[Lone Sentry: FM 17-76: Crew Drill and Service of the Piece, Medium Tank, M4 Series (105-mm Howitzer)]
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FM 17-76: Crew Drill and Service of the Piece, Medium Tank, M4 Series (105-mm Howitzer)
Field Manual, War Department, September 15, 1944
[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 VII

23. TO FIGHT ON FOOT. a. Crew being at mounted posts, hatches open. Crew members, including the tank commander, keep below hatches until completely ready to dismount and go into action and until the order DISMOUNT is given.

 Tank Commander   Gunner   Bow Gunner   Driver   Cannoneer 
Command: PREPARE TO FIGHT ON FOOT.        
Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs.
Order distribution of grenades.   Pass tripod to driver. Receive tripod from bog.  
Take hand grenades, submachine gun and 6 clips ammunition. Procure grenade as ordered. Procure grenade as ordered.   Procure grenade as ordered.
Stand fast. Stand fast. Install elevating mechanism on bow gun; dismount gun; install pintle. Procure 3 boxes cal .30 ammunition. Help driver get ammunition.

Take 1 box cal .30 ammunition.

    Pass submachine gun and 6 clips ammunition to driver. Receive bog's submachine gun and ammunition.  
    Take spare parts roll and spare bolt assembly.    
Command: DISMOUNT.        
Dismount via right sponson and fender.       Dismount to left sponson.
      Pass tripod to loader. Receive tripod from driver.
  Dismount to right sponson.      
Receive 2 boxes cal .30 ammunition from driver. Receive bow gun from bog. Pass bow machine gun to gunner. Pass 2 boxes cal .30 ammunition to sergeant. Dismount.

Set up tripod.

Cover dismounting of crew.

Act as squad leader of machine gun squad.


Mount bow gun; man gun as No. 2.


Receive box cal .30 ammunition and submachine gun and ammunition from driver.

Man gun as No. 3.

Pass box cal .30 ammunition and submachine gun and ammunition to bog.

Move into turret; connect breakaway plugs; maintain contact with platoon leader.

Help mount bow gun; man gun as No. 1.

b. The dismounted crew moves to the position indicated by the tank commander or, in drill, 5 yards in front of the tank. The crew members take the posts and perform the duties of the crew of a ground-mounted machine gun as prescribed for gun drill in FM 23-55 (1944 edition).

c. In combat it is assumed that the tank will be moved to a concealed position if possible, before the crew dismounts. Otherwise the driver will move the tank to a concealed position before mounting to the turret.


 Tank Commander   Gunner   Bow Gunner   Driver   Cannoneer 
Command: OUT OF ACTION.        
Supervise taking gun out of action.

Cover other crew members with submachine gun.

Pass remaining cal .30 ammunition to driver.

Pass bog's submachine gun and ammunition to him.

Take mounted post.

Return grenades.

Stow submachinegun and ammunition.

Connect breakaway plugs.

Dismount machine gun.

Pass bow machine gun to bog.

Take mounted post.

Receive and stow grenades.

Connect breakaway plugs.

Take mounted post (leave cal .30 ammunition and submachine gun and ammunition in front of tank).

Receive and mount bow gun (remove and stow ground accessories).

Receive and stow submachine gun and ammunition.

Return grenades.

Stow spare parts roll and spare bolt assembly.

Stow tripod.

Connect breakaway plugs.

Disconnect breakaway plugs.

Resume mounted post.

Receive tripod; place in bog's compartment.

Receive remaining ammunition; place near loader.

Connect breakaway plugs.

Help dismount machine gun.

Fold tripod.

Pass tripod to driver.

Mount tank with remainder of box cal .30 ammunition.

Take mounted post.

Stow ammunition.

Receive and stow grenades.

Connect breakaway plugs.

Command: REPORT.  
Report "Gunner ready".
Report "Bog ready".
Report "Driver ready".
Report "Loader ready".

25. TO ABANDON TANK. If it becomes necessary to abandon tank, the crew proceeds as in paragraph 10 or 11 with the following changes or additions:

a. Time permiting deliberate action, the tank commander displays the flag signal DISREGARD MY MOVEMENTS, and supervises the disabling of those weapons which remain in the tank. Backplates are removed from machine guns and the firing pin and guide from the howitzer. All similar spare parts are also removed. Individual weapons and maximum possible ammunition loads are carried. The driver dismounts in order with the rest of the crew.

b. Ordinarily the tank is abandoned as a result of a direct hit either causes it to catch fire or disables it so that it becomes a vulnerable target. In such instances there may be less than five seconds in which the crew can escape without further injury. At the command ABANDON TANK, crew members throw open hatches, climb out, jump to ground and take cover at a safe distance from the tank. It is particularly important in case of fire to hold the breath until clear of the vehicle. Inhaling the fumes and smoke of the fire may injure the lungs and will at least incapacitate the individual for a time.

26. TO DESTROY TANK. When the command DESTROY TANK is given, crew members first remove what equipment is to be carried away. They then destroy the tank, weapons, ammunition, and equipment to be left, as prescribed in Section XI.

27. ACTION IN CASE OF FIRE. a. Fire in engine compartment. The first crew member to discover fire calls, ENGINE FIRE.

 Tank Commander   Gunner   Bow Gunner   Driver   Cannoneer 
Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs.
Dismount to rear deck.

Receive wrenches and fire extinguisher.

Pass hand extinguisher to sergeant. Take hand extinguisher. Pull ONE fixed extinguisher control handle; shut off engine. Obtain wrenches.

Pass wrenches to sergeant.

