Military Organization > United States > ​​U.S. Army Cavalry Assault Gun Troop (1943-45)

U.S. Army Cavalry Assault Gun Troop (1943-45)

By Alex Valsamidis, Contributing Writer

The following was the organization of the Cavalry Assault Gun Troop of the U.S. Army from September 1943 through to the end of World War II. 

The next level up was the Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which consisted of 1 HQ & HQ & Service Troop, 4 Reconnaissance Troops, 1 Cavalry Assault Gun Troop  (this), 1 Light Tank Company and 1 Medical Detachment. The Reconnaissance Troops were lettered A, B, C and D, while the Cavalry Assault Gun Troop was E Troop and the Light Tank Company was F Company.

 

If the Squadron was part of a Cavalry Group, this Troop had only 3 platoons and D Troop did not exist.

Each U.S. Army Armored Division had 1 Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron in addition to 3 Tank Battalions, 3 Artillery Battalions and 3 Armored Infantry Battalions as their combat arms elements.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

    • Troop Headquarters

    • Assault Gun Platoons

  3. Sources

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Organization

  • Type: Assault Gun Company

  • Origin: U.S. Army (United States)

  • Time Frame: Late World War II (1943-1945)

  • Personnel: 5 Officers and 102-111 Enlisted (102 in Jun 44, 107 in Oct 43, 111 in Sep 43)

 

1× Troop Headquarters (1 Officer and 26 Enlisted [31 in Jun '44; 26 in Sep '43])

 

1x Headquarters Section (1 Officer and 4 Enlisted)

→ ¼ ton Truck (Jeep)

  • 1× Liaison Agent, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine*

  • 1× Troop Clerk, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine**

  • 1× Bugler (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* Worked dismounted.

** From the Administrative Section. Works with the Squadron Personnel Section in the march.

→ M3A1 Half-Track, armed with 1 M1919A4 .30 cal MG*

  • 1× Troop Commander, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Communication Chief, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× First Sergeant, First Sergeant (OR-8), armed with 1 M1 Carbine**

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* One M8 grenade launcher on board. One SCR-528 (SCR-508 after December 1944) radio on board.

** From the Administrative Section.

1x Administrative, Mess and Supply Section (13-18 Enlisted [13 in Jun '44; 18 in Sep '43])

→ 2 ½ ton Truck, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG*

  • 1× Mess Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Cook, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Cook, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Cook’s Helper, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Light Truck Driver, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* Tows 1 ton trailer. One M9 Bazooka on board.

 

1x Maintenance Section (9 Enlisted)

→ ¼ ton Truck

  • 1× Motor Sergeant, Technical Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Supply Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine*

  • 1× Radio Repairman (Driver), Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* From the Administrative Section.

→ M3A1 Half-Track, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG

  • 1× Artillery Mechanic, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Automobile Mechanic (Driver), Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Armorer, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Automobile Mechanic, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Basic Duty (until June '44), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine*

* From the Administrative Section.

 

→ M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle, armed with 1 81mm Mortar and 1 M2 .50 cal MG, (or M5A1 Stuart between Oct 43 and Jul 44)*

  • 1× Tank Mechanic (Driver), Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Tank Mechanic, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Artillery Mechanic, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Basic Duty, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine**

* One M9 Bazooka on board (only on the TRV). One SCR-538 (SCR-528 after July 1944) radio on board.

** From the Administrative Section.

4× Assault Gun Platoons (1 Officer and 19-20 Enlisted each [19 in Oct '43; 20 in Sep '43])

 

1x Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer and 6 Enlisted)

→ M3A1 Half-track, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG*

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Second/First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 4× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* One M9 Bazooka, one (three platoons) or two (one platoon) M7 grenade launchers and one M8 grenade launcher on board. One SCR-508 radio on board after December 1944.

2x Gun Sections (4-5 Enlisted each [4 in Oct '43; 5 in Sep '43])

→ M8 75mm Howitzer Motor Carriage*

  • 1× Chief of Section, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Gunner, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Cannoneer, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Tank Driver, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5) or 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun 

  • 1× Machine Gunner (until Oct '43), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

* Tows 1 M10 ammunition trailer. One SCR-510 radio on board.

1x Ammunition Section (4-5 Enlisted [5 in Oct '43; 4 in Sep '43])

→ M3A1 Half-track, armed with 1 M1919A4 .30 cal MG*

  • 1× Chief of Section, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 3× Ammunition Handlers (after Oct '43, 2× before), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 1× Basic Duty (after Aug '44, 2× before), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine**

* Tows 1 M10 ammunition trailer. One M9 Bazooka on board.

** From the Administrative Section.

 
 
 

Discussion

The Cavalry Assault Gun Troop was a supporting unit within the Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron during World War II. The troop was commanded by a Captain and consisted of a Troop Headquarters and four Assault Gun Platoons, serving eight M8 Howitzer Motor Carriages, 10 M3A1 half-tracks, two ¼ ton trucks, a 2 ½ Truck and an M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle. 

 

In 1943, the number of soldiers assigned to the troop was 116, but fell to 107 by the end of the war. Most of them were armed with the M1 Carbine, except for drivers who were equipped with the M3 Submachine Gun and the riflemen in the Platoon HQs who carried M1 Rifles.

 

If the Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was part of a Cavalry Group, the Assault Gun Troop had one less Platoon because the squadron had only three Reconnaissance Troops rather than four. This meant there was one less subunit for the assault gun platoons to support. Also, the Motor Sergeant in the Maintenance Section was a Staff Sergeant rather than a Technical Sergeant.

Troop Headquarters

The Troop HQ housed the company's command, administrative and replacement personnel. It was split into 1 Headquarters Section, 1 Administration, Mess and Supply Section and 1 Maintenance Section.

