US tactics related articles
US tech related articles
US Fake Tanks
At the end of WW1, the US Expeditionary Force was given some 144 Renault FT French tanks, and a license for production in the US, as the M1917 tank. But production organization took time and only a few were shipped to France and were operational before the capitulation. Nevertheless, this new weapon proved its ground. Embryos of the Tank Force, the Tank Corps in France and the Tank Service in USA were set, the first by Samuel Rockenbach, assisted by Georges S. Patton, the second headed by Ira Clinton Welborn, assisted by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Patton had already gained some experience, directing a squadron of three armored cars during the punitive expedition sent against Pancho Villa’s insurrection. At the end of the war, one of these units, the 301st Heavy Tank Battalion, was equipped with British Tanks Mk.IV–V. This led to a cooperation on a new design, which ultimately became the Liberty (Mk.VIII) tank.
Along with the lighter M1917 tanks, they formed the core of the US Tank Force during the twenties. Georges S. Patton and Dwight Eisenhower played a great role in formulating tactical doctrines and organization.
US tank development in the interwar
The Tank Service retained the Mark VIII Liberty and M1917, with no intermediate medium model, until 1928, when a new directive was issued for a medium tank, and a new light model, usable by cavalry. At the same time, J. Walter Christie, an American car engineer, devised a new, revolutionary tank suspension system, with a dual purpose train, allowing the vehicle to also run without its tracks. However, his project, quickly dubbed the “flying tank”, was never produced in the US except as a prototype, because it never fulfilled all the requirements of the Army and US Marine Corps. The design was not lost and served as a basis for many successful models abroad, in Great Britain (the Cruiser tanks) and Soviet Union (BT series and the T-34).
An important place for the American armor projects was the design bureau of the Mississippi’s Rock Island Arsenal (between Iowa and Illinois), which designed, produced and tested tanks for the US Army. Not only did it produced the Liberty Mark VIII tanks in 1919-1920, but also artillery, gun mounts, recoil mechanisms, small arms, aircraft weapons sub-systems, grenade launchers and weapons simulators… that is outside tanks.
The M2s were the only operational US light tanks at the beginning of the war. The M2A4 was the sole among the four types which actually took part in combat, especially in the Pacific (like here, at Guadalcanal) with the USMC. It was removed from active duty in 1943. All the others, the pre-series M2A1, the M2A2 “duplex turret” or “Mae West”, and upgraded M2A3, were kept for training in the USA.
113 built. This early development, along with the M2, was the basis of the M3-M5 “Stuart” lineage, which formed the backbone of US light tanks. The M1A2 was upgraded with a 37 mm (1.46 in) gun in 1940.
700 built in four variants. Closely related to the M1A2. The most produced version was the M2A4, which saw service in the Pacific and Africa, before being replaced by the mass-produced M3.
13,860 built. The M3 was a replacement for the M2, and was mass-produced, forming the core of the US light tanks during WW2.
8885 built. Based on the M3A3 with a modified hull and new Cadillac engine and transmission. Armor was reinforced, but the armament did not evolve.
4731 built (and 720+ variants). Last WWII US light tank developed, it was better armored and armed, serving from 1944-45 until the late seventies.
112 built. With the M2A1 wartime production series, this was the earliest US medium tank in service, in 1939. They were retained in the homeland as training machines.
3258 built. This long awaited model entered service as fast as possible with British units fighting in North Africa, through Lend-Lease. It was phased out in 1942, but served until 1945 in Asia. It was mobile, well armed and protected, but the high silhouette and sponson main gun were serious flaws. It was a transition model.
49,234 built. This mythical machine replaced the Lee/Grant and remains the most prolific tank of the western world. But it was a compromise and has some flaws as well, especially when facing German late tanks of 1943-45.
Around 2000 built. Only 20 were deployed in Germany a few weeks before the end of the war. The development of this tanks started in 1942, but delays and modifications delayed the production until December 1944. It was well protected and fitted with a 90 mm (3.54 in). It was the base for Cold War US tank development, including the early T29 and T30.
As pragmatic planners, the US military never seriously envisioned heavyweight breakthrough machines, as tanks were traditionally attached to the cavalry. Speed and easy production were the main concerns at the start of WW2. After war experience in Europe started accumulating, the need for more penetrating power and increased protection came, advocating for all-better medium tanks, specialized tank-hunters and ultimately to the first wartime US heavy tank. The only U.S. Army super-heavy tank ever produced was the experimental T28.
