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BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3322

U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/3/2015 7:33:02 AM
 Found this in a DTIC document; interesting, refers to fighting around Dom Butgenbach during the Ardennes Offensive.


Quote:
The nature of the terrain and fog which blanketed the area compelled LtCol Daniel to place his anti-tank assets well forward, in order to have sufficient visibility to support the foxhole lines. He set up three 57mm anti-tank guns covering the road running east to Bullingen, and supported them with three M-1O self-propelled tank destroyers mounting 3-inch guns. He sent three more AT guns to bolster the main line of resistance, or MLR, in the E and F Co areas. Each of the 57mm guns had, as part of its ammunition supply, seven to ten rounds of British discarding sabot (DS) ammunition, which the British had given to the regiment before D-Day.'3 These rounds used a disposable sleeve, or sabot, around the penetrator for the British 2-pounder gun. The result was a lighter projectile with increased velocity, about 4200 ft/sec vice 2900 ft/s for the normal 57mm round. With this velocity, a DS round could penetrate approximately six inches (154mm) of armor at a 30º slope.14


Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/3/2015 8:19:45 AM
The US 57mm AT gun acquired (and to some degree, still has) a bad reputation for being too light for the intended task. But I think that much of that reflected the lack of a selection of different ammo types. As noted above, the British did make some sabot rounds available, but one of the most limiting factors, in terms of tactical employment, was the lack of an HE round. Here too, some were provided from British stocks, but US made HE rounds were not available until after Normandy.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

redcoat
Stockport, UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant


Posts: 217

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/7/2015 6:07:05 PM

Quote:
The US 57mm AT gun acquired (and to some degree, still has) a bad reputation for being too light for the intended task. But I think that much of that reflected the lack of a selection of different ammo types. As noted above, the British did make some sabot rounds available, but one of the most limiting factors, in terms of tactical employment, was the lack of an HE round. Here too, some were provided from British stocks, but US made HE rounds were not available until after Normandy.
--Jim Cameron
It should be noted that the US Airborne forces used the British built 6 pdr with a cut down carriage designed to fit into gliders, and they were specially supplied with APDS (sabot)rounds during major airborne campaigns.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/8/2015 9:04:36 AM
With sabot rounds the 57mm was reasonably effective as an AT gun, and I still think on balance a better bet than the excessively heavy and somewhat marginal in terms of armor penetration 3" AT gun used by the towed TD battalions.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 548

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/8/2015 12:50:35 PM
[Read More]

---------------
VR, Rick Schaus

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk."
-- Gen. Bruce Clarke

redcoat
Stockport, UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant


Posts: 217

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/8/2015 2:13:44 PM

Quote:
With sabot rounds the 57mm was reasonably effective as an AT gun, and I still think on balance a better bet than the excessively heavy and somewhat marginal in terms of armor penetration 3" AT gun used by the towed TD battalions.
--Jim Cameron
Even with normal ammo it was still a better anti-tank weapon than the 75mm found on a Sherman tank.
During the later part of the war in Europe it was normal for every 75mm armed Churchill tank squadron to retain one troop of Churchill's armed with the 6 pdr gun as it gave them the ability to deal with Panthers and Tigers.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/8/2015 9:26:55 PM
As I understand it, the 75mm gun mounted in the Churchill was actually a conversion of the 6 pdr by boring it out to 75mm, although it did use US 75mm ammunition. Of course, under US armor doctrine tanks weren't supposed to fight enemy tanks, that being a job for the Tank Destroyers, and the US 75mm was optimized more for high explosive. It's AP performance was adequate against the lighter German tanks such as the Pzkw IV, but less so against the Panthers and Tigers. The US 76mm performed better against the Panther and Tiger, but at the expense of reduced HE effectiveness.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 492

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/8/2015 10:49:02 PM
The Churchill Mk IV came with the 6 pdr. Many were converted to 75mm, by multiple methods--including boring out the 6-pounders and taking 75mms from Shermans.

A few hundred Mk VI's were built with British 75mm.

The Mk VII introduced the third family of Churchills and came standard with 75mm guns.

The 6-pounder had better armor penetration than any of the 75mm, but the 75mm had heavier HE shells.


The US 76mm was a longer gun with better penetration. To put it on a Sherman hull initially, meant a less armored, open-topped turret--the M10 tank destroyer. Later, 76s were put on Shermans with enclosed, armred turrets, but at that time, 90mm guns were being put on the hull as the M36 tank destroyer.

The UK 76mm (better known as the 17-pounder) had better armor penetration.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 8:54:44 AM
The M10 GMC used the 3" gun. The 76mm was used in the M18 and the later Shermans. The projectiles were the same but the cartridge cases were different.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 10:42:21 AM

Quote:
The Churchill Mk IV came with the 6 pdr. Many were converted to 75mm, by multiple methods--including boring out the 6-pounders and taking 75mms from Shermans.


