Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Another pic to pick apart.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by A-58, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    1,519
    Location:
    God's Country
    The Stuart was used extensively during the Solomon Islands campaign as was the Zero, so it could easily have happened. I just don't recall any specific accounts.

    That all depends upon time frame being discussed. In North Africa the first Stuart's supplied to the British acquired the nickname "Honey". You also have to remember that World of Tanks allows for anachronistic match ups. At that time Rommel's main tank was the Pz III Ausf. G, a tank the Stuart was quite comparable to in capabilities/protection. The biggest drawback to the M3 was that it was limited in range as compared to the Pz. III and British Cruiser tanks. German tactical proficiency and employment were the deciding factors at this point, not the actual tanks. In fact, many times it was Rommel's innovative anti-tank gun use and more than tank on tank combat that decided battles. A little later on when the upgraded Pz. III H, J and J Special (50mm L/60 gun, especially when firing the new APCR round) began to arrive they outclassed the Crusaders/Stuarts but by the M3 Grant/Lee's were being fielded.
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    5,848
    Likes Received:
    1,501
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    Swings & roundabouts.
    Stuart slugged it out with bigger boys for chunks of the desert campaign, largely by virtue of it's mobility and the fluid nature of the fighting.
    Robert Crisp's 'Brazen Chariots' is a very readable & easily obtained account from one Stuart commander that's occasionally surprising in descriptions of use.
    In short, you fought with what you had. Reasonable little gun (but forced closer engagement). Decent enough armour. Good mobility. Most successful uses may have required boldness (the thing not really ever having been envisioned as specifically engaging other tanks), but thankfully there was a fair supply of that.

    The situation changes in Europe. where M3 & M5 (you see M3s still in Sicily & Italy, don't know about elsewhere without checking) find their place more as solid & mobile reconnaissance machines. Even when the turrets were eventually removed from many for Kangaroo & lighter recon use, they still proved useful vehicles with better protection and rough ground mobility than the average AC.
    ( @Ron Goldstein served in turretless Stuarts for a while. Seem to recall usually complimentary, despite some alarm having trained in M4s...)

    Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Burma etc. Again, a useful little machine, doing some stuff other tanks could not.

    If longevity is a compliment to design, M3s & 5s were still in use in some countries up until the very late 80s (possibly 90s? ), Even if only for paramilitary style police actions it was still seen as a worthwhile bulletproof box with a bit of extra punch.
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    9,203
    Likes Received:
    1,298
    We put Stuart turrets on Alligators, as being "good enough" for the littoral environment.
     
  4. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,074
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    That is true, the possibility of such an encounter is there. The only thing that makes me doubt such an event happened, is the fact the "tiny cactus" airforce and the U.S Navy controlled the skies and sea during the day, while the Japanese were dominant at night. I would imagine very, very few Japanese aircraft had the opportunity during the day to take a crack at U.S tanks (Even if they did, I would think they would go after Henderson field, or Ships instead), and seeing a tank at night in he jungle is nearly impossible.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    1,519
    Location:
    God's Country
    Controlled is a bit of an overstatement, during the early part of the campaign, they were hanging on by their fingernails. The Zero was employed by Japan during the Guadalcanal Campaign because of it's incredible range as initially Japanese air attacks originated at the northern end of the chain. The Japanese were trying to knock out the airfield and sink any resupply vessels, the Americans to protect the same. Many of their (Japan's) losses were aircraft damaged in the dogfighting around the island or pilots wounded that didn't make the 650 mile trip back to Rabaul (1300 mi round trip). To put those distances into perspective, the distance from London to Berlin is 579 miles, 71 miles less!

