716th Tank Battalion

Discussion in 'US Units' started by 716_Grandson, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Also found that Hobby Master model of Classy Peg - surprising that the 716th was so honored on a first search. That site says:"Throughout 1945 the 716th Tank Battalion was called upon by the 63rd and 20th Infantry to also assist them."
    Hobby Master HG1005 - M4 Sherman Diecast Model, US Army 716th Tank Btn, "Classy Peg": The Flying Mule
    What about all the other divisions the 716th fought with?

    What did the 716th patch look like? See Earthican's image - like that?

    My father's diary has a few instances of baseball games, getting tired and having a sore arm after. Also getting the native kids in the game too. You can download it on the first page I think.

    Note the diamond under the name - reminds me of the helmet symbols that designated the regiment of the 101st. Tick marks at 12 o'clock, 3, 6, and 9 for Hq. + Hq. Co., 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalion. So my uncle Sam had the club (for 327th Glider Infantry Regiment) and tick at 9 o'clock for 3rd Bn - Co. F for sure.

    716_Grandson has a post on page 5 saying that Co. A was called The Wolf Pack, but perhaps it referred to the entire battalion...the wolf looks like one of the characters in the cartoons we used to watch - Chuck Jones and Termite Terrace stuff.

    Also, what about the name Solo on the barrel of the model, which seems to be a copy of an actual 716th tank.

    For the images, did you use the icon 'Insert Image' above? Try again or use a Hosting site like ImageShack etc.

    Thanks - re-reading your post - that would be funny about the wolf call. I hope others will say something about their fathers doing that.

    Your dad did not have to work on the engines - he had mechanics for that, but he probably made sure all was running well.

    Dave Ferro
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    Thank you, Owen, for the reference as well as the magical and helpful things happening to my account.

    I have plenty of things to scan from the manual, including a photo of the crude double steering-levered 'cockpit' for the driver. The trick is that the photographs are only scanning so well.

    The 716 patch does indeed look exactly like the one Earthican fabricated.

    On the wolf call, my siblings think I'm nuts on that line of inquiry, and it could be that only Company A was the Wolf Pack, but it's worth a shot, when you're grasping for information, to be open to all possibilities.

    More to come.
     

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  4. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

  5. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Wondering about the photo Earthican posted - the Japanese tank is not what I have usually seen - seems more modern and the suspension looks like the one on the M26 - and some German tanks.

    Very interesting - been waiting to see some photos of the soldiers - anyone recognize their relative?

    About the tracks: the Maj. Barnes book on the Weapons says: "The U.S. Ordnance Department was the only designer of tanks in this war to employ the rubber-block track and the rubber-jointed steel track. In both types of tracks, the track pin was protected from abrasion by being encased in rubber which provided the necessary track flexibility. The Germans and Japanese used the usual metal pin-jointed type. Their problem of keeping tanks equipped with tracks in all theaters was of great proportion; the life of these enemy tracks was approximately 600 miles as compared with 3,000 miles for American rubber-jointed tracks. In some theaters, our soldiers much preferred the rubber-block track, while in others, such as Italy, because of the rocky terrain, they considered the steel type of track necessary. As a result of the global employment of the M4 tank, it was necessary for the Ordnance Department to supply both the steel and rubber-coated block types, to be used as conditions demanded."

    Seems that would apply to the Philippine mountains as well. What about the muddy and swamp areas?

    The tank shown with the rubber blocks shows tracks with flat rectangular blocks - no cleats or chevrons. Guess this would be good on a road.

    Other photos show the M4 with a welded hull and the caption says that the "M4A2 and M4M3 are generally similar in appearance." The M4A1 photo below has a "cast armor plate hull."

    On the next page is an overhead view of a M4A1 but it has a different front to the hull - Two flanges with bolts. My friend's father who was a tanker in Europe told him that he didn't like that type because when hit, the bolts broke and the hull split in two. Any other info on this?

    Also had read that this was the result because the builders did not know how to cast such large pieces at first. Yet many companies like locomotive manufacturers had been casting complete engine sections for years. In photos of the ALCO plant here (when it was McIntosh & Seymour), there are huge stationery steam engines with cast parts. It looks like a regular in-line engine, until you notice the tiny suited man standing next to it.

    By the way, the number of shoes per vehicle is listed as 158, except for the M4A4 which is 166.

    Thanks for all the great posts.

    Dave
     
  6. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Here's some remarks from the 716th AAR. It appears they were satisfied with the rubber chevron tracks despite the sharp coral. I would guess they did not have to travel the long distances as tanks in Italy.

    From the wording on "Duckbills" (I've heard them called "grousers") it appears they did not have any but thought they might have helped.


