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date of publication: 14-05-2013

Self-propelled artillery


American M3A1 personnel carriers

During World War II, armored personnel carriers appeared under a variety of names. These included tractors, cargo carriers, and armored utility vehicles. When used to tow an artillery piece, they were referred to as prime movers. The armored half-track was standardized during this period as the carrier for infantry in the armored divisions of the .

These lightly armored, open top, vehicles served in many roles including personnel carriers, mortar carriers, and self-propelled artillery. Although they were intended to combine the best features of the wheeled and full-tracked vehicles, it also was true that they combined the worst characteristics of each. They were not as efficient on roads as armored cars and they lacked the crosscountry mobility of the full-tracked vehicles.

American armored utility vehicle M39

The introduction of the Sexton 25 pounder resulted in the replacement of the early 105mm howitzer motor carriage M7 in the British forces. Many of these surplus vehicles were then converted to armored personnel carriers by removing the howitzer and modifying the armor and the stowage arrangement. This conversion provided a full-tracked armored personnel carrier that could easily keep up with the tanks in cross-country operations.

When the Canadian Army was equipped with Sherman tanks, a large number of the earlier Ram tanks became available for conversion to other duties. With the turret removed and the interior modified, they became personnel carriers with mobility and armor protection equal to that of the . Some old Sherman III (M4A2) medium tanks also had their turrets removed and were converted to armored personnel carriers by the British forces. All of these converted vehicles were referred to as Kangaroos.

American universal carrier T16

The appearance of the high performance 76mm gun motor carriage M18 as a self-propelled tank destroyer revealed the need for an equivalent vehicle to serve as a personnel carrier, reconnaissance vehicle, and prime mover for the towed guns in the tank destroyer battalions.

The M18 chassis was modified by removing the turret and changing the stowage to provide a suitable vehicle. Standardized as the armored utility vehicle M39, it served in the U.S. Army until the end of the war in Korea. However, its very light armor was vulnerable to rifle caliber fire at close range and the open top exposed the crew to artillery air bursts.

Numerous wartime development programs were initiated to provide full-tracked, armored, personnel and ammunition carriers as companion vehicles for the self-propelled artillery mounted on the chassis of the medium and . These companion vehicles also were conversions of the same chassis used to mount the self-propelled weapon.

American universal carrier T16E2

The T14 cargo carrier, based upon the medium tank chassis, was modernized and standardized as the cargo carrier M30. It saw action as the companion vehicle to the 155mm gun motor carriage M12. With the introduction of the 155mm gun motor carriage M40, a new companion vehicle was designed using the same chassis.Originally designated as the cargo carrier T30, it was modified to permit the stowage of either 155mm, 8 inch, or 240mm ammunition.

This modified version was designated as the cargo carrier T30E1. However, with the decision to use unarmored, high speed, tractors as the companion vehicles for the heavy self-propelled artillery, production plans for the T30E1 were canceled. A similar fate befell the cargo carrier T31. This vehicle was designed to accompany the 8 inch howitzer motor carriage T84. The chassis of both the T84 and the T31 was based upon components of the M26 Pershing tank.

Companion vehicles for the self-propelled artillery utilizing the chassis followed the same pattern. The cargo carrier T22 was designed as the companion vehicle for the 4.5 inch gun motor carriage T16 or the 155mm howitzer motor carriage T64. Like the artillery motor carriages, the T22 was based upon the light tank M5A1.

American universal carrier T16E2

The cargo carrier T23 also used the chassis of the M5A1 and was intended to accompany the 40mm gun motor carriage T65. When the artillery motor carriages were redesigned to utilize the chassis of the later light tank M24, a similar change was made in the . They now became the cargo carriers T22E1 and T23E1. However, neither vehicle was placed in production.

The heavy tractors T2 and T16 were early prime movers intended to serve as armored personnel carriers for the crew of the heavy artillery pieces to which they were assigned. Based upon the early , neither the T2 nor the T16 proved to be satisfactory and they never entered production. Later, in December 1943, some M31 and M32B1 tank recovery vehicles were converted into prime movers for use with the 8 inch gun and the 240mm howitzer.

American light tractor T18

The turret, armament, and recovery equipment was removed and they were designated as the prime movers M33 and M34 respectively. In January 1944, 209 M10A1 tank destroyers also were converted to M35 prime movers for the heavy artillery by removing the turret. All of these served as armored personnel carriers for the artillery crews.