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FM 18-5: Organization and Tactics of Tank Destroyer Units
Tank Destroyer Field Manual, War Department, June 16, 1942
[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.]


The illustrations in this appendix should be used as a guide in learning tactical methods; they cannot be followed under many conditions. Methods that are successful in one situation might result in a disastrous failure when applied to a different situation. For instance, a flank attack against an armored force might be very successful; such an attack might fail because of strong hostile flank protection. Methods used should vary; tank destroyer commanders should use every opportunity to deliver the unexpected.

[Figure 2. Movement - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Unnecessary exposure during lateral movement across front.
 [Figure 2. Movement - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Proper use of cover and avoidance of exposed lateral movement. Applicable to units of any size.
Figure 2.—Movement

[Figure 3. Movement to alternate or supplementary position - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. When time permits reconnaissance for alternate and supplementary positions. Failure to reconnoiter causes delay while searching for passable routes.
 [Figure 3. Movement to alternate or supplementary position - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Prompt movement as the result of prior reconnaissance. Applicable to all units.
Figure 3.—Movement to alternate or supplementary position.

[Figure 4. Movement - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Three errors during movement in the vicinity of the enemy: (1) crossing high points of ridges; (2) failure to move by bounds; (3) lack of intervehicular distance.
 [Figure 4. Movement - Right]
(2) RIGHT. The second destroyer observes from a firing position while the first destroyer moves from X to A; the first destroyer covers the movement of the second destroyer to that point, etc.
Figure 4.—Movement in vicinity of enemy.

[Figure 5. Movement - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Three errors during an approach march; (1) no security; (2) antiaircraft guns not dispersed along column; (3) insufficient intervehicular distance.
 [Figure 5. Movement - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Security to front and on exposed flank; platoon leader well forward; ample intervehicular distance; antiaircraft guns dispersed along column away from obstructions to aerial fire or, if secrecy is desired, dispersed within the column prepared to rush into the open.
Figure 5.—Movement—platoon in approach march.

[Figure 6. Parking - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Vehicles parked facing away from routes of egress, which causes an excessive delay when leaving a park, bivouac, assembly position, or position in readiness.
 [Figure 6. Parking - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Vehicles parked facing egress; routes reconnoitered and marked for night use.
Figure 6.—Parking (security elements not shown).

[Figure 7. Gun position - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Exposed position on top of hill, which is a prominent landmark for registration by artillery or identification by aircraft.
 [Figure 7. Gun position - Right]
(2) RIGHT. A much better position, known as hull defilade.
Figure 7.—Gun position.

[Figure 8. Use of cover - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Section under sparse cover awaiting the approach of the enemy.
 [Figure 8. Use of cover - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Section using a cover position while awaiting the enemy's approach. Firing positions and routes thereto have been reconnoitered and selected.
Figure 8.—Use of cover while awaiting enemy.

[Figure 9. Section position - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Permits tanks to approach by a covered route, the ravine.
 [Figure 9. Section position - Right]
(1) RIGHT. The field of fire and the ravine are covered from one position. The exact head of the draw, a landmark, is avoided.
Figure 9.—Section position.

[Figure 10. Antiaircraft positions - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Antiaircraft guns should not be sited for area defense.
 [Figure 10. Antiaircraft positions - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Antiaircraft guns should accompany each tank destroyer section.
Figure 10.—Antiaircraft positions.

[Figure 11. Platoon position - Solution I]
(1) SOLUTION I. Permits tanks to attack gun positions by a covered route from the rear. It is an excellent position for ambush or if a change to a new position is planned after a few rounds.
 [Figure 11. Platoon position - Solution II]
(2) SOLUTION II. This solution enables the forward guns to fire from a protected position. The rear guns prevent a flanking attack by hostile tanks.
Figure 11.—Platoon position.

