War Thunder

M5A1 ‘Bear of Kinmen’

warthunder 2 - M5A1 'Bear of Kinmen'

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M5A1 №66

Bear of Kinmen is a nickname for M5A1 Stuarts of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Regiment of the Twelfth Corps of the
Republic of China Army. I would suggest one of them, №66, as a premium at battle rating 2.3, and to make it a bit more unique, it could have special decals / markings on it, the number 66 on the side, as well as the ROC roundel on the side of the turret, and on the front hull. Alternatively, include multiple camouflages with different units, like №64 or №65. I also think it would be nice to include this tank in game, as the gunner of №66, Xiong Zhenqiu, died last December at the age of 90.


Despite the retreat to Taiwan by the Republic of China, the ROC still held on to the Kinmen and Matsu islands off the coast of Fujian province. The People's Liberation Army saw these islands as essential in order to invade Taiwan, to finally end the Civil War. Their plan was to take Kinmen by attacking from Aotou, Dadeng, and Lianhe, by launching an advance force of 9,000 men, then to be followed up by a further 10,000 men to take the island in about 3 days. The reason for this estimate is the island was thought to be defended by only 2 ROC divisions.

But the ROC forces were expecting an attack here, and as such fortifications began to be built on the island. In October of 1949, 7,455 landmines were laid, with 200 earthen bunkers built on the shores of Kinmen, as well as several anti-amphibious landing beach obstacles. Reinforcing the garrison on the island were 22 M5A1 Stuarts of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Tank Regiment, veterans of the Burma campaign in World War II, combat proven infantry, and supplies from the 12 Army.

During the afternoon on October 24th, M5A1 №66 was engaging in anti-invasion exercises with the garrison, when it got stuck in a soft patch of sand, intending to return to the company bivouac. This tank was commanded by 1st Lieutenant Yang Chan. Multiple attempts to free it were tried, but all failed. Yang headed to Tingpao to get help. At 3 AM, he returned, bringing an unditching ramp and some leftover rations. This was rather unfortunate timing to be stuck, as that very morning, the PLA launched their attack on Kinmen via an armada of wooden boats.


Due to the crudeness of their craft, plus choppy weather and seas, many PLA vessels ended up at Guningtou instead of Longkou. A barrage of artillery opened up from the opposite shore, sending shrapnel everywhere around M5A1 №64, №65, and the stuck №66, as well as some 200 Youth Army troops. Once the barrage ended, communist forces from PLA Regiment 144 began landing, and 1st Lieutenant Yang Chan ordered №64 and №65 to line up around №66 and face the shoreline.

Once they had done so, they all opened fire on the landing PLA forces. Sergeant Xiong Zhenqiu, the gunner of №66, managed to hit a PLA ship's mast, the high heat of the shell igniting the grease covered sails, which then spread to other ships due to the breeze. The Youth Army members in nearby bunkers opened up as well, and with the tanks, would mow down dozens of PLA infantry over the next hour, fending off repeated assaults against infantry armed with grenades or demolition charges. The interesting part is the spot №66 had broken down in was perfectly aligned to defend the town of Qionglin and the high ground at Guanyinting Hill, which, if captured, could allow the PLA to split the island in two.


During the initial invasion, an ROC tank landing ship just happened to be nearby. It had intended to leave the previous day, but was in the midst of a peanut oil smuggling operation, and devastated PLA infantry trying to land with 20mm and 40mm cannons. These two little 'accidents' ended up significantly helping the ROC maintain its independence during and after the war.

Unfortunately, during the fire fight, driver Tseng Shao-lin of the immobilized №66 was killed by a hail of bullets after firing outside the tank at an enemy infantry squad coming with demolition charges, the first casualty of the tank unit. Other tank units on the island also held back the attack, using their entire tank as an improvised road roller to crush PLA infantry when they ran out of ammunition, and ultimately the battle ended with all PLA infantry who had landed on the island captured or killed, and a massive morale boost for the ROC. The pivotal role the M5A1s had played earned them the name 'Bear of Kinmen' by ROC troops.

Chang Kai-shek inspecting M5A1s after the battle.


Former crewmen of the M5A1s at Guningtou, all of these men still knew how to operate the tank at the time of this picture.

M5A1 №64






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