752nd Tank Battalion Vehicles & Markings
- Researched and Written by Robert Holt -
There was very little standardization of vehicles or markings in the 752nd Tank Battalion during the combat period. A number of factors contributed to this. The 752nd, like the other independent tank battalions in the MTO, generally received used vehicles. The newer, fresher equipment tended to be allocated on a priority basis to the 1st Armored Division. When the 752nd did receive replacement vehicles, they tended to receive just a few at a time to replace combat losses. The tankers often hand-selected their replacement tanks at the motor pool. Their selection criteria varied, with some tankers preferring the rounded-hull M4A1 for perceived ballistic protection, and others choosing their new mounts on the basis of the main gun's condition (no "play"), engine life, "clean" interior (no horrific combat injuries among the prior crew), or some other factor. All of this contributed to a rather eclectic assortment of M4's and M4A1's that widely varied in terms of transmission covers, bogie wheels, track blocks, hatch configurations, cheek armor, applique armor, hull details, etc.
Since the vehicles were often sourced from other units and the vehicles were pretty well worn, the markings were often painted over prior to delivery to 752nd. So during the combat period when tank losses needed to be very quickly replaced, there was simply not enough time to paint the vehicles with the proper markings before they entered combat. And when they finally were marked, they were apparently done so by first or sometimes second echelon maintenance crews, which resulted in some rather crude and non-standardized markings. This, of course, is what makes these vehicles such an interesting study today.
While the 752nd was a very effective and well-regarded combat unit, it wore its "bastard battalion" status like a badge. In addition to combat situations not allowing much time to worry about marking the tanks according to regulations, the officers and men of the 752nd seem to have adapted a healthy disregard for such matters. Marking vehicles according to regulations was apparently very low on the operational priority list.
Oddly enough, the period in which the greatest standardization of vehicles and markings was in the Spring of 1944. At this time, the battalion had been recently re-equipped with M4's and M4A1's when they arrived in Italy from North Africa. From January to May 1944, they engaged in training and maintenance, and since no tanks had been lost in combat yet, there was no influx of replacement vehicles. As a result, the tanks had a fairly consistent look in terms of the variants used, and also the simple marking system that was employed. The mix of vehicles and markings changed during the late Autumn of 1944 and continued until late February 1945, when the battalion drew a full compliment of (used) M4A3 76mm tanks. Those tanks were fairly uniform in equipment details, but there was some variation in whatever few markings were applied to the tanks.
Click the links below for a pictorial description of the tanks that were used by the 752nd Tank Battalion. Since many of these photos are from private collections, I unfortunately am forced to stamp the photos in order to protect them from falling into commercial use. Unfortunately, I have been burned in the past.... But hopefully viewers can still get a good sense of the vehicles and markings of the 752nd Tank Battalion in order to aid their modeling, technical, or historical interests.
Click these links for photos of 752nd Tanks:
Ft. Snelling M5A1 Light Tank
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Researched by Robert J. Holt
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