    As the American's moved up the Solomon's chain, the Russell's, New Georgia, Rendova, Arundel Island, Vella LeValla, M3's of the Marine Defense battalions supported both US Army and Marine Corps units so it wasn't just Guadalcanal. So plenty of opportunity for encounters.
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  6. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,074
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    Absolutely, it wasn't just Guadalcanal, it was many other areas. I just would assume (from what I have read, and learned regarding this manner) that the Zero's would rather risk themselves going after American aircraft, or participating invasion vessel's, as they did in Leyte Gulf, Saipan, and Okinawa. But as you said Price, there is a real possibility that such an event took place.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    7,155
    Likes Received:
    1,395
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    The possibility existed, but the opportunity was much less. The A6M did not really have the loiter time, early in the campaign, to hunt for targets of opportunity such as tanks that would be hidden under the jungle canopy. They mostly went after the obvious targets such as Henderson Field, patrolling American aircraft, supply dumps, etc. As the Solomons campaign wore on, they continued to focus on the obvious targets, but now, attrition was taking it's toll on Japanese fighter aircraft and pilots, not to mention a sizeable jump in American fighter activity. Further, Japanese air activity over American occupied positions tended to be limited to night air raids, which were not conducive to strafing tanks. Finally, given that the A6M's light structure limited it's dive steeply, a top attack it likely out of the question.

    Even in North Africa, German and Italian strafing attacks had trouble taking out Stuarts, and the most likely outcome was killing an unfortunate tank commander who was to slow to get down into the turret.
     
    JJWilson and USMCPrice like this.
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    1,519
    Location:
    God's Country
    Absolutely true (bolded text), but another reason for giving the distance from Rabaul to Guadalcanal earlier was to give a linear idea of the size of the battlefield, width wise it included the Coral Sea, Solomon Sea, Bismark Sea, and to the west the South Pacific, including all the little island groups therein. There were a plethora of landings up the chain and neighboring island groups to provide airfields, anchorages, patrol bases, simply to remove threats to shipping or protect the flanks of the advance. As the US proceeded up the chain the problem the Japanese encountered initially, became inverse. Now we were flying the long distances to neutralize Rabaul. We needed emergency airfields for returning aircraft, we needed additional forward airfields for pushing the offensive forward, we needed anchorages, supply points, naval patrol bases, etc. As our number of positions needing to be defended expanded, our ability to properly defend them all decreased, we couldn't be everywhere at once. When it was just Henderson Field we could concentrate our efforts because we knew where the Japanese would strike. As we expanded we didn't know if they would strafe and bomb this PT boat base, or have a fighter sweep, strafe and bomb this airfield, strafe and bomb our supply dumps here or attack shipping between point A and point B, the point is many of these attacks were unopposed by our aircraft. In August and September 1942 if coast watchers reported an air strike coming down the slot from Rabaul we knew where it was headed, by June 1943, not so much.

    Here's a Hyperwar document on the Navy's base building in the Solomons, I know it's only tangentially related but it gives a good idea of how many places we occupied. Also, remember that even if a landing ended up being unopposed by ground forces, we went ashore organized and prepared to fight. The organic tank companies from the Marine Defense Battalions provided the armor support for both US Army and US Marine forces making these landings and that tank was the M3 Stuart. This was dictated by the inability of US Naval assault vessels at the time being able to handle the weight of a medium tank unless unloaded by dock facilities having heavy cranes. (These did not exist in the Solomons) The first seaborne landing in the Pacific to use medium tanks was Tarawa/Betio in November 1943 when the new LSD became available. So there was plenty of time for a potential M3-A6M encounter.

    Another potential location for the encounter would be in the Philippines before their fall. The Army had M3's deployed there when Japan invaded, in fact the first US tank on tank armored encounter of WWII happened there on 22 December 1941.

    From Wiki:
    "America's first tank versus tank battle of World War II occurred when Type 95 light tanks of the IJA 4th Tank Regiment engaged a US Army tank platoon, consisting of five brand new M3 Stuart light tanks from "B" company, 192nd Tank Battalion, on 22 December 1941, north of Damortis during the retreat to the Bataan Peninsula in 1941.[64] Both the M3 and Type 95 light tanks were armed with a 37 mm gun, but the M3 was better armored, with 32 mm (1¼ inches) thick turret sides,[65] vs the Type 95's 12 mm thick armor; however, as the US Army's Ballistics Research Lab (BRL) found after conducting the first large study of tank vs tank warfare in 1945, the most important factor in a tank duel was which side spotted the enemy first, fired first, and hit first.[66] In this first engagement the IJA reacted first, destroying the lead M3 as it tried to leave the road. The four remaining American tanks all suffered hits as they retreated."

