AAA AW BN (SP) TACTICS
On 23 September a letter from VI Corps Commander, General Truscott, changed forever the
existing concepts of tactical uses of AAA (SP) gun-tracks. Aware of the exploits of the
443rd and recognizing that growing, Allied air power was gradually reducing enemy air
power to sporadic, hit-and-run raids, General Truscott advised all division commanders of
the capabilities of the MA (SP) gun-tracks and their possible fuller uses while retaining
their effective antiaircraft role. Entitled, "Employment of MA (SP) For Ground
Missions", the Generals letter stated:
"I have long felt the need for greater exploitation of our fire power in the
attack. We have the means for far more effective use of massed fires of our automatic
weapons in close support of infantry, particularly in the AAA automatic weapons battalion,
mounted on half-tracks - four .50 cal. machine-guns coaxially mounted and one 37 mm with
two .50 cal. machine guns co-axially mounted capable of delivering tremendous fire
with great accuracy and speed. they have generally been used in rear areas, watching for
enemy aircraft. Although the need for antiaircraft protection has not disappeared it has
certainly lessened greatly and I am sure that this valuable weapon can be used in many
ways without interfering to any great extent with its availability for AA protection.
"The determination as to the use to be made of the AAA battalion at any one time
rests with the Division Commander. The battalions are trained in the technique of ground
fires and AAA AW battalion commanders are available to the division and to subordinate
commanders at all times for technical advice on the employment of their weapons.
"Within limitation imposed by their characteristics there is a wide range of uses
to which the AAA AW half-track may be put. They can be employed effectively in both attack
and defense, day or night, and are most effective under circumstances which demand a high
and rapid concentration of reinforcing fires at a particular point. The following data and
information suggest a few practicable adaptations to ground missions.
|CHARACTERISTICS OF AAA AW MOUNTED ON HALF-TRACKS
|M16 Mount w/armor plating
||(4) .50 cal. MGs
||5000 rnds per min.
||.50 cal. belts are normally loaded: 1 tracer, 2 incendiary, 2 AP.
|T-28-E1w/o armor plating
||(1) 37 mm gun
||240 rnds per min.
||210 rnds of HE tracer w/burnout at 3500 yds. 30 rnds AP.
"It is obvious that because of the half-tracks limited, cross-country
mobility, the light armor or no armor and its high silouhette, great care must be
exercised in using it in the presence of enemy anti-tank weapons. It should not be used to
accompany the infantry in attack as is the SP assault cannon but might, however, be moved
from one secured cover to another, close behind the assault troops and thus be able to
furnish close, supporting fire, particularly for quickly destroying enemy machine gun
positions. The M-16 vehicle is better adapted to this type of mission as it possesses some
armor and can fire more rapidly and accurately while on the move or at sudden halts. Moved
into position at night, concealed and dug-in, this weapon can greatly increase the weight
of infantry fire along the line of departure.
"As the nucleus of a strong point or to cover a road block, bridge or similar
position it should be carefully dug-in and concealed and covered by infantry small arms.
However, the half-track crews are able to furnish some of the small arms flank protection
while still able to operate the piece.
"In support of a night attack the weapon may be used to indicate direction and to
furnish diversionary fires. Used extensively by the Germans in Africa and Italy often with
"In short, I expect each and every commander in the Corps to constantly seek to
develop the techniques of combat with all the weapons at our disposal. And remember, the
weapons alone will not do the job. Only by a high degree of coordination and teamwork
between the infantry and this weapon will success be achieved".