[Figure 12. Security.]
The security section usually takes position in two groups, each group being near a tank destroyer section. Full use should be made of the platoon sergeant's vehicle and the ammunition carrier for obtaining observation; personnel from platoon headquarters can act as observers, the vehicles being parked under nearby cover, prepared to carry a message to the platoon leader by previously selected routes. The antiaircraft guns preferably should be in rear of the tank destroyer guns. However, the necessity for a field of fire against aircraft might cause them to be in position to a flank. The two dispositions of the three guns in line is not desirable but, at times, it cannot be avoided.
Figure 12.—Security.

[Figure 13. Security.]
The security group attached to or supporting a tank destroyer section usually accompanies the section when positions are changed. Short changes of tank destroyer position ordinarily will not require a movement by the security squad. The movement of the tank destroyer section and its attached security group caused the right flank to be exposed; the other security group moved to cover this flank.
Figure 13.—Security.

[Figure 14. Platoon position - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. The excessive separation of the two guns of each section prevents good control; the antiaircraft section cannot effectively protect the flank destroyer guns.
 [Figure 14. Platoon position - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Grouping permits better control; both sections are covered by the antiaircraft guns.
Figure 14.—Platoon position.

[Figure 15. Road block position - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Six errors of guns in a road block position: (1) failure to cover a route of approach, the intermittent stream bed; (2) guns massed; (3) guns at point where road enters woods which is likely to be bombed or interdicted by artillery; (4) guns at point easily seen by hostile patrols; (5) guns in line; (6) antiaircraft guns too distant for effective protection.
 [Figure 15. Road block position - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Proper covering of the route of approach; dispersal and echeloning of guns; avoidance of landmark; and effective positioning of antiaircraft guns.
Figure 15.—Road block position.

[Figure 16. Platoon security - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Failure to post observation to rear permits unobserved approach of tanks through the sparse woods.
 [Figure 16. Platoon security - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Properly posted observers discover the approach of tanks from the rear in time to shift for meeting the new threat.
Figure 16.—Platoon security.

[Figure 17. Platoon in action - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Frontal action when terrain permits flank attack by fire; tank destroyer and antiaircraft guns in line.
 [Figure 17. Platoon in action - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Advantage taken of opportunity for flank attack by fire; guns echeloned.
Figure 17.—Platoon in action.

[Figure 18. Platoon in meeting engagement - (1)]
(1) WRONG. Section advancing in the open, causing it to engage tanks without having the advantage of cover.
 [Figure 18. Platoon in meeting engagement - (2)]
(2) RIGHT. Section advancing under cover, well protected to the front and to the flanks by security elements.

[Figure 18. Platoon in meeting engagement - (3)]
(3) RIGHT. The security element warns the rest of the advancing section of the approach of hostile tanks. The two tank destroyer guns move by a covered route to a hull defilade position; the antiaircraft squad moves to their rear and takes a position from which fire can be brought against aircraft or against ground targets approaching from the section's left; the security element takes position on the flank.
 [Figure 18. Platoon in meeting engagement - (4)]
(4) RIGHT. The covering section receives heavy fire. It moves by a covered route to an alternate position and continues the action. The antiaircraft guns remain in readiness; should the tanks come within effective range of the antiaircraft guns, they should join in the fire fight.
Figure 18.—Platoon in meeting engagement.

[Figure 19. Platoon position.]
An example of an excellent position for meeting a tank attack or for attacking tanks by fire from the flank. This position provides a good field of fire, cover, depth, mutual support, an obstacle between the tanks and the tank destroyer guns, covered routes for movement to alternate and supplementary positions, commanding ground for the antiaircraft section, and covered routes for its movement to positions suitable for fire against tanks.
Figure 19.—Platoon position.

[Figure 20. Interior company position - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Guns in line; frontal fire; no depth; no reserve; destroyers on top of prominent hill.
 [Figure 20. Interior company position - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Guns in echelon; flanking fire; avoidance of landmark; reserve.
Figure 20.—Interior company position.