Mike, the old notion that 6-pounders were "bored out" to produce the British 75mm QF gun is mistaken. The new gun utilized the breech and traverse mechanism of the 6-pdr mated to a new chamber and tube.

The original 75mm Churchill was the 75mm NA for North Africa, which utilized 75mm M3 guns taken from crock Shermans to replace the 6-pounder. That led to the development of the 75mm QF.


Quote:
The US 76mm was a longer gun with better penetration. To put it on a Sherman hull initially, meant a less armored, open-topped turret--the M10 tank destroyer. Later, 76s were put on Shermans with enclosed, armred turrets, but at that time, 90mm guns were being put on the hull as the M36 tank destroyer.

The UK 76mm (better known as the 17-pounder) had better armor penetration.
--Mike Johnson


The US 76mm was a derivation of the 3" in a way similar to the British 77mm evolving from the 17-pdr and for much the same reasons. It also illustrates the problems with good intentions linked with inexperience in regards to US tank design during the war. The original Medium M4 design was intended to have an interchangeable gun mount that would accept a 75mm gun, 105mm howitzer, or 3" gun as needed. Except it didn't work. The existing 3" gun was simply too massive for the M4 turret, so a lighter version was developed - the 76mm. It weighed less and was slightly smaller, but after all the development, when it was fit to the turret it was found the barrel length left the turret unbalanced. So they took 15 inches off the end of the tube, which allowed the turret to traverse (especially a problem on slopes), but then it was found it was almost impossible to work the gun inside the turret so the Armored Force non-concurred on standardization. Finally, it was decided the way to go was to mount a modified version of the turret developed for the T20 series, which had been designed from the beginning for the 76mm. The end result was the loss of over two years to redesign and testing to get a weapon into service in July 1944 that was planned for service in the tank December 1941.

What is most odd in all this is that the American 76mm was ballistically matched to the 3" despite the shorter tube, by increasing the propellant load. Nevertheless, the Ordnanc Department steadfastly refused to increase the propellant load to achieve greater Mv and penetration, despite the request of Ordnance and Armored Force users in theater because it would reduce tube life. Add to that the failure to adequately heat treat the projectiles, again until experience indicated the requirement, and you have a weapon system that was every bit as good in design as the 17-pdr, but which simply could not perform as well.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 11:07:17 AM
Being knocked out by an enemy tank that your AP rounds wouldn't penetrate wasn't good for tube life either.
Tube replacement did become an issue regardless, due for example to US M10 TD's often being used as field artillery for lack of enemy armor. Or in the case of heavy artillery firing at maximum charge more than had been anticipated.


---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 11:15:17 AM
Of course and was precisely the argument given to CONUS without avail. The same argument about barrel life was used by the Ordnance Department against additives to produce flashless and smokeless propellants - the chemicals increased bore wear.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 5:48:14 PM
I suppose the gun mount and turret balance issues with the 76mm in the M4 series was yet another reflection of US doctrine that didn't view fighting enemy tanks as a priority. If the 75mm was generally adequate for such tank combat as might arise, and superior with HE for its primary missions, what was the rush to field a gun with better AP performance?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 7:04:45 PM

Quote:
I suppose the gun mount and turret balance issues with the 76mm in the M4 series was yet another reflection of US doctrine that didn't view fighting enemy tanks as a priority. If the 75mm was generally adequate for such tank combat as might arise, and superior with HE for its primary missions, what was the rush to field a gun with better AP performance?
--Jim Cameron


Sorry Jim, but no such thing, since there was nothing, repeat nothing, emphasis zero/zilch/nada in "US doctrine" that "didn't view fighting enemy tanks as a priority". That old shibboleth simply refuses to die, but it in fact has no basis in reality. The initial version in 1940 of FM 17 was explicit in describing that when an enemy armed unit was "in position to intervene in the battle" the primary task of friendly armored forces was its destruction. FM 17-10 in March 1942 gave more explicit instructions to "avoid frontal attacks" on enemy armored forces, but again there was no stricture against "fighting enemy tanks".

To repeat, the initial concept of the Medium Tank M4 was that it would have three different possible armaments according to what was desired tactically, based upon experience. The M2/M3 75mm Tank Gun was simply the quickest solution. They knew from the beginning that the existing M7 3" Tank Gun was simply too massive and needed redesign. What wasn't anticipated was the redesign still wouldn't fit and would then require a redesigned turret.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 492

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 7:44:15 PM

Quote:
The M10 GMC used the 3" gun. The 76mm was used in the M18 and the later Shermans. The projectiles were the same but the cartridge cases were different.
--Jim Cameron


I was using 3" and 76mm interchangeably as 3" is 76mm. They had the same bore size.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 492

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 7:49:55 PM

Quote:
Mike, the old notion that 6-pounders were "bored out" to produce the British 75mm QF gun is mistaken. The new gun utilized the breech and traverse mechanism of the 6-pdr mated to a new chamber and tube.


