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  • Tank Mg's. How important?

    WW2 tanks had a varity of weapon systems. Most carried a Mg or more. Which were necessary, which were a luxury and which were worse than useless?

    The usual locations are hull front, co-ax to main armament and turret roof. Some tanks had mg's in the turret rear eg KV-1, some in seperate turrets, some fixed to fire forward and other combinations as well.





    The lack of mg in the Valentine IX was considered a mistake. The mg fitted in the hull front of the Comet was considered a mistake, and sloped armour should have been used instead. Lack of hull mg does not seem to have harmed the Matildas (A12) reputation.





    The US thought their turret roof mounted .5 cals were important. The British nearly always removed theirs.



    So which MG's were important, if any?
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  • #2
    In a vehicle with a rotating turret the hull mg is not really needed, the coax is. The roof .50 was loved by US troops because it's a .50, and that makes it near unto the Lord as far as many Americans are concerned. On a non turreted ag or td a bow gun probably much more useful than on a tank, and some of those vehicles had them fitted or retrofitted in later marks. (Elefant, Sturmpanzer IV, etc.).

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    • #3
      The US found that even the fixed hull MGs in the light and medium M3s and early M4s were effective, if they could be brought to bear. Since tanks were often confined by roads or terrain, however, these were dropped from or reduced in number in later versions of these tanks.

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      • #4
        I'm going to go totally from memory here. I know many of the pre M3/M4 tanks developed in the U.S. often had a dozen or so machine guns. Of course it was toned down a bit with the M4's hull, turret and co-ax, which was the trend for many tanks during the war. Guderian went on and on about the lack of a machine gun on the Elephant, which left it extremely vulnerable to Russian infantry. A tank's main purpose in WWII is attack against "soft" targets and the more guns toward this purpose the better.
        The machine gun also allows the tank to defend itself against infantry at close range and aircraft.
        Which one's are important and which ones can be done without? I would cheat and look at the trends of modern armor which must have been designed with previous conflicts in mind. In tanks today we see turret top machine guns and co-ax...co-ax on almost every tank made. I'm a little rusty on armor in 2012 but I recall reading that the Merkava had multiple mg's on the turret, as does the Abrams.
        John

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        • #5
          Early war, when AT weapons were comparatively sparse, a tank with multiple mgs was fearsome weapon,... That soon changed.

          For the most part, with medium tanks and above the coax was and is a must. The others are "nice" to have but not essential. The AA mg was only useful against ground targets from long range and the US CCs learned quickly to stay buttoned up if infantry (or worse, snipers) were nearby. The mg protected the tank but also other tanks as well. It was not uncommon for tanks to shoot at infantry approaching or trying to assault a platoon-mate. In the Pacific, the US tanker often hosed down friendly tanks which were being swarmed by Japanese infantry.

          The coax was the most versatile, the turret mount the least.
          The Purist

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
            Early war, when AT weapons were comparatively sparse, a tank with multiple mgs was fearsome weapon,... That soon changed.

            For the most part, with medium tanks and above the coax was and is a must. The others are "nice" to have but not essential. The AA mg was only useful against ground targets from long range and the US CCs learned quickly to stay buttoned up if infantry (or worse, snipers) were nearby. The mg protected the tank but also other tanks as well. It was not uncommon for tanks to shoot at infantry approaching or trying to assault a platoon-mate. In the Pacific, the US tanker often hosed down friendly tanks which were being swarmed by Japanese infantry.

            The coax was the most versatile, the turret mount the least.
            The US Marine tankers called the act of shooting Japanese soldiers from their accompanying tanks with their coax or internal turret machineguns "Scratching your back."
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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Purist View Post
              For the most part, with medium tanks and above the coax was and is a must.
              Certainly true. As for roof MG's, I think the hetzer had one that could be used from the inside.
              "Do you like your new weapon? It's wonderful...Try it on yourselves, not others. I told you, this tank reacts to impulses of fear. Try not to think of danger. The machine can read your thoughts..."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                WW2 tanks had a varity of weapon systems. Most carried a Mg or more. Which were necessary, which were a luxury and which were worse than useless?

