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DemolitionMan

Tank Gunnery

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An excerpt from "The Yom Kippur War" by Abraham Rabinovich(p. 61):

The northern half of the line on the Golan Heights was held by a tank battalion commanded by Lt. Col. Yair Nafshi. The day he assumed command the year before, he announced to the men his intention to focus on gunnery. The only way to overcome the numerical superiority of the Syrian tanks opposite them, he said, was to shoot faster and straighter. Turning to a gunner, he asked, "How long would it take to hit three tanks coming straight at you at 1,200 meters?" Four minutes, the gunner replied. Others thought they could do it in half that time. Not even a minute, said Nafshi. He let the laughter die down before saying he would demonstrate.

As the men walked with him to a nearby gunnery range, he briefed a crewman on a borrowed tank on how he wanted him to load the shells. The men sat on the ground to watch the demonstration, some of them holding stopwatches. The tank commander gave Nafshi, in the gunner's position, the order to fire. Nafshi hit three tank targets, spaced 50 yards apart, with three rapid shots and jumped down from the tank. The stopwatches showed less than 10 seconds.

Gunnery proficiency became the unit's hallmark. Nafshi cultivated "snipers" who could hit their targets at long range. He had them wear gray uniforms instead of standard green to give them special status. Tanks which scored hits on Syrian tanks during skirmishes had tank silhouettes pasted to the side of their turrets to indicate their "kills".

Quite a story. 10 seconds for three targets...in a Centurion...stunning. General Israel Tal really made a difference in the IDF armor corps doctrine and the use of tanks during the War of the Waters as well. Would love to know how exactly the Israelis achieved to hit targets first-round regularly at such extreme ranges in excess of 2,500 meters, sometimes up to 13km!

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Would love to know how exactly the Israelis achieved to hit targets first-round regularly at such extreme ranges in excess of 2,500 meters, sometimes up to 13km!

Divine intervention. :angel:

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When i was a loader on M-1IPs we would have competitions with practice rounds. The time started when the ammo element of the fire command was announced and stopped with the correct round and the response of "up" My fastest time was around 2.2 seconds. Ammo door may have been locked open, I'm not sure, we did it with door open and door closed. So, I suppose, with 3 stationary targets 50 meters apart at 1200 meters the gunner could easily lay on each target, and a loader who already has his 3 rds picked out and only has to worry about feeding the gun as soon as it recoils it doesn't sound out of the realm of possibility.

Mog

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Loading with a round in your lap was a lot safer on the 105mm.

I remember practicing with a dummy HEP round that was seemingly 5ft. long and weighed about 40 lbs! If you can hump that thing, sabot is a piece of cake!

Downside was putting the spent casings back in the ready rack before they piled-up on the turret floor and marking them with a grease pencil.

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So you can see the expended ones... Makes it quicker to replenish and less likely to during a quick reload leave some expended rounds in the racks?

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Depends on the vehicle. I don't recall empty-disposal hatches on a Centurion, but that's only because I'm not particularly knowledgeable regarding Centurions.

M-51s had them, however, and they sported a 105. The hatch wasn't made for tossing 105 empties, but combat does wonders both for motivation and improvisation. I don't know if the hatch on the M-51 was actually used that way, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was.

Shot

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Theres a hatch on LHS of the turret of a Centurion, about the same size as a 105mm shell.

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Why mark them with a grease pencil??

To mark spent rounds that you put back in the ready ammo storage rack. This is what I did during gunnery, in combat they may very well be tossed out of an open loaders hatch.

It was also helpful to mark the rounds as sabot or heat in the rack as you stocked them.

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A non-tanker question: It seems obvious loading is quite a physical task - therefore I assume a loader can become less efficient in a sustained engagement, or after a long time in the field? Or is the amount of time spent loading so low in relation to other duties that there is always enough time to recover? Do loaders get selected based on strength and speed, or does every tanker have to pass through the position of 'loader' (and not just in cross-training)?

These may be dumb questions!