40 built in 1941. Considered obsolete by 1944, they never left home, serving as training machines, for propaganda movies and war bond shows.
T28 super-heavy tank
Two built. Experimental machine fitted with a very long barrel 105 mm (4.13 in) gun, in order to deal with the most formidable German tanks in the western European theater. The first was ready when the war ended. The second was scrapped in 1947.
War experience quickly showed the limitations of the Sherman when facing German armor, as early as the Tunisian campaign. This was epitomized both in Italy (after Italy surrendered) and in France (after D-Day). The main limitation was the lack of range and penetrating power of the regular 75 mm (2.95 in) Sherman main gun. The obvious solution was to choose the British 17-pdr (76.2 mm/3 in) (which was added later to the Sherman Firefly), and to develop a new vehicle based around this gun and specially designed as a tank-hunter.
6706 built. Ordnance “3-inch Gun Motor Carriage, M10”. Based on a Sherman chassis and drivetrain, with an open top turret fitted with a high-velocity M7 76 mm (3 in)
1772 built, between 1943-45. Fitted with the 90 mm (3.54 in) M3 high-velocity gun, a very effective solution, one of the few fit to deal with German armor in 1944.
2507 built between 1943-45. Conceived from scratch, with its new suspension and powerful drivetrain, it was lightning fast and fitted with the effective 76 mm (3 in) M1A2 AT gun.
Howitzer Motor Carriages
This part does not include M3 half-track GMC versions; HMC tanks only.
1778 built. M5 based HMC fitted with a 75 mm (2.95 in) short barrel howitzer.
3490 built, between 1943-45. Fitted with the 105 mm (4.13 in) M1/M2 howitzer, its tall silhouette earned this model the nickname “Priest”.
Armored scouts & transports
12 built (1931) by Cunningham and Rock Island Arsenal. Largely test vehicles used by the Cavalry Corps.
20,918 built. Main US heavy scout car. Was armed with 30 cal. (7.62 mm) and 50 cal. (12.7 mm) machine-guns.
13,500 built (+3500 M9 Lend-Lease versions). Was used for towing the 105 mm (4.13 in) howitzer and its crew.
43,000 built. Standard armored troop transport of the US Army and USMC. Up to 28 sub-versions and adaptations.
8523 built. Standard issue 6WD armored scout car.
Christie T3E2 prototype during trials. It was one of the last of a whole lineage of cavalry (convertible) tanks.
Convertible Combat Car T7. An early attempt in 1937-38 to develop a convertible tank in the idea first approached by Walter Christie in 1928-29. Despite some interesting characteristics the US Army decided to develop its own slower, but more sturdy and better protected type. The Christies were just too extreme for the military thinking of the day.
The M1 Combat Car, the first modern tank in US service, came into production in 1937. By 1941, they were all serving as training machines.
After the M1 Combat Car, the M2 was the first model available in numbers when the war began in 1939. They existed in several variants.
Here, an M2A2 “Mae West” twin turret on display at the Fort Knox museum.
M2A3 light tank at the Army Day Parade in 1939.
M2A4 light tanks being prepared for delivery in Great Britain. The M2A4 saw action in the desert with British Forces and the Philippines and Guadalcanal.
Marmon Herriginton CTLS in Surabaya, in service with the KNIL (Dutch East Indies Army), 1942. Marmon-Herrington was one of the rare private companies developing tanks chiefly for export (although the USMC tested and bough some). The first customer was the KNIL.
CTLS of the Navy in Alaska, from a colorized photo – probably the only blue tanks outside LVTs
Marmon-Herrington CTLS in Alaska, 1942, some of the rare actions ever performed by these tanks for the USMC.
M3 Stuart training at Fort Knox Kentucky. The M3 was the first truly mass-produced wartime American tank. With its 4-6 machine guns and 37 mm main gun it was still up to the job in 1941.
M3A3 Stuart passing by Coutances, Normandy, France, summer 1944. M3A1,A2,A3s were produced until replacement in 1942-43 by the M5.
Chinese M3A3 Stuart on the road of Ledo, 1944.
The M5 Stuarts built by Cadillac were the workhorses of the US military light tank force in 1943-44.