    716th Tank Bn AAR

    Re: Rubber Tracks

    "The ground was firm and sharp coral, although hard on the rubber tracks, mitigated any difficulty in climbing."


    Re: Mud and Sand

    "Extended end-connectors, "Duckbills", would have assisted the floatation power of the tanks up steep grades and over soft surfaces."


    Regarding cast armor. I suspect the problem might not have been size but the properties of the steel used for armor versus the steel used for an engine block. If the Internet has been good for anything it is for finding obscure information on WWII tanks. With some careful searches I'm sure the answer is out there.


    This may be obvious, but I'll say it. It may have been practice to name all the tanks in "C" Company starting with the letter "C".

    I'll post the other photo of CLASSY PEG:
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=62956&stc=1&d=1316791038
     

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  7. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    From the technical manual: 'Each Track has 79 separate shoes, or blocks, which may be rubber covered, or all steel.'

    Of the rubber covered blocks: 'Two designs are in use, the first having the same thickness of rubber on both sides, the second having a greater thickness of rubber on the tread (ground contact side) than on the bogie wheel contact side. Shoes of either type must be replaced when further wearing away of the tread would expose the tubular sections of the inner steel link to the risk of being dented or deformed. Damaged shoes must be replaced immediately. Undamaged shoes whose tread rubber has worn thinner than the rubber on the inner side may be reversed.'

    I'll point out that the 'bogies' are the massive suspension units clear in the picture above, supporting the wheels around which the inside of the track travels.

    In the paragraph on the all-steel treads, it states the tracks may be switched end for end to extend their life when wear begins to show.

    Thanks for establishing the connection between Company C and C-named tanks, Earthican.
     
  8. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Hi LT, if you are willing and able, I would like to see some pics of your father's tank crewmen helmet and markings.

    You may be right about the source of your father's wolf calls. I can't imagine any other influence that would spark that quirk. Although my father, with a few drinks in him, would howl with our dogs.


    One other shot of a 716th tank with artwork. This was a screen grab from a Hollywood feature film, "Back Door To Hell", which used some actual war footage. It does not appear to be CLASSY PEG.

    other forum link here:
    Armorama :: Any photos of Classy Peg?

    unknown 716th tank pic:
    [​IMG]
     
  9. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    Earthican,

    In your picture on post 64, where the Classy Peg is passing that shot-up Japanese tank, at least three (and probably all four) of the men standing in the hatches are wearing tank helmets. You'll see that they're kind of shallow bowls on the top, with dog ears of sorts coming down the sides. On those dog ears are other hard plastic pieces that fit over the ears. A chin strap is at the ends of the 'ears'.

    I will work to get you a picture of the helmet. Like I said, I'm at the other end of the country, and my siblings are wound up in some other family business at present. I hope to get a hold of a number of things - the big file, if it still exists, the helmet, and so on.

    By the way, I'm pretty sure the helmet shells themselves are plastic. It's certainly a molded material, and not leather. His is white; it's hard to tell from the photo what color the Peg's crews' helmets are.
     
  10. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    Finally! That's resting on a genuine Liberty Ship hatch cover coffee table, I might point out.
     

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  11. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Did these helmets have earphones so the crew could hear the commander? And also mikes? Seems to be a space for them.
     
  12. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    There does seem to be a space, but I don't recall any conduits or attachments for any wires or speakers.

    I also just took another glance at the manual, and there's no mention of a communications system.

    Attached is a diagram of the seating of an M4A3. The 'gunners' are a half story above the drivers, with an engine right behind them. I guess when things got down to business, they had a quick, loud. and direct lingo, like on the bridge of a ship.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    American WWII Tanker Helmets

    This commercial website mentions an R-14 radio (which I take to mean earphones). I recall old movies showing tank commanders using a hand-held microphone. But I would not be certain they got that right. I know the Sherman had a vehicle intercom. Because I know the Stuart light tank did not. In the Stuart, the tank commander tapped the back of the driver with his foot.

    I am really surprised by the color. Did your father ever explain why it was white? My first thought was more comfortable in the topical sun? Possibly to aid recognition of the platoon leader? I can't help but wonder if the color aided or disrupted a snipers aim. Might depend on whether the background was the sky or a tree line.

    Thank you for sharing a real piece of history.
     
  14. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Wondered about those movies also - but remembered photos of infantry talking through a phone mounted at the back of a tank to point out targets - probably also could warn of any anti-tank weapons.

    The Ordnance book lists under Communications the SCR-508, but indented under Radio the SCR-506 then a further indentation titled Command tank......5 and then under that Flag set, M238.....24.
    Listed below this is a Decontaminating apparatus, M2, 1 1/2 qts.....2. Any idea what this was and what for?

    Among the photos there is one of a "typical tank battle scene" in Germany, with the V formation as noted above. The commanders are standing up, which other tankers have said they had to do in spite of the danger.