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Hi all

In my experience even using two piece ammunition, as the british do, 90% of engagements are held up waiting for the gunner to make his final lay once the breech closes. If the ranges are increased out to 2000m + more care must be taken in his final lay and it would subsequently take more time. This is also not taking into account flash, blast platform rock and obscuration.

Therfore 3 shots in 10 secs and first round hits out to 13km IMHO is pure bu****it.

It could however, with the right conditions, be set up as a demonstration.

The fatigue factor for a loader shouldnt ever really appear because as opposed to Artillery gun bunnies, when an MBT fires a round you should in principle be destroying a target. Therore 15-20 rounds, which shouldnt be a problem for any half fit loader would equate to 15-20 burning wrecks on a battlefield. If there are more enemy than that to shoot at I would have other issues to worry about than my loaders or even my own stamina.

Irish

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I think that the original proposition was 10 secs from first round fired to third round fired (ie 4+ secs for reload between shots? - gun assumed battle carry AP and the engagement ended with hitting the third target) at 1200m (ie within a longish battle sight range). I doubt that there was any fine laying, just a rough lay on centre of mass.

The longer ranged shots are a different proposition... and while some first round hits are recorded no mention is made of how many targets were not succesfully engaged at all at extended ranges, or those which while hit were not hit with the first round.

I suspect that the very long range shots were performed as artillery shoots with detailed survey of the target and firer positions, carefully precalculated and fired at a particular time of day when winds were typically calm.

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A non-tanker question: It seems obvious loading is quite a physical task - therefore I assume a loader can become less efficient in a sustained engagement, or after a long time in the field? Or is the amount of time spent loading so low in relation to other duties that there is always enough time to recover? Do loaders get selected based on strength and speed, or does every tanker have to pass through the position of 'loader' (and not just in cross-training)?

These may be dumb questions!

Loading is a fairly physical task. However, an 18 or 19 year old fresh recruit in good shape can handle it easily. As far as sustained engagements go, you can only load 20 rounds or so from the ready rack before you have to transfer ammo from elswhere on the tank (M1). "Long time in the field" is part of tanking. Loading rounds is the fun part of being a loader. What you do the other 364 days is the painful part. In the U.S. Army, when a soldier first graduates tank school he is sent to a unit and assigned as a loader or driver based on that unit's needs and the soldier's abilities. Every tanker should spend time as a loader, though I'm sure some don't. I started as a loader, and allthough I was trained, liscenced and spent plenty time driving, was never "officially" a "driver". From loading it was a natural progression to gunner and later TC.

Not dumb questions at all!

I rib my wife about "dumb questions" when she asks our teenagers "Are you hungry?"

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The real question is what kind of retard was the gunner that said it would take FOUR MINUTES to engage 3 tanks coming straight at him at 1200 meters ? Four minutes ?! What the hell is this guy even doing in a tank ? What is he firing, a muzzle loader ? Patton would have slapped him silly. The other guys thought maybe they could do it in half the time. They are idiots too. That unit needed new leadership. This LTC Yair Nafshi didn't arrive a moment too soon for them.

when I was a loader, CSM (SSG at the time) Johnny Fells was my TC and he killed a target on a range at less then 1200 using the over ride and he didn't even use the sights. His head was sticking out of the hatch and he just slewed around and hip shot it. I saw the whole thing from the loaders hatch and was awed. He would have slapped those guys too. I know he popped me a couple of times.

Mog

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when I was a loader, CSM (SSG at the time) Johnny Fells was my TC and he killed a target on a range at less then 1200 using the over ride and he didn't even use the sights. His head was sticking out of the hatch and he just slewed around and hip shot it. I saw the whole thing from the loaders hatch and was awed.

Fuck, man, I'd love to try that.

Probably miss though.

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Nothing like the heat and smell of the inside of a M1 turret on the range.

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the way the israelis achieved the longshots, was with ranging tables.

they set up ranging tables for the terrain around their defensive positions, so that they knew how far away the enemy tanks were. they probably had some coloured rocks, or plates everywhere as well.

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My point was that when asked how long it would take to engage 3 targets, 50 meters apart at 1200 meters range, some jackass said 4 minutes. I cant figure that out at all.

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