    Since the Japanese enjoyed basically uncontested air superiority there is the potential that an M3-A6M encounter occurred between the invasion and the surrender of US forces.
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    1,519
    Location:
    God's Country
    I agree with most of much you wrote, but I think the "limited to night attacks" is misleading for the period after Guadalcanal was secured and the majority of aerial action moved elsewhere. The Japanese launched 159 air raids against New Georgia alone, the vast majority daylight strikes.
    As for the Zero, I'll have to break out Francillon's book to remember exactly when, but didn't late production A6M2 model 21's have their wing roots strengthened to improve dive ability? They still couldn't match the heavily built US aircraft in a dive but I wouldn't characterize them as being unable to dive steeply. I'm sure it occurred by the A6M3 model 32, in fact that model was the one with the decreased range and the Japanese weren't able to use them during the latter stages of the Guadalcanal campaign due to that. They were however heavily used during the central and upper Solomons campaigns.
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    5,892
    Likes Received:
    1,393
    Location:
    The Arid Zone
    It's Christmas so I won't invite all of my gun-nerd friends over here to have sport with you and point out that there is no clip fed version of the Thompson. That aside, I agree with the gist of the later posts. Looks like a bunch of Rooskies with new tanks and 'Murican equipment hamming it up for a photographer.

    .
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    1,519
    Location:
    God's Country
    We've kind of strayed off topic, I think it started with questioning if a 7.7mm round could penetrate a Stuart's top armor, but I have enjoyed discussing the Solomon's Campaign. As long as we're off topic, in the early Pacific the Stuart was primarily used to reduce Japanese fortifications and against Japanese Infantry where it excelled. The 37mm gun on the Stuart also had an excellent cannister round for anti-personnel use.

    Here's an account of early M3 action at Guadalcanal at "Alligator Creek";

    Deciding that nothing should be left to chance, Cates ordered four Stuart tanks across the sandbar into the coconut grove. Correspondent Richard Tregaskis had been watching Japanese soldiers running along the strip of beach along the northern edge of the palm grove—“black violently moving blobs.” Shortly afterward, Tregaskis heard rifle fire from the Marine lines and saw the black blobs drop onto the sand. The first sign of the tanks was a rumbling of powerful engines behind the correspondent. The four Stuarts clattered toward the sandbar and the Japanese positions beyond.

    M3A1 Stuart: The Meat Grinder of Guadalcanal
    The M3A1 Stuart was a light (14-ton) tank, but it was just right for this assignment. It was light enough get around the palm trees and heavily armed to pound the Japanese sheltering in the grove. Tregaskis watched as the “awful machines” rattled toward the edge of the grove and began flushing the enemy soldiers from among the trees. “It was like a comedy of toys, something unbelievable, to see them knocking over palm trees,” he later wrote.

    The 37mm guns fired round after round at Ichiki’s soldiers, spewing sheets of orange flame. Sometimes the tanks would fire into clumps of underbrush, where Japanese machine-gun positions had been hidden. The rattle of machine-gun fire would quickly be overcome by the heavier reports of 37mm cannon.

    One of the tanks came to a sudden stop, crippled after one of its tracks was blown off by a grenade or antitank mine. The other three tanks moved to remove the crew. After performing their errand of mercy, the remaining Stuarts went back to their job of flushing out the enemy.

    Cates, fearing that all the tanks might be knocked out with no one to rescue their crews, sent a radio message to the tank commander, ordering him to withdraw from the grove. But the commander, Lieutenant Leo Case, snapped back, “Leave us alone. We are too busy killing Japs.”

