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57mm Anti-Tank Gun Model M-1

57mm anti-tank gun model m1 A battlefield inspection by General William F. Dean of an 44th Infantry Division anti-tank position, in the vicinity of  Herbitzheim, France, December 1944Anti-tank guns with a high muzzle velocity were a German specialty, such as the German 75mm anti-tank and the famous 88. The standard issue American anti-tank gun of World War Two, the Model M-1, 57mm, lacked the punch and penetrating power of its German counterparts.  Yet the 57mm proved itself a useful weapon, except when confronted head-on with the latest German battle tanks like the Panthers and Tigers.  A proof point is the ad-hoc field testing report, at the bottom of the page.
This mobile weapon featured a breech mechanism which ejected shell cases automatically, thereby increasing its rate of fire.  A squad of 10 men manned each gun.  The M-1 was a reworked British "6 pounder", so called because it fired a 6-pound projectile.   Unimpressive in appearance, the weapon replaced the under-powered American 37mm anti-tank gun.  In its day, the ballistics performance was good with a muzzle velocity of about 3000 fpm. An anti-tank (AT) round could penetrate 2 inches of armor plate at 100 yards. 

British and American ammunition was interchangeable between their "6 pounder" and our Model M-1.  Both high explosive (HE) and  armored piercing (APC or  AT) and High Explosive (HE) ammunition provided a weapon with multi-functional capability.  Unfortunately only AT was standard issue to the Americans.  The Yanks were thus denied a capable, direct fire anti-personnel weapon.  To the Brit Tommies, it was much more than a single purpose anti-tank gun.  When confronted with the demand to take out a position, like an observation post or a sniper in a church steeple, the 57mm did the job well.  Its combined virtues of relative stealthiness, mobility, accurate direct fire with an HE round: Armed the Brits with a useful 'sniper cannon.' 

Also go to Camouflage Combat Lessons for proper camouflage of the 57-mm anti-tank gun.

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The following report, an all points bulletin, from the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion, concludes the 57mm gun is:"...an effective weapon against any German Armor"

11 December 1944

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 testThe 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 mad 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
Captain, F.A.
Assistant S-3 "


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