Firing the big guns of the Old Guard (PHOTOS + VIDEO)

08/14/18 6:30 AM | by

m337a2 1 lb black powder saluting charges from presidental saluting battery old guard cannon howitizers

Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery conduct a blank fire crew drill next to Section 37 at Arlington National Cemetery, August 7, 2018. (Photos: U.S. Army)

The Army’s last battery of historic anti-tank guns is the only unit of its kind and is called to serve more than 300 times each year.

The Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, stationed in the national capital region, renders honors at Arlington National Cemetery as well as fires salutes for visiting dignitaries and the President. Their guns? World War II-era 75mm M5 anti-tank guns mounted on M6 howitzer carriages.

Created in response to reports of heavier tanks being used by the Germans in France in 1940, the M5 used the Army’s 3-inch anti-aircraft gun with a modified breech mounted on a low-angle carriage designed to be pulled behind an M3 halftrack.

Gunners from the 802nd Tank Destroyer battalion firing an M5 antitank gun in Saint-Malo againt German trops, 1944.

Gunners from the 802nd Tank Destroyer battalion firing an M5 antitank gun in Saint-Malo against German troops, 1944.

Capable of slicing through 4 inches of armor plate at 1,000 yards with its 12-pound AP shells, the M5 equipped tank destroyer battalions after 1943 and saw service in North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe through the end of the war. Although the guns were declared obsolete by 1946 and rapidly disposed of, the Army continues to use the 5,700-pound cannon in the Old Guard.

Today, the PSB uses a five-man staff and a two-man team for each gun

The current fodder for the guns are M337A2 1-pound black powder saluting charges.

Established in 1953, the Presidential Salute Battery not only carries out its public duties but also mans more modern 81mm mortars to provide support for the Old Guard’s wartime role.

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