M22 Locust light tank at Bovington. Also produced by Marmon-Herrington, it was the only model mass-produced for the Army, tailored to fit inside a heavy-duty glider for airborne operations. Unfortunately, too many compromises led inevitably to a tank which was desperately outmatched by everything the Germans had.
US M24 Chaffee light tank on display at Fort Lewis. This was a brand new design, improved in every direction and saw service until the 1960s and even 1980s in many countries worldwide.
The M2 medium tank was the first of its kind in the USA. Only 112 were produced by the Rock Island Arsenal, but they were seen as obsolete by 1941 and phased out as training tanks for the duration of the war. They never left the territory.
The M3 Lee (Grant in British/Commonwealth service) was the first medium tanks largely available to the Allies and USA during the first part of the war, from 1941 to 1943. The British used them extensively against Rommel’s forces in Africa, and they served well in several Asian and Pacific campaigns, until 1945. On the western theater they were replaced by the M4 Sherman by 1943.
M3 Medium tank front view
The M4 Sherman was the most prolific and best all-around tank the US industry could offer in 1942. The full force of the USA’s production capabilities became obvious in late 1943, when swarms of M4s were seen in action with the US Army, USMC, British and Commonwealth forces, fighting until the end of the war. A legend in itself, with many variants and countless derivatives, and a career which spans decades into the Cold War.
M4A3R3 ‘Ronson’ flamethrower tank in Iwo Jima.
The T28 super-heavy tank was the only one of the kind ever built in the United States, at Pacific Car and Foundry. With 95 tons it was indeed super heavy, originally designed to carry an exceptional gun, the 105 mm T5E1. However it was given a Ford GAF V-8 500 hp (372 kW) barely capable to move it, at 8 mph on a good road (that can support its weight). Quite a mobile blockhaus with 300 mm (12 in) of armour on the glacis and mantlet it was impregnable not only to the German 88 L71 and 128 mm, but also potentially the Soviet 120 mm.
To lower ground pressure, it had double tracks, with four 2×4 double roadwheels suspended on two sets of HVSS (horizontal volute spring). Autonomy was limited to 100 miles, and it was not compatible with any known railway carriage. Tested until October 1947, the project was terminated. Only one prototype, rediscovered in 1972 at Fort Belvoir, was transferred to the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor in Kentucky where it can be found today, in static conditions.
US Antitank Guns
The story of development of US Army Antitank guns started before the war, in 1938. So far, the only model that could be used in that role in direct fire was the American 3-in, or more precisely the 75 mm Gun M1897. In 1940, the Infantry had a 37 mm M3 light AT gun, while in 1943 a new generation entered the fray, the brand new 3-in M5 and the 90 mm gun M1-M3, plus the 105 mm T8. The US Army even had a British-built gun in service in 1942, the 57mm M1, which was in fact the QF-6pdr.
75 mm Gun M1897
derived from the French “75”, and produced to around 1900, used in 1918 and stockpiled in the interwar. Although they had a great rate of fire, accuracy, range and overall muzzle velocity were poor in WW2 standards. Nevertheless, on these US-built models, Carriages were built by Willys-Overland, the hydro-pneumatic recuperators by Singer Manufacturing Company and Rock Island Arsenal, the cannon itself by Symington-Anderson and Wisconsin Gun Company. They were redesignated M1897A4 during the interwar (The A2-A3 were French-Made), and used the modern carriage M2A3: -Split trail, rubber tires, and better (+45 degrees), 30 degree traverse either side. They formed the backbone of TD bataillons in 1939 but needed trucks to be operated. The Infantry was looking for a much lighter and more manageable model that can offer much better velocities but with a smaller AP shell.
They were only removed from service in 1941-42, put on the M3 Half-Track as M3 GMC and saw extensive service that way until the end of the war. In the pacific the low level of protection of Japanese tanks (and their scarcity) meant they were also used for covering HE fire. The M1897A4 shell was really the main standard for tanks, similar to the 75mm M2 and M3 (M3 Lee & Sherman), even the Chaffee’s 75mm M6 and B25 Mitchell’s gunships.
37 mm Gun M3
Author’s illustration of the 37 mm Gun M1.
57 mm Gun M1
US troops firing the 57 mm gun M1 at St Malo, Britanny, 1944.