  Dismount to rear deck. Dismount. Dismount. Dismount.
Start to open top engine doors.   Go to rear of tank; unfasten rear engine doors, ready to open if needed. Go to rear of tank and help as ordered. Go to rear of tank and assist other crew members.
If fixed extinguisher has not put out fire, use hand extinguisher through top doors or order use of second fixed extinguisher. Unfasten top engine doors.

Stand by to pull exterior control handle of second fixed extinguisher if ordered.

Use hand extinguisher through rear doors if ordered.    

b. Fire in air horn. (Applicable only to tanks equipped with radial engines.) The first crew member to discover fire calls, AIR HORN FIRE.

 Tank Commander   Gunner   Bow Gunner   Driver   Cannoneer 
Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs. Disconnect breakaway plugs.
Take wrench and screwdriver from loader; dismount.

Go to rear of tank; open rear engine doors.

Take hand extinguisher.


Remove cone from hand extinguisher nozzle.

Take hand extinguisher; dismount.

Remove cone from hand extinguisher nozzle.

Go to rear of tank.

Race engine (if cranking, continue in attempt to start).

Dismount if ordered.

Obtain wrench and screwdriver; pass to sergeant.

Dismount to rear deck.

Stand by to operate fixed extinguisher if ordered.

If racing engine has not put out fire, cut small hole with screwdriver in air horn-intake tube coupling. Go to rear of tank; stand by to use extinguisher. Insert extinguisher nozzle in hole made by sergeant; operate extinguisher.    

c. Fire in fighting compartment. The first crew member to discover the fire calls, TURRET (or HULL) FIRE. The tank is stopped and the engine shut off. Fire extinguishers are passed to the men nearest the fire, and the crew members nearest them help in any way possible to extinguish the fire. The turret is traversed if necessary. The tank commander supervises the work and orders the crew to dismount if the fire gets beyond control.

28. ADVICE TO INSTRUCTORS. a. Disciplined and effective dismounted action requires long and arduous drill. Satisfactory results can be obtained only by painstaking repetition of each movement. The technique of mounting and dismounting of all crew members is observed in detail by the tank and platoon commanders and altered, if necessary, before habits are formed. Once each man has found the most efficient method of mounting and dismounting, he is encouraged to adhere rigidly to it.

b. Training in dismounted action is best under taken in the field rather than in the tank park. Crews are required to dismount to fight on foot on all types of terrain, and under every variety of simulated combat conditions, with full loads of ammunition. Rough terrain complicates the problem of dismounting through the escape hatch, and develops ingenuity and physical agility not possible in tank park training.

c. Instructors must explain and demonstrate to tank crews how necessary to their safety and success in combat is a high state of training in dismounted action. They must point out that skill and practice in use of the escape hatch will pay dividends. The crew keeps the escape hatch door clean and well lubricated so that its release is immediate and positive. Frequent inspection of the mechanism is made by the tank commander to see that the locking rods are not bent.

29. GENERAL PRECAUTIONS. a. Fire prevention. (1) Smoking in or on the tank is prohibited.

(2) During fueling a crew member stands on the rear deck holding a fire extinguisher with the nozzle trained on the fuel inlet, ready to use it instantly if needed.

(3) Use of gasoline for cleaning any part of the tank is prohibited.

b. Mounting and operating tank. (1) Crew members mount and dismount by the front of the tank except during range practice.

(2) Unnecessary contact with any part of the weapons or sighting equipment will be avoided. This includes—

(a) Stepping on the howitzer barrel or shield, or the machine guns in mounting or dismounting.

(b) Supporting oneself by holding the tube, howitzer shield, or machine guns in mounting, or dismounting.

(c) Use of the shoulder guard as a step in entering or leaving the turret.

(3) Crash helmets if available, or helmet liners are worn at all times inside the tank.

(4) In operating cross country the tank commander warns the driver and crew when the tank approaches rough terrain.

(5) Where possible the driver avoids rough or uneven ground which might cause injury to the tank or crew.

(6) In traveling with hatches open over rough ground or through woods, crew members constantly check the engagement of the cover latching mechanism and the security of covers in the open position.

(7) The antenna is lowered to prevent contact with low branches or low-hanging wires, especially those which may carry high voltage electricity.

(8) The tank is driven in low range when being moved forward in confined spaces.

c. Park and bivouac precautions. (1) Sleeping underneath, behind, or in front of tanks should be prohibited.

(2) In moving a tank in park or bivouac—

(a) A guide is always employed to direct the movement.

(b) The guide's position is at least ten feet in front of the tank and to one side, clear of its path, in directing the tank either forward or back.

(c) At night the guide is especially charged with seeing that the path ahead of and behind the tank is clear of personnel, particularly those sleeping on the ground.

(d) The guide moves at a walk to avoid stumbling on uneven ground.

d. Miscellaneous. (1) After machine guns are cleared a cleaning rod is pushed through the barrel and chamber to insure that the chamber is empty. A T-block is then inserted into the receiver.

(2) Tank weapons, except the antiaircraft gun, are fired only when the driver's and bow gunner's hatches are closed.

(3) Care will be taken, while working about a running engine to keep fingers and hands away from fans; fan belts, drive shafts, and other moving parts.

(4) 105-mm ammunition will be securely stowed.

(5) Ammunition will not be carried on the rear deck.

(6) No items of equipment will be carried on the rear deck in such a manner as to block the air inlet grilles.

(7) There is danger of monoxide poisoning for the crew of a towed tank when the medium tank or a tank recovery vehicle mounted on tank chassis is used as the towing vehicle. This danger is greatest when the towing vehicle is powered with a radial engine, and when a short hitch, such as that obtained with the towing bar, is used. Men should be kept out of the towed tank wherever possible; but where this is not possible, frequent periodic check of the occupants of the towed vehicle should be made.


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