British WW2 half tracks

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British WW2 half tracks

Joined: August 4th, 2006, 8:24 pm

July 7th, 2012, 6:49 pm #1

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47208/th ... +halftrack

This was great discussion back in 2001 that involved british M5/M9 /M14!

Bill Inglee's comments in particular have me wanting more info.

"By far the most numerous Brit halftracks were M14s with the anti-aircraft turret removed. In order, the numbers went, M14, M9 and M5. These are all IHC with flat fenders, rounded rear corners and banjo axles.
The crucial element when looking at pictures is the folding sides on the rear compartment. There are hinges which help identify the M14."

I am building a British 1/72 mot inf half track unit (it keeps expanding) and have painstakingly converted M3 to m5 half tracks (airfix and Italeri)
Now it seems i need some M14's! Where? Is the conversion as simple as having folding down side panels? Is the seating different?

Does the large use of M14's explain why some say British half tracks did not have pulpits? I assume the M14 with the AA gun removed did not have pulpit.

LASTLY! I have a diecast model of the M16 MGMC AA half track from Altaya. To make it an M14 do I just have to do the British (IHC) conversion? (ie rounded rear and flat mudguards?)

Any new photos of british half tracks surfaced in the last 10 years?

Paul

Pwalmsley@aol.com
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Joined: August 4th, 2006, 8:24 pm

July 7th, 2012, 7:12 pm #2

I have scoured the board for more refs to British half tracks

Finally someone saying what I'd always suspected that they didnt use 50 cal but brens in the pulpits
Any WW2 photo refs? It seems right. British didn't seem to use 50 cal anywhere near the US use.
Was the Vickers .303 used from pulpits too?

I assume that the M14, (which some say was the commonest Brit Half track, with the AA gun removed) didn't come with a pulpit.
Which could also explain why many say British halftracks didnt have pulpits!
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Joined: March 24th, 2011, 8:17 pm

July 8th, 2012, 8:21 am #3

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47208/th ... +halftrack

This was great discussion back in 2001 that involved british M5/M9 /M14!

Bill Inglee's comments in particular have me wanting more info.

"By far the most numerous Brit halftracks were M14s with the anti-aircraft turret removed. In order, the numbers went, M14, M9 and M5. These are all IHC with flat fenders, rounded rear corners and banjo axles.
The crucial element when looking at pictures is the folding sides on the rear compartment. There are hinges which help identify the M14."

I am building a British 1/72 mot inf half track unit (it keeps expanding) and have painstakingly converted M3 to m5 half tracks (airfix and Italeri)
Now it seems i need some M14's! Where? Is the conversion as simple as having folding down side panels? Is the seating different?

Does the large use of M14's explain why some say British half tracks did not have pulpits? I assume the M14 with the AA gun removed did not have pulpit.

LASTLY! I have a diecast model of the M16 MGMC AA half track from Altaya. To make it an M14 do I just have to do the British (IHC) conversion? (ie rounded rear and flat mudguards?)

Any new photos of british half tracks surfaced in the last 10 years?

Paul

Pwalmsley@aol.com
Hello Paul
Yours is an interesting and under-researched area. I've been studying Villers-Bocage for years and, as a former Green Jacket, the role of the Rifle Brigade and their equipment has always been fairly prominent.

My first comment is to say check everything. Bill Inglee may well be correct in his observations but as his comments are unreferenced, it is difficult to see what his statement on half-track numbers is based. The census number list compiled on the MAFVA website based on War Department documents, gives the following information on half track number allocation

Z5517050 - Z5518172 M9A1
Z5541298 - Z5541689 M5A1
Z5580022 - Z5580771 M5A1
Z6110575 - Z6111574 M5A1
Z6155025 - Z6155524 M5A1
Z6199821 - Z6201127 M5A1
Z5305008 - Z5306507 M14

By my calculation, this means that 1,122 M9A1; 3,944; and 1,499 M14 numbers were allocated. Clearly this does not mean that all the numbers that were given out were used or that records exist for every vehicle used by the Army. Significantly the list does not show any plain M5 and M9 vehicles.

The second point for consideration is unit deployment. Does a particular vehicle type lend itself to certain units? I would suggest that a vehicle whose sides fold down to allow better access is better suited to roles like ambulance, artillery, engineers - especially where a pulpit mounted MG would be less useful. That follows the RA unit using the M14 in the previous thread.

Third, we come to specific examples that might help establish what types of vehicles the unit you are interested in might be using. Again, I'll stick with what I know. 1 RB's War Diary makes specific mention of the M9 half-track though in context they mean the M9A1. The two clear photographs I have of their half-tracks show the numbers Z-5517659 and Z-5517240 which, with reference to the above list, confirms the M9A1 use.

