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Tanks and AFVs in the Korean War

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  • Tanks and AFVs in the Korean War

    Got knowledge? Well, post it here! There seems to be an intersting discussion about the use of armor in this thread.

    I'll kick it off with an article written by one Spencer Tucker, on the North Korean T-34s overran US positions in the opening days of the Task Force Smith debacle:

    ...
    At dawn on the July 5th, Smith ordered his artillery, mortars and machine guns to conduct registration fire. Steady rain precluded air support. Further, because of earlier, disastrous cases of U.N. aircraft hitting friendly ground forces, all air support that day was confined to north of Suwon. Shortly after 7:00 a.m., movement was detected to the north. Within half an hour, a column of eight North Korean T-34 tanks, part of the 107th Tank Regiment of the 105th Armored Division, approached across the open plain from Suwon. At 8:00 a.m. the artillery received a request for a fire mission and at 8:16 a.m. the first American ground fire of the Korean War was opened against the tanks, about 2,000 yards in front of the infantry position. The high-explosive (HE) rounds had no effect on the tanks, which had their hatches closed. The battery had only six armor-piercing high-explosive antitank HEAT rounds available (one-third of the total on hand when the 52d was loading at Sasebo, Japan), all of which were given to the single howitzer forward. Antitank mines would have stopped the enemy advance, but there were none in Korea. Smith ordered 75mm recoilless rifle fire withheld until the column of tanks reached the 700-yard range. The recoilless rifle crews scored direct hits, again without apparent effect. The tanks stopped and opened fire with their 85mm main guns and 7.62mm machine guns. Second Lieutenant Ollie Connor fired twenty-two 2.36-inch bazooka rounds at the enemy armor, all from close range, including a number at the more vulnerable rear ends of the T-34s, but there was no apparent damage. The 2.36-inch rounds could not penetrate the armor of the T-34. Smith later said he believed that the rounds had deteriorated with age. The 3.5-inch bazooka round would have been effective, but again, there were none in Korea.

    As they approached the lone 105mm gun forward, the two lead tanks were hit and damaged, probably by HEAT rounds. One caught fire and two of its crew members came out of the turret with their hands up; a third came out with a burp gun and fired it against an American machine gun position beside the road, killing an assistant gunner, the first American ground fatality of the Korean War. The third tank through the pass, however, knocked out the forward 105mm howitzer with its cannon fire. The other tanks swept on south past the artillery battery, which fired HE rounds against them. One tank was disabled and ultimately abandoned.

    By 10:15 a.m. the last of 33 North Korean tanks had driven through the American position, killing or wounding some 20 Americans by machine gun and shell fire. Most of the vehicles parked immediately behind the infantry position were destroyed. The wire communications link with Battery A had been chewed up by the tanks as they passed. Fortunately there were no accompanying infantrymen; the tankers were unable to locate the artillery battery firing on them and the T-34s rumbled on toward Osan. A lull of about an hour followed. The steady rain continued and the defenders used the time to improve their position. At about 11:00 a.m., three more tanks were sighted advancing from the north. Behind them was a column of trucks, followed by miles of infantry on foot. These were men of the 16th and 18th regiments of the North Korean 4th Division. The column apparently was not in communication with the tanks that had preceded it.

    It took about an hour for the head of the column to reach a point about 1,000 yards from the American position, when Smith ordered fire opened. American mortars and machine guns swept the enemy column causing heavy casualties but did not stop the three tanks. These advanced to within 300 yards and raked the ridge with shell and machine gun fire. Smith had no communication with the artillery battery, which he believed had been destroyed.

