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"US anti-tank guns" Topic


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874 hits since 20 Nov 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 9:41 a.m. PST

Hi all,

Does anyone know when the US re-equipped from The towed 37mm ATG to 57mm? Also, when did the M10 start replacing the M3 GMC? I think it was Tunisia, but they didn't land with them in French North Africa?

Thanks for any help you can provide,
Mark

Andy ONeill20 Nov 2020 9:59 a.m. PST

The 57mm was used in north africa. Started making the first version in 1942.

Personal logo PzGeneral Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 10:10 a.m. PST

The combat debut of the M10 came on 23 March 1943, during the Battle of El Guettar.

The M3 GMC served up to the Invasion of Sicily, after which it was (officially) withdrawn from service in Europe…..

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 11:08 a.m. PST

Thank you, gentlemen.

So did they actually use the 37mm in NA? Or was it the case that AT units got the 57mm first, while the infantry regiments kept the 37 until there were enough to replace them? Would they have all been replaced by Sicily?

Andy ONeill20 Nov 2020 11:42 a.m. PST

I thought the 37mm was phased out by italy. A quick look on wiki says 44 and a slow gradual replacement.

There was a bunch in use at kasserine because there were complaints about their performance.
In sicily the italian tankettes ran into 37mm atg.

Starfury Rider20 Nov 2020 12:58 p.m. PST

The 37-mm was the first gun the US Infantry had for anti-tank defence. The early TD units used a mix of 37-mm and the 75-mm (M3). The TD Bns did not use the 57-mm but moved directly to the M10 (for SP) and 76-mm (for Towed) units.

I think there was some delay between units reforming on the new T/Os and getting the newer equipment in the run up to Italy. The 37-mm may still have persevered in Inf Regts during Sicily but been gone by Italy. The 57-mm was authorised from the July 1943 T/O&Es.

Gary

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 1:13 p.m. PST

The Marines were using them up till the end of the war as they didn't need a real AT gun. The 37mm was light and easy enough for the crew to move. It was accurate enough to fire through bunker loopholes and the canister round was adequate. The HE round was less potent than a grenade.

Wolfhag

Hornswoggler20 Nov 2020 7:00 p.m. PST

Under the 1942 TOE (in effect until Sep 43) the armored infantry companies had a towed 37mm ATG in all company and platoon HQs, as well as an M6 37mm GMC in the Administrative, Supply and Mess Section.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 7:39 p.m. PST

Re: Hornswoggler's post, photographic evidence shows Armored Infantry still using towed 37mm in NWE in 1944 and possibly early '45. To be more precise, I've seen pics of them towed, and also deployed, but not in combat!

Legion 421 Nov 2020 8:27 a.m. PST

I have heard the same Wolf. And again the IJFs AFVs were not that well armored and few in most cases.

I don't doubt that the 37mm in the ETO was still in use in '45 in some cases. It came down to better than nothing, in some situations.

IIRC the Germans were still using some of their 37mm ATGs, at the Bulge too.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2020 2:30 p.m. PST

Or was it the case that AT units got the 57mm first, while the infantry regiments kept the 37 until there were enough to replace them? Would they have all been replaced by Sicily?

>>> AT units got the 57mm first…

There were two kinds of "AT units" in the US Army: there were AT gun batteries in Infantry and Armored Division unit structures, and there were independent (ie: non-divisional) Tank Destroyer formations.

As others have mentioned the TD formations landed in NA with the 75mm M3 GMC (Gun, Motor Carriage) equipping their "heavy" batteries, and the 37mm M6 GMC (often called the "Fargo") equipping their "light" batteries. The M6s were quickly discovered to be inadequate, and even during the Tunisian campaign were largely upgraded to M3s.

Tank Destroyer formations never deployed 57mm AT guns. At the time of the NA landings all TD formations were self-propelled. It was only AFTER the NA campaign that a decision was made to create towed TD formations. These were all equipped with 3-inch guns.

The TD Bns did not use the 57-mm but moved directly to the … 76-mm (for Towed) units.

