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FM 17-71: Crew Drill for Half-Track Vehicles
Armored Command Field Manual, War Department, September 1943
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Field Manual. As with all field manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the field manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Section I — General

1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE.—This manual is an instructional guide for the platoon leader and squad leader in training the armored rifle squad, light machine-gun squad, and 60-mm mortar squad in mounted and dismounted action. While planned specifically for these three types of squads, the crew drill for the rifle squad is applicable, with minor modifications, to the headquarters sections of platoons and higher units. For tactical employment, see FM 17-40.

2. MATÉRIEL.—Rifle, light machine-gun and 60-mm squads are mounted in half-track cars M3 or M3A1 with the necessary weapons and equipment to perform their tactical missions.

3. ARMAMENT.—a. The vehicles of the rifle squad, and the 60-mm mortar squads each are armed with one caliber .30 machine gun M1917A1, mounted on a pedestal mount or on an antiaircraft mount M32, and one rocket launcher.

b. The vehicle of the light machine-gun squad is armed with a caliber .50 machine-gun M2 on a pedestal mount, or on an antiaircraft mount M32, and one rocket launcher M1.

4. CONTROL.—Control of the vehicle crews is by voice and arm-and-hand signals. (See FM 17-5.)

Section II — Principles of Crew Drill

5. GENERAL.—The paragraphs below prescribe the principles and procedures of crew drill common to the three types of squads in the armored infantry platoon.

6. TRAINING.—a. Every man must become proficient with all the weapons of the squad. Duties should be rotated so that the effect of casualties in action will be minimized. As soon as possible, crew drill should be held in the field under simulated combat conditions so that members of the squad will learn to perform their duties in all situations and on every type of terrain.

b. Precision in execution is not practicable for all formations and movements of crew drill, but it should be sought wherever possible. Energy and enthusiasm should be injected into drill at all times. Men should be taught that crew drill is "signal" practice of the squad.

7. FORMATIONS AND MOVEMENTS.—a.To form the squad.—(1) In front of vehicle.—The squad forms in front of the vehicle at the command FALL IN unless the command includes "AT LEFT (RIGHT) (REAR) OF VEHICLE," or other instruction.

(2) At the command FALL IN, the squad leader takes his post in front of the vehicle or at the place designated, and the rest of the squad takes dismounted post as prescribed for "TO FORM SQUAD." When the squad leader conducts the drill, he takes post from which he can efficiently supervise the drill, and the assistant squad leader or other member of the squad performs the duties of the squad leader.

b. To fall out.—The squad, being at dismounted posts, always falls out to the right of its vehicle unless the command includes "TO LEFT (REAR) OF VEHICLE," or other instruction.

c. Double time.—All commands requiring movement on the ground are executed at a run.

d. To call off.—Immediately after the squad is formed, the command: CALL OFF is given. At the command, members of the squad call off designations in the following order:

(1) Squad leader.
(2) Assistant squad leader.
(3) Numbered members in succession.
(4) Driver.
CALL OFF is executed with snap.

e. To change designation and duties.—To change designation and duties during drill, the command is: FALL OUT ONE (TWO) (THREE). When dismounted at this command—

(1) The man designated to fall out moves to the driver's post by the shortest route at double time.

(2) The men on his left close smartly to the right to fill the vacant file.

(3) If the movement in (2) above vacates the left flank post of the front rank, the right flank man, rear rank, moves at a run and takes that post by the shortest route. The rear rank then closes to the right as in (2) above.

(4) Members immediately "Call off" their new designations.

f. Mounting.—Immediately after mounting, riflemen place their rifles in the scabbards, the driver puts the submachine gun in its bracket, and the last man to mount fastens the door. Carbines remain on the persons of the men so armed.

g. Dismounting.—Members of the squad habitually dismount from the vehicle with individual weapons except the rocketeer (par. 13a(2)) and, unless otherwise ordered, take dismounted posts.

8. MOUNTED ACTION.—At all times when there is a possibility of attack by the enemy, the vehicles and crews are prepared for action, not only to fight effectively from the vehicle, but also to go into dismounted action with the least delay and greatest effectiveness.