Thank you for the explanation. I didn't mean to imply that this was done in some field lab. The design was based on the 6 pounder is what I have understood. It was the 6-pounder design that was modified with a larger bore.


Quote:
The original 75mm Churchill was the 75mm NA for North Africa, which utilized 75mm M3 guns taken from crock Shermans to replace the 6-pounder


Agreed, which is why I mentioned it. These were on the Churchill Mk IVs, although many of the Mk IV 75s were those based on the 6-pounded.



Quote:
The US 76mm was a derivation of the 3" in a way similar to the British 77mm evolving from the 17-pdr and for much the same reasons. It also illustrates the problems with good intentions linked with inexperience in regards to US tank design during the war. The original Medium M4 design was intended to have an interchangeable gun mount that would accept a 75mm gun, 105mm howitzer, or 3" gun as needed. Except it didn't work. The existing 3" gun was simply too massive for the M4 turret, so a lighter version was developed - the 76mm. It weighed less and was slightly smaller, but after all the development, when it was fit to the turret it was found the barrel length left the turret unbalanced. So they took 15 inches off the end of the tube, which allowed the turret to traverse (especially a problem on slopes), but then it was found it was almost impossible to work the gun inside the turret so the Armored Force non-concurred on standardization. Finally, it was decided the way to go was to mount a modified version of the turret developed for the T20 series, which had been designed from the beginning for the 76mm. The end result was the loss of over two years to redesign and testing to get a weapon into service in July 1944 that was planned for service in the tank December 1941.

What is most odd in all this is that the American 76mm was ballistically matched to the 3" despite the shorter tube, by increasing the propellant load. Nevertheless, the Ordnanc Department steadfastly refused to increase the propellant load to achieve greater Mv and penetration, despite the request of Ordnance and Armored Force users in theater because it would reduce tube life. Add to that the failure to adequately heat treat the projectiles, again until experience indicated the requirement, and you have a weapon system that was every bit as good in design as the 17-pdr, but which simply could not perform as well.

--richto90


Thanks, Rich. I had always just blurred the 3" and 76mm because they indicated the same bore. So, good points about this.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 8:14:42 PM
Never said there was any stricture against US tanks engaging enemy tanks, it certainly happened routinely enough, just that this wasn't their primary mission. Why, after all, the tank destroyers?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 492

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 8:27:06 PM

Quote:

Quote:
I suppose the gun mount and turret balance issues with the 76mm in the M4 series was yet another reflection of US doctrine that didn't view fighting enemy tanks as a priority. If the 75mm was generally adequate for such tank combat as might arise, and superior with HE for its primary missions, what was the rush to field a gun with better AP performance?
--Jim Cameron


Sorry Jim, but no such thing, since there was nothing, repeat nothing, emphasis zero/zilch/nada in "US doctrine" that "didn't view fighting enemy tanks as a priority". That old shibboleth simply refuses to die, but it in fact has no basis in reality. The initial version in 1940 of FM 17 was explicit in describing that when an enemy armed unit was "in position to intervene in the battle" the primary task of friendly armored forces was its destruction. FM 17-10 in March 1942 gave more explicit instructions to "avoid frontal attacks" on enemy armored forces, but again there was no stricture against "fighting enemy tanks".
--richto90


Rich, I think you are misunderstanding the point. In the FM 17 series in 1942 and 1943, despite numerous lists on the offense and defense as to the priorities for tanks of various echelons (first, second, and third, in the offense) were to go after, tanks weren't mentioned. In 1944, when tanks show up on these lists, it is always the last priority on the list and "in extremis" is often added.

It wasn't that going after other tanks was forbidden, rather it spells out in some detail the priority for tanks and fighting other tanks was generally not on the list or seen as a distraction for why tanks were built in the first place. The point of going after command posts, communications centers, supply installations, reserves, and artillery, for example, was disrupting the functioning of divisions.

Now, nobody expected that tanks would never face other tanks, but the expectation, as drawn from the lists of priorities in pretty much of the FM 17 series published during the war, was to keep focus on what was important and try to avoid contact with anything that would distract from the mission.