Note: TD formations never deployed "76mm" AT guns. They were equipped with the 3-inch gun M5. In the US Army, 3-inch was a different caliber than the more modern 76mm caliber. The 3-inch M5 guns were large and heavy for their power, being roughly equivalent in power to the smaller/lighter German Pak40, but at a weight and size more in line with the substantially more powerful British 17pdr. US Army Ordnance did develop a 76mm AT gun, which was notably lighter and handier than the 3-inch gun, but it was never adopted for service as by the time it was ready for production the towed TD formations were being re-equipped as self-propelled.

Another note: More of just a side-note, but the 3-inch gun M5 is still present in US Army service. It still serves as the US Army's ceremonial gun used for firing salutes.

As others have posted, the first 3-inch M10 GMCs arrived and saw action late in the Tunisian campaign at the battle of El Guettar. Most of the TDs involved in that battle were in fact M3s, but a few M10s were present. This battle is one of the only cases of TDs being used according to the US TD doctrine (TDs fighting as coherent battalions to counter a German divisional scale attack), and they provided invaluable service to the 1st Infantry Division in it's defense of El Guettar. The M3s were effective against the Panzers, but at a high cost. The M10s were somewhat mis-handled, and did not perform particularly well. But it was still clear the better gun (and turret, and fully-tracked carriage ) of the M10 made it a superior TD.

The infantry and tank divisions went into NA with the 37mm AT gun as their towed AT gun. The US began manufacturing the British 6pdr as the 57mm gun M1 in 1942. This early version does appear to have reached some US Army units in Tunisia. It was not until the 57mm gun M1A3 began production in mid-1943 that it was adopted as the TOE replacement for the 37mm gun in Infantry Divisions. The Airborne still rejected it and stayed with the 37mm gun, although the US 82nd and 101st managed to acquire British 6pdr MkIIIs prior to their drops into Normandie.

US Army forces were essentially re-organized and in many cases re-equipped after Tunisia. As a general rule the 37mm gun was declared obsolete, and was scheduled for replacement by the 57mm gun M1A3. The M6 "Fargo" was already largely dumped by the TD units, but now the M3 was also declared obsolete and replaced by the M10. New towed TD formations were organized in the states, and eventually deployed to ETO.

To my understanding no full TD battalions participated in the Sicily campaign. Some TD troops were shipped over in supporting roles, but TDs per se did not participate in the campaign. By the time of the Italy campaign all self-propelled TD units had M10s. They had also replaced their M3 scout cars with M20 scout/utility cars.

>>> …Would they have all been replaced by Sicily?

In any big army there will almost always be exceptions to any "all".

It is likely that some fraction of the infantry and armored divisions would have been re-equipped with 57mm Guns for their AT batteries by the time of the Sicilian campaign. There could well have been some units that did not get their new guns in time even for the Italian campaign.

When 37mm guns were replaced, they didn't just evaporate. They went to stockpiles. Some units might have just reported them missing instead of turning them in, and wound up with extra 37mm guns laying about as a result. Others might have raided the stockpiles and acquired some as a result.

As an example, with the M6 "Fargo" light TDs, the vehicles were turned in to stockpiles when they were replaced. There, workshop crews removed the 37mm guns and returned the chassis to service as general purpose light trucks. This led to a surplus of mountable guns laying about in NA stockpiles. Some units picked up their authorized "light trucks" WITH the guns still mounted, or pilfered some de-mounted guns to re-mount them. So while they may have been HQ formations that actually had a TOE issue, it was not at all extraordinary to see an M6 in random HQ formations that were not authorized to have them, as part of their own personal defense force. The removed SP-mount guns were also apparently prized by combat engineering formations, it would seem, who often "liberated" them from the stockpiles and mounted them (by the engineers themselves?) onto their regular issue M3 half tracks as a bit of local direct fire support. These were seen in the Italian campaign as an almost-but-not-quite regular part of the kit of combat engineering formations.

In my way of thinking, as a wargamer it is almost always justifiable to insert some older piece of kit that should have been replaced into a gaming force, and even better if it's in an odd place that never should have had it according to the field manuals and TOEs. Adds a bit of character, and in truth it happened fairly frequently.

