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The US 57mm M1 Anti-Tank Gun


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#26 Carl W Schwamberger

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 08:19 PM

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.


The US soldiers were comparing the 57mm against the 3" AT gun, which was just entering production in late 1942 for use on the M10 TD and the towed AT gun carriage ordered in late 1942. Both those weapons were intended for the independant TD battalions, but the AT crew of the infantry regiments compared their guns to be big ones and wondered why they should not have them as well.
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#27 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:23 PM

One reason the 3" towed didn't go to infantry formations was its relative immobility. Even with a 12 man crew and a halftrack prime mover the gun was a beast to emplace and displace. Man handling it or prolonging it into position was not going to happen with any ease.
This would have meant adding more men into infantry regiment antitank companies and replacing the 1 1/2 ton truck tows with M2 halftracks or 2 1/2 ton trucks to move the gun.
The best thing the US probably could have done is simply copy the German 75/46 Pak 40 and gave that to the infantry.

#28 Martin Bull

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:46 AM

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.


I've just been reding an account of Corporal Henry F Warner's posthumous MoH action serving a 57mm A/T gun at Dom Butgenbach in the Ardennes and was struck by the similarities to Lance Sergeant Baskeyfield's also posthumous VC action with a 6-pr A/T at Arnhem.

It may be considered a 'pea-shooter' in some quarters but some very courageous actions took place using this weapon.

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#29 Triple C

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 04:34 PM

Just finished Zaloga's book on US anti-tank guns.

The Americans found self-propelled tank destroyers or real tanks far more effective than anti-tank guns. The post-war evaluations suggest R&D in AT guns to be abolished, and all future anti-armor capabilities were to be provided by tanks.

I don't think US 57mm compared poorly to the Soviet 45mm or the German 50mm regimental anti-tank guns. The 3-in. was clumsy but not much worse than PAK 75. I think United States was fighting a rich man's war, and their perspective was shaped by what could have been accomplished, instead of viewing the merits of what they had on their own ground.

#30 yan taylor

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 07:43 PM

I allways thought that the larger anti-tanks guns went to the motorized and armoured units, please see below.

British
infantry 6 pdr
armoured 17 pdr
German
infantry Pak 38
armoured Pak 40
usa
infantry 57mm
armoured 76mm
Russian
infantry 45mm
armoured 76mm

I could be wrong (I usually am) like some one said earlier in the thread, infantry units did not have the transport and crews to man a big gun.

#31 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 11:24 PM

In British units the 6 pdr was most often towed by a Carden Lloyd "dragon" carrier. This is a bigger version of the Universal carrier. It hauled the gun and crew. In some cases a 3 cwt 4 x 4 truck was used but this is less frequent as the war progresses.
The 17pdr is in divisional anti-tank regiments and had a Quad or larger 3 ton truck pulling it with the crew and ammuniton.

The Germans used whatever went to that division. They tried whenever possible to provide some sort of motorized vehicle to pull the gun in every unit. The prefered tow vehicle is the Sdkfz 10 tractor but these became progressively more rare.

The US provided 57mm guns with a 1 1/2 ton 6x6 truck in non-armored units and a M2 halftrack in armored infantry battalions. The 76mm was only in Tank Destroyer battalions and was universally towed by an M2 halftrack.

The Russian 45mm was small enough to manhandle by its 6 man crew. Otherwise, it was towed by a horse team or by a smaller motor vehicle as available. The 76mm is a divisional artillery piece that doubles as an antitank gun. The 8 man crew could pull it using a harness arrangement short distances otherwise it got a horse tow team or a motor vehicle.

#32 MastahCheef117

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:03 AM

I think the reason the US troops disliked the M1 to such a degree during the 44-45 campaign in Europe was simply because it didn't have the stopping power to put down Tigers, King Tigers, Panthers etc. unless at extreme close range or firing against the AFV's side or rear. The good thing I think though is that it was far more mobile in comparison to the heavier AT guns such as the 76mm, which despite have much better stopping power against heavier vehicles was very heavy and difficult to set up and pack (as I believe Gardner said before). I think the same goes for other nation's AT guns that were similar to the 57, like the Russian infantry 45mm gun and the Pak 35/36.
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#33 yan taylor

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 12:18 PM

Did the Americans fully develope a 90mm anti-tank gun ?. I heard that the had plans to, if they did manage to get this rather large piece to the troops was in used much in ww2 or maby Korea.