For example, FM 17-30 ARMORED FORCE FIELD MANUAL TANK PLATOON states:

Quote:
e. Mission and echelons of attack.-(1) The mission of tanks in the armored division is to attack and destroy vital hostile installations such as command posts, communication centers, supply installations, reserves, and artillery.
(2) The mission of tanks in the separate tank battalions is to assist infantry, cavalry, or motorized divisions to advance by destroying hostile machine guns, personnel, and vital installations.
(3) A tank attack will usually be launched in three echelons, each echelon in a series of waves.
(a) The first echelon of attack, Preceded by neutralization by combat aviation and artillery, if available, is directed against the antitank defenses, artillery, command posts, and other rear installations. (See FM 17-33 and FM 17-32.) Tank platoons of this echelon destroy first the enemy antitank defenses and second, enemy artillery. They attack enemy infantry only when hindered by it in fulfilling their primary missions.
(b) The platoons of the second echelon follow the first echelon at such distance that the enemy will not have time to re-form his antitank defenses. These platoons destroy hostile automatic guns and personnel and clear the way for the advance of infantry. Antitank guns passed over by the first echelon must be silenced by the leading waves of the second echelon. (See par. 38c.)
(c) The tank platoons of the third echelon advance with the infantry, destroy hostile machine guns passed over by the second echelon, and hostile personnel. The mission of this echelon is to assist the advance of the infantry. They may lead the infantry attack if resistance is still heavy. If resistance has been broken by the first two echelons, tanks of the third echelon will follow the infantry, prepared to attack isolated resistance as necessary. These tanks also protect the infantry from counterattack, particularly of mechanized forces.


The reason the "myth" doesn't die, is that it isn't a myth that the priority for tanks included other targets and rarely included tanks on the list. It is a myth is that doctrine forbade fighting tanks. But, that has never been the point of the statement that tanks were not designed to fight tanks rather to take out other parts of the force.

Even more important, the tank was never designed to fight another tank one-on-one and too often we see comparisons between tanks as if it was a one-on-one fight. It was always intended to be a many-on-many fight usually as part of a combined arms. (I am not saying you claimed this, but in my mind is part of the explanation of designing tanks.

It should be noted that building tanks with priorities other than tank on tank fighting was not just US. It was true of most of the major countries and the US doctrine in 1942 was based heavily on German doctrine.


Quote:
To repeat, the initial concept of the Medium Tank M4 was that it would have three different possible armaments according to what was desired tactically, based upon experience. The M2/M3 75mm Tank Gun was simply the quickest solution. They knew from the beginning that the existing M7 3" Tank Gun was simply too massive and needed redesign. What wasn't anticipated was the redesign still wouldn't fit and would then require a redesigned turret.
--richto90


I agree with this. The idea was a combined arms force, with 105s providing heavier HE support and 3"/76s providing better anti-tank capability, and the 75 designed to do both somewhat well.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 9:11:15 PM

Quote:
Rich, I think you are misunderstanding the point. In the FM 17 series in 1942 and 1943, despite numerous lists on the offense and defense as to the priorities for tanks of various echelons (first, second, and third, in the offense) were to go after, tanks weren't mentioned. In 1944, when tanks show up on these lists, it is always the last priority on the list and "in extremis" is often added.


I don't think I am...although For Purpose of Service Test is taking a lot longer than I anticipated to complete, it has given me the advantage of spending some time on this subject. You might want to refer to FM 17 [ND, but likely November 1940] which first addressed attacking enemy armored units, or FM 17-10 of March 1942, page 46 para (b)., where medium tanks are noted specifically as protecting light tanks against the attack of hostile tanks.


Quote:
It wasn't that going after other tanks was forbidden, rather it spells out in some detail the priority for tanks and fighting other tanks was generally not on the list or seen as a distraction for why tanks were built in the first place. The point of going after command posts, communications centers, supply installations, reserves, and artillery, for example, was disrupting the functioning of divisions.


Okay, yes, but given that the "priority list" was constantly in flux, I doubt that it ever was actually a priority list, it was just a list.


Quote:
Now, nobody expected that tanks would never face other tanks, but the expectation, as drawn from the lists of priorities in pretty much of the FM 17 series published during the war, was to keep focus on what was important and try to avoid contact with anything that would distract from the mission.


Again, FM 17-33 specifically addresses the situation on page 107 para 37. Tank units will frequently and unexpectedly encounter enemy tanks. And I think that is the root of the confusion. You see priorities, I see quite a bit of wishful thinking and mirror imaging. They expected to maneuver to strike the enemy in vulnerable rear areas and against primarily infantry formations supported by AT guns, because that was the way we were going to do it when we opposed their armored attacks. However, they never really lost sight of the reality that enemy tanks could be the opponent at any time. Yes, the preferred method of dealing with them was TD guns...but also by fire and maneuver by our own armor. So the encounter with enemy armor became a specialized occurence with a specific TTP, just like for attacking a fortified position, or crossing a river, or in an encounter. So not "priorities", but contingencies.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/9/2015 9:17:26 PM

Quote:
Never said there was any stricture against US tanks engaging enemy tanks, it certainly happened routinely enough, just that this wasn't their primary mission. Why, after all, the tank destroyers?
--Jim Cameron


