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This is personal trivia but here goes anyway.

Way back in the days before INET or Facebook games, before Xbox and PlayStation and before pc games I had a M4 Sherman tank model that we used in tabletop war-gaming (1970’s). The models were hand-painted or air-brushed and we used pictures of the real thing from WW2 to detail the models so they would look as realistic as possible.

M4 Sherman tank Battling Annie

M4 Sherman tank Battling Annie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was common for American and British tank crews to paint names on their tanks. Often times they were names of girl friends or wives, or cartoon characters and anything else that struck the crew’s fancy. (Note that the M4 Sherman in the picture is named “Battling Annie.”)

So, somewhere I came across the name…


and thought it referred to being in a battle zone and meant just what it said, “hell is a poppin.”  I meticulously painted “Hellzapoppin” on my M4 Sherman and never thought much of it.

Recently however, I was reminded of my old M4 Sherman model when I came across the word on the INET. Curious, I ran a search to see if I could find the original picture that I used for inspiration. I could not.

Instead what I found was that “Hellzapoppin” was the name of a 1941 movie that had something to do with a song and dance team and demons!

I have to surmise that now 35 years later that the crew of the real M4 Sherman must have liked the movie and thought it appropriate to name their tank. I still maintain however the name did not remind them of a silly movie but life in a tank when the enemy was giving them hell and it was poppin!


One comment on “Hellzapoppin

  1. You probably saw the name Hellzapoppin in a WW2 doc from the 70s. Word At War, Episode 13. They show it about two-thirds the way through during the German counter-attack at Anzio.

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