#34 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 11:47 PM

Yes, the US did develop both the 75mm (3") antitank gun and a several experimental 90mm guns as shown below:

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#35 yan taylor

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 02:44 PM

I seen a nice shot in a book the other T.A. of a 76mm M.5 ATG defending a road in a Belgian town during the Battle of the Bulge, looks alot like your colour photo above.

#36 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 04:52 PM

The color photo is the T7 90mm ATG. It remained an experimental weapon and was not used operationally. The middle drawing is of the T17 version with the integral shield - trail mount and improved T15E2 90mm gun. The third is an experimental variant of the 76mm M1 gun on a new mount. It never saw service as the 3" towed ATG was on the verge of being declared "substitute standard" in any case (that is it was going to be withdrawn from service).

The US Army by late 1944 had decided that towed ATG's were not worth the trouble and was phasing them out in favor of self-propelled ones.

#37 yan taylor

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 01:08 PM

Sorry T.A. your right, I better start wearing my glasses.

#38 Jadgermeister

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 12:50 AM

"ONLY" a 1.3:1 kill ratio??!!!! That would probably be the highest of any anti tank weapon on the Allied side! Im sure anyone in their right mind would trade a single dead 57mm for the six dead Shermans that inevitably were a product of fighting the average German tank.

#39 yan taylor

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 02:58 PM

I have this info on the three 57mm Anti-Tank Guns I know off,

57mm ZiS-2 M.41/43

Design: Grabin
Type: Medium Anti-Tank Gun
Year: 1941
Amount: 10.016
Calibre: 57mm L/72.9
Weight: 1.250 kg
Elevation: -5
° to +25°
Traverse: 56
°
Shell Weight: 2.80 kg (AP) 3.683 kg (HE)
Muzzle Velocity: 1000 m/s
Rate of Fire: 25 r.p.m.
Armour Penetration: 85mm @ 500m @ 30
°
Maximum Range: 8.400m
Crew: 4
Traction: Horse Drawn (six horses) & Motorised

Ordnance QF 6 pdr

Design: Woolwich
Type: Medium Anti-Tank Gun
Year: 1942
Amount: 50.600 + 1.387 (Airborne)
Calibre: 57mm L/43 (Mk II & III) L/50 (MK IV & V)
Weight: 1.140 kg
Elevation: -5
° to +15°
Traverse: 90
°
Shell Weight: 2.86 kg (AP) 3 kg (HE)
Muzzle Velocity: 846 m/s (L/43) 884 (L/50)
Rate of Fire: 20 r.p.m.
Armour Penetration: 81mm @ 500m @ 30
°
Maximum Range: 4.600m
Crew: 6
Traction: Universal or Carden Lloyd Carrier

57mm M1 Anti-Tank Gun

Design: ?
Type: Medium Anti-Tank Gun
Year: 1942
Amount: 16.637
Calibre: 57mm L/50
Weight: 1.140 kg
Elevation: -5
° to +15°
Traverse: 90
°
Shell Weight: 2.7 kg (AP) 2.7 kg (HE) 2.83 (Canister)
Muzzle Velocity: 825 m/s
Rate of Fire: 8 r.p.m.
Armour Penetration: 78mm @ 500m @ 30
°
Maximum Range: 9.140m
Crew: 6
Traction: Dodge 4 x 4 Truck


Looking at the stats now I see that the British 6 pdr and the U.S. 57mm have different stats, I thought it was virtually the same gun, I will have to go back to the drawing board.

Regards Yan.


#40 dr deuce

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:48 AM

A couple items about the US 57mm AT gun. I have one

According to my USA manual, it weighs 2995 lbs.
That is a lot for the Dodge 1.5 tonner 6x6 with the flat head to tow. They were very under powered to begin with.

When you spread the trails, they drop off of a couple of blocks welded on top of the axle. The design did not include a bevel or lead in on the blocks. If you try to get the trails closed, you have to have them perfect to get them to go over the blocks and close the trails.

I have been searching for pictures of the hitch assy. Mine had the hitch cut off and I had to have one fabbed from the stub I had left. I am sure I over did it to make absolutely sure that the spades could never hit the ground while being towed by my 1943 GMC .deuce

#41 yan taylor

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 10:07 AM

Hi Dr. Do you think I have made an error with the data on the British and US 2 Pdr/57mm, I thought they were virtually the same gun apart from a muzzle break, but my stats are different.
Regards Yan.

#42 Earthican

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 08:56 PM

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 ????

-redcoat

The impression I get from reading infantry officer memoirs is the absence of the 57mm ATG. It seems they rarely made to the rifle line. I suspect they tended to backstop the infantry and their bazookas ***. With 3 guns per battalion and 9 from regiment they should have been a common sight to the rifle company commanders and platoon leaders.