Jim, the Tank Destroyers are a whole different kettle of fish. Frankly, I think the confusion never would have happened about this if the TD's had been placed under the Armored Force. Somehow, the doctrine that the TD's would seek out and destroy enemy armor got morphed into its corollary, which is the idea that the Armor Force would not seek out and destroy enemy armor. The Armored Force was intended as an offensive force that would use fire and maneuver to destroy the enemy. Full stop. The preferred method was by decapitation, but dismemberment was also an accepted technique.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/10/2015 3:25:23 PM
They certainly were, and I must admit to having a soft spot for the TD's, two of my uncles having served in the 601st TD Bn. But having two separate and distinct armored forces on the field did tend to confuse things, and I tend to agree with those who thought that a separate TD force was never a viable concept on the battlefield. It wasn't, after all, as if the tanks could say "Sorry, not my union" and then sit and wait for the TD's whenever they encountered enemy tanks. They had to engage them as and when found. For their part, the TD battalions did make themselves useful, even if in ways not originally intended.

Question: Would the Armored Force have even wanted the TD's under its wing?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/10/2015 7:48:15 PM

Quote:
Question: Would the Armored Force have even wanted the TD's under its wing?
--Jim Cameron


I suspect so, since they asked and were denied.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/10/2015 9:24:03 PM
I wasn't aware of that. Of course, once the 76mm ended up in the Sherman, much of the distinction between a tank and a TD would seem to have been lost anyway.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3322

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 2:18:56 AM
But having two separate and distinct armored forces on the field did tend to confuse things, and I tend to agree with those who thought that a separate TD force was never a viable concept on the battlefield. It wasn't, after all, as if the tanks could say "Sorry, not my union" and then sit and wait for the TD's whenever they encountered enemy tanks. They had to engage them as and when found. For their part, the TD battalions did make themselves useful, even if in ways not originally intended.

 Weren't the TD's part of the artillery branch? A couple of observations. IIRC, the Germans had a similar arrangement, at least as far as their assault guns went (also with the artillery); not sure about their tank destroyers without checking. I'm also thinking about the Battle of Arracourt. Both U.S. tank and TD forces engaged German armor; I'm fairly sure the TD battalion was attached to the 4th AD during the battle. I wonder how the relations were between the two groups.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 8:13:37 AM

Quote:
But having two separate and distinct armored forces on the field did tend to confuse things, and I tend to agree with those who thought that a separate TD force was never a viable concept on the battlefield. It wasn't, after all, as if the tanks could say "Sorry, not my union" and then sit and wait for the TD's whenever they encountered enemy tanks. They had to engage them as and when found. For their part, the TD battalions did make themselves useful, even if in ways not originally intended.

 Weren't the TD's part of the artillery branch? A couple of observations. IIRC, the Germans had a similar arrangement, at least as far as their assault guns went (also with the artillery); not sure about their tank destroyers without checking. I'm also thinking about the Battle of Arracourt. Both U.S. tank and TD forces engaged German armor; I'm fairly sure the TD battalion was attached to the 4th AD during the battle. I wonder how the relations were between the two groups.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


No, the Tank Destroyers were essentially a byproduct of the same action creating the Armored Force. In mid 1940, the Chief of Infantry and Chief of Artillery could not agree on who had primacy for the antitank mission any better than the Chief of Infantry could agree with the Chief of Cavalry over who had primacy over armor. Marshall cut the Gordian not on the latter dispute, but WRT antitank he ordered an antitank conference resolve issues...which didn't work. The matter wasn't resolved until after the Carolina maneuvers in late 1941. There experiments had been conducted using massed, mobile antitank units formed from the available infantry antitank companies and artillery antitank batteries. In the aftermath Marshall authorized a Tank Destroyer Command, separate from the existing combat branches, just like the Armored Force (only Congress can create permanent branches of the Army, the Armored Force and Tank Destroyer Command were temporary wartime entities).

And there was every reason for the TD Battalions attached to armored divisions to function well with them, many, like the 704th TD Battalion of the 4th AD, were cadred from their "parent" armored division and then were attached to them for most of the duration.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 9:19:39 AM
The 601st TD BN was likewise often attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. There's a photograph of one of my uncles who was in the 601st wearing a 3rd ID shoulder patch.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
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Posts: 548

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 11:31:00 AM

Quote:
Question: Would the Armored Force have even wanted the TD's under its wing?
--Jim Cameron

Probably not if Devers, head of the Armored Force, had a say in it.

This is from a letter he wrote after his return from an inspection tour of Tunisia:
”The separate tank destroyer arm is not a practical concept on the battlefield. Defensive antitank weapons are essentially artillery. Offensively, the weapon to beat a tank is a better tank. Sooner or later the issue between ground forces is settled in an armored battle---tank against tank. The concept of tank destroyer groups and brigades attempting to overcome equal numbers of hostile tanks is faulty unless the tank destroyers are actually better tanks than those of the enemy.”