                The usual locations are hull front, co-ax to main armament and turret roof. Some tanks had mg's in the turret rear eg KV-1, some in seperate turrets, some fixed to fire forward and other combinations as well.





                The lack of mg in the Valentine IX was considered a mistake. The mg fitted in the hull front of the Comet was considered a mistake, and sloped armour should have been used instead. Lack of hull mg does not seem to have harmed the Matildas (A12) reputation.





                The US thought their turret roof mounted .5 cals were important. The British nearly always removed theirs.



                So which MG's were important, if any?
                US tankers in Europe found the 50 caliber machineguns very valuable during an infantry firefight and was oftentimes the deciding factor before the tank's main gun could be loaded with high explosive rounds. American Sergeant Audie Murphy won his Congressional Medal of Honor by countering a German infantry and armor attack largely with a 50 caliber machinegun atop a burning tank destroyer, while calling in artillery support on his radio, while he fired away at the attacking Germans.
                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                • #9
                  According to Harry Yeide in Infantry's Armor: The US Army's Separate Tank Battalions in WW II, the most important weapons to the the tankers in the separate tank battalions was the .30 cal machine gun which they tended to carry as much ammo as they could for. The .50 cal was considered much less capable mostly due to the limited ammo supply(600 rounds I think).

                  You get the impression that the tanks working with the US infantry were largley using their machine guns to suppress German troops so the PBI could go in and eliminate them.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                    US tankers in Europe found the 50 caliber machineguns very valuable during an infantry firefight and was oftentimes the deciding factor before the tank's main gun could be loaded with high explosive rounds. American Sergeant Audie Murphy won his Congressional Medal of Honor by countering a German infantry and armor attack largely with a 50 caliber machinegun atop a burning tank destroyer, while calling in artillery support on his radio, while he fired away at the attacking Germans.
                    JB,

                    The physical location of the .50cal on the top of a regular M4 precluded it from being used by the commander unless he was standing on the engine deck and firing forwards. If he is in the hatch he can fire only over the left rear quarter of the tank. Standing outside the tank on the rear deck in a fight with German infantry would not have been common,... not even not-so-common. It would have been "almost never" unless the tank was firing from far away (outside effective counter-fire range). While supporting a US infantry attack in the classic manner (doing their ticky-tacs as they close on an objective) the tank would normally be buttoned up, or at best, the CC having his head up for better visibility (still very dangerous).

                    Mr Murphy was extremely lucky,... that's why he was a live hero instead of just another corpse on the battlefield. The scene from Band of Brothers (where the Shermans arrive to rescue E Coy, in a nice column, CC riding on the deck) is not at all representative of the use of tanks in Normandy, nor the use of the .50 cal, much less elsewhere.

                    Cheers.
                    The Purist

                    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                    • #11
                      At least some German tanks could have the roof MG rotate on the cupola, whilst Americans didn't do that til the post-war M48 Patton...
                      "Do you like your new weapon? It's wonderful...Try it on yourselves, not others. I told you, this tank reacts to impulses of fear. Try not to think of danger. The machine can read your thoughts..."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                        The scene from Band of Brothers (where the Shermans arrive to rescue E Coy, in a nice column, CC riding on the deck) is not at all representative of the use of tanks in Normandy, nor the use of the .50 cal, much less elsewhere.
                        Yeah...but don't you just love that scene.
                        John

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JBark View Post
                          Yeah...but don't you just love that scene.
                          Poor representation of how it actually went down though. 4 Shermans would have been destroyed within seconds by those German AFVs on the hill. In reality there was like 40 or something Shermans.
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                          • #14
                            It only needed to be representative, D25. The last thing they needed was to film the same 4 Sherman tanks rolling into the battle from different angles to give the impression of numbers. The fact was the tanks arrived, shot up the Germans which then pulled back.
                            The Purist

                            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cougar1 View Post
                              Certainly true. As for roof MG's, I think the hetzer had one that could be used from the inside.
                              Yes,it was used mostly in Hetzer and Stug III.I think IV had it also.
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