    They must have had the radios for the commander to organize his squadron. Again also to warn of any danger.


    Still would like to see photos from the field.
     
  15. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    These are from the 716th AAR. Visual communications would be flags or hand signals. The SCR 300 is the backpack radio found at the infantry company headquarters. I imagine the tankers could have secured or strapped the SCR 300 to the top of the turret within reach of the tank commander. On Luzon where the 716th tank companies operated intact the tank company commander might have the SCR 300 (if available). In the southern Philippines operations where tank companies were divided up, the tank platoon leader might get an SCR 300 (if available).


    "Visual communication was seldom used. [The SCR]508 radio communication between tanks worked efficiently. Each platoon had a separate channel; each tank had a transmitter. Communication between tank and infantry was facilitated by [the] use of the S.C.R. 300 radio. The First Platoon had an alternate radio communication arrangement on a separate channel of the S.C.R. 508 with the infantry battalion commander's SCR 610 radio. This channel was used as much as the channel on the SCR 300.

    ....

    Other items that would have been extremely useful, had they been available were:

    ....

    b. Exterior telephone RC-298,"
     
  16. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Listed below this is a Decontaminating apparatus, M2, 1 1/2 qts.....2. Any idea what this was and what for?


    I suspect for washing off chemical warfare agents such as 'mustard gas'. Given the quantity, 1 1/2 quarts, it may have only been enough to clean the controls inside the tank so that they could keep fighting and not wear rubber gloves. They would probably need to go somewhere to completely decontaminate the vehicle so they could operate without protective clothing.
     
  17. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    (** They're not loading, and I'm following the same directions as ever. I'll try again when I have a moment.)

    Attached are two sets of scanned pages on decontamination. Actually, the facing page just before the chapter begins is a diagram of the manner in which ammunition was stored.

    The plot thickens:
    First, on the topic of radios and the commanders who would stand in the hatch of the tank to lead maneuvers, remember from my first post the story that my Dad was doing exactly that when word came over the radio, "There's a Jap in the grass behind you!"

    I just found a reference to 'Intra-tank Telephone . . . . .. Telephone System' in the general specifications, but I don't see any other references to it anywhere, in the electrical systems chapter or even in non electrical systems (things like compasses). It occurs to me that these might have been sound-powered phones.

    Now, truly I don't know the details of that story, whether a voice burst over the loudspeaker in the police-car radio manner we can all imagine, or one of his guys got it and shouted, or one of the guys had to relay it over the 'phone.' I do have the sense it all happened very fast, that he had whirled around and emptied the magazine of his .45 into the swath of tall grass behind him.

    I'll skim the book some more. Sorry for missing that earlier.

    -They did have a siren, surprisingly. The one shown looks exactly like the sirens on police cars from DRAGNET or ADAM-12.

    It's important to keep in mind that as the manual shows the fronts and backs of the various electric panels, the M4A3 makes a 1960's Volkwagen Beetle look sophisticated by comparison.
    Really, these are bulldozers fitted out to bear large weapons over difficult terrain. The notion of a 'tank', a cube of invincibility that could penetrate an enemy's ring of fire, is exactly that - a notion, a mental construct.

    These tanks didn't drive themselves into Harm's Way, and these remarkably crude machines, padded on the insides and with their occupants wearing helmets, must have taken considerable skill to maneuver. Penetrating the ring of fire and operating the cannon must have required enormous presence of mind. The image we all have of a tank crushing everything in its path embodies as much of the spirit of the guys inside as it does the armament on the outside.
     
  18. LT's Son

    LT's Son Junior Member

    I don't think it's working on those uploads.

    Here are some interesting thoughts on decontamination, from the M4A3 technical manual:

    1. Unpainted metal parts in danger of exposure to chemicals should be coated lightly with engine oil. Ammunition, unpainted though it might be, should be stored in sealed containers.

    2. Ordinary fabrics provide no practical protection against these liquid vesicants, (mustard, lewisite, etc.) Rubber boots contaminated with mustard gas may pose a grave danger to men wearing them several days after the attack. (See below on hosing down your tank: the residue remains dangerous.)

    3. In the work of removing liquid vesicants, a gas mask and impermeable clothing must be worn - of course - and a thorough, hot bath with soap is recommended. If any contact between skin and chemical is made, or if fumes are inhaled, first aid must be rendered within FIVE minutes to be effective.

    4. In the first aid section, areas of skin wet with mustard must be repeatedly swabbed with a solvent such as kerosene, any oil, alcohol, or carbon tetrachloride before a final cleaning with soap and water.

    5. When it comes to cleaning various painted surfaces, the manual recommends using 'AGENT' , which is chloride of lime, mixed with water. The aim is to create a heavy slurry, which is then washed over all surfaces.

