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27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion

Discussion in 'North Africa: Operation Torch to Surrender of Tuni' started by keith A, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. keith A

    keith A Member

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    Can anyone tell me what guns types were used by this unit from Operation torch onward? I think they used the M6 (37mm) Tank Destroyer but perhaps re-equipped to the M3 Half track with 75mm and then...M7?

    regards


    Keith
     
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  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I suspect they would have used the M7 105mm Sp Howitzer. They were, as the name suggests, an armoured field artillery battalion. 37,mm and M3 half tracks were TD field artillery.equipment. (If the 1st US Armd division went to war with 37mm and 75mm Field artillery then it would be easy to explain Kasserine pass ;)

    Rick Atkinson mentions Battery C of the 27th firing howitzers from half tracks. in army at Dawn - but his book seems light on factual background.and context. .


    Extract from Organizational Summary American Armored Division 1 March 1942 Table of Organization T/O 17

    3 Armored Field Artillery Battalions: (T/O 6-165), each with:

    1 Lt. Colonel, 2 Majors, 13 Captains, 7 1st Lts, 11 2nd Lts,
    3 Warrant Officers, 2 Master Sergeants, 5 1st Sergeants,
    5 Technical Sergeants, 21 Staff Sergeants, 52 Sergeants,
    50 Corporals, 27 Technician Grade 4, 158 Technician Grade 5,
    147 Privates 1st Class, & 205 Privates:
    Total: 37 Officers and 672 Enlisted.
    31 M2 halftracks with winches & armament, 38 M3 halftracks
    with winches & armament, 346 .30 cal M1 carbines, 10 self
    propelled anti-tank guns, 18 105mm self propelled howitzers,
    10 .30 cal LMGs, 8 .50 cal HB flexible HMGs, 97 .45 cal
    M3A1 submachine guns (on ordnance vehicle), 32 .45 cal M3A1
    submachine guns (on ¼-ton trucks), 324 .45 cal M1911 pistols,
    48 1-ton armored ammunition & fuel trailers, 8 solo motorcycles,
    22 ¼-ton trucks, 8 ¼-ton trucks with pedestal gun mounts,
    2 ¼-ton trucks with wire reels, 25 2½-ton trucks, 41 radio
    sets, 1 10-ton wrecker.

    From this it can be seen that the main armament of the Armoured Field Artillery Battalion was the 18 x 105mm SP howitzer, but it also included 10 x SP anti-tank guns, as do other units in the 1942 armoured Division T&OE such as the recce, armoured infantry and engineer. By the 1943 these TD have been stripped out.from most of the units n in an Armoured Division..

    George Forty in "the Armies of George Patton" states that the field artillery battalions of the 1st Artmd Division were equipped with 105mm SP guins, which would be logical as the 105mm SP M7 was already in used with the British armoured divisions.


    Armored Field Artillery Battaiion (15 September 1943)
    32 Officers
    2 Warrants
    511 Enlisted
    2 Liaison Airplanes
    18 105mm Howitzers on motor carriages
    26 .50 cal Machineguns
    22 .30 cal Machineguns
    2 81mm Mortars
    116 .45 cal Submachineguns
    413 .30 cal Carbines
    40 2.36" Rocket Launchers
    5 .45 cal Pistols
    3 Medium Tanks
    32 M3A1 Halftracks
    2 T5 Tank Recovery Vehicles
    25 2 1/2 ton Trucks
    2 3/4 ton Command & Reconnaissance Truck
    1 3/4 ton Weapons Carrier
    22 1/4 ton Trucks
    1 Heavy Wrecker
    Stanton, S.L., Order of Battle, U.S.Army, World War II, Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1984.
     
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  3. keith A

    keith A Member

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    Thanks, mate

    That sounds probable. My focus of interest is Lewis Millett of Korean War fame and he mentions half-tracks but these could be normal M2/M3. certainly by the time the unit reached Italy it'd have to be M7s.