Of course the early TDs which saw combat in N Africa were basically ineffective stopgap vehicles, with the first M-10 arriving later.


I admit that I too have a soft spot for the TDs.
---------------
VR, Rick Schaus

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk."
-- Gen. Bruce Clarke

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 11:48:10 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Question: Would the Armored Force have even wanted the TD's under its wing?
--Jim Cameron

Probably not if Devers, head of the Armored Force, had a say in it.

This is from a letter he wrote after his return from an inspection tour of Tunisia:
”The separate tank destroyer arm is not a practical concept on the battlefield. Defensive antitank weapons are essentially artillery. Offensively, the weapon to beat a tank is a better tank. Sooner or later the issue between ground forces is settled in an armored battle---tank against tank. The concept of tank destroyer groups and brigades attempting to overcome equal numbers of hostile tanks is faulty unless the tank destroyers are actually better tanks than those of the enemy.”

Of course the early TDs which saw combat in N Africa were basically ineffective stopgap vehicles, with the first M-10 arriving later.


I admit that I too have a soft spot for the TDs.

--Rick Schaus


Rick,

In context, Devers was actually reaffirming the Armored Force POV, which was all armored units, including the TD, should be part of the Armored Force. What he objected to was their separate "command" status. Unfortunately, Devers was often too smart for his own good and was also too often right, which can be a career killer in bureaucratic organizations. His tenure as Chief of the Armored Force was extremely frustrating for him, since none of his recommendations regarding tank design and organization were followed, even though - as in this case - he was spot on.

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 548

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 2:19:56 PM

Quote:
Rick,
In context, Devers was actually reaffirming the Armored Force POV, which was all armored units, including the TD, should be part of the Armored Force. What he objected to was their separate "command" status. Unfortunately, Devers was often too smart for his own good and was also too often right, which can be a career killer in bureaucratic organizations. His tenure as Chief of the Armored Force was extremely frustrating for him, since none of his recommendations regarding tank design and organization were followed, even though - as in this case - he was spot on.
--richto90

I think Devers was saying that you don’t need tank destroyers, or a separate TD organization, to engage enemy armor offensively; you need a good (better) tank.
As he said: ”Offensively, the weapon to beat a tank is a better tank.”, and, ”tank against tank”.
A good tank should also be a good tank destroyer.
Of course those good tanks would be under the purview of the Armored Force.


The following from a 'Leavenworth Papers' provides the author’s opinion on this subject:
”General Ward took command at Camp Hood at the same time that General Devers of Armor Branch was making an unsuccessful push to pull tank destroyers under the Armor Center at Fort Knox. This change of heart for General Devers, who had not concealed his belief that tank destroyers were at best a necessary evil, is questionable. Rather than seeing the usefulness of the tank destroyers, it is likely he rationed that if the bulk of the Army was going to utilize them like tanks they might as well belong to Armor Branch.”


I agree that Devers had the right idea.

And, based on experience in N Africa and the Italy, not favorable regarding TDs, there was a significant consensus that there was no real need for SP TDs, and the current version of the M4 could handle the actual tank threat.

TD doctrine and weapons had not yet been tested to determine if they were valid.

The ETO would muck it all up.

---------------
VR, Rick Schaus

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk."
-- Gen. Bruce Clarke

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/11/2015 2:40:27 PM

Quote:

Quote:
Rick,
In context, Devers was actually reaffirming the Armored Force POV, which was all armored units, including the TD, should be part of the Armored Force. What he objected to was their separate "command" status. Unfortunately, Devers was often too smart for his own good and was also too often right, which can be a career killer in bureaucratic organizations. His tenure as Chief of the Armored Force was extremely frustrating for him, since none of his recommendations regarding tank design and organization were followed, even though - as in this case - he was spot on.
--richto90

I think Devers was saying that you don’t need tank destroyers, or a separate TD organization, to engage enemy armor offensively; you need a good (better) tank.
As he said: ”Offensively, the weapon to beat a tank is a better tank.”, and, ”tank against tank”.
A good tank should also be a good tank destroyer.
Of course those good tanks would be under the purview of the Armored Force.


The following from a 'Leavenworth Papers' provides the author’s opinion on this subject:
”General Ward took command at Camp Hood at the same time that General Devers of Armor Branch was making an unsuccessful push to pull tank destroyers under the Armor Center at Fort Knox. This change of heart for General Devers, who had not concealed his belief that tank destroyers were at best a necessary evil, is questionable. Rather than seeing the usefulness of the tank destroyers, it is likely he rationed that if the bulk of the Army was going to utilize them like tanks they might as well belong to Armor Branch.”