I suspect they were left to their own devices and would set-up near the center of town while the infantry guarded the edges. This would be tactically sound to cover multiple entry roads. The rifle companies might not have favored their presence if they weren't going to keep the panzers at a distance. Five hundred meters or less can feel uncomfortably close. Come to think of it, the ready availability of artillery may have been the preferred method to keep panzers at bey.

*** Having read some British comments about the PIAT, that may have added to the favorable view of the 6 pndr.

#43 Sheldrake

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:55 PM

I think there may be four reasons why these very similar artillery anti tank guns had different reputations in British and US service.

1 The British 6 Pdr had an APDS Armoured Piercing Discarding Sabot ammunition which would penetrate more armour than the AP round. This gave the gun a chance against the bigger beasts in the German menagerie.

2. British and US anti tank experience of the gun was different. The British in Normandy faced a lot more armour than the US and had already achieved success using the 6 Pdr in North Africa and Tunisia. In the bocage it was far easier to deploy than the 17 Pdr. It was also a weapon used by the artillery as well as the infantry.

3. British and US anti tank doctrine was different. The British saw anti tank guns was a purely defensive weapon. Battalion anti tank guns were sited to protect infantry positions. The towed 6 Pdr guns were deployed to ambush tank approaches with the 17 Pdrs as a back stop. US TD doctrine was originally based around stopping a "blitzkrieg" but adopted a range of other offensive roles such as additional artillery.

4. The 6 Pdr may have attracted a positive reputation because it was THE main weapon system of British and Canadian anti tank units who fought significant actions with these weapons, and whose heroe's served the 6 Pdr. In US Service it wasn't championed by anyone in particular. The TD units championed the M10 and 3" in their post war analysis and for the infantry the 57mm gun was support weapon used by a minority of the unit. There were some heroic actions where the US made very good use of the 57mm. At Mortain the 75mm killed a few Panthers. My hero 57mm gunners are the detachment who whose half trak tractor broke down outside Trois Ponts. It was their sacrificial stand which gave the engineers time to blow the bridges which denied Peiper.

#44 KodiakBeer

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:54 PM

HEADQUARTERS 776TH TANK DESTROYER BATTALION APO #758
11 December 1944
EFFECTIVENESS OF FIRE OF 57 MM ANTI-TANK GUN ON MK V TANK


57mm Anti-Tank Gun Model M-1 71st RegimentOn 8 December 1944 a demonstration was conducted by the 776th TD Bn in the vicinity of SCHALBACH, 572-268 with a 57mm AT gun belonging to the 71st Inf. Regt. of 44th Inf. Div. The purpose of this test was to determine the effectiveness of the 57mm AT gun against a Mk V Panther tank. An effort was made to secure AT gun positions so the tank could be fired at from all angles. The terrain was too wet to get the gun into all the desired firing positions, but three positions at different ranges and firing angles were occupied.

The crew was comprised of members of the AT crews of the 71st Regt, with two members of each gun crew being present. The Panther tanks previously knocked out by the 776th TD Bn, were used. One tank did spot burn when it was knocked out, while the second tank had a turret fire and it was in this tank’s turret that a 3” hole was made with the 57mm AT gun.

The AT crews were impressed with the favorable results of the firing and showed a marked increase in their confidence of the 57mm AT gun at the conclusion of the test.

The 57mm AT gun was put into position behind the tank at a range of 300 yds at a 15 degree angle from the tank’s flank. From this position 7 rounds of APC (AT) were fired. Three rounds were fired into the turret, all of which made a clean hole and started small fires. Two rounds were fired at the hull just above the track, which made clean holes, but started no fire. Two rounds were fired into the track, which took out one bogey wheel and broke the track.

Panther Mk Mark V panzer tank france 57mm anti-tank test. The gun was moved to a new position of 500 yds. At a 10 degree angle off the rear of the tank. Three rounds were fired into the turret, two on the sides and one in the rear, which made clean holes and started small fires. Two rounds were fired into the rear of the track, which was broken with these two rounds. Two rounds were fired into the rear of the tank, which started more fires. This tank was completely burned by the fire from these two positions.

The gun was moved to a new position of 300 yds range at an 8 degree angle off the front of the tank. Three rounds were fired into the front of the tank. These rounds made slight penetrations then ricocheted off the frontal armor. Two rounds were fired into the turret—one made a clean hole, the other made a hole about three inches in diameter. No fires were started. Two rounds were fired low on the track, these went through the bogie wheels on one side and came through tore up the bogie wheel and track on the other side of the tank. Two rounds were fired into the front driving sprocket and the track was broken. All but one round fired from this position, which was a bad frontal angle, made clean holes, with the exception of the three fired on the frontal armor, which made only slight penetration.

