By the time the battalion supported
the 100th Infantry Division in January 1945, it was equipped with the M36 “Slugger”
tank destroyer. Sluggers carried the most powerful US antitank weapon to
see combat in WWII, the M3 90mm gun. This weapon was more than a match for
the especially long-barrelled 75mm guns of the 21st Panzer Division’s
Panthers encountered near Rimling, and was only outgunned by the behemoth
128mm main guns of the 653rd Heavy Tank Destroyer Battalion’s “Hunting
Tigers” (Jagdtigers) that supported XIII SS Corps’ attack during Operation NORDWIND.
An unusual feature of this vehicle
was that its turret was open-topped, to facilitate maximum observation for
the commander and crew at the long ranges at which engagements with enemy
tanks were envisioned by the designers. Unfortunately, it also meant that
the turrent crews were vulnerable to shrapnel from above.
Despite these vulnerabilities, it
was the crews of 776th TD Battalion Sluggers who scored the first kill of a
Hunting Tiger ever recorded on the Western Front in the first week of January
1945, just outside Rimling!
Height: 10.4 feet
Width: 10 feet
Length: 19.6 feet
Weight: 30.5 tons
Combat radius (how far one can go on
a tank of gasoline): 155 miles (road); 110 miles cross-country.
Front: 1.5 inches
Side: .75 inches
Turret Front: .75 inches
Turret Side: .75 inches
Mantlet (Armored shield on front of turret): 3 inches
Maximum Speed: 26 mph (road); 5 - 20 mph cross-country
Main Gun: 90mm M3 Muzzle velocity:
2,800 feet per second
Anti-aircraft Machine Gun: .50-caliber
(All data from Aberdeen Proving Ground Series)