At least that's my take on things. Wasn't there, didn't see it, but that's what I have come to understand from my readings.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 421 Nov 2020 3:19 p.m. PST

It still serves as the US Army's ceremonial gun used for firing salutes.
Yes I've seen it. And back in the 80s the the old WWII 75mm Pack Howitzer was also used.


Adds a bit of character, and in truth it happened fairly frequently.
I agree that was not rare …

Hornswoggler22 Nov 2020 1:36 a.m. PST

The removed SP-mount guns were also apparently prized by combat engineering formations, it would seem, who often "liberated" them from the stockpiles and mounted them (by the engineers themselves?) onto their regular issue M3 half tracks as a bit of local direct fire support. These were seen in the Italian campaign as an almost-but-not-quite regular part of the kit of combat engineering formations.

That would make an interesting modelling project. Are you aware of any photographic references ?

Legion 422 Nov 2020 7:24 a.m. PST

You mean the IIRC the T19, like we saw in the movie Kelly's Heroes ?

link

No wait that was a 105 …


Here's M3 with 75mm … link

And a lot of pics > link

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2020 8:44 a.m. PST

Here is some "Yankee Ingenuity" for the 37mm anti-tank gun and an interesting modeling project: link

Wolfhag

Starfury Rider22 Nov 2020 10:47 a.m. PST

Yes, got my calibres muddled (sort of knew when I was typing it, should've checked).

Just a note on nomenclature, Antitank Battery was not a WW2 US Army designation. The Infantry had an Antitank Platoon in its Battalions, and an Antitank Company in its Regiments, and the Armored Infantry had an Antitank Platoon in its Companies, but only with the Sep43 T/Os.

Tank Destroyer units had Companies, subdivided into Platoons. The closest I can find for an AT Battery is in the Airborne Divisions, which had an Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion of three Auto Weapons Batteries and three MG Batteries. The Auto Weapons Batteries could be equipped with either 37-mm AT or 40-mm AA guns as required. The 57-mm gun replaced the 37-mm gun as the war progressed.

The early TD Battalions that saw service in North Africa had three Companies, each with one Light Platoon and two Heavy Platoons. The Light Platoon had four 37-mm guns and the Heavy Platoon four 75-mm guns; both types also had an Antiaircraft Section with two SP equipments.

The T/O called for the Gun, 37-mm, AT SP in the Light Platoons, with a substitute of the 37-mm towed by 3/4-ton weapon carrier. In the Heavy Platoons the Gun, 3-inch, AT SP was called for, with the Gun, 75-mm, AT SP as the initial substitute, or a towed 37-mm as second sub. The SP AA was the 'GMC T1E4', which I understand was the precursor title for the M13, which was the M3 halftrack fitted with a pair of .50-cal MGs. The substitute equipment was the 3/4-ton WC fitted with dual .50-cal guns.

There is a photo of a halftrack fitted with a 37-mm gun, generally attributed to 41st Armd Inf Regt of 2nd Armd Div. I had a check with a few folks when I was working on the Armored Infantry a while back and they confirmed that the Armd Inf Regts in 2nd and 3rd Armd Divs received 28 towed 57-mm guns to replace the towed 37-mm guns in each Rifle Platoon (27) and the one at RHQ.

The Armd Engr Bns of those same two Divisions, plus 1st Armd Div in Italy, were authorised halftracks for all three Platoons in their Engr Coys, and two towed 37-mm AT guns in each of those Platoon as well. So they would have had immediate access to 37-mm guns and a good number of halftracks to mount them on. The normal Divisional and non-Divisional Engr Bns did not have halftracks on their T/O.

Gary

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2020 2:04 p.m. PST

Yes, got my calibres muddled (sort of knew when I was typing it, should've checked).

Well I managed to muddle the nomenclature for the gun units, as well as the back-story on halftracks with mounted 37mm AT guns, so I'm ahead of you 2 to 1!

To the backstory -- it seems it was M2, not M3 halftracks. And as Gary has noted, it seems that it was more an ETO phenom than an Italy phenom. Ah, but at least it does seem to have been the Engineers at least (of the Armored Divisions).