75 mm Gun M5
90 mm Gun M1/M3
105 mm Gun T8
M1 Combat Car, 1st Armoured Division, Fort Benning, Georgia, 1938. The M1 entered service in 1937. Notice the exercise unit colors, painted on the turret. The two extra sponson machine-guns were rarely mounted.
M1 Combat Car at Fort Raily, Kansas, 1940. The M1 and its derivatives never left the American soil. They were kept for training and drilling exercises.
M1A1 light tank of an unidentified training unit, 1941. This variant (17 built in 1937) received a new octagonal turret. The hull was 40 cm longer (to 4.44 m – 17 ft 7 in) and the two bogies were farther apart. The next M1A1E1 (7 produced) received a new Guiberson diesel engine. They led to the development of the M2 light tank.
M2A1 in 1937.
M2A2 “Mae West” from the 21st Armored Division – Fort Belvoir, Virginia, November 1940.
M2A2 of the 192nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Army maneuvers, early 1941.
M2A4 of the USMC 1st Tank Battalion, Company A, Guadalcanal, September 1942.
The M3 prototype in mid-1941, with a .50 (12.7 mm) caliber main armament. This future main US Army light tank was based on the M2A4, but with increased protection and a revised idler wheel.
M6A1, cast armor hull type, Fort Bennnings, 1942.
A -what if- prospective view of a welded type hull M6 in Italy, 1944.
Early production M7, British VIIIth Army, Second Battle of El Alamein, October 1942.
Standardized M7 based on the M4 Sherman chassis, Tunisia, January 1943.
American M7 HMC from an unknown unit, Sicily or Southern Italy, fall 1943.
Free French M7 HMC from the 2nd Armored Division, southern France, August 1944.
M7B1 in North-Eastern Europe, winter 1944-45.
British “Defrocked Priest” APC in Normandy, Operation Goodwood, June 1944.
New Zealand Army Kangaroo, armed with an extra Boys rifle, Northern Italy, fall 1944.
American M7 during the Battle of the Bulge, Belgium, winter 1944-45.
US Marine’s M7B1 in the Pacific, 1945.
The first prototype of the M7 (T7), 1942 – Illustrator: David Bocquelet
The “serial-production” version of the M7 – Illustrator: David Bocquelet
Howitzer Motor Carriage M8 Scott in southern Italy, September 1943.
HMC M8 Scott in Normandy, July 1944. In the bocage, enemy troop movements were sometimes so hard to detect that M8 battalions found themselves attacked by infiltrated German infantry, in normally “cleared” sectors, but could repel assaults, thanks to their cal.50 (12.7 mm) machine-guns.
T23 prototype, fall 1943.
T23E3 prototype, early 1944.
M1 Armored Car in training at Fort Riley, Kansas, 1930s. Notice the fully chromium-plated headlights.
Pre-series M2 with a single cal.30 (7.62 mm) machine-gun on a central pedestal mount. This was the original gun tractor, with just enough room for the gun crew and large ammunition holds. These were used primarily for carrying M1927 pack howitzers to the battlefield. Here is a model used by the USMC in the Philippines, December 1941.
A M2 with the original skate mount in Algeria, November 1942.
M2 in Tunisia, January 1943.
M2A1 with the M48 gun mount and cal.30 (7.62 mm) pintle mounts. France, June 1944.
M2 Half-Track, unknown unit, summer 1944.
M2A1 in Italy, 1944.
Beutepanzer M2 (captured T28E1) in 1944.
Soviet M2 Half-Track, northern front, winter 1943-44.
M4A1 81 mm (3.19 in) MMC, mortar carrier version.
The M2 w/M3 37 mm (1.46 in), the tank hunter variant.
T28E1, the anti-aircraft variant.
M3 Half Track with canvas, Italy, 1944, for comparison.
A White M3A1 operating in Tunisia, November 1942, with an early combination of mounts, a central pod heavy 50 cal (12.7 mm) machine-gun, and two rear water-cooled Browning Model 1917A1s.
A British VIIIth Army M3A1 Scout Car in May 1942. These were widely used for a variety of missions, with some success, due to their great range, sturdiness and reliability even in these adverse conditions.
US Army M3, one of the few which were built in 1938. They had no unditching roller and a slightly smaller hull. They all belonged to the US 7th Cavalry Regiment “Garryowen”, used for scouting and screening missions throughout 1943-44 in the Pacific theater.