 

The Headquarters Section was mounted on a half-track and a ¼ ton truck. The half-track was armed with an M1919A4 .30 Cal Machine Gun and carried an M8 Rifle Grenade Launcher for mounting on an M1 Carbine. The half-track initially carried a SCR-528 radio, which was replaced by an SCR-508 on December 1944. The truck (a jeep) was driven by the Bugler and carried the Liaison Agent and the Troop Clerk. The Clerk was attached from the Administrative Section and worked with the Squadron Personnel Section in the march. The half-track carried the Troop Commander, a Communication Chief, a Driver and the First Sergeant, who were attached from the Administrative Section.

 

The Administrative, Mess and Supply Section provided food and supplies to the Troop. It was mounted on a 2 ½ ton truck, which was armed with an M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun, carried an M9 Bazooka and towed a 1 ton trailer. The Mess Sergeant, 2 Cooks, a Cook’s Helper and a Driver stayed on the truck, while the rest of the personnel were attached to other parts of the troop. The First Sergeant and Troop Clerk were attached to the HQ section while the Supply Sergeant was attached to the Maintenance Section. There were also 10 Basic Duty Privates, 2 of which were attached to the Maintenance Section and 2 to the Ammunition Section of each Platoon. After August 1944, the total number was reduced to 5 and the number in each section was reduced to 1.


The Maintenance Section had 3 vehicles and performed second echelon maintenance and recovered damaged or destroyed vehicles. A ¼ ton truck transported the Motor Sergeant, the Supply Sergeant (who was attached from the Administrative Section) and a Radio Repairman, who also drove the truck. A half-track transported an Artillery Mechanic, an Armorer and 2 Automobile Mechanics, one of which also acted as a driver. Before June 1944, there was also a Basic Duty Private. The half-track was armed with an M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun. Vehicle recovery was done by an M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle, which was crewed by an Artillery Mechanic, 2 Tank Mechanics (one of which was the driver) and an attached Basic Duty. The TRV was based on the chassis of an M4 Sherman and was fitted with an A-frame boom for transporting vehicles. For defensive purposes, it was armed with an 81mm mortar, an M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun, a bow mounted M1919A4 .30 Cal Machine Gun and it carried an M9 Bazooka. Between October 1943 and July 1944, the TRV was replaced with a modified M5A1 Stuart. The vehicle initially carried an SCR-538 radio, which was replaced by an SCR-528 after July 1944.

Assault Gun Platoons

Each Platoon was commanded by a Second or First Lieutenant and consisted of a 1 Platoon Headquarters, 2 Gun Sections and 1 Ammunition Section. The platoon was authorized 2 M8 HMCs, 2 M3A1 half-tracks and 20-21 soldiers.

 

The Headquarters Section was led by the Platoon Commander and included the Platoon Sergeant (who assisted the Commander and performed administrative tasks), a Driver and 4 Riflemen (who provided security and could also assist other personnel). The section was mounted on a half-track, which was armed with an M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun and carried an M9 Bazooka and Rifle Grenade Launchers. An SCR-528 radio was added on December 1944.  

 

Each Gun Section contained an M8 Howitzer Motor Carriage, which was based on the chassis of the M5 Stuart Tank and mounted an M1 75mm Pack Howitzer. It was crewed by a Section Leader, Gunner, Cannoneer and Driver. The Section Leader directed the vehicle, spotted targets, directed the gunner and manned the M2  Machine Gun. The Gunner aimed and fired the piece while the Cannoneer loaded it. Initially, there was a dedicated Machine Gunner, who manned the .50 Cal, but was removed after only a month. The M8 had an SCR-510 radio and towed an M10 ammunition trailer.

 

The Ammunition Section consisted of a Chief of Section, Driver and 2-3 Ammunition Handlers. The Ammunition Handlers transferred ammunition from their section to the Gun Sections and could also provide security. Originally there were two, but a third was soon added. The section also contained a 1-2 Basic Duty soldiers attached from the Administration Section who assisted the Handlers and other personnel. Originally there were two, but one was removed after the number of Basic Duty soldiers in the Troop was reduced. The section was mounted on a half-track, which was armed with an M1919A4 .30 Cal Machine Gun, carried an M9 Bazooka and towed an M10 ammunition trailer.

 

The Platoons were habitually attached to the Reconnaissance Troops, but they can also be attached to the Light Tank Company. The Assault Gun Platoon operates as a unit and is usually held in reserve with one of the Reconnaissance Platoons. Sometimes sections can be attached to Platoons to provide organic support and quickly react to threats. In such occasions, the Platoon HQ and the Ammunition Section remained with the Reconnaissance Troop HQ. The Assault Guns were able to provide both direct and indirect fire and primarily employed against anti-tank guns and machine gun nests, but can also provide suppressive fire against infantry and destroy armored vehicles. For that purpose, the Assault Guns were provided with High Explosive and High Explosive Anti-Tank ammunition. Smoke ammunition was also carried to conceal friendly units and disorient the enemy.

Sources

  • Table of Organization and Equipment No. 2-28  Cavalry Assault Gun Troop, Mechanized, published 15 September 1943, republished by Military Research

  • FM 2-20 Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, Mechanized, published 24 February 1944, War Department

  • FM 2-30 Cavalry Mechanized Reconnaissance Squadron, published 28 August 1944, War Department

  • FM 17-25 Assault Gun Section and Platoon, published 8 September 1944, War Department

  • FM 17-69 Crew Drill, Service of the Piece, and Gunnery (75-mm Assault Howitzer on Motor Carriage M8), published 30 November 1943, War Department

  • Bellanger, Yves (2010), “US Army Armored Division 1943-1945”

 

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      - Marcus Aurelius

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