CONCLUSION: From these three positions, one which presented a bad frontal angle it is evident that the Panther Mk V is vulnerable to the 57mm AT gun. There was no difference in the size of the holes made by the APC at the greater range. All but one of the turret hits were clean-cut holes and not gouged out from the impact of the APC. All but two hits in the turret set off some of the ammunition and started small fires. The hull, the part of the tank between the track and the turret, is vulnerable, and the APC made a slightly larger hole than the diameter of the shell, also a larger hole than was made in the turret. The track and bogie wheels were easily broken. The rear of the tank and turret can be penetrated with the same satisfactory results as the sides of the turret and the hull.

Properly employed for flanking fire, it is believed that the 57mm AT gun is an effective weapon against any German Armor. Gunners must withhold their fire until about 500 yards or less, and not give away their position with premature firing at greater ranges. If a tank must be fired on the front, the gun is capable of breaking the track on it strongest part, the driving sprocket, and the tank can be stopped.
/s/ Louis J. WABLE
/t/ LOUIS J. WABLE
Captain, F.A.
Assistant S-3 "


Sounds pretty good, but the problem from the infantry point of view is that there was never just one panzer and you rarely got a flanking shot since they were advancing on your position. The test posits that you allow those panzers (with accompanying infantry) to get within 300-500 yards of you before firing your one shot, which may or may not disable the panzer you shoot at. After that one shot, every other panzer in the vicinity and every enemy infantryman with them, begins shooting at you. You don't get a second shot. You either run or stay there and die.

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#45 Sheldrake

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:53 AM

Here is a link from WW2talk which is an obituary from one of the soldiers who faced the first Tiger tank knocked out by the Western Allies. This was circulated in 1943-44 and may explain why the British had confidence in the 6 Pdr

Lt-Col Stanley Edwards MC -Tiger killer. - World War 2 Talk

#46 Sheldrake

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:45 AM

Sounds pretty good, but the problem from the infantry point of view is that there was never just one panzer and you rarely got a flanking shot since they were advancing on your position. The test posits that you allow those panzers (with accompanying infantry) to get within 300-500 yards of you before firing your one shot, which may or may not disable the panzer you shoot at. After that one shot, every other panzer in the vicinity and every enemy infantryman with them, begins shooting at you. You don't get a second shot. You either run or stay there and die.


Kodiiakbeer,

You are right, but thats where good tactics and discipline comes in. It wasn't easy for defenders infantrymen to hold their nerve and keep engaging the iaccompanying infantry to seperate them from the armour, but that is what good allied troops did, such as the Australians in 1st Alemein and the 101st Airborne on Christmas Day at Bastogne. It took cunning and a good eye for the ground to site anti tank guns so they engaged the armour in enfilade where it was hard for the enemy to overwatch and a lot of discipline to hold fire until the enemy were in the killing zone, but that is how they caught the Tigers in Tunisia. It took numbers of anti tank guns to prevent the defence being overwhelmed by tanks.

But even without the numbers anti tank guns could make a difference, as with the gun detachment who took on KG Peiper's leading tank at Trois Ponts. There is defilade. They were where they were because thats where the half track broke down. They were outnumbered and quickly dispatched after knocking out the lead tank. But they saved the day.

#47 KodiakBeer

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:30 AM

But even without the numbers anti tank guns could make a difference, as with the gun detachment who took on KG Peiper's leading tank at Trois Ponts. There is defilade. They were where they were because thats where the half track broke down. They were outnumbered and quickly dispatched after knocking out the lead tank. But they saved the day.


The test I quote above is for a Panther, which was much more heavily armored than the Mark IV killed at Trois Ponts. Even a Mark IV was a formidable task for a 57mm and a frontal shot was in most cases, completely ineffective. You had to get lucky. About half the medium tanks in the German army were Panthers by late 44 and the 3 inch guns used by the dedicated AT units were fairly effective against them, but even they had trouble with a frontal shot.

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#48 Sheldrake

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 09:54 AM

The test I quote above is for a Panther, which was much more heavily armored than the Mark IV killed at Trois Ponts. Even a Mark IV was a formidable task for a 57mm and a frontal shot was in most cases, completely ineffective. You had to get lucky. About half the medium tanks in the German army were Panthers by late 44 and the 3 inch guns used by the dedicated AT units were fairly effective against them, but even they had trouble with a frontal shot.


