M3 37mm Antitank Gun - Gadsden, AL
N 34° 02.160 W 086° 01.439
16S E 590096 N 3766577
Quick Description: M3 37mm Antitank Gun located in Ola Lee Mize Patriots Park
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 4/28/2012 8:07:04 PM
Waymark Code: WMEAR0
By 1937 analysis of foreign trends in tank development indicated the need for a heavier weapon capable of greater armor penetration. Development of a new antitank gun, however, experienced the same budgetary constraints and prolonged acquisition cycle as tank designs. Therefore, instead of building a new weapon, the Army opted to purchase a proven, foreign antitank gun already in production. It selected the German 37mm gun built by Rheinmetall-Borsig Company and used by the German Army, the Panzer Abwehr Kanone (PAK)-36. The U.S. military attaché in Germany arranged the purchase of several guns. After extensive testing and minor modification, an American-built version was accepted for service with the U.S. Army.
Designated the M3 37mm Antitank Gun with M4 Carriage the new weapon entered production in November 1939. Field deliveries of the M3 to Army units began in early 1940.
The M3 was manned by a crew of four who fired a 1.61-pound projectile with an effective range of 500 yards. The M3 37mm Antitank Gun was followed by the M3A1 which differed only in the addition of a rarely-used muzzle brake, attached by threads on the end of the barrel.
At the time of its adoption, the M3 could destroy any tank then being produced in the world. However, by the time the United States entered the war, the M3 was outmatched by the tanks in use in Europe.
Japanese tanks were smaller and more vulnerable to the M3 throughout the war. Heavier armor meant that by the time the Army began fielding the 37mm antitank gun, larger caliber weapons were eclipsing it. The M3 37mm Antitank Gun was replaced by the M1 57mm Antitank Gun in the European Theater, starting in Tunisia in 1943.