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JeffF.
Olympia WA USA
Posts: 4
Joined: 2021
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
8/29/2021 3:47:31 PM
I have a copy of the Armored Division Table of Organization January 1, 1942. I have some questions about any modifications made for their 1944 campaigns. While the divisions did not adopt the 1943 Armored Division TO did any of the subordinate units change?

The 1942 armored infantry battalions didn’t have anti-tank platoons in their armored infantry companies but did have four 37mm anti-tank guns in each company towed by one half track in each of the three platoons plus one in the company headquarters. I know these were replaced by three 57mm guns prior to Normandy. Were these still assigned one each to the armored infantry platoons or were they consolidated into new AT platoons like in the ‘43 TO? If so did the ‘42 Ar Inf Bns increase in personnel authorization to match the ‘43 battalions to build these?

The ‘42 TO also has 6 man crews authorized for each medium tank crew (to accommodate all the crew positions of the Grant tanks of the time). Was this authorization reduced when these divisions were equipped with Sherman’s? A comment in the 2nd Ar Div history implies that in that division the personnel original authorization was an important factor in keeping combat units up to strength in men in the ETO campaigns. The reserve of 8 medium tanks and 4 light tanks in each of the two armored regiment maintenance companies also helped sustain the tank strength of front line units which the ‘43 TO divisions lacked.

Last the assault gun platoons of the ‘42 tank battalions were authorized three half track mounted guns. Were these replaced by 105mm Shermans like those in the assault gun platoons of the ‘43 Ar Bns? Were the medium tank companies of the ‘42 TO ever authorized a single 105mm Sherman in the company headquarters like those of the ‘43 TO tank companies?
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
8/29/2021 5:18:36 PM
From my manuscript of For Purpose of Service Test.

"Since the two divisions retained the March 1942 TO&E, various other in-theater adjustments were made to equipment. For example, the obsolescent 37mm antitank guns in the organization were replaced by 57mm guns, although photographic evidence indicates the 37mm guns were retained as ad hoc mountings on half-tracks. One major item missing from the “heavy” division was the 105mm howitzer-armed medium tank; the March 1942 TO&E employed the 75mm HMC M8 in its “Assault Gun” Company. The issue was first raised by Eisenhower on 15 July, when he requested permission to replace 18 of the M8 in each of the divisions with the Medium Tank M4 105mm. However, it was not until 22 October before the 2d and 3d Armored Division each were authorized nine of the 105mm-armed tanks. The 2d Armored Division G-4 recorded receiving four that same day and the remaining five on 24 October. By late November 1944, the theater authorization was increased to 27. The 2d Armored Division received 24 by 15 December. It is unclear exactly how they were distributed (probably nine to each armored and armored infantry regiment), but the 75mm HMC M8 was also retained for a while (as of 29 November 2d Armored Division had 20 and 3d Armored Division had 30). On 25 January, an increase to 33 each of the Medium Tank M4 (105mm) and 75mm HMC M8 was authorized by the War Department. By 5 February, 2d AD had 33 Medium Tank M4-series 105mm and only 9 75mm HMC M8, while 3d AD had 33 and 21 respectively. As of 11 May 1945, 2d Armored Division had 42 M4-series 105mm and no 75mm HMC M8, while the 3d AD had 33 and 19 respectively. Complicating matters was the planned replacement of the M8 75mm in all the units of the armored division, except the Mechanized Cavalry Squadron, under T/O&E 17 of 24 January 1945 (see Chapter 17).

The 2d and 3d Armored Divisions also remained organized with just two Combat Commands and were never authorized or organized a Reserve Command. Instead, they typically used the headquarters of the Armored Infantry Regiment as an ad hoc reserve command."

Somewhere I also have a discussion of the changes in the AIR for combat that I did not include in the book. I'll see if I can track it down.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
8/29/2021 5:36:11 PM
Okay, some more...

Anything to do with the 2d and 3d AD organizational adaptations is obscure to the extreme and not well documented. Don Houston in his doctoral thesis on the 2d AD touched on the initial decisions in England, but in about a paragraph (much better than his published history).

It appears that in the 2d AD, the AIR requested and probably received:

70 .50 caliber MG for AA mounts
132 .30 caliber MG
81 BAR

They also replaced the towed 37mm AT with the 57mm, but retained an unknown number of 37mm as half-track mounts. They requested the replacement of 27 60mm mortars with 81mm mortars vehicle-mounted, but it is unclear if they were ever received...and I doubt it.

Other division units received:

25 .50 caliber MG
21 HT personnel carriers (some may have gone to the AIR)

I cannot find any evidence the structure of the AIR was substantially changed though. The only other major change was in late 1944 and early 1945 when the Assault Gun Platoons in the AIR began replace the 75mm HMC M8 with the Medium Tank M4 (105mm).