Hmmm. What is your evidence that the tank knocked out at Trois Ponts is a Pz IV rather than a Panther? Or are you assuming that it had to be because a 57mm could not knock out a Panther with a near head on shot?

The accounts I read say that Peiper was leading with his Pz V at Trois Ponts. I agree that the KG starts with the Pz IV leading but after they got bogged trying to go cross country, a PzV company took the lead. Hence the spitz is a panther at Bagneuz (the massacre) and Lignieville. We know this because there are photos of the burned out Panther at Ligeneville knocked out by the 9 AD Sherman taken by the US investigating that massacre. The Panthers are certainly in the lead at Stavalot because we have the accounts of the vehicle commanders who crash through the barricade at the bridge. I cannot see where there is space to swap over the lead again between Stavelot and Trois Ponts. Nor why Peiper would bother, given that he could not afford to waste time on the AM of the 18th Dec.

This illustrates my point about the 57mm . It actually performs better than its reputation in the US. I'll go and recheck my sources in case I may be mistaken.

#49 KodiakBeer

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 07:18 PM

The Panzer IV companies went along the river, while the rest of the column followed the main road after Stavelot. The German forces don't record any losses at Trois Ponts at that time, only that they engaged some Americans, lost the bridge and turned north. Perhaps they did lose a tank with a tread hit or something that was later repaired.
Some attached engineers did turn the Mark IV column just along the river at about the same time as the other engagement (with a bazooka) and it was this event I was thinking of. So, you're probably right - it was likely the Panthers engaged on the main road at the bridge.

I'm aware that the engineers claim a Panther kill there, but I'm still not entirely buying it because none of my German references record a kill there.

The book that could answer that question definitively, is Duel in the Mist I. Unfortunately, it's out of print and costs about $150. I have Duel in the Mist II, but this edition picks up after this clash. These books record each panzer loss of KG Peiper along the route and so if you know somebody with that book, they could probably answer the question right down to the turret number on the Panther killed (or not killed).

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#50 Sheldrake

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:49 PM

The secondary soruce I used was Hans Wijers whose detailed studies I have enjoyed and can relate to the ground.


Here are links to some of the sources which I think he has used.

Interview with the Major Robert B. Yates, Executive Officer, 51st Engineer Combat Bn.
Defense at Trois-Ponts, Company "C" 51st Engineer Combat Bn

Interview with George L. WENDT HQ Coy 526th AI
The 526th Armored Infantry Battalion in the Bulge
Here is the interview with Private Ralph Bieker B CVoy 526th : an eye witness to part of the battle and an earwitness to the deaths of the gunners. The 526th Armored Infantry Battalion: Bridges, Secret Gizmos, and The Pekan - The 526th Armored Infantry Battalion: Bridges, Secret Gizmos, and The Pekan: Members

Interview with Jim Cullen of E/36 Armored Infantry who recalled seeing the anti tank gun and the dead gunners two days later.
JIM CULLEN

From some other account Hans Wijers describes how the first four German AP shots miss and the other soldiers near the gun form a human chain to bring up additional ammunition - the 57mm detacvhment has seven rounds. An HE shot, short of the gun puts the gun detatchment out of action. (Maybe the small sillouette of the 57mm gun helped preserve surprise and made it more likely that the germans missed with their first shots. )

There is no doubt that the gunners were killed after a battle and killed nor that Peiper was unable to force the bridges at Trois Ponts before the engineers blew the demolitions. All we are arguing about is whether the gun did material damage. A hit on the tracks - (a mobility kill), with the crew bailing out, is consistent with the eye witness accounts and the capabilities of the 57mm gun. The result was enough to force Peiper to La Gleize.

There was only one way that a fight between a single anti tank and a company of tanks on that stretch of road would end, whatever the calibre of anti tank gun. The gunners must have know that this was it, but they fought until they were killed. The detachment were as brave men as any that served any artillery piece at any time in history. Under other circumstances that courage would have been recognised by some award for gallentry.
[img][http://www.battleoft.../3e squad01.jpg/img]
3rd Squad: AT 57mm gun “B” Company, 526th AIB
First row – left to right: Edward R. Berdine, Doyle Isaacs, Donald D. Hollenbeck (KIA), John H. Surdo, and Albert Smith.
Second row: Dallas N. Buchannan (KIA), Ralf J. Bieker, Donald J. Devoto (transferred to another Company few days before the battle), Lillard B. McCollum (KIA) and James L. Higgins (KIA). (Document: The Pekan)

Edited by Sheldrake, 08 February 2013 - 10:19 PM.





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