M3 Gun Motor Carriage file photo

M3 Gun Motor Carriage

CountryUnited States
Primary RoleTank Destroyer

Contributor: Alan Chanter

This was the first American self-propelled weapon to be used in combat during the Second World War.

In June 1941 the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, United States was requested to adapt the 75mm field gun to a half track carriage in order to provide a suitable mobile weapon for the tank destroyer battalions at that time being contemplated. The M1897A4 gun (originally a French design) was fitted, on a pedestal mount with a protective shield, into the cargo space of a standard White M2 armoured personnel carrier, where it had a traverse of 19 degrees left and 21 degrees to the right. It was fired forward over the cab and the projectile had a muzzle velocity of 2,000 feet per second.

The vehicle was standardized as the GMC M3 in November 1941, by which time a small number had been sent to the Philippine Islands where they proved effective, shortly afterwards, in dealing with Japanese tanks during the invasion. Others were used in action in Tunisia and Italy, where they did rather less well against German armour. The fundamental defect was that the gun, dated from 1897, and was no longer sufficient to cope with modern armour. The GMC M3 was reclassified in March 1944 and declared obsolete in September.

They were also used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific theatre, equipping both Special Weapons Battalions and Regimental Weapons Companies from mid-1944, but began to be replaced by the 105mm self-propelled guns towards the closing weeks of that year. The Marines employed it principally as an assault gun for knocking out fortifications and for indirect artillery fire. In the USMC the type was commonly known as the SPM (Self Propelled Mount). In addition a number were supplied to the British where they were used in Armoured Car regiments for fire support purposes.

Sources:
Ian V. Hogg & John Weeks, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles (Hamlyn, 1980)
Gordon Rottman , US Marine Corps 1941-45 (Osprey Elite, 1995)
B.T. White, Tanks and other Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1942-45 (Blandford Press, 1975)

SPECIFICATIONS

M3 Gun Motor Carriage
Machinery6,326cc White 160AX 6-cylinder petrol engine rated at 128bhp at 2800rpm
SuspensionSemi-elliptic volute spring
Armament1x75mm M1897A4 gun (59 rounds)
Armor6-12mm
Crew5
Length6.23 m
Width2.15 m
Height2.50 m
Weight9.1 t
Speed72 km/h
Range320 km

Photographs

American M2 Half-track and M3 Gun Motor Carriage vehicles, date unknownUS Army M3 Gun Motor Carriage with African-American crew, circa 1943US M3 Gun Motor Carriage, date unkonwnM3 Gun Motor Carriage of US 7th Marine Regiment at Hill 660 on New Britain, Bismarck Islands,
See all 5 photographs of M3 Gun Motor Carriage Tank Destroyer



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M3 Gun Motor Carriage Tank Destroyer Photo Gallery
American M2 Half-track and M3 Gun Motor Carriage vehicles, date unknown
See all 5 photographs of M3 Gun Motor Carriage Tank Destroyer



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