I have not yet seen any primary sources, but as a secondary source, Zaloga provided a modelling blog about his own conversion several years ago. Here is a "Missing-Lynx" link:
link

And one pic I stumbled upon which shows a US unit with a towed 37mm AT gun, purportedly during the Normandie campaign:
link

Of interest -- it appears (I say APPEARS, as I claim no particular expertise in this) that this picture shows a halftrack of the US 2nd Armored Division towing the 37mm gun, but not of the Armored Engineers or the Armored Infantry of that divisions. The M-11 number may indicate that this halftrack was from the Divisional Maintenance, and while it is not entirely clear, I believe that this is an M3, not an M2 halftrack, in that it may have a back door (hard to see), and the side-racks indicate no ammo stowage as would have been present on an M2…

Best I got.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Hornswoggler22 Nov 2020 5:44 p.m. PST

There is a photo of a halftrack fitted with a 37-mm gun, generally attributed to 41st Armd Inf Regt of 2nd Armd Div.

I have not yet seen any primary sources, but as a secondary source, Zaloga provided a modelling blog about his own conversion several years ago.

Thanks guys. I found the photo of the M2 with 37mm (vehicle name "Rough Rider II") in Zaloga's book US Half-Tracks of World War II (O-V #31).

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2020 8:09 p.m. PST

They most likely gave the 37s to the marines, they get all the crappy kit.

Hornswoggler23 Nov 2020 2:09 a.m. PST

And one pic I stumbled upon which shows a US unit with a towed 37mm AT gun, purportedly during the Normandie campaign: …this picture shows a halftrack of the US 2nd Armored Division towing the 37mm gun…

The citation I have for that photograph is that it was taken on 1 August 1944 in Roncey, and attributes the vehicle to 3rd Armored Div. (p54, D-Day Tank Warfare, Zaloga & Balin).

The halftrack is an M3A1.

Legion 423 Nov 2020 8:43 a.m. PST

They most likely gave the 37s to the marines, they get all the crappy kit.
The USMC had the towed 37mm. IIRC it had a round that fired a "beehive" type. That was said to be good at breaking up mass IJF's infantry attacks. And of course, the 37mm could take out most of the IJF's AFV.

IIRC correctly Kennedy's PT 109 had a USMC 37mm ATG mounted on the front deck. That they found abandoned, or something like that …

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2020 10:06 a.m. PST

I'm pretty sure the US 3 inch and the 76mm were the same caliber and used the same ammo.

The 3 inch was derived from a naval gun which was why it was so heavy. The 76mm was a new gun developed specifically for use in the TDs and M4.

Starfury Rider23 Nov 2020 10:47 a.m. PST

That does appear to be the case;

From the Catalog of Standard Ordnance Items -

3-inch antitank gun M5 (on carriage M6) fires HE shell M42A1 and APC projectile M62

76-mm gun M1 "designed to use the 3" HE shell or APC projectile with a different cartridge case" – M1A1 and M1A2 used in GMC M18 – fires HE M42A1, AP M62 and smoke shell M88

3-inch tank gun M7 (designed for heavy tank M6 and adopted for GMC M10) fires APC M62, AP shot M79 and HE M42A1

Must admit I hadn't realised the ammunition was the same across the towed 3-in, and the TD mounted 3-in and 76-mm, and the tank mounted 76-mm. Makes sense really.

Gary

Legion 423 Nov 2020 3:13 p.m. PST

As we know standardization makes resupply easier …

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2020 8:54 p.m. PST

Legion,
The 37mm canister round had 122 steel balls in it. Flechettes were used during the Cold War.

On the first day at Tarawa, they were able to lift a 37mm ATG over the seawall to take out three Jap tanks that were leading a 400 man counterattack. It's the only thing that could have worked or be pushed by the crew forward to take out bunkers with AP and HE and then use the canister to cut down occupants trying to flee. Fortunately, tanks were not a real problem but at ranges, under 500m it would have been no problem.

75mm Pack Howitzers worked too because they could be broken down into parts (originally to be packed on mules) and floated in on rafts and able to manhandle over the sand and fired indirectly like a mortar or direct fire into bunkers.

Wolfhag

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2020 9:10 p.m. PST


I'm pretty sure the US 3 inch and the 76mm were the same caliber and used the same ammo.

You are mistaken.

