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How Effective Are Machineguns vs. Tanks?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by HGM22, Aug 30, 2015.

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  1. HGM22

    HGM22 Member

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    I've seen in various movies and books where a machine gunner will attempt to disable a tank. In particular a Tom Clancy book (forgot which one, but it involved Korea). Also, in the movie Fury during the first battle a machine gun seems to engage the tanks (though maybe they were just trying to hit the tank commander or the troops behind the tanks).

    Is this an actual effective tactic? Is the idea to disable certain systems (periscope, radio, etc.) or simply make the commanders job more difficult by "buttoning up"? Can machine guns achieve penetration in certain areas of the tank?
     
  2. Ohen Cepel
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    Ohen Cepel Contributing Member

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    I don't think any current tank is going to be bothered by a machine gun.

    Korea era ones I would also expect to be fine with things 50cal and less.
     
  3. AJumbo

    AJumbo Member

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    Machine guns are so ineffective against heavy armor that a vehicle commander may ask another crew to bring its machine guns to bear on the first tank in order to repel boarders. ''Hey, pal, scratch my back, wouldja?" You may have seen this in old WW2 movies.
     
  4. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    If you happen to be infantry hitching a ride on the exterior of a tank automatic weapons fire directed at the tank thus you creates havoc with the infantry as in KIA & WIA. Witnessed such an occurrence in my younger days.
     
  5. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    From my buddy who was in gulf war cruising around in an abrams...machine guns just make sure everybody is awake. The best a machine gunner could hope for would be to foul up a track link stopping the tank where it's at.
     
  6. 72guns92

    72guns92 Member

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    Just have to repaint all the chipped paint, Semper Fi
     
  7. EIB0879

    EIB0879 Member

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    Yeah, even in the old M60A1 tanks, machineguns weren't much of a worry if you were buttoned up.
     
  8. Lord Teapot

    Lord Teapot Member

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    ir systems/antennas are not bullet proof. the secondary armament can also be destroyed/disabled. the tank itself and its main weapon will remain ok, but it could easily lose the ability to communicate with the rest of the force effectively if it lost its external comm points.
     
  9. HGM22

    HGM22 Member

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    Would they be able to destroy a periscope, radio antennae, etc., or are these well armored too?
     
  10. mdemetz

    mdemetz Member

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    They worked well on The Rat Patrol :)
     
  11. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    I was never associated with armor when I was in the service... From what I've read one of the things that armored personnel prize is their ability to see what's around them. Weapons fire that forces them to button up might conceal someone with a satchel charge or other nasty surprise approaching on foot - so from that point of view machine gun fire might assist in disabling a tank - but I sure wouldn't want to be that gunner if the tank operator sees him/her..... Out in open terrain I doubt that any machine gun would be much more than another target for armor. Up close in a built up area it might be different matter but I'll be listening to former armor types on this subject.
     
  12. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

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    As a kid I watched the show, but we all know unarmored jeeps would have been hashed by 7.92mm from any tank/halftrack/truck.... The stuff in the show didn't happen with jeeps.

    As for GP machinguns against tanks, they hurt peripheral stuff on the outside. Now WW1 tanks and pre-WW2 would have some problems, but not WW2.

    I saw Brad Pitt's show, Fury, and the German machinegunners were suicidal idiots. We didn't even need tanks as any artillery unit would have cleaned out that forest (or call in an air strike on that Tiger.) Even a companies weapons platoon with mortars would have given them a bad day.

    Deaf
     
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    No, that's why they're armored to shrug off heavier, and smaller, calibers.
     
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    We used old M60 tanks for target practice when I was an anti-Tank platoon sergeant.

    I have seen a lot of .50 AP cores stuck in vertical side armor.

    But I have never seen one go clear through.

    .30 cal ball just chips the paint.

    A HEAT shaped charge, or HEPT squash charge anti-tank round however is another story.

    I have seen huge steel bearings inside tanks with tiny holes in them from shrapnel hitting them at incredible velocity.

    rc
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
  15. EIB0879

    EIB0879 Member

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    Tanks operate with Infantry. That is what keeps enemy infantry at bay. I wouldn't trust the armor on the old M113 or M106 to stop a 12.7mm round.
     
  16. Duster340

    Duster340 Member

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    Uncle's not with us anymore, but I recall him saying they'd use the coaxial machine gun to get on target, when the bullets tagged the target the main gun would follow.
     