    6. Unpainted parts that have been exposed to something other than mustard or lewisite are cleaned by SOLVENT, which is probably defined somewhere, or alcohol, wiped dry, and recoated with oil.

    7. However, if these unpainted parts are in contact with mustard or lewisite, they must be cleaned with a mixture of one part AGENT to 15 parts Acetylene tetrachloride - which is probably the 'solvent' mentioned above.

    8. If none of these chemicals are immediately available, then large volumes of hot water are a temporary fix. Mustard gas lying in joints or leather or canvas webbing will remain a constant source of danger.

    Bear this in mind the next time you wash the car!
     
  19. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    These tanks didn't drive themselves into Harm's Way, and these remarkably crude machines, padded on the insides and with their occupants wearing helmets, must have taken considerable skill to maneuver. Penetrating the ring of fire and operating the cannon must have required enormous presence of mind. The image we all have of a tank crushing everything in its path embodies as much of the spirit of the guys inside as it does the armament on the outside.

    I tried to respond to this post earlier but my words failed me. On a second reading I realize all I need to do is agree completely.
     
  20. DaveFe

    DaveFe Member

    Haven't posted in a while - lots of reading of books you might like.

    Henry Yeide's book, Steel Victory,about the independent battalions in the ETO, has several sections concerning communications between the infantry and the armor units. Several methods were tried, including the field phone at the back but he says there were three problems:
    "First, the foot soldier had to expose himself to talk to the tank commander. Second, the boxes were vulnerable to being knocked off by small arms fire and shrapnel. Third, the system proved to be a drain on the tank's battery." Other ideas were tried, like running a waterproofing intake tube out ot the turret and over the rear deck - then anyone could call to the commander through the tube.

    Another method on the way to communications was to assign a jeep with a SCR-510 tank radio to the partner infantry battalion and likewise a jeep with the similar SCR-509 to the infantry platoons. Sending liaison personnel to the infantry was still another idea tried, but that meant that there were fewer personnel to man the tanks. Light tanks were used in this capacity also instead of jeeps.

    Finally they assigned "four extra SCR-509 radios for tank-infantry communications on a loan basis, which would eventually be replaced by the '300 series tank set.' The infantry's standard radio was the SCR-300 walkie-talkie."

    There was a problem with the Wright engines - 18 spark plugs that would get fouled if the engine was not kept above 1200 rpm. No wonder the Ford V8 was preferred.

    This book also has transcriptions of communications between tanks - very interesting reading. There are 34 photos, not including the one on the cover. This shows an M4 with 8 soldiers walking along the right side through a street in Europe - the last one has a BAR. The tank has the armor plates welded in front of the driver and bow gunner positions and the attachment to get through the bocage. One tank shown during the Bulge has "a layer of concrete poured on the glacis between the steel bars welded along the edges." They had to jackhammer it off at the end of hostilities. Another tank is heavily sandbagged - they felt this might lessen the force of the German bazookas (Panzerschreck - there's a photo of our troops checking one of these out).

    Yeide spends a great deal of time in his book describing the efforts to coordinate with the infantry - the tanks needed the soldiers and vice-versa - it was a costly lesson.


    In another book, Retribution, by Max Hastings, there are some interesting stories about Japanese tactics against our tanks. This certainly makes my father's notation in his diary about a Japanese soldier carrying a box of dynamite up to a tanks and exploding it. Whatever was available was used. And also why Lt's Son's father would be shooting at any enemy approaching his tank.

    These happened in Okinawa, and Peleliu against our troops, and Manchuria/China against the Russians. Haven't found anything about the Philippines yet, but there is quite a bit about suicide boats that were in operation.

    On Okinawa in April, the Japanese of one company only had two anti-tank guns which were soon knocked out by artillery. So, "men were given a mine or shell and ordered to detonate this against a tank as it approached." One of them named Imai ran after a tank with a mine, but couldn't catch up - "the turret traversed, the gun fired. Imai was gone."

    A local Japanese commander reported on August 10 how "the hundred men of his kamikaze unit sought to stop a Soviet at armored column: 'Each man of the Raiding Battalion's 1st Company equipped himself with an explosive charge and dashed at the enemy. However, although minor damage was inflicted, the charges - seven to sixteen pounds - were not powerful enough to stop tanks.'"

    On August 15 a Japanese soldier wrote that " A Squad of five men from the Transport Unit, each carrying a 15-kilogram charge, launched a suicide attack on the leading elements, each man destroying one tank." This routed the Russian attack. Apparently the Japanese learned from the previous attempt and upped the charge to 33 pounds.

    Reading all these stories increased my admiration for what our troops were able to accomplish, but the losses - many because of avoidable mistakes - also caused a sinking feeling.
     

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