmoline was
>present on all the vehicles. It was supposedly a stubborn task to remove
>it. Do you know how it was applied to tanks? Was it only on certain
>components? How was it removed? Gasoline?
>I've seen cosmoline on rifles, pistols, etc. As I recall, it was yellowish
>in color with a rubbery texture. It appeared to be petroleum based.
I've sent your question on to the Sherman Register mailing list.
As far as I know cosmoline is brownish, sticky and very stubborn to remove.
Gasoline sounds like a good solvent, although I have never removed it myself.
Before overseas shipping, tanks were sealed to minimise the ingress of salt
seawater. Early in the war it was quickly learned that shipping vehicles
unprepared meant a lot of work (sometimes a rebuild) to make them fit for
service again. The extra time and money spent on preservative and removing
it on the receiving end seemed worth the trouble.
Photos I've seen show every aperture sealed with tape and what must be
cosmoline. Road wheel bearing caps and other nooks and crannies in which
salt water can wreak havoc seem to have been covered as well.
- Hello Hanno!
Most of the cosmoline used on US Army vehicles depended upon what the purpose
of things was. They generally used it only on bare metal parts which would be
exposed to the elements for a given length of time. The Loza book on the Red
Army's Shermans cites the muzzles and breeches being sealed with cosmoline
and grease in the bore, along with a convention bottle or two of whiskey for
the Lend-Leazu boys!
Once it has been on for several years, it is the very devil to get off, and
most places use airplane dope thinner as a stripper to get rid of it. That,
steel wool, and elbow grease in great amounts are needed to get it off. Not
sure about those which were only sealed for a short period of time.
- Here's page 24 of the M74 manual, I assume the rust-preventive compound is
c. Clean armament parts coated with rust-preventive com-
(1) These parts, when received from storage coated with
rust-preventive compound, should be thoroughly cleaned
with waste, wiping cloths, or a brush saturated with
mineral spirits, paint thinner or one part of grease-
cleaning compound to four parts mineral spirits paint
thinner. After complete removal of the compound, lubri-
cate as specified in the lubrication order LO 9 - 7402.
(2) Component parts of each weapon should be cleaned
separately where practicable. Although like parts are
interchangeable, the parts originally assembled work
d. Whenever practicable, the vehicle crew will assist in the
performance of these services.
I have only removed cosmoline from carbine and M1 rifle parts and it is
difficult and time consuming to remove. Many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs,
and old tooth brushes were used up trying to get the stuff off.
However, I was reminded I heard a cosmoline/tank story back in 1961 from
Captain Bill Cotton, US Army, Corps of Engineers when hes was in charge of
the 557th Technical Intelligence Collection Detachment. He told me that when
he was stationed in Germany in the early 1950's his base received a shipment
of brand new tanks on rail flat cars. There were 25 tanks on the flat cars
but only documents for 24. The person in charge took the tank with no papers
out into the forest dug a deep hole with a bulldozer and buried the "lost"
tank. The military thinking was it would cause the person in charge too much
paperwork to clear up the problem. Today, 47 years later, if anyone could
find the buried tank it would be good test of cosmoline. I ran into Captain
Cotton again at Ft. Lewis, Washington, (4th Division) in 1963 in the
officer's club and he was telling the same story to a bunch new Engineer 2nd
Lts. I never knew if it was an urban legend or a real event.
- Cookie, Joe and Rich,
thank for your replies on this matter! I have passed them on to Bill
Warnock. He's writing a book on the 741st Tk Bn.
The Sherman DDs they lost off the Normandy beaches were not well enough
covered in cosmolene, since a couple of them are now rusted (but beautiful!)
hulks in a French museum. Guess I'll have to go to Germany to see find out
if cosmolene is really a durable preservative...