Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by 4v50 Gary, Oct 10, 2016.
And they called those tanks "Ronsons" for a reason - and it was not a good one.
No they weren't. That is an oft repeated myth. No truth in it at all.
Ronson did not even come up with that marketing campaign with that slogan until well after the war was over. They got that through some bad media and faulty memories. Once it started, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.
Good story though, too bad it is not based on fact or what they said about the tank during WWII.
I can pick up a rifle, look through a scope, and hit a target without killing myself. If I got into an airplane without specific training, and practice, I'd kill myself. Big difference. A good sniper has training, but a person can still "snipe" without it.
Early on during WW2, the NRA published articles about heroic marksmanship stores by Allied shooters. There were tales of British, Norwegian, long range shots that "won the day". These were early in the war. By the time you get to 1943, 1944, the American Rifleman author who was looking for heroic marksmanship stories was finding and publishing few. I remember the quote in one of his submissions, by the middle part of the war, Officers were not letting their men shoot at Germans more than 300 yards away because it was a waste of ammunition and it brought German artillery down as retaliation.
My Gun Club had a number of WW2 vets, can't remember any that are still alive. One served in Belgium and the only M1903A4 rifle he came across was in the hands of a Company Cook. The Cook used it to shoot Belgium rabbits!
There was one article in the American Rifleman magazine that I remember reading, this was in the 1990's I think. One of the stories was of an American Soldier in France, he was an exceptional shot and was given a M1903 rifle to use in his Scouting duties. He was not really a "sniper", but the expectation was that he would use his iron sighted rifle in killing Germans. So this "Scout/Sniper" ran across a German Motorized Artillery unit, in a field. He was in the wooded section next to the field, and he decided to try his luck in killing a German with his rifle. As I recall, the "Scout/Sniper" was surprised that after the first shot, the whole German Artillery unit opened up on his section of the woods with everything they had! Trees were exploding, anti aircraft machine cannon rounds skipping, machine gun rounds zipping on by, all that sort of stuff. The "Scout/Sniper" got away by rolling on the ground until he cleared the area. The author claimed he was lucky to have gotten away alive.
It takes years of training and practice to become a real long range marksman. Shooting is a skill that takes lots of time and rounds to become proficient at. The closest America had to sniper training school was the National Matches at Camp Perry where shooters shot at a big black dot in the middle of a cardboard target with iron sighted rifles. These highly trained target shooters were the best candidates to become real snipers, but the US Army and Marine Corp did not group them together to make snipers out of them. And even if the Armed Services had, these guys, as most pre War Soldiers would have been, were dead within 9 months if they were on active service.
People today just do not understand nor comprehend the number of young men who were dying them, and will be dying daily, once we get involved in another major land war. The number of causalities will be so high, that virtually all of the highly trained pre War guys will be gone in months, and as happened in WW2, hastily trained Soldiers will be shoveled into combat zones without having fired the rifle they were issued. My Uncle was a 101 Airborne Paratrooper and he fired eight familiarization rounds from his M1919 machine gun before he landed in France behind enemy lines with one. It was probably not the one he fired in training. He and his crew were so ignorant of the mechanism, they did not realize the thing did not have a safety. In France, they put the belt in, chambered a round, and set the thing up. The guy putting the front bi pod bumped the trigger mechanism on the ground, the machine gun discharged, and shot his finger off, which happened to be across the muzzle!
We lost Sammy this year. He was second or first wave on Iwo Jima. He had twenty total familiarization rounds before deploying overseas. He was issued an M1 Carbine just before getting on the ship and he said he zeroed the thing in Combat. He aimed at something, asked a bud where the bullet hit, and knocked the sight around with the butt of his knife. He called the men going through Boot Camp, "Cannon Fodder".
"People today just do not understand nor comprehend the number of young men who were dying them, and will be dying daily, once we get involved in another major land war. The number of causalities will be so high, that virtually all of the highly trained pre War guys will be gone in months, and as happened in WW2, hastily trained Soldiers will be shoveled into combat zones without having fired the rifle they were issued."
In just under 4 years of war, the United States lost 415,000 men and a few woman service members. I seriously doubt we would ever see that again. The U.S. had 16-17 million people in uniform for WWII, depending on the source. Today we can to 10 times as much with ten times fewer people. If we got into a major land war again, I think casualties would be more on par with Vietnam. No offense to any who was in theater in the last 13 years, but I would not classify Iraq and/or Afghanistan as a major land war.
I believe this is correct: the was no official Army sniper school and no sniper identifier that would be added to an MOS identifier before 1985. However, there were sniper schools in the Army. The XVIIIth Airborne Corps, Advanced Marksmanship Training Unit (AMTU (sic) not the AMU at Benning) had one going at least as early as 1984 and JFKSWC (Special Forces School) had SOTIC up and running in late 1984 or early 1985, both located at Ft Bragg.
I'd rather of had neither since both were bullet magnets.
To what myth are you referring? To what Ronson marketing campaign are you referring? It is my understand that British tankers referred to Shermans as "Ronsons" and the Germans referred to Shermans as "Tommy Cookers".
What you would be doing is sharpshooting. Sniping is much more involved than just rifle shooting at specific targets. Much of what a sniper is trained to do has nothing to do with shooting. We spent more time learning how to conceal ourselves, move without detection, and be a skilled observer than we did on how to shoot.
Modern Sniper training devotes many days to cover, concealment and movement.
Jeepnik - this is the first time I heard that 03A4s were issued to tankers. Did you father say how he came to be designated platoon sniper (marksman)?
