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Inquiry: US Marine Corps armour in the Pacific War


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#1 Ripvulcan

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:13 AM

Some knowledgeable student of USMC history on here could possibly answer these related questions about the USMC deploying tanks in the Pacific in WWII and the USMC armoured fighting arm.

1. Did the USMC deploy tanks in the Pacific in WWII? If so, where and when (you could enumerate a few of the larger or more important battles or actions as instances here)?
2. What kind were these tanks if the USMC did deploy such vehicles?
3. Is the Pacific War where and when the USMC began using armour and created its own armoured fighting arm?
4. And I know this is out of WWII history, but has the USMC deployed mechanized infantry within its armoured fighting arm at any stage of its history?

If you could fill in the gaps in this, I'd be grateful. And perhaps someone could suggest a suitable book on the subject, i.e. Marine armour and its history, incl. Korea and Vietnam.

Cheers, Paul

#2 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:27 AM

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Marine Stuart on New Georgia

Edited by JCFalkenbergIII, 25 January 2009 - 01:02 AM.

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#3 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:31 AM

Kwajalein Atoll. Private First Class N. E. Carling stands beside the American M4 Sherman medium tank "Killer" on which is mounted a knocked-out Japanese Type 94 tankette / light tank.

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Marine M4 Iwo JimaPosted Image
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Marine Corps M4 Sherman landing at White Beach, Tinian, 24 July 1944. Vertical vents were a fording kit so the air intake and exhaust could rise above water level when the tank was off-loaded far from the beach.

M4A3R3 Ronson Flamethrower tank Iwo Jima

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Tarawa

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Edited by JCFalkenbergIII, 25 January 2009 - 12:45 AM.

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#4 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:51 AM

For a start,
Welcome to www.marineamphibians.com

http://www.tamu.edu/...2003/neiman.htm

Marine Tank Battles in the Pacific - Google Book Search

http://en.wikipedia...._Tank_Battalion

http://en.wikipedia...._Tank_Battalion

3rd Tank Battalion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.usmcvta.org/books.htm

Edited by JCFalkenbergIII, 25 January 2009 - 01:03 AM.

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#5 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:54 AM

Two Marine recruits in a light tank during training in mechanized warfare at Camp Lejeune. April 1943.

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#6 formerjughead

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 01:20 AM

Thats a pretty comprehensive answer

#7 Slipdigit

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 01:33 AM

The US Marines did not produce mechanized infantry during the war, that was in opposition to their mission as assault units. The USMC utilized tanks as was theorized prewar by the US Army, as vehicle to fight infantry, mainly because the Japanese never really produced, in large numbers, a tank capable of adequately fighting the M4. Nearly all of their tanks fought more or less as assault guns.

Most places they fought during the war could be theoretically walked across in short period of time and didn't have roads anyway

Edited by SlipdigitBK, 25 January 2009 - 01:43 AM.

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#8 Wolfy

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 01:58 AM

why did the Marines not have integrated mechanized infantry elements (at least a battalion in strength)? Wouldn't it have been advantageous to have mobile armored infantry mounted on halftracks for exploitation, recon, and fire support?

#9 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:01 AM

Use of USMC flamethrower tanks

The Flame Thrower in the Pacific: Marianas to Okinawa .
Chapter 15: The Flame Thrower in the Pacific: Marianas to Okinawa


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#10 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:08 AM

