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The M36 Gun Motor Carriage, M36 Tank Destroyer, or "Slugger", was a tank destroyer that was used by the United States during World War II.

Description

The M36 had a gasoline powered, 500 hp (373 kW) Ford GAA engine, which gave the M36 a top speed of 48.2 km/h and an operational range of close to 241 kilometers.[1] The transmission was of a five speed forward, one speed reverse type with a vertical volute spring suspension system being used for the tracks. Being based on the chassis of the M10 Tank Destroyer, the M36 was thus designed for speed and maneuverability as was American tank destroyer doctrine.

The armament of the 'Slugger' consisted of a single 90 mm M3 main gun and a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun. Seeing the ineffectiveness of most other 76.2 mm American anti-tank weapons, the M3 gun was designed to be more effective than both its British and German counterparts. The ammunition for such a large weapon in fact helped to serve as a counterweight for the gun by being placed in the rear of the turret.[2] Furthermore, this placement made for easy retrieval of ammunition and thus faster reloading of the main gun. Assisting with the ease of operation and to save weight, the M36 had an open turret, exposing most of its five man crew. This was a trade-off of crew space in exchange for more vulnerability against weather conditions and shrapnel. Some Jacksons were fitted with a special covering for the turret post-war.

With armor protection of 50 mm to 19 mm plating comprising most of the hull, the M36 was meant to use its speed and range over its armor to defend itself. While outwardly unable to take much damage, the M36's excellent main armament and good speed meant that on the battlefield, it could quickly engage and disengage targets while also looking for flanking opportunities, though unlike the M10, these were not strictly required. Weighing in at 28,145 kg, the M36 measured 6.15 meters in length, 3.5 meters in width and 2.72 meters in height.[3]

Variants

Base Variants

  • M36B1:  The M36B1 distinguished itself from the standard M36 by using the hull of an M4A3 Sherman tank instead of the modified M10 that the series typically used. Over 180 examples were converted during the war, though none saw combat.
  • M36B2: The M36B2 utilized twin diesel-powered engines fitted into the modified chassis of an M10. The type did not see combat.

History

Development

M36 Jackson

An M36 Tank Destroyer in Belgium

In 1941, the M10's 76.2 mm gun was considered adequate for service with the United States Military. It remained so for some time before the advent of the German Panther and Tiger heavy tanks which required the M10 to engage its target at distances too close for comfort. Beginning development with foresight of future problems with the M10's 76 mm gun, the order was placed for a new tank destroyer that utilized the M3 90 mm anti-aircraft gun as its main armament in late 1942.[1]

However, the project was delayed in favor of others. The M36 was initially supposed to use the standard M10 turret and hull, but it was found that the turret simply was not designed for such a large caliber weapon. Once a suitable design was created, the vehicle was assembled and designated the T71 Gun Motor Carriage in March, 1943. The new turret was standardized in July 1944, with the new Tank Destroyer going into action immediately after their arrival in Europe in August 1944.[3] 

Service History

When it reached the theater, the M10 was officially replaced in US Army stocks, though was still used in the end because of early M36 shortages. The new design adapted well, providing necessary anti-tank support to American troops on the ground, coupled with the now undefeatable Allied air presence over the skies of Europe. One notable confrontation of M36s and heavy German armor occurred just outside the town of Rimling in early January 1945, when M36s of the American 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion were the first to knock out a Jagdtiger on the Western Front.[4] While in total, relatively few M36 Jacksons had been produced by American standards (Only 1,772 examples), enough were available in the fighting to help counter the threat of heavy German armor.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.wwiivehicles.com/usa/tank-destroyers/m36.asp
  2. http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=251
  3. 3.0 3.1 Forty, George. WW1 and WW2 Tanks. Southwater Books (Anness Publishing Ltd). 2012. ISBN 1 78019 190 1 Page 91
  4. http://www.100thww2.org/support/776m36.html


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