    The Stuarts went on blasting the enemy, running over bodies of Japanese dead and wounded. The roots of the coconut trees, which were large and thick and sometimes protruded several feet above the ground, saved the lives of several Japanese. One of the fortunate few was Sergeant Sadanobu Okada of Ichiki’s headquarters unit. Okada played dead as the tanks rolled in. One drove right over him, but a coconut root took the tank’s full weight. When the three Stuarts returned to the American lines, they literally dripped with blood. Vandegrift wrote, “The rear of the tanks looked like meat grinders.”

    Ichiki’s men fought back. As Cresswell’s rifle companies advanced from the jungle, Japanese rifle and machine-gun fire surprised the Marines. Several of them were hit.

    “There was now bitter fighting in the grove,” Tregaskis noted. “We realized that the tanks had not mopped up completely, for we could still hear the snapping of Jap machine-gun and rifle fire.” Cresswell’s men kept moving forward.

    “Like everyone else,” a Marine with the headquarters company recalled, “Burnham and I had fired our rifles and emptied our cartridge belts—100 rounds and then some.”

    The only escape for the Japanese was the sea. Many of them made a run for it but were cut down by rifle fire before they could get as far as the beach. Those who managed to get to the water bobbed about on the surface, with only the black dots of their heads showing. Marines shot at the dots and killed many more of the enemy in the water.

    Those who managed to escape headed east, away from the grove, and ran into Creswell’s fourth rifle company, Company C, and newly arrived Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter planes. The Wildcats, which had arrived on the 20th, strafed the beach. The remaining handful of survivors straggled back to Taivu Point.

    “These People Refuse to Surrender”
    The Battle of the Tenaru, as it was called, was over by 5 pm. The battle was actually misnamed. The Marines thought they were fighting at the Tenaru River, which is actually about 2,000 yards to the east, so history books continued to call the battle by its incorrect name for years afterward. And Alligator Creek itself is actually misnamed—the reptiles that inhabit it are in fact crocodiles. The fight is also known as the Battle of the Ilu River.

    Marines wandered out into the coconut grove to get a closer look at the scene, collect souvenirs, and tend the wounded. Some of Ichiki’s men were not about to let the battle end and decided to take at least one of the enemy with them when they died. Japanese soldiers pretending to be dead shot several Marines; others used grenades to blow themselves up along with an unsuspecting Marine. Three officers, including Cresswell, were startled when a Japanese sergeant suddenly sat up and tried to shoot them. When his automatic pistol failed to fire, he turned it on himself. This time it worked, and blew the top of his head off.

    The word spread quickly—Japanese who appeared to be dead should still be considered dangerous. Taking no chances, the Marines put bullets into every enemy corpse that happened to be nearby.

    “I watched our men standing in a shooting-gallery line, thumping bullets into the piles of Jap carcasses,” Tregaskis wrote in his diary. “The edge of the water grew brown and muddy. Some said the blood of the Jap carcasses was staining the ocean.”

    This ruthless fighting came as a shock to Americans. Even senior officers were taken aback. “These people refuse to surrender,” Vandegrift wrote to Marine Corps commandant General Thomas Holcomb. “The injured wait until men come up to examine them … and blow themselves and the other fellow to pieces with a hand grenade. You can readily see the answer to this.”

    Ichiki’s men certainly preferred death to surrender. Only 15 Japanese were taken prisoner, and only one gave himself up voluntarily. The rest were dead....
     
