Steel Horses – Tank Destroyers in Late War

I got the horses in the back
Horse tack is attached
Gun barrel is matte drab
Got the helmet that’s drab to match
Ridin’ on my M10, ha!
You can whip your Tiger Porsche 
I been in the Po valley
You ain’t been up off that porch.

Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus*

With the dawn of Late War proper, and the release of the D-Day American book, my slide away from the playing German in Flames of War exclusively has actually accelerated. There are some fantastic options in the book but I wanted something a little different – I know, who’d have guessed! – so my eye was drawn to the Tank Destroyer formation and my mind began to wander.

An Elephant and a Hellcat

Let us, before we go any further, deal with the M18 Hellcat shaped elephant in the room; the M18 is NOT an option in the new D-Day book. I’ve speculated on the podcast as to my thoughts as to the reasoning behind this – all of which seemed to be dead ends – but ultimately it is not an option.

This does mean composing a force fit for Task Force A is currently, currently being emphasised here as I am sure we will see the M18 included in the Ardennes book when it arrives, not really an option. I’ve read a lot of social media-inspired vitriol regarding this but all that served to do was inspire me to go a do a little research into the deployment of various tank destroyers in all theatres of the Late War period.

It is at this point I should mention the fantastic website www.tankdestroyer.net – a wonderful repository of images, insights, documents and histories for every US Tank Destroyer unit that was formed in WW2. If you have any interest in the US Tank Destroyer units I wholeheartedly recommend having a nose around there because the wealth of information is frankly amazing. 

Seek. Strike. Destroy.

Anyway, back on target, the uses of the M10 Wolverine began with the deployment of US forces in North Africa in 1943 – we already have them in the MW Fighting First book but where were they deployed in 1944/45 I hear you cry across the internet?

Well… that is an excellent question and to answer it I used the power of Google, tankdestroyer.net and excel and here are the results: 

1944/45 Tank Destroyer Formations & Equipment

TD Battalion1944 Equipment1944
Theatre
1945 Equipment1945
Theatre
601M10ItalyM36North-West Europe
602M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
603M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
6053″ AT Gun North-West Europe
6073″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
609M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
6103″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
6123″ AT GunNorth-West Europe3″ AT GunNorth-West Europe
6143″ AT GunNorth-West Europe3″ AT GunNorth-West Europe
628M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
629M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
6303″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
6313″ AT GunNorth-West Europe3″ AT GunNorth-West Europe
632M10PacificM10Pacific
633M18North-West Europe
634M10North-West EuropeM10North-West Europe
6353″ AT GunNorth-West Europe3″ AT GunNorth-West Europe
636M10ItalyM36North-West Europe
637M18PacificM18Pacific
638M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
640M10PacificM10Pacific
6433″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
644M10North-West EuropeM10North-West Europe
645M10ItalyM36North-West Europe
6483″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
654M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
656M18/M36 North-West Europe
661M18North-West Europe
6793″ AT GunItaly
6913″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
6923″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
701M10ItalyM10Italy
702M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
703M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
704M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
705M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
771M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
7723″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
773M10North-West EuropeM10North-West Europe
7743″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
776M10/M36ItalyM36North-West Europe
8013″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
8023″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
803M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
804M10ItalyM10Italy
8053″ AT GunItalyM10/M18Italy
806M36Pacific
8073″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
8083″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
809M18North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
811M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
813M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
814M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
8153″ AT GunPacific3″ AT GunPacific
8173″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
818M10North-West EuropeM36North-West Europe
8203″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
8213″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM10North-West Europe
8223″ AT Gun/M18North-West Europe
8233″ AT Gun/M10North-West EuropeM10North-West Europe
8243″ AT GunNorth-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
8253″ AT GunNorth-West Europe3″ AT GunNorth-West Europe
827M18North-West EuropeM18North-West Europe
893M10North-West EuropeM10North-West Europe
894M10ItalyM10Italy
899M10ItalyM36North-West Europe

There are some generalisations made in the above data just to get something practical to use – for example, the 823rd tank destroyer battalion had 3″ towed AT guns up until December 1944 so technically had M10s in 1944 but realistically only used them in anger in 1945. 

So what does all this practically mean? Well, in 1944, it means that there were 14 M10 equipped units in North-West Europe and around nine M18 equipped units so if we are looking for a historical formation to replicate on the tabletop then there is plenty of scope; even more so if you look at the seven M10 equipped tank destroyer units in Italy.
It also means that I might have to look at submitting an Unofficial unit card submitted to cover the 3″ towed tank destroyer battalions but that is probably a task for another day.

893rd Tank Destroy Battalion

I think most people are aware now that I love me some historical formations as a starting point for armies. Having scoured the annuals of the tank destroyer history I came across the 893rd Tank Destroyer battalion. 

Re-designated the 893rd from the 93rd Infantry Division Anti-Tank battalion in 1941, the 893rd landed on Omaha beach on the 1st of July 1944 armed and equipped with the M10. For most of July and into August it was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division so we are able to construct a force suitable for the period after the D-Day Landings and prior to Operation Cobra breakout – the tough July fighting in the confined Normandy landscape.

Flames of War List 

893rd Tank Destroyer Company:
HQ – 2 x M20 Scout Car
M10 Platoon – 4 x M10
M10 Platoon – 4 x M10
M10 Platoon – 4 x M10
M20 Security Section – 2 x M20 Scout Cars, 1 x .50cal Jeep
M20 Security Section – 2 x M20 Scout Cars, 1 x .50cal Jeep
M20 Security Section – 2 x M20 Scout Cars, 1 x .50cal Jeep

2nd Infantry Division Rifle Company:
2nd Infantry Division Command Card
HQ – 2 x SMG teams
Rifle Platoon – 7 x SMG Teams, 2 x LMG, 2 x Bazookas
Rifle Platoon – 7 x SMG Teams, 2 x LMG, 1 x Bazooka
Mortar Platoon – 4 x 81mm Mortars
Mortar Platoon – 3 x 60mm Mortars
HMG Platoon – 4 x M1917 HMG

Support
P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Flight – 2 x P-47

This force rounds out at 100pts and every single unit, barring the P-47s, are part of a formation making it extremely resilient. The 12 M10s are obviously your main anti-tank assets but that is a tonne of AT12 and the three infantry bazookas alongside them should deter too many things seeing the infantry as easy pickings.

The LMGs in the Rifle Platoons and the HMG Platoon are there for when you have to defend against infantry – giving you the range and dice that the SMGs don’t provide. The upside is that moving up for the assault those 3-dice SMGs will really pump out some shots before crashing home on the assault.

Finally, you have enough template weapons to put out two decent barrages, albeit at a reduced range, and a third if you need it from the P-47s. The recce is always handy and in the right scenario gets either your M10s or your Rifle Platoons where they need to be faster which is never a bad thing.

Round-Up

So whilst it is a shame that the M18 remains under wraps for the time being that shouldn’t restrict your fun with Tank Destroyers in Late War – that AT12 is the magic number and will make Tigers cower and Panzer IVs explode! So go have some games and Seek. Strike. Destroy.

*actual lyrics may vary. 


Category: Flames of WarLate WarNormandyUSV4

4 comments

  1. hey,
    think you made a big typo there:
    he 893rd landed on Omaha beach on the 1st of July 1941

    as far as i know 1941 no us troops landed on omaha 🙂

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Article by: Duncan Gosling