American Tank Destroyers of World War II

    When the US Army Ground Forces were studying how to deal with enemy tanks, it was decided that tanks should not be used to fight other tanks.  Doctrine of the time stated that tanks should be used only for exploitation.  This convoluted logic led to tanks that were under-armed and under-armored, and no doubt resulted in many thousands of unnecessary deaths.  It also led to the creation of the tank destroyer.  It was decided that anti-tank guns should be powerful and mobile over all terrain, so the ultimate solution was a gun carried on a tracked vehicle, a tank destroyer, but not a tank.  The tank destroyer battalions were intended to be placed behind the front lines and used used only to counter enemy penetrations.  In reality, they were often used as tanks.  The vehicles had little armor and the turret had an open top, so the crew was vulnerable to firearms, grenades, and artillery airbursts.


A replacement for the M-3 75mm Gun Carriage, a half-track with an anti-tank gun mounted, the M-10 was the first turreted fully tracked tank destroyer.  Production began in September 1942, and the vehicles first entered action in March 1943.  A 3 inch gun was mounted in the open topped turret.

Show me the M-10 inside the Patton Museum

M-18 Hellcat

The M-18 Hellcat was rushed into production, first with a 75mm gun, and later with a better 76mm gun as shown here.  The vehicle was so light that it could reach 75mph without a governor, and the ride was smooth due to the torsion bar suspension.     

Show the an M-18 with a 105mm gun.

M-36 Slugger  

The M-36 Slugger could deal with the Tiger and Panther as well as anything in the inventory.  Although it had been determined that the Sherman couldn't be fitted with a 90mm gun since a new turret was required, a tank destroyer was standardized with the gun in an open topped turret.  The Slugger and its 90mm gun proved extremely useful in dealing with the best Germany had to offer.  An M-36 turret was put on an M-4A3 tank hull and designated the M-36B1 tank destroyer, but none of the 187 vehicles entered combat.


Back to Armored Fighting Vehicles