    lwd, A-58, rkline56 and 3 others like this.
  12. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    5,892
    Likes Received:
    1,393
    Location:
    The Arid Zone
    Would the 7.7 penetrate the top of a Stuart? It's all very subjective, but I think it might. The top of a tank is its weak point, simply because it is largely immune from rounds fired in ground combat. Certainly, the rear cover over the engine is notoriously fragile - you can find anecdotes of thrown or rifle fired AT grenades knocking out even medium tanks when landing there, though its hard to say whether that is due to simple concussion of engine parts or actual penetration.
    Anyway, the 7.7 is a heavy round (175 grains) at about 2400 fps which should have excellent penetration, so given a steep angle from an aircraft it likely would go through. I *think.* I base this partially on shooting steel plates here in my yard. I have a 12 inch "gong" out at the 125 yards which is made of the same steel that body armor is made of. 5.56 rounds just leave a splash, but surplus 7.62 NATO makes a big divot and 'almost' penetrates. Given the advances in metallurgy, I doubt the engine covers on a Stuart were as tough as modern steels designed specifically to thwart rifle slugs.

    .
     
    rkline56 likes this.
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,074
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    As you said USMC, we have definitely strayed off topic, but what I have learned and read in this discussion has been very informative and enjoyable for me. This could have been a thread in it of itself.
     
    USMCPrice likes this.
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    7,155
    Likes Received:
    1,395
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    That would be the rear wing spar that was strengthened, IIRC, the dive speed was still limited to roughly 400 mph. With the A6M3, the dive speed limit was pushed up a bit to about 418-420mph depending on source. It wasn't until the A6M5a that the wing skin was thickened, and thickened further with the A6M5c.

    Well, not unable to dive steeply per se...which they could until the airspeed built up. I don't see them diving near vertical, acquiring said M3 Stuart tank, aiming at said tank, firing, correcting aim, and firing again, before reaching their Vne.
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    1,519
    Location:
    God's Country
    I'm not aware of Japanese doctrine, but USAAC doctrine for strafing attacks on moving targets was a 30 degree angle of attack (not near vertical) and an airspeed of @320 mph. Higher airspeed was determined to preclude accurate observation of the effects and limit the number of rounds that could be place on target during the run. I've also read Navy/Marine Corps documents that recommend 35-45 degrees angle of attack and comment that steeper angles of attack make corrections for initial targeting errors/miscalculations problematic. I don't recall a specific airspeed recommendation, but they are cautioned against too high an airspeed again it limits rounds on target and the ability to observe.
    All these parameters are well within the performance envelope of the A6M series prior to the A6M5 iteration. Btw, thanks for the Zero data, I haven't looked it up but what you quoted does sound familiar and I'm sure it is spot on, as is the norm for information you provide.

    All this being said;

    -1.) As stated earlier I've never read an account of it occurring, what we've devolved to is debating "was it possible".
    -2.) As has been discussed in numerous other threads, the tank killing effects of strafing attacks are greatly overstated (this applies to all theaters). This is in harmony with your earlier statement: "Even in North Africa, German and Italian strafing attacks had trouble taking out Stuarts, and the most likely outcome was killing an unfortunate tank commander who was to slow to get down into the turret."
    -3.) I agree with Rich's earlier post concerning the Zero's 20mm cannon that, "It had a muzzle velocity of just 600 meters/second. At the extreme angles it would impact on the top of a Light Tank M3 it is unlikely to do much damage and the small magazine capacity would make it difficult to get hits in the first place."
    So, if the proposed attack did take place, chances are it wasn't successful.

    Merry Christmas, Takao.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    11,556
    Likes Received:
    1,070
    Location:
    Michigan
    That's pretty much what I remember as well.
     
    USMCPrice likes this.
  17. ww2archiver

    ww2archiver New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2017
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    2
    Interesting that they dont seem to run for cover whilst being under attack !
     
  18. machine shop tom

    machine shop tom Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Messages:
    430
    Likes Received:
    42
    The Type 99 20mm cannon used in the Zero was a copy of the German-used Oerlikon FFG. It was a low-velocity weapon, not particularly useful or even intended as an anti-armor weapon.
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    9,203
    Likes Received:
    1,298
    Alan Zimm pointed out that they used a super-quick fuze so the shell would explode when it hit aircraft-grade aluminum. The shells would not have penetrated the fuel storage tanks at Pearl, nor would they have penetrated tank armor.
     

Share This Page