M60 A1 Army Tank
By David Meade – An M60 A1 Army tank located in Williamston’s Veterans Park was recently restored to original paint and marking specs of the equipment. The tank in the veterans park located off Gossett behind Mineral Spring Park had been painted camouflage for active duty service. The restored paint scheme is an olive drab green complete with a white star. Gordon Ponsford, of Ponsford Ltd. in Georgia, was in charge of the restore. “It reenergizes patriotism in the small communities these historic artifacts are located in,” Ponsford told The Journal while he was working on the project. “We are restoring the past for the future.”
BEFORE – Getting ready for new paint
Ponsford is currently restoring tanks and planes across South Carolina. His work is contracted with the US government and takes him across the US, Guam and Hawaii, restoring military displays like the one in Williamston.
Ponsford said restoring the historic equipment is a passion.
“Restoring anything historic is a passion for me,” he said.
Ponsford has worked on other restoration projects.
He has worked on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and on projects at the Smithsonian
He restored a Bible that belonged to Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, which was used for President Obama’s inauguration swearing in.
With the help of one assistant, the paint restoration on a project like the M60 tank takes about two days. It begins with a pressure wash and blow torch drying in specific areas to make sure the surface is dry and ready for paint. The next day a fresh coat of paint and final details are finished.
Ponsford, who just turned 58, said he has been doing this type work since he was eighteen years old.
He said when he was young he loved playing with and painting model tanks and planes. Now he is working on full size models.
“You know how when you are a kid you like to play with models of airplanes and tanks,” he said. “Well we still do. We never grew up.”
Projects like the one in Williamston take him across the country and into a lot of small towns. He said often a restoration is “big news” in some of the small towns and always brings renewed patriotism when residents and veterans see the final result.
The M60 is one of the world’s most successful main battle tanks with 15,000 having been produced and serving in the armies of 22 countries.
The tank has provided proven battlefield performance over four decades and has been continuously advanced and upgraded with advanced weapon control, ammunition, applique armor and increasingly powerful engines. The M60 series main battle tanks of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the USA were deployed in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 during the Gulf Crisis.
M60 tanks entered service with the US Army in 1960. The M60A1 with a new turret, thicker armor and a new ammunition storage system, was manufactured from 1962 to 1980.
Editor’s note: Less than a week after Ponsford completed his restoration project on the M60 tank in Williamston, it was vandalized with paint and a scratched surface.