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Copyright 2015 JDNeal
HE SHERMAN? but promoted to a myth for the reasons explained below.
The first time I read this I fell for the trap everyone else does, so I
will retain that as a lesson to myself and everyone else concerned:
The 57-mm M-1 anti-tank gun (British 6-pounder) and 76-mm M-1 gun were g
iven a serious boost in anti-armor value with the development of APDS (armor pie
rcing discarding sabot) shot for the 6-pounder by the British and HVAP (High Vel
ocity Armor Piercing) ammo for the 76-mm by the USA. Which begs the question: wh
y not develop HVAP ammo for the 75-mm M-3 gun mounted on thousands of Shermans (
and carried in kind on hundreds if not thousands of British tanks as their home
grown 75-mm Quick Firing gun)?
First off, the USA made a mess of its own HVAP ammo, which illustrates h
ow uncoordinated and idiotic gun design was in the USA. It did not develop simil
ar ammunition for the 57-mm and hence US anti-tank gunners equipped with 57-mms
had to use British ammunition - if they could acquire it.
When it came to 76-mm HVAP ammo, there was a low priority (as with all t
hings in the US military in World War II) because the decision makers had been e
rroneously told the 76-mm and 75-mm were just fine. Once they proved mediocre ag
ainst the frontal armor of better protected German vehicles, issue of HVAP ammo
almost had to be shoved into the field by the general staff. Even then it had to
be rationed, as ammunition shipments were in the tens of thousands per month an
d there were thousands of tanks and anti-tank guns to use it. The 3-inch version
took priority for M-10 gun motor carriages and towed 3-inch anti-tank guns of t
he tank destroyer units; M-18 Hellcats had priority for 76-mm ammo; and tankers
got what was left over of 76-mm ammo.
If only the USA had dumped the 3-inch gun for the M-10 and anti-tank gun
and used the 76-mm, things would have been better for tankers because around 60
% of the shipments were 3-inch ammunition. Even though 3-inch guns were among th
e least common weapons in use. This descrepncy occurred because there was favori
tism for the tank destroyer units from the top.
Anyway: the design that the USA used for HVAP ammunition increased penet
ration by 50% over standard ammunition: thus a common 76-mm AP shot would penetr
ate about 4-inches (100-mm) of armor, and the HVAP 6-inches (150-mm) or so.
Using that as a pattern, any HVAP ammo they might have designed for the
75-mm M-3 would likely have penetrated 4.5-inches (around 115-mm) of armor - giv
en that standard 75-mm M-3 AP shot could penetrate about 3-inches of armor. This
would give some chance of taking a Tiger on from the front and perhaps a Panthe
r with accurate shots at close range.
Having a plentiful supply of 75-mm HVAP ammo certainly might have helped
, but the USA was hard pressed to supply enough to the 3-inch and 76-mm guns to
be of use. And they had 2 to 3 times as many 75's as 3-inch/76-mm guns.
So, in the end, fancies of the imagination usually get stomped on by the
realities of the situation!
Actually, the USA did devlop a HVAP 75-mm shot and it performed as I pre
viously speculated. As someone else ponted out, though, each round of 75mm HVAP
ammunition would have been 1 less round of 76-mm/3-inch HVAP.
Indeed, a properly designed 75-mm HEAT (hollow charge) round would have
penetrated 6-inches (150-mm) or more of armor, and while not as reliable and acc
urate at long range as the 76-mm, it would have given all those 75-mm armed tank
s (and 75-mm howitzers) a big boost in short range armor fighting. Without need
of anything fancy.

But USA HEAT shells in use back then were also mediocre...
The number one reason given for the use of tungsten in these hyper-veloc
ity rounds is that common, hard, heat-treated steel rounds tend to shatter when
striking thick armor once they reach certain velocities: the cap on armor-pierci
ng capped (APC) ammunition helps counter this and seems to extends it to velocit
ies used by German long 75s and 88mm KwK 43s - 3000 to 3,2000 fps.
That, though, distracts from an important point. According to the scant
information I have found about the 75-mm T45 HVAP round, it used a 3.3 kilogram/
7.25 lb shot at 870 mps/2,870 fps and penetrated 117mm of armor at 30 at 500 yard
s. The French were among the first developers of the APDS concept and perhaps th
ey brought it to the British attention: in 1940 they had worked out a round firi
ng a 57-mm shot at 900 mps/2,920 fps that could penetrate 90-mm 1000m at 35. (No
weight is given.) They intended to use this to improve their own 1897 era 75s.
NOTICE THOSE VELOCITIES! They are well under the velocity that steel sha
tters at. Indeed, they are the same velocities of 57-mm and British 17-pounder A
PC functioned at. Indeed, using my own formulas and various tables, the penetrat
ion quoted seem to be for simple 57-mm shot at given velocities. The USA 3.3 kil
ogram/7.25 eight of the T45 corresponds directly to the USA's AP-HE version of t
he M86 ammunition (with a velocity of 2,700 fps). And French 57-mm shot performa
nce works out for a 6.25 pound shot.
The French had developed this sort of ammunition back in 1940. It did no
t require tungsten; it was an easy fix; it could have been produced in quantity
for the 75 in 1942 let alone 1944.
The US Army s own General Staff and technical staff simply did not have th
e gumption to give US tankers a better weapon than they had. Even though doing s
o would have been pretty simple and easy!
Indeed, the 40-mm Bofors round used a powder charge less than 1 pounds,
which was the heavy load for the 75-mm howitzer. Adopting the 40-mm shot of the
M81 AP round (or a heavier projectile) to the howitzer case this way would have
likely given the howitzers a high velocity round with 2.5 (65mm) of penetration.
I personally keep looking for answers an finally ran across the doument
"a800118.pdf" (which might be found as "ADA800118") which describes "Work on Sab
ot Projectiles by University of New Mexico" from 1942 to 1944. It details the U.
S. Army's development of HVAP ammunition and provides many details. Most notably
, the US Army did indeed want to use a 57-mm common steel AP shot for the 75-mm
M3 gun. Work was also done creating a sabot round for the 75-mm howitzer and the
105-mm howitzer using steel AP shot.
The last two had doubtful application since HEAT ammunition then availab
le performed better than what was created and there were other issues like "jump
ing". Still, the Artilerymen were considering replacing the 57-mm gun with the 1
05-mm M3 howitzer as their self-defence anti-tank weapon if a valid HVAP round w
as provided. Thus, they could use the HE and smoke rounds for howtizers for comm
on use and have an AT defense.
Someone will doubtlessly defend the Army and Ordnance by noting that can
non such as the 76-mm and 90-mm were in the works, so HVAP ammunition wasn't rea
lly needed for the 75mm. Somehow they miss the point that (a) said cannon were o
nly put into the field after the duress of meeting a plentiful supply of Panther
s, Tigers and well armored German tanks in mid-1944 on, (b) that 75-mm gun armed
tanks were the mainstay of the British and US armies and (c) somehow they toss
away the idea that common tankers didn't deserve better armor piercing ammunitio
n than what they were given. If the 75-mm HVAP round using plain steel shot had
been polished a bit more and issued in the tens of thousands, US ground forces w
ould have been far more effective in their job!
Supplying this shot would not have effected supplies of HVAP for the 76m
m and 3-inch because it DID NOT USE TUNGSTEN!
Giving tankers the tools they needed was not high on the Army's list of

priorities, though.