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The US 57mm M1 Anti-Tank Gun

Discussion in 'Artillery' started by redcoat, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    Why was the 57mm anti-tank gun held in so low regard by the US forces in the European campaign of 44-5 ?
    It was an almost direct copy of the British 6 pdr and yet the 6 pdr remained a popular and, from most accounts, fairly successful A/T gun in the British Commonwealth forces while fighting the same enemy with the same equipment ????
     
  2. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Because the Brits had the bulldog spirit going-on and in Russia and Germany belly-aching can get you on the fast lane to summary execution. That, or because the Brits had a more plentiful supply of tungsten core ammunition and the 17 pdr. gun to do the real AT work.
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Because generally, the US had more tanks and tank destroyers available in most units that could perform the job of the 57mm better. Every US division in Europe had a tank destroyer and tank battalion attached most or all of the time. Many had more than one some of time. This wasn't usually the case for the British so, their divisions had to rely more on intrinsic assets that in infantry divisions were mostly towed AT guns.

    The 57mm did prove popular with some units in urban fighting where it was seen as a useful tool for clearing houses and close fire support.
     
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  4. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    ????????
     
  5. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Bad-mouthing your equipment can make you politically suspect. Stalin had an air force general shot for complaining about the poor quality (Hasting, Armageddon) of Russian a/c. The stuff the American press said about the poor quality of their equipment could never happen in Nazi Germany.
     
  6. Chesehead121

    Chesehead121 Member

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    I believe it was because the 57mm couldn't penetrate the fromt hull of a Sherman! Not literally, but you know what I mean.
     
  7. Drucius

    Drucius Member

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    It could penetrate 93mm of 30 degree FH plate from 500 yards which gives it an excellent chance of penetrating the Tiger's front, nevermind a Sherman. APDS puts it in the 138mm league.

    Excellent bit of kit (responsible for the first Tiger kills in Tunisia) and used for years after the war by the British, at least.

    Maybe the US just got the hump because it wasn't homegrown?
     
  8. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    one would assume the u.s 6pdr came in quite handy in the german ardennes offensive of 44-45.one well placed gun on a bend in a lane and a panzer column is stopped.cheers.
     
  9. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The armor piercing performance of the 57mm / 6pdr is almost exactly the same as the 75mm M3 gun on a Sherman. That makes it a reasonably good weapon. Also, it is relatively small in size and fairly handy when prolonged by its crew.

    Where a US unit didn't want or need them, the 10 men normally assigned to a gun could easily be reassigned as infantry replacements within a regiment. Given each regiment had a dozen guns meant that this unit was a ready source of a company's worth of riflemen replacements.
     
  10. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    I have read that towed anti-tank guns performed badly in the Battle of the Bulge in general. The towed 3-inch gun had a 1.3:1 kill ratio versus panzers. Fighting with the 57mm was very risky business. The immobile gun cannot change its position after firing thereby becoming exposed to return fire, and any HE round was powerful enough to wipe out the crew.
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    This is generally true of any towed antitank weapon. Once the gun is spotted by the enemy it is pretty much doomed. The crew would have to try and get the tow vehicle to the gun, likely while under fire, and then limber it up to withdraw. This is not a good proposition as both the gun and prime mover are excellent targets at that point. A 57mm is really no different in this respect.
    This is a major reason the US decided fairly early in the war to shift all of its tank destroyer battalions to self propelled guns and disband the 3" battalions. Of course, the nature of the war left some 3" battalions in service until very late in the war due to lack of equipment and training to convert them.
     
  12. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    did the 82nd and 101st a/b divs not have their 37mm guns replaced by the 57mm gun.it must have seen lots of action in the ardennes offensive,especially the 101st in bastogne.are there any after action sources available?,cheers.
     
  13. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    The US airborne divisions didn't use the US 57mm M1 anti-tank gun, they used the British built 6 pdr Mk4, on a Mk 3(Airborne) carriage. This was a cut down carriage designed to fit inside a Horsa glider.
     
  14. wokelly

    wokelly Member

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    57mm had superior AP performance over the M3 75mm. To keep things standardized, the 57mm was rated 81mm at 500 yards against RHA. In comparison the 75mm was rated 68mm at 500 yards against RHA. Well over a 10mm difference between the two.

    One of the great debates within the British armament board was how many 57mm guns to keep on tanks in regards to 75mm guns because the 57mm had better AP capabilities where as the 75mm had better HE capabilities.

    The 57mm was quite mobile, that is why it was given to infantry battalions in the British army got them, they could be manhandled by men alone though they were towed by Universal Carriers.

    As for why the Americans didn't like it, not sure. Maybe it got pressed into the role of a main ATG. For the British it was merely something to give infantry battalions some indigenous support, though each division had some 40 odd 17 pounder guns either in the Gun form or on a self propelled platform (usually both, a 50/50 gun/Self-propelled setup between teh 4 troops) which was deployed for more serious AT defense.
     
  15. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    As a rule, towed AT guns are defensive in nature. That's why they worked so well in North Africa. Once into Europe proper, they were almost useless with the on the go offensives. The Germans made good use of theirs of course. From Kursk onwards they were on the defensive (generally speaking).

    With TD's, you can shoot and scoot if necessary. With a towed gun, you're a target.
     
  16. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    In terms of performance against face-hardened armor the difference is not obvious. The most common targets were the StuG and the Mark IV, and would not matter much against the Panther.

    Mobility under fire is nil for all towed AT guns. Driving the carrier to tow the gun was out of the question with a tank in town, and the crew was as likely to abandon the gun as to drag drag it to a new position when the panzer has got your range. 57mm was remarkably mobile when you were deploying it. However, extricating a 57mm from a fight was impossible.
     
  17. Drucius

    Drucius Member

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    Actually it's a much better AT gun than the 75mm (something like 15mm @ 500 yds), but its HE shell was disappointing.

    Edit: Kel got there first.
     
  18. Drucius

    Drucius Member

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    Not entirely sure that's true, what's your source?
     
  19. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    My source for which part of that statement? The lack of mobility for AT guns in general, or 57mm in particular? The later is derivative of my reading of AARs in general. Not a heck lot a gunner can do if a column of tanks is heading straight for him and knows exactly where he is.
     
  20. Ordnanceguy

    Ordnanceguy Member

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    This has been an interesting discussion. I thought that you gentlemen might like to see this photo of a US 57mm gun in action (or almost in action as this is a posed shot, of course). This gun crew is seen at St. Malo in 1944. The unit and precise location are unknown to me. Perhaps someone else has that information.

    Regards,
    Charlie Flick

    [​IMG]
     

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