The legacy of the tank busters
Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery conduct a blank fire crew drill next to Section 37 at Arlington National Cemetery, 7 August 2018.
The battery is the last Army user of the old 3-inch M5 anti-tank gun, of which they have 10 mounted on M6 howitzer carriages. Its primary mission is to render honors at military ceremonies including funerals at ANC.
Some 2,500 M5s were produced from 1942-45, as the main weapon of towed tank destroyer battalions. They first saw heavy combat on the Italian front with the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion at the Battle of Mortain. By the end of the war, mobile tank destroyers such as the M10, M18 Hellcat and finally the 90mm-gun armed M36.
A tactical concept that went the way of the dodo, the last if the Army’s 68 dedicated tank destroyer battalions was de-activated in 1946 and Uncle’s various inventory of such weapons passed on to allies (Yugoslavia still had some M36s on hand until the country broke up) or salvaged from scrap yards by the Israelis, who continued to use them through the 1960s– although it is rumored some may still be in old arsenal storage in Taiwan.