    Cheers

    Keith
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Under T/O 6-165 the 27th Armd FAB had 69 M2 and M3 Half tracks in addition to the 10 SP Anti tank guns! I think these may have been ammunition limber vehicles as there are 48 1 ton armoured ammunition trailers on this T/O. It would make sense to designers of the Victory Plan army to allow for ammunition vehicles with comparable cross country performance to tracked SP guns. . Under the 1943 T/O this drops to 32 M3 half tracks - and the unit has 150+ fewer men. The 1942 establishment had a lot of non combat vehicles.
     
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  5. keith A

    keith A Member

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    Were the SP A/Tk guns M-10s?
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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  7. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    The 37 mm tank destroyers were horrible! The recoil of the gun was very hard for a jeep to manage. IIRC if the crew weren't careful they were liable to break the jeep by firing the gun.
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    ..... if they had avoided being shot full of holes long before they could bring their peashooter in range!
     
  9. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    The getaway would be complicated if the jeep overturns from firing the said peashooter, resulting in a greatly irritated German armor unit. No wonder it was a reviled piece of equipment. And the 75mm mounted on halftrack was better but not by far. It also had severe limitations in traverse, and affords no improvement in lethality compared to a regular M4(75) tank.
     
  10. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I thought it would be interesting to share a few 27th Armored FA Bn references from NW Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West:

     
  11. ShaneW

    ShaneW New Member

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    I suspect the guns of the 27th could have varied based on when they were deployed. I don't know much about this unit, but if they were part of the the first wave at Casablanca, I wouldn't have been surprised if they were initially outfitted with 75 mm on half tracks.
    I base this statement on the memoirs of Gen Donald Bennett in his book "Honor Untarnished". He was an officer of the 58th AFA Bn (later CO of the 62nd AFA Bn) and talks about training with these weapons in the Mojave Desert in 1942. He also states that he did not see the M7 105 howitzer until mid to late 1942 while at Camp A. P. Hill where he claims the 58th were issued 18 of the first 22 M7s off the assembly line. The 58th, in which my grandfather was a corporal, were deployed in the second wave at Casablanca.

    I find the reference to B battery of the 27th having 4 M7s interesting in light the numbers above and that a battery was typically 6 M7s. I would guess that these 4 M7s were the only ones in the Bn at that time and they received upgrades sometime early 1943.

    Shane
     
  12. bmac44

    bmac44 New Member

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    In my father's records was a copy of the commendation (Presidential Unit Citation) for Battery C, for the action referenced in Rick Atkinson's book:

    "Battery C, 27th Field Artillery Battalion, United States Army, is cited for outstanding performance of duty in action. At 1040 hours on 6 December 1942, the battery position near Tebourba, Tunisia, was strafed and bombed by ten Messerschmitts for ten minutes when thirty enemy tanks, supported by infantry, attacked the batter in front and flank. All the battery guns engaged in direct fire against this superior force but at 1120 hours the tanks, firing their machine guns, passed through the battery positions and over-ran the machine gun posts, then turned and again passed through all the battery positions. Shelling from the tanks eventually destroyed all the 105mm self-propelled guns of the battery which contined in action until set afire and the crews dispersed, injured or killed by machine gun fire. The last section seen in action discharged its gun point blank at a Mark IV tanks; both tank and gun fired simultaneously and each was destroyed by the other's direct hit. At this point, another battery arrived at the scene of the melee and, firing directly on the tanks, caused their withdrawal and the retirement of the enemy infantry, thus enabling the scattered remnants of Battery C to assemble. During the melee all members of the battery remained at thir posts performing assigned duties until killed, injured, or their equipment destroyed."
     
  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The 27th AFA Bn, like the other two AFA battalions of the 1st Armored Division, were equipped with the T19 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage in North Africa, which was based on the M3 Half Track. They did not receive the M7 105mm HMC until before they landed in Italy in late 1943.
     

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