I read that the Germans nicknamed the Shermans ronsons. Gasoline powered tanks light up easier and the early Shermans didn't have wet stowage and would cook off easier.
Nom-de-Plum - you are right about sniping and sharpshooting. Sniping as an high art form was mostly forgotten in the West. Certainly sniping reached a high art by 1918, but most of it was forgotten in the inter-war years. The very first British sniping manual (1940) envisioned a return of trench warfare and the use of dummies. Sniping including field craft, stalking, observation were for the most part not taught in those early years of WW II and most certainly not within the US Army.
The only major power of WW II that was prepared for sniping was the Soviets. They lost a lot of equipment during the Winter War to the Finns and started making new rifle telescopes and sniping rifles to replace their losses. The Germans lagged behind and the British hauled out scoped equipped P-14s that were lost with the BEF. With respects to the US, even the old Lyman A-5s (or Winchester A-5s) saw service on Guadalcanal. Canada had 300 Warner-Swasey equipped Ross rifles on hand.
Britain did pick up the ball and even got an instructor from Hesketh-Prichard's original sniping school to teach sniping again. The USMC had a school on each coast. The Germans eventually had about 30 schools that ranged from 10 days to five months, depending on where it was given and who was giving the course. The Soviets had their schools including one for women.
I'm hoping to cover all this in a book I am writing. They want me to keep it between 40-45k words and I reached 50k without even covering the modern stuff. Trim, trim, trim.
You are correct of course. I do understand that.
The derogatory British term "Ronson" for M4, was based on Ronson's 1926 ad campaign of "A flip - and it's lit!" (Co-opted to "A hit - and it's lit!"), and their 1927 ad campaign of "A Ronson lights every time."
US M4 Sherman "Zippos", however, were not so-named because of their propensity to catch fire, but because they were flame-thrower equipped tanks.
The Germans reportedly referred to M4s in the western desert as "Tommy-cookers" referring to the British issue field stove.
Later the Israelis took to calling the M48 "Ronsons" or "Zippos" as they used a hydraulic powered motor turret traverse rather that the electric motor traverse of the Centurion.
ANYWAY - Shermans were more susceptible to post-hit burning due to the hydraulic power traverse (a feature the US really likes, all US tanks through the current M1 use hydraulic power for turret traverse and elevation), but the usual cause of immediate danger was a flash fire from ammunition propellant exposed, and subsequently ignited, by the penetrating round. This is a hazard common to all tanks, past and present*. The wet ammunition stowage went a long way to mitigate this, but ready-use ammunition storage around the base of the turret basket still presented a flash fire hazard.
OH, ONE MORE THING - There are those that claim the Sherman was more fire prone because it used high-octane av-gas for its Continental R975 radial engine, the same engine Wright made for some of the Navy's torpedo bombers, and a number of passenger airplanes. The thing is the ground use Continental used regular 80-octane gasoline, the same gas as Jeeps, trucks and all other ground vehicles. The reason they chose a radial was in the late 1930s, there were not many engines available in the 300 HP class to choose from and an air-cooled engine was considered more damage-resistant. (But that bottom spark-plug must have been a bitch to change.)
The movie "Patton", not withstanding, the Germans did not use diesel fuel for their tanks, to prevent the fire hazard. They also used 80-ish octane gasoline for just about all ground vehicles. As did the British.
Which is why most modern tanks have ammunition stowage in a sealed compartment accessed by a power operated flame-proof door.
Do you think a three week transition course learning how to take off, land and fly an F-4C would be enough to make you a fighter pilot?
See post #15.
But can you get into position on the battlefield, fire a shot, and get away unscathed?
It takes a lot more than mere marksmanship to make a sniper!
Only anecdotal, but, in my youth, I remember my father (101st Airborne ETO) talking with other vets "picking" up German Mausers and using them in combat. Whether or not those Mausers had glass on them, I do not know, but it may be worth researching for a book.
He taught me how to shoot, first with a Winchester M1906 22lr, then a Remington '03 (1942 build).....with a leather sling. He was very good at 500 yards, maybe the Airborne had a higher percentage of sharpshooters than other units??? I learned to shoot the Springfield at 500 yards before I saw a 100 yard range, not only young eyes, but also the ability and conditioning to control breathing after heavy physical exertion.
A) Is "one who snipes" a "sniper"?
B) Is a "sniper" a specific military occupational field?
If (A) then give a man a telescoped rifle and viola, a sniper, if (B), then no.
"B" is correct. "A" is correct because only a sniper snipes, although the term "sniping" is a term inaccurately used to describe sharpshooting. Snipers operate independently from traditional fire teams, squads, and platoons. A soldier who is part of the previously mentioned organizational units who is using a rifle to shoot at specific targets is sharpshooter or the more modern term "designated marksman". He is not acting independently and out of contact with other members of his unit.
Now, there is such a thing as a self-taught "sniper", after all somebody wrote the first manual on sniping...
And another thing....if a person goes through a Army centralized, sanctioned, "sniper school" and is passed, say for for political reasons, but slept through the entire course, is he still a sniper? Or is he just a lousy, but real, sniper?
And there used to be such a thing as a self-taught "pilot," too -- but they broke a lot of airplanes, and filled a lot of coffins.
If you read about the Wright Brothers, the first pilots of an aircraft capable of sustained controllable powered flight, you will discover that they were obsessive in learning all they could from those who came before them that attempted flight. They were not foolish enough to think they could be entirely self-taught.
Thank you everyone who contributed but it's gone far off the initial question.
Separate names with a comma.