  17. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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  18. gripper

    gripper Member

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    Some of the current Russian MBTs and IFVs have machine guns that are big enough to qualify as " possible threats"...14.5 mm and bigger.
     
  19. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    Sure, machinegun fire is no problem if you're buttoned up
    But that alone can be a big deal, since your visibility is severely reduced.
    Heck, that can be a huge deal, if the enemy knows what they are doing, and has some hidden anti-tank teams nearby.

    Scratching up optics and vision blocks, snapping off radio antennas, shooting up exterior ammo cans or fuel cans (if you are carrying any, and some tanks do). Not much spare room inside our tracks, so most food, etc. was in duffel bags on the outside - so I would be pissed if that happened to me.

    If anyone has an open hatch (including open protected position in an Abrams) a lucky ricochet can kill or wound - that's a big deal.

    But a lone machinegun, engaging a tank? Just a good way to draw some (probably quite effective) return fire.
     
  20. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    I had read in WWII they sometimes had takes attack infantry positions while air burst artillery was going off overhead. I am sure there are external items that could be damaged, but not the tank itself.
     
  21. CLP

    CLP Member

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    IF, the barrel were level, and IF the breech were lowered AND no round was chambered, and IF the path of the machine guns's bullet was in line with the axis of the cannon's bore, and IF the loader were leaning forward enough- the he could possibly get hit.

    The greater concern would be a machine gun's bullets shooting up the box of moon pies in the sponson box.
     
  22. ExTank

    ExTank Member

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    In a theoretical, "anything's possible" sense of the word, then, yes, a machinegun could, conceivably pose a threat to even a Abrams. A very heavy MG (think light auto cannon, really) could manage a mobility kill; exposed optics and commo gear (just the antenna, really) might get damaged/destroyed, but those are mighty small targets.

    By firing from "ambush," (if said ambusher managed to remain undetected; see below) any exposed crew might get hit, such as TC, Loader, or even Driver, if the driver's hatch is open.

    But Abrams rarely work alone, and a firing machinegun stands out like a flare at night on the thermals, and the coax 7.62mm has a max effective range of 700 meters.

    The TC's M2 has a max effective range of 1,800 meters.

    And the main gun has a max effective range of 4,000 meters.

    And one thing we learned in the first Gulf War is that those "max effective ranges" tended a tad towards the conservative side overall, but especially in open terrain.

    It would take a very well crafted/concealed ambush, and more than a bit of luck, to get the drop on an Abrams or other similarly equipped MBT (Challenger, Leo II, AMX, Merk, T-90). I'm not saying that it can't happen; just saying it's damned difficult.

    Our suicidal machinegunner has a lot of things working against him, however, and modern MBTs aren't nearly as myopic as some of you seem to think; even in '91 with just the Gunner's optical and thermal sights, we were "popping" Iraqi ambushes long before we entered effective ranges of their weapons systems.

    The unmitigated can of whup-ass we sent at them left smoking, steaming, greasy smears on the ground. Night fighting was even easier; the desert was a tad chill at night even in the hottest parts of the year, and just the warm-air bloom from human body heat around even a well crafted/camouflaged ambush site gave away the enemy's positions.
     
  23. fanchisimo

    fanchisimo Member

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    Yes visibility is heavily limited, but in an urban setting, tanks should be supported by infantry. Think back to Fury or Saving Private Ryan and you'll see what I mean. The infantry cover the tank's soft spots and the tank is able to take out anything that is a threat. I speak from experience as a former tanker. I was only on M1A1 Abrams, but one thing cool about the old m60's is their ranging system. They had two sights on each side of the tank and the gunner would move them until the two images were the same thus giving a range. Pretty cool. As to the person who said a round could go down the bore, it's very unlikely. The breech block is only down after a round is fired and it's only a matter of seconds before another round is in it.
     
  24. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    Not to mention that it's POINTED AT YOU if you can make that shot.
     
  25. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I think the biggest problem with firing a machine gun at a tank is that you will immediately have a whole bunch of trained eyeballs earnestly looking for you position - and it probably won't end well. Like the old joke about if you fire at the U.S. Army they will hunker down under cover. If you fire at the U.S. Marines they will call in an artillery/air strike on your position.
     
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