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The Kangaroo APC

Discussion in 'Allied Military vehicles used during WWII' started by A-58, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    A good point. The initial popularity of the kangeroo may have had as much to do with the availability of surplus tank hulls as their advantages over the M3.

    The Kangaroo was first used for Op Totalize a massed night advance by armour and infantry in armoured vehicles into the depth of the German defences following up a bombardment by heavy bombers. This would bypass the front line German positions under cover of dark and smoke but would need to protect infantry from small arms fire and shell splinters fro defensive fires.

    The British and Canadians had substantial numbers of M3 half tracks, which mounted the rifle sections of the motor battalions of armoured brigades, and for specialists such as armoured artillery command posts, ambulances and recovery vehicles in armoured units. There were eight motor battalions in 21st Army group, but these were integrated with the armoured brigades as "panzer grenadiers"

    The 72 Kangaroos made available from the conversion of three field regiments of 3rd Canadian Division could only carry, at the most three battalions - assuming that you could cram a platoon in each kangaroo - just possible for the max 24 man platoons at this stage of the campaign.) OP Totalize called on six battalions (4th Infantry Canadian and 154 Highland Brigades). The balance of APCs was found by withdrawing M3 half tracks and M2 white scout cars from almost every unit in 1st British and 2nd Canadian Corps.

    The kangaroos were only deployed because there were 72 surplus M7 chassis in the Normandy beachhead. By the end of the Normandy campaign there would be a further 96, as other units switched from the M7 to 25 pdr. But these were all Lease Lend and had to be handed back to the US Army. Substantial numbers (C.500) obsolescent Canadian Ram tanks were converted to Kangaroos. One big advantage to the British and Canadians of using Ram Kangaroos, was that unlike the M5 half tracks, they were NOT lease lend US equipment, thus avoiding discussions with Uncle Sam about the appropriate use of their kit.

    The Kangaroo was a tank minus turret with all the protection offered by an M4 hull. The M3 half-track had less protection against AP shot. Both offered good protection against small arms fire and mortar and shell splinters. Neither had overhead armoured protection. The kangaroo had better cross country mobility, especially over cratered and muddy ground.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The other interesting point is why the British or Americans did not do more with their M3 fleet. The half track is associated with the German Panzer Grenadiers, US produced far more armoured half tracks than the Germans. British and American armoured formations were designed for mobile warfare rather than forcing a breakthrough.

    But Guy Simmonds was trying something new - (but also in some ways a throwback to WW1) The idea of a bombardment of some thousand tons of HE followed by a armoured assault into the depths of the position became the cornerstone of nuclear tactics. This was the impetus for the Soviets to develop APCs and reflected in their 1960s doctrine.
     
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  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The US Army did not seem to value the M& & M3 as highly as the Germans valued the Sdzkfz 250 and 251. The Germans valued APC mounted infantry as providing infantary for high tempo combined arms tactics, which could not be neutralised by a defensive artillery barrage or snmall arms fire.

    The M2 and M3 did not emerge from Tunisia with a high reputation for protection. In NW Europe armoured infantry often preferred to accompany tanks by riding on them rather than in M3s - as 4th AD in the relief of Bastogne. Any views?
     
  5. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I remember reading that the reason for the poor reviews by the infantrymen's experience with half tracks in North Africa was that they expected too much from them, much more than what they were designed to do. And when they did not prove to be what they expected, they did not like it. It was open topped, and provided no cover from the elements, air bursts, air and mortar attacks. They were not as armored as tanks, and did not provide protection from AT and heavy crew served automatic weapons. These were their problems with half tracks. They did provide protection from small arms fire and shrapnel from artillery and mortar ground hits. They delivered the infantry to battle along with the tanks, pulled cannons, trailers loaded with supplies, etc. Half tracks performed as designed, not as imagined. Since the Kangaroos were much more armored than the half tracks, they were much more liked by their users, especially the ones who used half tracks before.

    As for riding in on tanks, IDK. I don't see that option being much more safer than using their thin-skinned half tracks and the complaints from that. Riding in on the tanks put them right up where things were hot and heavy, so maybe their idea of armored/mobile warfare "matured" with the progression of the war. I've also read that riding in the half tracks was very rough in broken terrain, not so in fully tracked vehicles.

    Were the German half tracks more heavily armored than the US ones?
     
  6. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    The German halftrack was slightly more armored than the M3. Making the M3 more susceptible to MG34 fire.

    Mostly I see it as a difference in what it faced and when. The Germans used theirs from 1939 on. It provided a excellent troop mover during the early war battles against unprepared enemies. Thus giving it a good reputation while allowing them to refine their tactics with it and maintain that reputation within it's limitations.

    The M3 was thrown into combat in 1941 in the open desert the worst place to put a thin skinned vehicle. However all told adding an extra 5mm of armor wouldn't have hurt. With that the MG34 shouldn't have been able to penetrate removing the M3's worse fault.
     
  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    Um, "armoured infantry" did not ride on tanks...infantry riding on tanks were regular footsloggers and not AI.

    Jaques 53d AIB did advance in the relief of Bastogne mounted in its M3 Half Tracks. The 'C' Team advance through Assenois was specifically executed contrary to the doctrine in FM 17-42, which held that the AI would dismount as close as possible to the enemy and assault on foot. The Army simply did not believe the Half Track was well-enough protected to fare well against competent enemy resistance...which was probably true and why most of the 'C' Teams infantry eventually did dismount and clear the town, allowing one of the tank platoons to advance alone with COBRA KING in the lead...making contact with the Bastogne perimeter.
     
  8. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    My grandfather was in the armored infantry with the 7th Armored Division in Belgium and Germany. He always talked of riding to contact in the halftrack, then dismounting to fight. They didn't ride on tanks.
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    Yep that was doctrine. Support for the infantry division was different.
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Thanks chaps. I would have thought that too. But, the practice seemed common in 4th AD as described in "Armour at Bastogne" a 1948-48 Armor School research report. Armor at Bastogne | Military Organization | Military Units And Formations

    It is true that as the fighting intensified close to Bastogne much of the advance was by dismounted infantry supported by armor, and the breakthrough to Assenois was by tanks accompanied by carriers.

    However, the practice of mounting infantry on tanks seemed to have been commonplace in CCA and CCB.

     
  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Active Member

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    I think what you are seeing in those examples is expedient use of the tanks for mobility, which highlights the major defect of dismounted AI action. Doctrine held that the carriers would bring the infantry as close as possible to the enemy and would provide fire support in the dismount, but then would withdraw to a covered location. The major problem was the dismounts then maneuvered and often found themselves inconveniently placed for remounting and mechanized maneuver...it was the fundamental conundrum that came with accepting the lightly armored carrier as an APC. The mounted assault at Assenois in a sense was unique in that way.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Thanks. That is informative. What may have be happening was an expedient adopted for a mission which didn't fit Armor doctrine. The study is critical of the mission assigned the 4th AD which was to clear a zone of the enemy (the road route to Bastogne) rather than to achieve a break through. The assault at Assenois was a "breakthrough" using standard doctrine. (but it also notes that the route was cleared again the following day)

    Against light opposition, mounting the infantry on the tanks was a quick way to provide instant infantry support for a fast advance and seems to have worked reasonably well.

    However, the report makes no comment on these tactics which implies that these were seen as a rational and common place tactic following the logic of "the dog that did not bark in the night"
     

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