Kind of. Well not exactly. Technically you are correct, as both guns had the same diameter bore (the common definition of "caliber"). But practically you are mistaken, as they did not fire the same ammunition.

Or some such.


That does appear to be the case;

You are correct. It is the "case".

It is easy to be misled, as they fired the same projectiles. But they had different cases.

The 3-inch gun was an older caliber. The gun was more massive than it needed to be, and the cartridge was longer and larger than it needed to be. Altogether it was more difficult to fit it into and use it within the confines of a reasonably sized turret.

The 3-inch guns were based on the M1918 3-inch gun. It was already old, and it's cartridge was based on the M1907. When they decided they wanted to put that level of firepower into the M4 tank turret, Ordnance developed a new cartridge using newer propellants, which was shorter in length and smaller in diameter, and they designed a new gun using better metallurgy, which was lighter in construction, all to fire the same projectiles with the same ballistic performance as the 3-inch gun.

They called it the 76mm gun specifically to avoid confusion with the 3-inch guns and ammunition already in service.

And we all know how well that worked … NOT.

The pic shows the US Army 75mm, 76mm, 3-inch, and 90mm cartridges.

It can be confusing because you'll see references to the same M62 (AP shell), M79 (AP shot), and M93 (HVAP) for both guns.

If you want to avoid confusion you need the caliber AND the projectile type. 3-inch M62 is not the same ammunition as 76mm M62.

Or so I've read.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Starfury Rider24 Nov 2020 6:00 a.m. PST

The Ordnance Catalog outlines the following;

3-inch AA guns M1918, M1 and M3, all on mobile mounts

3-inch AA guns M1917, M1925, M2 and M4, all on fixed mounts

The Shell, HE, 3-in, M42A1 was for use with all these guns. The Cartridge Case MkI M2 was for use in the guns of fixed mount type, and the Case MkII M2 was for use with guns on mobile mounts. The MkI M2 case has a 293 cubic inch volume and the MkII M2 case a 212 cubic inch vol. As a result there was no interchangeability between the M42A1 round used in the fixed and mobile AA guns.

76-mm tank guns M1A2 (and prior M1 and M1A1) fires,

Shell, HE, 3-in, M42A1
Projectile, APC, 76-mm, M62
Shell, smoke, M88

3-inch tank gun M7 fires,

Projectile, APC, M62
Shot, AP, M79
Shell, HE, M42A1

The M42A1, with case MkII M2 is listed as for use with the M1918, M1 and M2 (AA) and M5 (AT), M6 and M7 (tank) guns. The M42A1, with case M26, is listed as for use with the M1, M1A1 and M1A2 tank guns.

The M62A1 and M79, both with case MkII M2, are listed as for use with the M1918 and M3 (AA) and M5 (AT), M6 and M7 (tank) guns. The same two items can be fired from the M1A2 (etc.) with the M26 case

The M62A1 is described further as "standard for issue to using forces with the 3in , M3, antiaircraft and M5 antitank guns, and the tank gun M7". The M26 Case has a cubic volume of 140.50 inches, as opposed to the 200+ of the MkII M2 case (there are varying figures in the catalogue, from 203.5 cu in for the M42A1 and M79 to 205.585 cu in for the M62A1 and 212 cu in in the text for the M62A1).

Indeed then, the case of the case hinges on the case. Case closed (?).

Gary

Legion 425 Nov 2020 8:07 a.m. PST

The 37mm canister round had 122 steel balls in it.
Yes that is what they were … canister rounds … I just could not remember the name. old fart Thanks !

Yes, the 37mm would make short order of IJF AFVs. And of course the canister round made it a big shot gun. Cleaning out swaths of Infantry.

The 75mm Pack Howitzer was also very useful for Light Inf in the PTO/CBI as well as ETO. As I said I have seen a number still being used of ceremonies, while on active duty.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2020 8:39 a.m. PST

What I absolutely love about this forum is how much I learn in addition to what I asked. It's so heart-warming to watch my fellow nerds get into the weeds on topics near and dear to them.

And just in time for Thanksgiving (US)!

Legion 425 Nov 2020 4:18 p.m. PST

thumbs up

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