"Combat experience showed the Marines that their light tanks were vulnerable and underarmed, so they made the move to the Sherman medium tank. The Sherman first fought with the Marines at the battle of Tarawa in November 1943.(40) The Sherman was the most powerful tank used in the Pacific Theater, and it proved devastating against Japanese armor. Light and medium tanks mounting flame throwers also proved useful as close assault weapons. Usage of the heavier medium tanks, though, forced the design of more robust landing craft such as the Landing Ship, Tank (LST), since the Sherman's 35-ton (32-metric ton) bulk could not be handled by earlier vessels.(41) Tank-infantry cooperation was dismal in early operations (42), and it wasn't until after the debacles at Guadalcanal and Tarawa that training in this area intensified and matured.(43)
The Army had standardized on the gasoline-fueled M4A3 Sherman, meaning that the Corps could obtain numbers of the diesel-powered M4A2 quicker.(44) The Corps was forced to convert to 75mm gun M4A3s, however, once M4A2 production switched to the M4A2(76)W in mid-1944.(45) The Marines relished the excellent high-explosive power of the 75mm gun's M48 high-explosive shell, and the 76mm gun, while being more effective at armor penetration, fired a weaker HE shell. The Marines eventually accepted a number of 105mm howitzer Shermans once production and support of the 75mm gun tanks had ceased and the Army was concentrating on the M26.(46)
An innovation in infantry vehicles that was perfectly suited to Marine use was the tracked landing vehicle. The first LVTs were modified versions of Donald Roebling's Alligator, which was used as a swamp rescue vehicle in Florida's Everglades. At first the LVT was seen simply as an efficient mechanism of transporting supplies from ship to shore (47), but it wasn't long until a more direct military role as an assault craft was envisioned, and LVTs premiered in this role at Tarawa.(48) LVTs initially used in assault landings were unarmored or fitted with applique armor plates, and the position of the engines in the rear of the vehicle made for a tension-filled dismount over the tall sides. LVT3 and LVT4 remedied that problem by repositioning the engines and adding a rear loading ramp. Armored amphibians were also developed to give the assault craft direct fire support during the landing and immediately after. The armament of the assault amphibians started out as a small 37mm gun on LVT(A)1, but advanced to a 75mm howitizer on LVT(A)4. As is widely known, the industrial might of the United States was unmatched during World War II. Over 49,000 Sherman tanks were produced from 1942 to 1945 (49), along with almost 14,000 M3 and almost 9,000 M5 light tanks.(50) The US was able to spare over 11,500 light (51) and 26,600 medium tanks (52) for the Allies under the Lend-Lease program. Germany, on the other hand, produced just over 25,000 tanks of all types from 1938 to 1945.(53) Besides a few kept for unit training, the entire production runs of the M5 and M9A1 half-tracks and their variants were also allocated to the Allies through Lend-Lease.(54) "

Vehicle Data
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#11 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:15 AM

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Marine Tanks Shelling Positions in the South
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#12 Slipdigit

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:17 AM

why did the Marines not have integrated mechanized infantry elements (at least a battalion in strength)? Wouldn't it have been advantageous to have mobile armored infantry mounted on halftracks for exploitation, recon, and fire support?


Marine Corps TO&E

The United States Marines

Short answer would no. Their role was intended to obtain lodgement and take small garrisons. What you are talking about is the role of the army.

Even in the US Army, the necessary transport to move the infantry divisions was owned by Corps or Army HQs, infantry divisions did not have enough organic transport to fully move themselves. I'm speaking of the infantry components of the divisions, not artillery, engineers and medical. Only the armored divisions had enough organic transport to move their infantry.

The shipping space required to move a mechanized infantry division (such as the 4th ID, before it was converted back from a mechanized div) was the same as an armored division. No theater commander wanted a mechanized infantry division when they could get an armored division for the same shipping requirements.

In the Pacific Island campaigns, there was no need to have mobile Marines, they had no where to drive. Later on, if the needs dictated in the mountainous Japan for the Marines to be transported, they would utilize Corps assets for the lift, as the Army infantry divisions did.

Edited by SlipdigitBK, 25 January 2009 - 03:45 AM.

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#13 lwd

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:48 PM

Sorry if there are some duplicates here (there's one for a book on Amazon and the same book on Google). I probably duplicated some of the references given earlier.
Amazon.com: Marines Under Armor: The Marine Corps and the Armored Fighting Vehicle, 1916-2000: Kenneth W. Estes: Books
Armorama :: Book Review: Marine Corps Tank Battles by Bill Plunk
Marines Under Armor: The Marine ... - Google Book Search
Amazon.com: Camp Colt to Desert Storm: The History of U.S. Armored Forces: George F. Hofmann, Donn A. Starry: Books

#14 Ripvulcan

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 08:10 PM

In the question about the possibility of USMC deploying mechanized infantry "at any stage of their history" I meant actually after WWII, that why I had begun the question with "And I know this is out of WWII history". I was thinking postwar, from the 1950s onwards after the formation of NATO and USMC deployment in Europe as part of the US NATO commitment. What I'm trying to get is a comprehensive picture of USMC's armoured arm from WWII through the Cold War, which may or may not include postwar elements of mechanized infantry.

Anyway, thanks for the great pictures and all the very interesting information, including the booklists and web links. Good oil. I'll keep watching this space.

Edited by Ripvulcan, 25 January 2009 - 09:00 PM.


#15 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 08:35 PM

The Marine Corps Must Have Tanks
AUTHOR Major John R. Sykes, USMC
CSC 1989
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
TITLE: THE MARINE CORPS MUST HAVE TANKS
I. Purpose: To present the history of the tank in the
Marine Corps, compare the current and future Marine Corps
tank, depict antitank weapons, discuss the tank battalion
mission and the most effective organization of the tank
battalion, and to demonstrate the Marine Corps' need for the
M1A1 Abrams tank.