I agree that Devers had the right idea.


Yep. He realized early on the best TD was another tank, but was never really able to fully implement his thinking before he was shuffled off to the ETO and then marginalized by Eisenhower (who disliked him intensely, one of Ike's few poor character readings).


Quote:
And, based on experience in N Africa and the Italy, not favorable regarding TDs, there was a significant consensus that there was no real need for SP TDs, and the current version of the M4 could handle the actual tank threat.


That was one conclusion expressed by McNair, but also espoused by various other observers, which resulted in the re-equipping of part of the TD force with towed weapons.


Quote:
TD doctrine and weapons had not yet been tested to determine if they were valid.


Yes, see above. Just as the best equipment to fit the doctrine was coming along, the M18, the doctrine began to de-emphasize the SP TD and maneuver as part of the TD TTP. For no good reason. Most TD success in the war was by SP TD, in fact, about the only exception I can think of off hand was Mortain.


Quote:
The ETO would muck it all up.


Not sure what you mean by that? Early on the ETO realized the towed battalion was a mistake and began planning to re-equip the towed battalions as SP, which was in full swing by November 1944 and essentially complete by the end of the war. The ETO successor, USFET, also put the last nails into the TD concept in the General Board Reports at the end of the war. So I would say the ETO pretty much got it right.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 10:12:05 AM

Quote:
Just as the best equipment to fit the doctrine was coming along, the M18...


Yet even the M18 had it's problems, and there was some criticism that it represented Gen. Bruce's obsession with finding the "ideal" TD, as opposed to the M10. The even greater problem was that TD doctrine itself was never particularly realistic. By the time of the campaign in northern Europe, the prospect of massive German armor penetrations was remote, and no commander was going to allow powerful units to sit in the rear unengaged waiting for something that might never happen. The towed battalions further complicated things, being essentially defensive weapons somewhat ill suited for a primarily offensive campaign.

Speaking of Mortain, I'd have to did out my references, but didn't the 57mm guns also have some success there? (I might be confusing this with something else.)
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 11:09:02 AM

Quote:
Yet even the M18 had it's problems, and there was some criticism that it represented Gen. Bruce's obsession with finding the "ideal" TD, as opposed to the M10. The even greater problem was that TD doctrine itself was never particularly realistic. By the time of the campaign in northern Europe, the prospect of massive German armor penetrations was remote, and no commander was going to allow powerful units to sit in the rear unengaged waiting for something that might never happen. The towed battalions further complicated things, being essentially defensive weapons somewhat ill suited for a primarily offensive campaign.


The M18 was ideal, and much better adapted to the SP AT role than the M10. The marginal improvement in protection the M10 enjoyed did not compensate in any way for its lack of mobility, while the guns of both were matched. The M36 may have been harder hitting, but suffered from the same lack of mobility as the M10 and its cramped turret was not ideal.

The doctrine is a different matter. Yes, the original TD Doctrine as espoused in FM 18-5 dated 16 June 1942 wasn't realistic...but it was also only ever attempted in North Africa and Tunisia. By the HUSKY and AVALANCHE invasions it had been superseded in part by Training Circular No. 88 of 1943, which was embodied in the new FM 18-5 of 18 July 1944. That was the doctrine TD units in the ETO and MTO fought under in 1944 and 1945. It was much more sensible, eliminating a lot of the verbiage about pursuing and destroying enemy armored units and recognizing the necessity of distributing tank destroyer units to the front when enemy armored dispositions remained unknown; while still giving lip service to the idea of massing a central TD reserve...an idea never carried out in practice.


Quote:
Speaking of Mortain, I'd have to did out my references, but didn't the 57mm guns also have some success there? (I might be confusing this with something else.)


The known engagements at Mortain were the:

Roadblock at Fantay (2 57mm), which was overrun without any known German tank loss
St Barthelemy (4 57mm and 8 3" towed TD), which was overrun after the guns and 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry inflicted 40-50 armored losses on the Germans
Abbaye-Blanche (2 57mm and 4 3" towed guns), which held and inflicted 20-23 armored losses on the Germans

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 11:53:56 AM
Didn't 1st Army refuse the M18? Among other things I've read that it was criticized for having a cramped fighting compartment, and that while certainly fast, as a practical matter it had a hard time putting this speed advantage to good use, tactically. Not that the M10 was perfect by any means. Despite it's lack of armor it wasn't really all that much lighter or faster than the M4, and the lack of a power traverse for the main gun was a real shortcoming.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 548

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 12:28:25 PM
The ideal TD as specified was never fielded.

