U.S. Army 1944 Firing Test No.2

Firing Tests conducted 12-30 July 1944 by 1st U.S. Army in Normandy.

REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS OF BOARD OF OFFICERS

Organization: Headquarters, First U.S. Army.

Place: APO 230, U.S. Army.

Proceddings of a board of officers which convened at Headquarters, First U.S. Army, pursuant to Special Order No.196, Headquarters, First U.S. Army, 19 July 1944, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit A1.

The board met pursuant to the foregoing order at Headquarters, First U.S. Army, APO 230, at 1400 on 12 July 1944 and on subsequent dates to conduct the firing tests. The final meeting was held on 30 July 1944.

Present: All Members.

Purpose: To conduct tests to determine the effectiveness of tank and anti-tank weapons in First U.S. Army, against the German Mk V “Panther” and Mk VI “Tiger” tanks.

1a. Firing was conducted on terrain permitting 1500 yards maximum range with zero angle of site. All guns and types of ammunition, suitable for anti-tank purposes, available to First U.S. Army were defeated on targets whose armour plate was slightly burned. Upon determination of critical ranges, all penetrations were proven against the armor plate of a German Mk V “Panther” Tank with armor undamaged and in excellent condition. All firing was conducted normal2 to the target. No firing was conducted against the German Mk VI “Tiger” Tank as there were none available.

1b. The following normal types of tank and anti-tank weapons and ammunition were tested;

WEAPON – AMMUNITION

Launcher, Rocket, AT, 2.36″ – Rocket, AT, 2.36″, M6A1
Launcher, Grenade, M8 – Grenade, AT, M9A1
37mm Gun, M6, Mounted on Light Tank, M5A1 – APC M51
40mm Gun, M1, AA – AP M58
57mm Gun, M1 (ATG) – APC M86, and Sabot3
75mm Gun, M3, mounted on Medium Tank, M4 – APC M61 and HEAT M66 (Special)
3-inch Gun, M5, mounted on Motor Carriage, M10 – APC M62 with BDF M66A1, and AP M79
90mm Gun, M1A1, AA – AP M77
105mm Howitzer, M4, mounted on Medium Tank, M4 – HEAT M67

1c. The board assumed that the effect of hollow charge ammunition is not dependent on terminal velocity but the effect does vary with the angle at which the projectile strikes. Hits approaching 90º angle of impact give better penetration.

2. Record of firing with Photographs. See Exhibit B1.

Findings: The board having carefully considered the evidence before it, finds that:

1) Launcher, Rocket, AT, 2.36″

Rocket, AT, 2.36″, M6A1 will penetrate the side of the turret and the side and rear armor plate of the ‘Panther’ Tank at 100 yards. On the bassis of the assumption in paragraph 1c it follows that as the range increases, thereby reducing the angle of impact4 against the side of the turret and side armor plate, the possibility of penetration will materially decrease.

2) Launcher, Grenade, M8

Grenade, AT, M9A1, will penetrate the side of the turret and the side and rear plate of the ‘Panther’ Tank at 60 yards. On the basis of the assumption in paragraph 1c it follows that as the range increases, thereby reducing the angle of impact4 against the side of the turret and side armor plate, the possibility of penetration will materially decrease.

3) 37mm Gun, M6, Mounted on Light Tank, M5A1

APC, M51 will penetrate the sides and rear of the ‘Panther’ Tank at 600 yards.

4) 40mm Gun, M1, AA

AP, M58 will penetrate the sides and rear of the ‘Panther’ Tank at 600 yards.

5) 57mm Gun, M1 (ATG)

a) APC, M86 will penetrate the sides and rear of the ‘Panther’ Tank at 1500 yards.

b) Sabot fails to penetrate front glacis slope plate and gun shield at 200 yards. Due to difficulty experienced in obtaining hits no conclusion as to the effectiveness of this ammunition was reached.

6) 75mm Gun, M3, mounted on Medium Tank, M4

a) APC M61 will penetrate the sides and rear of the ‘Panther’ Tank up to 1500 yards. APC M61 at 200 yards will not penetrate the front armor of the ‘Panther’ Tank.

b) HEAT M66 (Special) will not penetrate the front glacis slope plate at 500 yards (see assumption made in paragraph 1c).

7) 3-inch Gun, M5, mounted on Motor Carriage, M10

a) APC M62 w/BDF M66A1 will not penetrate front glacis slope plate at 200 yards. Will penetrate gun mantlet at 200 yards and penetrate sides and rear of the ‘Panther’ Tank up to 1500 yards.

b) AP M79 will not penetrate the front slope plate or the mantlet at 200 yards. It holds no advantage over APC M62 ammunition w/BDF M66A1.

8. 90mm Gun, M1A1, AA

AP M77 will penetrate front glacis slope plate up to 600 yards, the gun mantlet up to 1,000 yards and the turret up to 1,500 yards.

9) 105mm Howitzer, M4, mounted on Medium Tank, M4

HEAT M67 will penetrate front glacis slope plate and gun mantlet at 500 yards (see assumption made in paragraph 1c).

In addition to testing the normal types of tank and anti-tank weapons and ammunition, additional types were tested with the following results:

A) 75mm Gun, M3, mounted on Medium Tank, M4

WP M64 – Three rounds were fired at 500 yards for the purpose of obtaining an incendiary or blinding effect. The results were unsatisfactory.

B) 75mm Gun, M3, mounted on Medium Tank, M4

HE M48 w/fz T105 – Three rounds were fired at the front glacis slope plate at 500 yards to determine its armor penetrative characteristics. The rounds failed to penetrate, ricochetting from the plate and bursting in the air.

C) 90mm Gun, M1A1, AA

HE M71, w/fz M48 – One round was fired at 1500 yards as a ranging shot. No perceptible effect was obtained beyond cracking the welds between the glacis and nose plate and the glacis and side plate for a distance of approximately 12 inches. The corner of the glacis slope plate appeared to have a slight depression as a result of this round.

Recommendations: In view of the above findings the board recommends:

1. That steps be taken by the Ordnance Department to develop armor piercing ammunition of materially higher muzzle velocity and penetrative characteristics for the 3-inch, 76mm, and 90mm Guns, accepting, if necessary, a gun tube life as low as 200 rounds.

2. That upon availability of 90mm APC M82 ammunition in this theater, tests be conducted to determine the effectiveness of this ammunition against the ‘Panther’ Tank.

3. That consideration be given by the Ordnance Department to the development of a liquid filled incendiary shell capable of igniting the target adjacent to the point of impact, for the 75mm Gun and the 105mm and 155mm Howitzers.

The board adjourned at 1630 on 30 July 1944.

Peter C. Hains III, Colonel, Cav (Armd), President.

Charles E. Hart, Colonel, F.A., Member.

Mason D. Salisbury, Captain, F.A. (Armd), Recorder.

Notes:

(1) These were not included so I have been unable to reproduce it.

(2) That is from directly “square on” (to either the front or side of the target) and presumably on level ground.

(3) APDS (presumably supplied by British Army).

(4) That is, reduced from the optimal 90º.

This information above was supplied to me by Jim O’Neil (Arizona, USA), the original source is a declassified document made available in 1988.

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