The Legend of “Mighty Mouse”
“Mighty Mouse” started its “life” as an M-3 Stewart (light) Tank. It was one of 280 Stuarts that were part of the famous lend-lease program, originated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, to aid England in their on going battle with Nazi Germany. The Brits nicknamed the Stuart, “Honey”. It lacked heavy armor, and firepower, but, due to it’s speed and dependability, it fit right into their arsenal, between the Vickers and the Matilda. 84 of these were assigned to the now famous British 8th Army, in July of 1941.
“Mighty Mouse”, as it was later called by U.S. troops, was a survivor. When General Bernard Montgomery arrived on the scene in August of 1942, this particular Stewart/Honey had many miles, and a lot of desert on it. “Monty”, as he was known to his troops, was a General that believed it was a moral booster to be seen by his men, and most have heard of “Monty’s Humber”, with which he toured the “front”, but few know of the Humber’s predecessor, an American Light Tank, and why the reason for this was “hush-hush.
SAS, or Special Air Service, was famous, for among other things, it’s “raid on Rommel”, an attempt, though unsuccessful, to kidnap the famous German Field Marshall. A movie was made about it, in 1971, starring Richard Burton. Little is known about a similar raid made by U.S. Army Rangers, only this raid, by “Darby’s Rangers”, was successful, and garnished the 3rd Ranger Battalion quite a “trophy”, Monty’s personal recce vehicle, a “Honey”. While the “raid” was more or less a drunken foray by a handful of Rangers, it led to some embarrassing moments for both sides, and was decided that the whole “incident”, as well as the vehicle, be forgotten. And so, Monty’s Honey became “Mighty Mouse”, in the capable hands of Darby’s boys.
The Rangers were quick to put MM to good use. Their engineers removed the small gunned turret, and some of the hull top, then added some thin side armor, as they had seen on German Mk. IV’s. This gave them a much needed, and reliable, universal carrier of their own. As a rub on their allied friends, MM was left in British desert camouflage, popular early in the campaign. Mighty Mouse hauled, troops, supplies, and pulled artillery well into the Tunisian campaign, later having it’s side armor removed for more speed and versatility. While it took a few light arms hits, it never suffered any real damage. (some say a few were British made holes) After Tunisia it was returned to the states as a “war prize”, and spent time in the William O. Darby Museum, in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Occasionally it is cranked up for various displays and holidays, and enjoyed by the public.
And, for those who have read this far, the truth. This model was made for a “Wiffie” contest, using a Tamiya model. Due to unforeseen circumstances (Covid 19) the contest never came about. Half the contest was the completed model, the other half, the “back story”. I chose the Tamiya Stuart because I couldn’t see sacrificing an expensive Tamiya kit for this endeavor, and was able to purchase this one for $5 at a local vendor last year. The rest, as they say, is history, or at least an exaggerated form of it.
8 additional images. Click to enlarge.