It was to be:
”“fast moving vehicle armed with a weapon with a powerful punch, which could be easily and quickly fired””

Neither the 3” on the M-10, nor the 76mm on the M-18 had a powerful punch.
The 90mm on the M-36 did have a more powerful punch, but the M-36 wasn’t fast moving.
---------------
VR, Rick Schaus

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk."
-- Gen. Bruce Clarke

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 12:41:54 PM

Quote:
Didn't 1st Army refuse the M18? Among other things I've read that it was criticized for having a cramped fighting compartment, and that while certainly fast, as a practical matter it had a hard time putting this speed advantage to good use, tactically. Not that the M10 was perfect by any means. Despite it's lack of armor it wasn't really all that much lighter or faster than the M4, and the lack of a power traverse for the main gun was a real shortcoming.
--Jim Cameron


The assumption the 1st Army "refused" the M18 is just that - an unproven assumption. In reality, units did not begin to complete equipping with the M18 in CONUS and were ready for overseas movement until spring 1944. Ipso facto, they could not participate in NEPTUNE and nor were they initially assigned to First Army. Thus, the TD units assigned to First Army were all M10 or towed 3", while most of those assigned to Third and Ninth Army were drawn from the follow-on forces and were thus comprised mostly of M18. When the M36 began appearing it was used to equip selected units, almost invariably M10 and then those redundant M10 were used to re-equip 3" towed units.

ALL of the SP TD were criticized as having cramped fighting compartments. The 3" M7 Tank Gun was a monster - remember the reason for redesigning it as the 76mm Tank Gun was size and weight? The M36 was so cramped that ETO Ordnance had to refit the episcopes and other gear so that the gunner had room to aim his piece and allow the loader sufficient freedom of movement.

The M18 was mobile enough on the battlefield for its mobility to play a critical role in the actions at Arracourt and Bastogne among a few. Given its much better mobility over the M10, while having the same gun, powered traverse, and effectively little difference in protection, it was a much better choice than the M10.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 12:46:33 PM

Quote:
The ideal TD as specified was never fielded.

It was to be:
”“fast moving vehicle armed with a weapon with a powerful punch, which could be easily and quickly fired””


Yep, but on the other hand, the capability of the 76mm/3" was both badly assessed and badly underutilized...and there was really no other thing available - a 90mm-armed M18 was tested, but didn't work. So, like most ideals, it was simply unachievable within the context of the possible as it existed then. Instead of the ideal then, we have the best choice, which in terms of the requirement was the M18.

Rick Schaus
Capon Springs, WV, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 548

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 3:36:04 PM

Quote:
Didn't 1st Army refuse the M18? Among other things I've read that it was criticized for having a cramped fighting compartment, and that while certainly fast, as a practical matter it had a hard time putting this speed advantage to good use, tactically. Not that the M10 was perfect by any means. Despite it's lack of armor it wasn't really all that much lighter or faster than the M4, and the lack of a power traverse for the main gun was a real shortcoming.
--Jim Cameron

According to Steven Zaloga in M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer 1943-97:

”In January, Bradley’s First US Army headquarters in England were informed that the M18 would be available in time for operations in France. At first they refused them, stating that they saw no advantage in replacing the M10, and expressing concerns over the additional logistical burden of a new type. Instead they wanted to wait until the M36 90mm GMC became available.”

---------------
VR, Rick Schaus

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk."
-- Gen. Bruce Clarke

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 6:28:33 PM

Quote:
According to Steven Zaloga in M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer 1943-97:

”In January, Bradley’s First US Army headquarters in England were informed that the M18 would be available in time for operations in France. At first they refused them, stating that they saw no advantage in replacing the M10, and expressing concerns over the additional logistical burden of a new type. Instead they wanted to wait until the M36 90mm GMC became available.”


Interesting, I had not heard that before. I may ask Steve about that since in context it makes little sense. The M18 units were not available and it was known they would not be available until July at the earliest. So they could not be available for First Army for NEPTUNE. It simply made perfect sense for them to be staged in with the follow-on forces, which they were.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 6:31:20 PM
BTW, WRT 57mm HE, I am unsure where the idea that US forces did not get issued it came from? It certainly was used, for example at Mortain many of the actions by the 57mm noted the firing of HE. Somewhere I have the U/F for the 57mm, I'll see if I can dig it out.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 669

Re: U.S. use of 57-mm discarding sabot ammunition in ETO
Posted on: 8/12/2015 8:10:06 PM
I don't think it was a matter of them not having any, so much as it being in short supply. According to Steven Zaloga HE was authorized in March 1944 but US stocks weren't available until after Normandy, US forces obtaining a "sufficient" supply from the British. He quotes a US battalion commander as saying, "We sure need high explosive for the 57mm. It is the only weapon in the infantry regiment with the flat trajectory like the 88, but there is no high explosive for it except for what we borrowed from the British. As a result, in the absence of tanks but the presence of pillboxes, we haven't used the 57mm very much. "
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

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