|“||Objective is at range, firing!
- M1 57mm crew firing
Accurate and dangerous, the greatest advantage of the M1 57mm is that it can be concealed in cities or woods to lay ambushes on unsuspecting tanks. Because of its cheap price, it is advised to place this AT gun in large groups, to eliminate tanks before they get a chance to open fire. Nevertheless, players should upgrade to the M5 76mm for more results.
The idea of manufacturing the 6 pounder in the U.S. was expressed by the U.S. Army Ordnance in February 1941. At that time the U.S. Army still favored the 37mm Gun M3 and production was planned solely for lend lease. The U.S. version, classified as substitute standard under the designation 57 mm Gun M1, was based on the 6 pounder Mk 2, two units of which were received from the UK. However since there was sufficient lathe capacity the longer barrel could be produced from the start. Production started early in 1942 and continued until 1945. The M1A1 variant used US "Combat" tyres and wheels. The M1A2 introduced the British practice of free traverse, i.e., the gun could be traversed by the crew pushing and pulling on the breech, instead of solely geared traverse, from September 1942. A more stable carriage was developed but not introduced. Once the 57 mm did enter US service a modified towing point design was introduced (the M1A3) but only for US use.
In spring 1943, following the experience of the North African Campaign, the Infantry branch of the U.S. Army recognized the need to field a heavier antitank gun than the 37 mm M3. According to the Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) from 26 May 1943, a regiment antitank company included nine 57 mm guns and each battalion had an antitank platoon with three guns giving a total of 18 guns per regiment. Dodge WC-62 / WC-63 6×6 1½ ton trucks were issued as prime movers in place of the 3/4 ton truck used with its predecessor the 37mm. Introduction was made in the face of objections by the Infantry Board which believed it too heavy. The Ordnance Board on the other hand felt a more powerful weapon should be introduced. Airborne and Cavalry rejected it. By mid-1944 the M1 was the standard antitank gun of the U.S. infantry in the Western Front and outnumbered the M3 in Italy.
Because of the unexpected adoption for service, the only ammunition type in production in the U.S. by mid-1943 was the AP ammunition. Only after the Normandy Campaign did the HE round reach battlefield (U.S. units were sometimes able to get a limited amount of HE ammunition from the British Army), and the canister shot was not seen in significant numbers until the end of the war. This limited the efficiency of the gun in the infantry support role. Also, APCR or APDS rounds were never developed. Canister round production did not start until early 1945 and was also in limited use. Some British stocks of APDS were supplied to the US units.
The Airborne Command had rejected the 57 mm M1 in the summer of 1943 claiming its was unfit for airlanding by glider due to weight and the TO&E of February 1944 still had airborne divisions keeping their 37 mm guns. Nevertheless, the 82nd and the 101st airborne divisions were reequipped with British-manufactured 6 pounders on the narrow carriage Mk III designed for glider use - 24 in AA battalion, and 9 in glider infantry regiment - for the Normandy airdrops. Subsequently the guns were officially introduced under the TO&E from December 1944. According to the TO&E, a division was issued a total of 50 pieces: 8 in divisional artillery, 24 in AA battalion, and 18 in glider infantry regiment; parachute infantry regiments did not have anti-tank guns. The British guns were referred simply as 57 mm guns.
In the fighting after the Normandy landings the paratroops used them against German armour near St Mere Eglise and Carentan. However few tanks were encountered and they were mostly used for support which made the shortage of HE shell more significant. From July, US anti-tank units encountered the Panther tank which was only vulnerable to the 57 mm from the sides. Towed anti-tank guns were less effective in the hedgerow terrain where mobility suffered but when the Germans went on the offensive in August they were effective in defense with infantry. Towards the end of the war, towed anti-tank units were out of favour due to their lack of mobility compared to self-propelled guns and the 57mm was used by infantry battalions. However with few tanks to contend with some units that would have been equipped with the 57mm were instead deployed as rifle companies or only with the Bazooka.
Adv. med cal. AP shell