You make a good observation about the Pulpit use of the 0.50 calibre MG. You are possibly aware that British tank crews disliked them and there are many records of them being ditched from Shermans. The omission on the half-track is less easy to find useful reference on. My own anecdotal information suggests that a Bren gun was the most likely replacement. I've seen no evidence whatsoever of motorized infantry using Vickers MMGs in the pulpit. Note the implicit caveats in the sentence - I've only looked at MI units and I wasn't there. As an aside, at least one Universal Carrier with the RB at Villers has a 0.50 attached to its MG position and I've seen a few other carriers of MI units - particularly the Guards who have done the same. My feeling (unqualified) is that this might have been an adaptation used in the MG platoon of MI units utilizing all the 0.50s that had been discarded by other units. If anyone has any reference on this observation, I'd be interested to hear.

In conclusion, check first, but I'd veer towards the M9A1 for your unit as the principle mount. Anecdotally they seem to prefer the front roller though, again, one M9A1 photographed at Villers has the bumper mounted winch.

Hope that helps.

Regards
Dan

www.dantaylormodelworks.com
Dan Taylor Modelworks

"My life is like my room - I'm sure it was tidy two days ago" Alphonse Tram in the film 'Buffet Froid' 1979
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Joined: April 19th, 2005, 1:50 pm

July 9th, 2012, 1:27 pm #4

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47208/th ... +halftrack

This was great discussion back in 2001 that involved british M5/M9 /M14!

Bill Inglee's comments in particular have me wanting more info.

"By far the most numerous Brit halftracks were M14s with the anti-aircraft turret removed. In order, the numbers went, M14, M9 and M5. These are all IHC with flat fenders, rounded rear corners and banjo axles.
The crucial element when looking at pictures is the folding sides on the rear compartment. There are hinges which help identify the M14."

I am building a British 1/72 mot inf half track unit (it keeps expanding) and have painstakingly converted M3 to m5 half tracks (airfix and Italeri)
Now it seems i need some M14's! Where? Is the conversion as simple as having folding down side panels? Is the seating different?

Does the large use of M14's explain why some say British half tracks did not have pulpits? I assume the M14 with the AA gun removed did not have pulpit.

LASTLY! I have a diecast model of the M16 MGMC AA half track from Altaya. To make it an M14 do I just have to do the British (IHC) conversion? (ie rounded rear and flat mudguards?)

Any new photos of british half tracks surfaced in the last 10 years?

Paul

Pwalmsley@aol.com
Paul

The M5 was the IHC version of the M3 and the M5A1 was fitted with the M49 ring mount for the .50 cal MG. Production of the M5 totalled 4625 and there were 2959 M5A1s.

All M9s were upgraded to M9A1 standard before leaving the factory. The M9 and M9A1 were based on the M2 and were intended as an artillery prime mover. A total of 3433 M9A1s were manufactured and all were delivered to Britain and the Soviet Union (413). M9A1s are likely to have been used as prime movers in British Service.

Around half of the total of M5, M5A1 and M9A1 production or 5238 units went to Britain. That means 2218 M5s and M5A1s.

The M14 GMC was derived from the M5 and 1605 M14s were delivered to Canada and Britain through Lend-Lease. The turrets were removed from all British M14s and they were converted for use as infantry carriers, ambulances, prime movers, GS cargo carriers, command vehicle, etc. There is one photograph of a M14 with the folding plates down and towing a 17pdr.

The Lend-Lease numbers are different to those indicated by Dan's census number counts but the M14 remains the least common halftrack in British service.

The M14 GMC had a large storage box mounted on the rear plate. This meant that the taillights were at different heights with the left taillight higher than the right. The M5, M5A1 and M9A1 had the taillights at the same height and this helps to identify converted M14s from other halftracks, particularly when they are fitted with tilts.

The M14 did not have a rear door but some converted examples show that rear doors were added. Examples include census number Z5305400 in Canadian service (possibly a Motor Battalion vehicle) and a Royal Navy Forward Observation Bombardment vehicle in the Sword beach area.

Interestingly, while I was scanning through my references, I came across a photograph of an M3 halftrack of the 98th Field Regiment, RA at Reggio in 1943. I had been under the impression that all British halftracks were M5, M5A1, M9A1, M14 or M3 75mm GMC.

Finally, there is a photograph of a Guards Armoured Division Motor Battalion M5 or M5A1 with a Bren Gun on the M49 mount.

Cheers

David
David Clark
Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be - Simone Signoret
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Joined: March 24th, 2011, 8:17 pm

July 9th, 2012, 7:23 pm #5

Hi Dave
Excellent round up on the half-tracks. I was unaware that all of the M9s were made up as M9A1s in the factory. There's a photograph somewhere (might by the Steve Zaloga book on the half track but can't find it at the moment) which shows a factory photograph of a straight M9 but, as you suggest, I can't think of any in service photographs.