British Army M3A1 in Europe, June 1944. This unit served as a paratrooper transport and recovery vehicle.
Soviet M3A1E1 on the northern sector, March 1943. The White company provided more than 3000 of these modified versions through Lend-Lease, to be fitted with Buda-Danova diesels on site.
US Army M3A1 Scout Car in Tunisia, May 1943.
M3A1 Scout Car of the Free French 2nd D.B. of Gen. Leclerc, August-September 1944.
LVT-1 at Guadalcanal, fall 1942, 2nd Battalion of amphibious tractors, 1st USMC Division.
LVT-1 “My Deloris” of the USMC at Tarawa, 1943.
LVT-1 of the USMC, 708th Amphibian Tank Battalion, Saipan, 15 June 1944.
LVT-1 of the 3rd USMC Division, Guam, summer 1944. Notice the cal.50s (12.7 mm) are protected by shields, and additional cal.30s are added
A regular US Army LVT-2 Buffalo, late 1942.
USMC LVT-2 Water Buffalo at Tarawa, 1943.
British LVT-2, 79th Armored Division, Nijmegen, Holland, February 1945.
LVT-2(A) Buffalo II, USMC 13th Tracked Battalion, Iwo Jima, 1944.
LVT-2(A) Buffalo II, 1st Marine Amphibious Tracked Battalion, Beach red one, Iwo Jima, 1944.
LVT(A)-1 in Marine blue livery
LVT(A)-1 in a camouflaged livery. As of today, surviving vehicles are visible at the National Armor and Cavalry Museum, Fort Benning, GA (not public), at Fairmount Park, Riverside, CA, and the World War II and Korea LVT Museum, Camp Pendleton, CA. There is also one identified rusty wreck on Peleliu Island (Republic of Palau).
A regular US Army LVT-4 in 1944.
Early production US Marine Corps LVT-4 in 1944.
USMC LVT-4, Tinian, August 1944.
Buffalo IV of the 79th Armoured Division, Rhineland, March 1945. Notice the 20 mm (0.79 in) Polsten autocannon.
Buffalo IV Sheffield of the Royal Dragoons, Rhineland, 79th Armoured Division, March 1945.
Buffalo IV Ambulance attached to the 79th Armoured Division, Rhineland, March 1945
LVT-4 in the Philippines, US Army, early 1945.
Late up-armored LVT-4 in 1944.
LVT-4 of the 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, Yellow Beach 2, Iwo Jima 1945
Preserved LVT-4 at the USMC American Wartime Museum, nowadays.
LVT-4 of the USMC with the early up-armored cab, 3rd USMC Tractor Marine Battalion, Iwo Jima, 1945.
LVT-4 of the 10th USMC Amphibious Tractor Battalion, Yellow Beach, Iwo Jima, February 1945.
Early up-armoured cab VT-4, 8th USMC Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 1st US Marine Division, Okinawa, summer 1945.
Lend-Lease LVT-4, Red Army, the crossing of the Oder, 1945.
French LVT-4 of Force H, Port Said, Egypt, Suez crisis, 1956.
French LVT-4 of Force H, Port Said, Egypt, Suez crisis, 1956.
A regular US Army LVT-3 Bushmaster, with its ramp down, in 1944.
US Marine Corps LVT-3 at Okinawa 1945.
A former LVT-3C now part of a private collection, painted and overhauled, now exhibited during public displays.
DUKW during operation Anvil Dragoon, French Riviera, August 1944. Notice the low roadwheel covers. The vehicle had its wave deflector unfolded.
DUKW with tarpaulin over both the driver\’s compartment and the cargo bay.
A DUKW carrying a M3 75 mm (2.95 in) gun, Normandy 1944.
A DUKW carrying a 75 mm (2.95 in) M1 pack howitzer, with the standard 0.5 cal (12.7 mm) M1920 heavy machine gun ring mount.
Unknown Allied unit, Sicily, fall 1943.
A Soviet Lend-Lease DUKW in Eastern Prussia, with Konstantin Rokossovsky\’s 2nd Belorussian Front, January 1945.
USMC DUKW Company at Iwo Jima, “Joan Molley”, February 1945.
Bantam BRC-40, the original Jeep of 1940.