9. ROCKET LAUNCHER.—a. In every squad two riflemen are designated rocketeer and loader, respectively, to operate the rocket launcher. They are the members of the squad who have demonstrated the greatest proficiency with the weapon. However, every member of the squad must be skilled with the launcher.

b. Prepare for action.—At the command PREPARE FOR ACTION, the rocketeer and loader proceed as follows:

(1) Rocketeer.—Assembles rocket launcher; puts on ammunition bag with three rockets handed to him by the loader; checks electrical firing mechanism; resumes mounted post holding launcher in his hands. He leaves his rifle in its scabbard while prepared for action as rocketeer.

(2) Loader.—Removes two ammunition bags and six rockets from stowage place; hands one bag and three rockets to rocketeer; puts on bag with three rockets; resumes mounted post holding rifle in his hands.

c. If it is desired that the rocketeer and loader prepare for action as riflemen, the command includes "NO ROCKETS." The rocketeer and loader then prepare for action as riflemen.

d. The rocketeer and loader being prepared for action as riflemen, at the command ROCKETS READY, they take action as prescribed in b above.

e. Rocket fire from vehicle.—If rocket fire from the vehicle is desired, the squad leader halts the vehicle and commands, for example: ROCKETEER, 200 LEFT (RIGHT), TANK, FIRE. The loader immediately loads the launcher; the rocketeer takes a firing position with the rear end of the launcher pointed over the side of the vehicle, and fires when ready. He then continues to fire until the target is destroyed, disappears, or CEASE FIRING is ordered. The launcher is never carried loaded in the vehicle except when fire from the vehicle is ordered.

10. TO FIRE VEHICULAR MACHINE GUN.—a. M32 mount.—The squad leader mans the vehicular machine-gun when fire is desired.

b. Pedestal mount.—The vehicular machine-gun is manned in the respective squads as indicated—

Rifle squad ................................... No. 2
Light machine-gun squad .............. No. 2
60-mm mortar squad ................... No. 4

11. SMALL-ARMS FIRE FROM VEHICLE.—When rifle or carbine fire from the vehicle is desired, the squad leader halts the vehicle and specifies in the fire order the members of the squad who are to fire. Rifle or carbine fire from a moving vehicle is of little value.

12. SAFETY PRECAUTIONS.—When the squad is mounted and prepared for action, shoulder weapons, except the rocket launcher, are kept loaded and locked (par. 9e). During drill, loading is simulated. When contact with the enemy is imminent, machine guns will be half-loaded.

13. DISMOUNTED ACTION.—a. Rocketeer and loader.—(1) The rocketeer and loader, being prepared for action, to dismount them alone for defense against enemy tanks the command is: ROCKETEER, ACTION LEFT (RIGHT) (REAR), DISMOUNT. Procedure is as follows:

(a) Driver.—Slows or halts vehicle.

(b) Assistant squad leader (No. 2 in mortar squad).—Unlatches rear door.

(c) Rocketeer and loader.—Dismount in that order and open fire on the enemy tanks as soon as possible.

(d) Squad leader.—Takes whatever other action is necessary to defend the vehicle.

(2) When the squad dismounts to fight on foot, the rifleman designated as rocketeer dismounts with the weapons with which he is armed when the command is given.

(3) The rocketeer leaves his rifle in the vehicle when dismounted as rocketeer unless the car has been abandoned or he is otherwise ordered. The loader always carries his rifle.

b. Driver.—(1) When the squad is dismounted to fight on foot, the driver places the vehicle in a position designated by the squad leader.

(2) If the launcher is left in the vehicle, the driver assembles it, checks the electrical firing mechanism, and lays out two ammunition bags and six rockets before manning the machine-gun.

c. The ammunition loads prescribed for dismounted action are drill loads only. In combat, the squad dismounts over the least exposed side of the vehicle and as much caliber .45, mortar, and machine-gun ammunition is unloaded as the situation requires or permits.

d. To abandon vehicle.—To abandon the vehicle, the command is: ABANDON CAR. Before abandoning the vehicle, the senior member present is responsible that the following actions are taken:

(1) Machine guns left in vehicle are disabled by removing the backplates from the guns and from the spare parts chests and carried with the squad. The mortar is disabled by removing the firing pin from the mortar and the same part from the tool roll. If the rocket launcher is to be left in the vehicle, the firing battery and spares are removed. If the launcher is to be taken with the squad, the rocketeer dismounts with his rifle and the launcher (a(3) above).

(2) Destruction of equipment.—To abandon and destroy the vehicle, the command is: ABANDON AND DESTROY CAR. At the command, members of the squad take action as prescribed in chapter 6.


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