I'd be interested to know whether you take a view on M9A1 allocation to Motorized Infantry Units. My understanding is that there would be automotive differences between the M14 and M5/M9 which would complicate repairs - which is an arguement for keeping them separate. I'd also like to know if you have firm evidence on the Guards half-track being an M5. I believe I know the picture but (at the time) could not decide for sure whether it could be an M9. I can see little reason why IHC M5s and M9s could not be used alongside one another but would be very interested in your views.

The overall supply figures are spot on. However, I'd like to see some reference on how they were allocated after being shipped to the UK. What with Canadian, French, Poles etc using them, the waters still look a little murky.

Good to discuss.

Regards
Dan
Dan Taylor Modelworks

"My life is like my room - I'm sure it was tidy two days ago" Alphonse Tram in the film 'Buffet Froid' 1979
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Joined: April 19th, 2005, 1:50 pm

July 10th, 2012, 11:48 am #6

Dan

The M9A1 was based on the M2 prime mover and was fitted with large stowage boxes behind the driving compartment. They were accessed from within the passenger compartment rather than externally as with the M2. The stowage boxes reduced the passenger compartment capacity to seven, compared to ten in the M5 and M5A1. On that basis, its unlikely that M9A1s would be used as Motor Battalion personnel carriers but anything is possible.

The George Bradford plan shows the M9A1 configuration very well as do the interior photographs in the AJ Press 34 Half-Track vol 1. The plans in the latter book show an identical interior to the M5A1!

The Bren gun armed halftrack is described as an M3 in the caption to one of the photographs I have. I have assumed, as outlined above, that it is an M5A1 (not M5 because it has the M49 mount) but it could be an M9A1.

The M14 was mechanically identical to the M5, M5A1 and M9A1 and there is no logistical reason why all four variants could not be in the same unit.

Apart from the two examples I mentioned, I havent tracked down much information on the use of M14s. I assume that, with the turret removed, they were suitable for a range of conversions including GS 25pdr ammunition carriers, command vehicles, personnel carriers (with slat seats) and probably ambulances.

Cheers

David
David Clark
Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be - Simone Signoret
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Joined: March 24th, 2011, 8:17 pm

July 10th, 2012, 3:07 pm #7

Hi David
Your observations about the M9A1 are completely correct and I thought that when I did my original research. Why indeed would you put Riflemen in a space that is restricted? However, the photograph below is where I came unstuck. All three of the half-tracks here are M9A1. The census number on the nearest is a clear indicator but notice also the location of the fuel tank mounted toward the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle ahead, being split open, shows the large internal stowage bins, as does that a little further away. This third half-track is pictured by the film photographer accompanying KB Zwirner when the still was taken and shows its Census number as Z-5517659. The unit's War Diary also mentions the use of M9 in one of the appendices to the May 44 section.


This is a Bundesarchiv image no. 101 494/3376-22A taken by Luftwaffe photographer Zwirner, 17th June 1944. It is shown here for research purposes only.

Since establishing that this battalion seems likely to have been equipped largely, if not wholly, with the M9A1 I've been trying to work out whether this was the vehicle of choice for the motorized infantry battalions - or at least their fighting elements.

Once again, your thoughts are appreciated.

Regards
Dan
Dan Taylor Modelworks

"My life is like my room - I'm sure it was tidy two days ago" Alphonse Tram in the film 'Buffet Froid' 1979
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Joined: April 19th, 2005, 1:50 pm

July 11th, 2012, 1:27 pm #8

Dan

I have just located my copy of Villers-Bocage. It is bad luck some of the half-track photos arent very clear, but theres no doubt about the M9A1s.

I had assumed motor battalions had the same establishment as normal infantry but it seems that they had eight man sections. Therefore, the use of M9A1s wouldn't present logistical and tactical problems.

More research is necessary.

Cheers

David
David Clark
Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be - Simone Signoret
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Joined: March 24th, 2011, 8:17 pm

July 11th, 2012, 3:11 pm #9

Hello David
I've often found it irritating how wartime photographers snap away without a thought for we poor model makers. They never seem to take shots from above which is the angle from which most models are viewed!

The quality of some of the half-track photographs in the book is because we took them from frames of the German newsreel film. That's the most we could have wrung from the original. New photographs have come to light since publishing but nothing that adds anything to the half-track question as yet.

Regards
Dan
Dan Taylor Modelworks

"My life is like my room - I'm sure it was tidy two days ago" Alphonse Tram in the film 'Buffet Froid' 1979
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Joined: April 19th, 2005, 1:50 pm

July 12th, 2012, 11:17 am #10

Actually Dan, some of the Villers-Bocage photos look like they were taken specifically for the benefit of future model makers. Unfortunately, the half-track photographs aren't among them.

Cheers

David
David Clark
Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be - Simone Signoret
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