Willys Jeep MA, early production.
An early Ford GP in China, Flying Tigers Squadron, 1941.
Standard Willys MB with a cal.30 (7.62 mm) machine-gun. High quality illustration.
Willys MB with a cal.50 (12.7 mm) machine-gun, the heaviest weapon fitted regularly on the Jeep.
Standard Willys MB Jeep with tarpaulin.
A Willys MB from the 1st Infantry Division, Operation Torch, November 1942.
Willys MB Jeep, Belgian Ardennes, Battle of the Bulge, December 1944.
Willys fitted with radio and Browning M1917A1 liquid-cooled machine gun (7.62 mm/0.3 in) and a M1920 cal.50 (12.7 mm). High quality illustration.
1/4 ton 4×4 truck armored, Belgium, winter 1944-45.
1/4 ton 4×4 truck armored, fast antitank squad, Belgium, January 1945.
Radio Willys MB.
Willys MB, liaison vehicle.
Soviet Ford GPW, Leningrad sector, winter 1943.
British MB Jeep with partial tarpaulin and canvas doors, Burma, 1945.
Russian Lend-Lease hardtop Ford GPW Jeep.
LRDG vehicle, Libyan desert, 1943.
A British Willis MB in Italy, early 1944. Notice the Boys AT rifle and AA Bren gun.
Jeep Willys MB Ambulance.
British Willys Jeep MB Tractor with 2 pdr gun (40 mm/1.57 in).
Willys MB with standard trailer.
M6 GMC, 601st TD batallion, Tunisia, November 1942.
Camouflaged M6 GMC, Tunisia, winter 1942-43.
Canadian Ford Marmon-Herrington artillery tractor
T-9. The experimental T9E1 differed by having large 4 large metal wheels in the Timken suspension
CCKW 353D Fuel truck
CCKW 353 K53 Radio Shelter Truck, HQ Co. 1st Infantry Division, Germany March 1945
CCKW 353 ST6, Shelter Truck 6, workshop truck
Service Truck, N°7 Crane, extended fwd winch
GMC AFWX 354, 3-ton 6×4 truck
GMC ACKWX 353 3-ton 6×6 truck
Regular US army closed cab GMC 352
US army open cab GMC 352
Soviet lend-lease GMC 352
Soviet lend-lease GMC 352, winter northen front 1943-44
Soviet lend-lease GMC 352, Katiusha conversion, 1944
M8 Greyhound “Austin”, low profile early type turret, 1st US Division reconnaissance unit, Operation Husky, Sicily, August 1943.
M8 Greyhound of the FFL, 2nd D.B., Gen. Leclerc, one of the first units in Paris, August 1944.
M8 Greyhound during operation Baytown, Italy, September-October 1943.
Greyhound of the 3rd Armored Division, Normandy, June 1944.
Free French 1st Army, Provence, Southern France, August 1944
M8 during the battle of the Bulge, Ardennes forest, December 1944.
Panzerspähwagen Ford M8/M20(a) of Panzerbrigade 111, captured from the 42nd Cavalry Squadron, Lunéville area (Lorraine, eastern France), July 1944.
M20 Utility Car, Normandy, 1944.
M8 Greyhound Armored Car painted in whitewash snow camouflage at the Tank Museum Bovington, England
An M2A1 Half-track Car, for comparison. France, June 1944.
M3 in Algeria, Operation Torch, November 1942.
Early production M3 with canvas, Italy, 1944.
A British M5 (the Lend-Lease version built by International Harvester) of the VIIIth Army, Tunisia, January 1943.
A Free French M5A1 (late version modified alongside the M3A1), of the First Army, gen. De Lattre De Tassigny, Provence, Southern France, August 1944. Large amounts of M5s were provided to the French, which took part in operation Anvil Dragoon. This one is a pure transport vehicle, unarmed. Notice the FFF slogan – France First.
T30 75 mm (2.95 in) HMC (Howitzer Motor Carriage), carrying the M1927 pack howitzer, Palermo, Sicily, 1944. Notice the American flag and yellow star, both inherited from Operation Torch. The big white star was meant for identification by Allied aircraft. The pale green scheme was usual to this theater of operations.