At one point it was planned to reorganize the three AIB in the AIR to match the AIB of the other divisions, but that was never actually done that I know of.
Jim Cameron
Ossining NY USA
Posts: 969
Joined: 2005
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
8/30/2021 3:53:53 PM
I seem to recall reading that at some point prior to the Normandy landings the 2nd and 3rd armored divisions, while retaining the overall "heavy" TO&E, converted the armored battalions of their armored regiments to the standard structure found in the light armored divisions and the independent armored battalions. How did this effect the tank strength of the divisions?

For a more subjective question, were the heavy armored divisions really too heavy for conditions found in Normandy? I recall reading, don't recall where exactly, that when it came time to move they would clog the available roads?
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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
8/30/2021 8:20:27 PM
Quote:
I seem to recall reading that at some point prior to the Normandy landings the 2nd and 3rd armored divisions, while retaining the overall "heavy" TO&E, converted the armored battalions of their armored regiments to the standard structure found in the light armored divisions and the independent armored battalions. How did this effect the tank strength of the divisions?


No, what they did was cross-attach companies between the 1st (Light Tank) and the 2nd and 3d (Medium Tank) Battalions, so that each battalion consisted of one Light and two Medium Tank Companies. Also, later in the campaign as tank replacement became problematic, they dropped the "reserve" light and medium tanks held by the regimental Service Company.

Quote:
For a more subjective question, were the heavy armored divisions really too heavy for conditions found in Normandy? I recall reading, don't recall where exactly, that when it came time to move they would clog the available roads?


Not really, if anything they proved more robust in pursuit because their larger QM and Ord components made supply easier. In the end, the 1943-style divisions needed the permanent attachment of two QM TC Truck Companies to give the division enough lift to haul its basic load.
Jim Cameron
Ossining NY USA
Posts: 969
Joined: 2005
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
8/31/2021 10:28:58 PM
Quote:
No, what they did was cross-attach companies between the 1st (Light Tank) and the 2nd and 3d (Medium Tank) Battalions, so that each battalion consisted of one Light and two Medium Tank Companies. Also, later in the campaign as tank replacement became problematic, they dropped the "reserve" light and medium tanks held by the regimental Service Company.


Sounds like they were at least approximating the later battalion structure, on a less formal basis. The cross attaching does however sound a lot like how the combat commands would operate in setting up their task forces.
Did this represent a deliberate shift away from light tank battalions in favor of more uniform, heavier units build around medium tanks? If so, were the increasingly obsolescent light tanks easier to find appropriate missions for in company sized units, as opposed to in full battalions?

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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
9/1/2021 1:39:26 PM
Quote:
Sounds like they were at least approximating the later battalion structure, on a less formal basis. The cross attaching does however sound a lot like how the combat commands would operate in setting up their task forces.


The CC in the "heavy" divisions were habitually formed around one of the two armored regiments, so in essence the TF was built from the armored regiments with attachments from other divisional units.

Quote:
Did this represent a deliberate shift away from light tank battalions in favor of more uniform, heavier units build around medium tanks? If so, were the increasingly obsolescent light tanks easier to find appropriate missions for in company sized units, as opposed to in full battalions?


No, it was a deliberate shift to balanced battalions, patterned after the new battalion organization in the other divisions and separate battalions, without having to re-jigger the entire regimental organization.

The jury on light tanks remained divided, even after the war...see the General Board Reports. On the whole though, the separate light tank battalion was only considered suitable as an augmentation to a mechanized cavalry group, which is essentially how the two deployed to the ETOUSA were used. At the end of the war it was recommended they be eliminated, as, in the end, were the mixed medium and light tank battalions.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 152
Joined: 2008
Heavy Armored Division Tables of Organization ETO
9/2/2021 12:36:57 AM
Quote:


It appears that in the 2d AD, the AIR requested and probably received:

70 .50 caliber MG for AA mounts
132 .30 caliber MG
81 BAR

They also replaced the towed 37mm AT with the 57mm, but retained an unknown number of 37mm as half-track mounts. They requested the replacement of 27 60mm mortars with 81mm mortars vehicle-mounted, but it is unclear if they were ever received...and I doubt it.


.


I HEART TOEs !! Love this kind of discussion.

The destination for the BARs is the rifle squads. In US Army armored infantry the rifle squads had a M1919A4 or A6, but no BAR. Giving each rifle squad a BAR allows them to either leave the M1919 on the half track and take the more portable BAR with them for offensive ops. Or if more fire power is desired and they are willing to take the extra weight of a belt fed and its ammo they can take the M1919 with them. There were 81 rifle squads in the armored infantry regiment.

Note if you look at some TOE it appears there are only two rifle squads in the platoons. There is a smaller rifle squad that shares a half track with the platoon headquarters.

In the rifle platoons 2 of 5 half tracks had .50 cal machine guns on them. If it was desired to put .50 cals on all the rifle platoon half tracks that would require 3 x 27= 81 extra .50 cals. Not sure where these extra .50 cals were intended to go.

Modern US mechanized mortar crews often have both a heavy mortar and a 60 mm mortar. Again it gives them tactical flexibility. The 81 mm gives much more fire power. The 60 is more mobile. They could use which ever mortar was best for the circumstance.
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