[Figure 21. Company in pursuit (diagrammatic) - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Direct pressure by all platoons.
 [Figure 21. Company in pursuit (diagrammatic) - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Direct pressure by a heavy platoon; enveloping or encircling pursuit by the other two platoons, the light platoon leading.
Figure 21.—Company in pursuit (diagrammatic).

[Figure 22. Battalion areas (diagrammatic).]
Figure 22.—Battalion areas (diagrammatic).

[Figure 23. Position in readiness (battalion attached to infantry division) - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Near main line of resistance, which would result in an exposed lateral movement if enemy attacks to right or left of anticipated point.
 [Figure 23. Position in readiness (battalion attached to infantry division) - Right]
(2) RIGHT. A position which permits the use of covered approaches, including the road net, for lateral movements.
Figure 23.—Position in readiness (battalion attached to infantry division).

[Figure 24. Battalion in action - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Delayed deployment resulting in exposed lateral movement; frontal attack in the open; no reserve.
 [Figure 24. Battalion in action - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Prompt deployment; covered flank attacks; reserve. However, fire attacks on both flanks should not be made if they would result in separation of companies beyond effective mutual support.
Figure 24.—Battalion in action (reconnaissance company not shown).

[Figure 25. Battalion or group in action - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Forcing tanks toward a passable area.
 [Figure 25. Battalion or group in action - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Forcing tanks toward an impassable area.
Figure 25.—Battalion or group in action (diagrammatic).

[Figure 26. Battalion or group in action - Wrong]
(1) WRONG. Forcing tanks toward an area that is weakly defended with antitank guns, mines, or other obstacles.
 [Figure 26. Battalion or group in action - Right]
(2) RIGHT. Forcing tanks toward an area that presents a strong antitank defense.
Figure 26.—Battalion or group in action (diagrammatic).

[Figure 27. Battalion in action (diagrammatic).]
(1) The reconnaissance company meets reconnaissance elements of the hostile armored force. Using the minimum of fire and the maximum of movement, the company locates the hostile flanks and attempts to determine the enemy's strength and composition. The pioneer platoon, in anticipation of a possible withdrawal by the reconnaissance company, prepares to demolish the bridge.
Figure 27.—Battalion in action (diagrammatic).

[Figure 27. Continued. - Part 2]
(2) The reconnaissance company is unable to drive back or penetrate the hostile reconnaissance elements. One reconnaissance platoon remains in observation on the high ground; two platoons maintain contact with, and offer delaying resistance against, the leading hostile elements. The pioneer platoon executes the prepared demolition and moves to a reserve position in the woods.
Figure 27.—Continued.

[Figure 27. Continued. - Part 3]
(3) One tank destroyer company, Company A, stops the hostile reconnaissance elements behind the obstacle; the two reconnaissance platoons move outward to protect its flanks. The other two tank destroyer companies, Companies B and C, preceded by the pioneer platoon, move toward firing positions.
Figure 27.—Continued.

[Figure 27. Continued. - Part 4]
(4) Company A remains in position behind the obstacle; guns, sections, and platoons frequently change firing positions. Company B moves to a covered firing position and attacks by fire. The pioneer platoon assists Company C to cross the stream. One reconnaissance section that was observing from the high ground moves to cover a flank. The battalion commander moves to high ground from which he can observe the action.
Figure 27.—Continued.

[Figure 27. Continued. - Part 5]
(5) Company C moves into a covered fire position and the fire of Companies B and C force the tanks to the east. The three platoons of Company A move successively under cover to the east and Company B extends In the same direction. The enemy starts to withdraw.
Figure 27.—Continued.

[Figure 27. Continued. - Part 6]
(6) The enemy withdraws. Two platoons of the reconnaissance company maintain contact with the flanks of the withdrawing force. Company A pursues by direct pressure, using fire and movement but avoiding being caught in the open by any tanks that might turn to face them. Preceded by a reconnaissance and the pioneer platoon, Companies C and B start pursuit by envelopment or encirclement, searching for favorable terrain that can be occupied quickly and which affords good fields of fire.
Figure 27.—Continued.

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