The T12 was equipped with an M1897A4 75 mm (2.95 in) guns, an American version of the French famous “canon de 75”. This was the most common Gun Motor Carriage, intended primarily for infantry support role, although some were used occasionally against tanks with some success, and AT shells were provided to some first line units for this purpose. Over 2200 GMCs were built prior to April 1943, but only 842 seem to have seen service. The M1897 had an indirect fire range of 9,200 yds (8,400 m), and provision was 59 rounds, either AP M72 (Armor Piercing), APC M61 (Armor Piercing Capped) or the high-explosive anti-personnel HE M48. This illustration depicts a 1st US Army GMC stationed in Sicily, 1943.
M3 75 mm (2.95 in) GMC in North Africa, US 1st Division, Tunisia, June 1943. The M3 GMC was the main Gun Motor Carriage derivative of the M3, equipped with a 75 mm (2.95 in) gun, mostly used by the USMC. The medium velocity of this gun made it unsuitable against most Panzers in 1943. Its AP projectiles were able to pierce only 7.1 to 8.1 mm of armor at 500 yds (460 m). Most of them were used for artillery support. GMCs were also used by the USMC in the Pacific theater, with better success against Japanese tanks. They saw action at Peleliu, Tarawa, Saipan and Okinawa, were they replaced tanks in the infantry support role.
75 mm (2.95 in) SP, Autocar, as it was designated in British service. 170 M3 GMCs were provided to the British army fighting in North Africa in early 1943. The Free French also used them in limited numbers.
An SU-57 (T48 in Soviet Service) covered in Russian snow.
A regular T19 Howitzer Motor Carriage, based on the M3 chassis, and equipped in a very similar fashion that the former 75 mm (2.95 in) HMC it replaced. With its long barrel and heavier high explosive shells, it was well suited to add firepower where it was needed. The T19 105 mm (4.13 in) HMC was not a high production vehicle, around 400 were operated in all. But the punishing fire of the howitzer, mounted in the most cost-effective solution yet, made a potent combination. This version was mostly used by the USMC in the Pacific, but also saw action on every front, from Tunisia to Germany.
The M4 MMC was a new concept, entirely refurbished to operate a single regular ordinance 81 mm (3.19 in) mortar. It was accepted in service in October 1940 and 572 were built. Later on, the evolved version came, as the M4A1, which allowed the mortar to fire from the vehicle. It was put in production in December 1942 and 600 were built. They were respectively based on the M2 and M2A1, but then the Ordnance Department decided to exploit the M3 chassis, which became the M21 MMC. The mortar was now forward firing, with a reinforced basis which allowed wide angle fire. But, moreover, there was now a defensive cal.50 (12.7 mm) placed at the rear. Only 110 were built, in early 1944. The T21E1 was an experimental new version. It was superseded by a 107 mm (4.21 in) MMC version.
The M13 (and the M14 subversion) MGMC were the first successful AA adaptations of the M3 Half Track, using the Maxson M33 twin mount. They had two M2HB cal.50 (12.7 mm) heavy machine guns, with very good results against low-flying aircraft. The side panels were foldable, to allow a better arc of fire. All the internal compartment was refurbished. They were accepted in January 1943, and 1103 half-tracks were built as M13s, and later, 628 converted into quad-mount M16s.
The “quad-mount” or “quad 50” M16 MGMC version, is probably the best-known and most produced of these AA variants based on the M3. Based on a new M50 mounting, it had excellent capabilities against low-flying aircraft, and quickly gained the nicknames of “meat chopper” and “Krautmower”. This mount allowed fast moving, high rate of fire of the highly reliable 50 cal (12.7 mm) heavy machine guns, most of the time with the new side panels folded. It was accepted in service in May 1943 and no less than 2877 were built, plus 628 converted from M13 stocks, and 109 from twin 20 mm (0.79 in) GMCs. They served in Tunisia, Italy, France and Germany, but also in the Pacific.
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Give ’em a pounding with your Sherman coming through! A portion of the proceeds from this purchase will support Tank Encyclopedia, a military history research project.
Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s
History forgets. Files are lost and mislaid. But this book seeks to shine a light, offering a collection of cutting edge pieces of historical research detailing some of the most fascinating arms and armament projects from the 1920s to the end of the 1940’s, nearly all of which had previously been lost to history.Included here are records from the UK’s MI10 (the forerunner of GCHQ) which tell the story of the mighty Japanese heavy tanks and their service during the Second World War.