The Marine Corps Must Have Tanks
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#16 formerjughead

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 09:40 PM

why did the Marines not have integrated mechanized infantry elements (at least a battalion in strength)? Wouldn't it have been advantageous to have mobile armored infantry mounted on halftracks for exploitation, recon, and fire support?


The Marines Traditionally have been tasked with "Doing More with Less". Marine Armor and Amphibious Tractor units are autonomous and are only attached to the Infantry units as support. Up untill the advent of the LAI's every Maine Infantry unit trained to work with LVTP-7s, just as we did with Helos, and only in the late 80's / Early 90's did they begin mesing around with a dedicated Mechanized Rifleman when the LAV-25 came around in 1986. In 1988 The First LAI (Light Armored Infantry) units were developed to train and fight with the LAV-25s exclusively. This is also the same thing that is going on with the OV-22 and their intigrated infantry.

Brad

#17 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 09:55 PM

The History of Marine Tanks in Vietnam 1965-1970
Period Covered - July through September, 1966
Northern I Corps

Marine Tanks/Vietnam Jul-Sept 66

Website for USMC Tankers. Any Era.
Bravo Company - First Tank Battalion


MARINE TANKS IN THE BATTLE FOR HUE CITY: TET 1968

MARINE TANKS IN THE BATTLE FOR HUE CITY: TET 1968 « War and Game


Growth of U.S. Armored Forces in Vietnam

Chapter III: Growth of U.S. Armored Forces in Vietnam
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#18 Wolfy

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 10:16 PM

The Marines Traditionally have been tasked with "Doing More with Less". Marine Armor and Amphibious Tractor units are autonomous and are only attached to the Infantry units as support. Up untill the advent of the LAI's every Maine Infantry unit trained to work with LVTP-7s, just as we did with Helos, and only in the late 80's / Early 90's did they begin mesing around with a dedicated Mechanized Rifleman when the LAV-25 came around in 1986. In 1988 The First LAI (Light Armored Infantry) units were developed to train and fight with the LAV-25s exclusively. This is also the same thing that is going on with the OV-22 and their intigrated infantry.

Brad


I see. But in WW2 their rifle infantry had the most firepower out of all US infantry units (for the exception of armored (mechanized) infantry). Lavishly equipped with the BAR, flamethrowers, mortars, explosives, etc. and with a lot of light/heavy machinegun support. Their artillery was very great, as well.

#19 WalkerBulldog

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 04:48 PM

Kwajalein Atoll. Private First Class N. E. Carling stands beside the American M4 Sherman medium tank "Killer" on which is mounted a knocked-out Japanese Type 94 tankette / light tank.

Posted Image



If there was ever a question about how small the Jap light tanks were in comparison to others this is about as good an example as possible!

That thing is so tiny it looks like a tinker toy! I bet the tin man had heavier armor than this puny thing!

#20 Wolfy

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 06:06 PM

That tankette looks like it can be penetrated by a 50 cal. machinegun.

unrelated, but interesting size comparison:

Tiger II/Sherman
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Tiger I/ Sherman
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That tankette looks really small now...

Edited by Wolfy, 31 January 2009 - 06:12 PM.


#21 WalkerBulldog

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 02:24 AM

Wolfy based on your pics the tankette appears to be about roughly the same size as the Tiger II's turret!

Right after WW2 they could have invented monster truck shows 40 years early by having captured Tigers crush Japanese tankettes!

#22 formerjughead

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:26 AM

I see. But in WW2 their rifle infantry had the most firepower out of all US infantry units (for the exception of armored (mechanized) infantry). Lavishly equipped with the BAR, flamethrowers, mortars, explosives, etc. and with a lot of light/heavy machinegun support. Their artillery was very great, as well.


Sorry about not getting to this sooner.

I think it had more to do with Standardization than anything else. By training Marines to fight with every piece of equipment the supply and logistics chain was easier to maintain. It is easier and less costly to train every Marine to fight with Tanks, in support, than it is to have units dedicated to mechanized combat. If you compare the logistical foot print of a mechanized unit and a straight Grunt unit you'll see what I mean.

Everything in the Marine Corps is designed to support the basic infantry unit which is amphibious. In WW2 tanks didn't float too well. It is easier to add an LST with Tanks on it to the invasion equation than try to incorporate a dedicated mechanized unit. Also with armor in a supporting role it is easier to detach them when they are no longer needed and assign them else where.


With very few exceptions the battlefield in the PTO did not lend itself to Tank warfare and the tanks were utilized against fortified positions more than they were against the threat of Japanese Armor.




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