    Smith held his position as long as he dared, but casualties mounted rapidly. His men were down to less than 20 rounds of ammunition each and the enemy threatened to cut off the position. The enemy tanks were to the rear of the American position, and Smith consolidated his force in a circular perimeter on the highest ground east of the road. The enemy was now using mortar and artillery fire. About 4:30 p.m., Smith ordered a withdrawal, remarking, "This is a decision I'll probably regret the rest of my days." The plan was for an orderly leap-frogging withdrawal, with one platoon covering another. Under heavy enemy fire, the poorly-trained American troops abandoned weapons and equipment in sometimes precipitous flight. Not all of them had received word of the withdrawal, and it was at this point that the Americans suffered most of their casualties. When they reached the battery position Smith was surprised to find it intact with only Perry and one other man wounded. The artillerymen disabled the five remaining howitzers by removing their sights and breechblocks. Then all walked to the outskirts of Osan where they recovered most of their trucks that had been hidden earlier. South of Osan the Americans were forced to detour, and some stragglers were picked up. Fortunately there was no enemy pursuit. At Chonan, only 185 men of the task force could be accounted for. Subsequently, C Company commander Captain Richard Dashmer came in with 65 more, bringing the total to 250. More trickled back to American positions during the following week. One survivor even made it from the west coast by sampan, or small, flat-bottomed Chinese boat, to Pusan. In the battle approximately 150 American infantrymen were killed, wounded, or missing. All five officers and ten enlisted men of the forward observer liaison, machine gun and bazooka group were lost. North Korean casualties in the battle before Osan were approximately 42 dead and 85 wounded; four tanks had been destroyed or immobilized. The enemy advance was delayed perhaps seven hours.
    ...
    The rest here.
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 02 Dec 07, 15:03.

  • #2
    At the start of the Korean War, the 4 divisions in Japan on occupation duty mostly had the Chaffee light tank. This lightly gunned and armored unit was no match for the T34, and was very vulnerable to the 76mm NK artillery. On one of the very first actions, August 11, three M-24s of 78th Tank Battalion were quickly destroyed by the NK infantry and artillery.

    Links:

    http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/tanks.htm

    A great related article: http://www.korean-war.com/Archives/2.../msg00044.html
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 02 Dec 07, 14:54.

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    • #3
      Research materials

      The CSI site at Fort Leavenworth has the ORO research papers of how Armor was employed in Korea.

      Covers the war for the US completely. Talks about the NKs tanks being destroyed by type of weapon/bombs.
      Kevin Kenneally
      Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
      Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

      Comment


      • #4
        Dunno Nick i was always partial to the M26 series and then the 46 Patton which was deriative of the 26E2. Good thread tho. Stats indicate they killed at least half the 34's in the region.

        good links here.

        http://www.battletanks.com/m26_pershing.htm


        http://www.battletanks.com/usa.htm

        b.
        CV

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Centrix Vigilis View Post
          Dunno Nick i was always partial to the M26 series and then the 46 Patton which was deriative of the 26E2. Good thread tho. Stats indicate they killed at least half the 34's in the region.

          good links here.

          http://www.battletanks.com/m26_pershing.htm


          http://www.battletanks.com/usa.htm

          b.
          CV
          Air Force might argue differently.
          Kevin Kenneally
          Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
          Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

          Comment


          • #6
            nobody listens to flyboys...






            except when ya need them A10's.

            B.
            CV

            Comment


            • #7
              LOL

              Anyhoo, unfortunately the post is in the Allied Armor WWII forum, but someone mentioned correctly that the first US/UN tank used against the North Korean T-34s was the M-24, and that it was sort of surprising that the M-24 could have knocked out the mighty T-34 on occasion. In fact, although clearly out-gunned by a T-34/85, the 75mm gun toting M-24 had marginal armor but it was sloping and a turret designed specifically to deflect shot, not "catch" it...But a Chaffee using its speed to flank and get behind a T-34 may well have had a fighting chance...



              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M24_Chaffee

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              • #8
                Friend of mine told about using a jeepmounted 106 to knock out a T34 by firing through a shed.
                Nobody got out of it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Trung-si View Post
                  Friend of mine told about using a jeepmounted 106 to knock out a T34 by firing through a shed.
                  Nobody got out of it.
                  it's possible. Since the 106mm fired a HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) round.
                  Kevin Kenneally
                  Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
                  Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

                  Comment

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