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M5 3 inch Antitank Gun

The M5 3 inch Antitank Gun was a stopgap weapon, produced during World War II to counter German armor that was impervious to the U.S. Army's smaller calibre antitank guns. To speed its development, the M5 antitank gun was produced by combining elements of existing artillery and munitions:

  • Barrel: 3-inch anti-aircraft gun T9
  • Breech: 105 mm Howitzer M2
  • Recoil mechanism: 105 mm Howitzer M2
  • Carriage: 105 mm Howitzer carriage M1, later modified to carriage M6
  • Munitions: 3-inch Anti-Aircraft cartridge, with an AP projectile

The M5 3 inch Antitank Gun began production in late 1942, and was issued to U.S. Army tank destroyer units in Italy and the ETO, starting in 1943. After production of about 2,000 guns, the M5 was found to be ineffective in combat compared to self-propelled antitank weapons. The M5 was withdrawn from service in 1945 and declared obsolete.

Thanks to Bob Pettit for inspiring this page.

Characteristics of the M5 3 inch Anti-tank Gun

Caliber 3 inch (76.2mm)
Width 6 feet, 10 in
Height 5 feet, 2 in
Length 23 feet, 1 in
Weight 4,875 lbs
Tube Length 158 in (50 caliber lengths)
Max Range w/HE projectile and point detonating fuse 14,200 yds
Weight of APC projectile 27.24 lbs
Weight of AP propellant charge 4.62 lbs
Rate of Fire (max) 15-20 rpm
Rate of Fire (sustained) 5 rpm

The Technical Manuals for this gun are TM 9-322 and TM 9-1322, Gun M5 and 3-inch Gun Carriage M1, issued in 1943.

M5 3 inch Antitank Gun towed by M3 Halftrack prime mover, St. Malo, Brittany, August 1944
M5 3 inch Antitank Gun towed by M3 Halftrack prime mover, St. Malo, Brittany, France, August 1944.

Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Salute Guns Platoon (The Old Guard) with their M5 3 inch Antitank Guns used for rendering honors to visiting foreign dignitaries and heads of state at the White House, the Pentagon and elsewhere in the Washington D.C. area. The platoon also fires the final salutes during funerals at Arlington National Cemetery
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Salute Guns Platoon (The Old Guard) with their M5 3 inch Antitank Guns used for rendering honors to visiting foreign dignitaries and heads of state at the White House, the Pentagon and elsewhere in the Washington D.C. area. The platoon also fires the final salutes during funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Salute Guns Platoon (The Old Guard) fire their M5 3 inch Antitank Guns during the arrival ceremony for the Unknown Serviceman of the Vietnam Era, Andrews AFB, 25 May 1984
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Salute Guns Platoon (The Old Guard) fire their M5 3 inch Antitank Guns during the arrival ceremony for the Unknown Serviceman of the Vietnam Era, Andrews AFB, 25 May 1984.

M5 3 inch Antitank Gun, Alpine, TX, 2008. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.
M5 3 inch Antitank Gun, Alpine, TX, 2008. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M5 3 inch Antitank Gun, Alpine, TX, 2008. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.
M5 3 inch Antitank Gun, Alpine, TX, 2008. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.