37 mm M6 Gun Motor Carrier

USA (1941) Tank destroyer - about 5,380 built

The "Fargo", first American tank hunter

The 37 mm Gun Motor Carriage M6 (GMC) was the first American tank destroyer of the war. It was designed in a rush. When America declared war on Japan on 8th December 1941, Japan's allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States, bringing America fully into World War II.

The United States Army needed to equip its infantry units with a mobile anti-tank support weapon. At that stage, the 37 mm (1.46 in) Gun M3, introduced in 1940, was the standard anti-tank gun of the day. The 37 mm calibre was thought to be effective against Japanese armored fighting vehicles and the 1940 generation of German tanks that were used to invade Poland and France.

Early tests performed with an M3A1 mount on a standard Ford GP showed the vehicle could not take the recoil stess. The experiment was abandoned for a sturdier platform - Source: Weapons of Patton's armies, p.118
Early tests performed with an M3A1 mount on a standard Ford GP showed the vehicle could not take the recoil stess. The experiment was abandoned for a sturdier platform - Source: Weapons of Patton's armies, p.118 By early 1942, trials began. The designers soon found out that the standard Jeep was not suitable to take the 37 mm gun's recoil when it was fired. A new gun platform vehicle needed to be found. The Dodge WC 52 3/4 ton truck looked like an extended Jeep.

It was the only vehicle available in large numbers that could be quickly converted into an anti-tank weapon. It was also the cheapest at only $4,265 a piece. A 3-inch GMC M10 Wolverine tank destroyer cost $47,905. The M6 Fargo soldiered on to the end of the war. Other companies were involved in its construction. Dodge built over 5,300 vehicles, although not all were armed with the 37 mm.

Dodge WC55 M6 37 mm GMC, as built in mid-1942 - Photo
Dodge WC55 M6 37 mm GMC, as built in mid-1942 - Photo" Olive-Drab.com


By November 1941, US Army 'tank attacker' formations were created to support infantry units. They were tested in war game exercises in the Carolinas with some success. By late 1941, it was proposed that Tank Destroyer (TD) battalions be created. One was to be assigned to each division plus 165 additional ones at the disposal of the US Army General Head-Quarters (GHQ). On 27th November 1941, the first of the 53 TD battalions were created, controlled by GHQ, headed by Leslie McNair. They preferred cheaper gun carriers for this purpose and not tanks. The impetus of an aggressive armored fighting unit's mobility was hindered by the use of towed anti-tank guns. The en portee self-propelled gun (SPG) solution was believed to be the best solution.

Factory-fresh, bare M6 GMC ordnance photo - Source: National Archives, From Weapons of Patton's armies, p.120
Factory-fresh, bare M6 GMC ordnance photo - Source: National Archives, From Weapons of Patton's armies, p.120

Factory codes and trials

After the unsuccessful trials of mounting the 37 mm (1.46 in) M3 gun on Jeeps, the same gun was mounted on longer, sturdier 3/4 trucks, with a better range, room and ammunition storage facilities. In the summer of 1941, the prototype was given the project name of the T21. The T22 was the developed alongside, a larger armored 6x6 vehicle that will lead to the M8 Greyhound armored car.

The various tests on the T21 included rear-mounted and forward-mounted guns. The production model was going to be called the 'M4 37mm Gun Motor Carriage' but this was quickly changed as the 'M6 37mm Gun Motor Carriage' to avoid confusion with the 'M4 37 mm gun carriage' which was a towed anti-tank gun. The Dodge/Fargo series of light military trucks were mass-produced: over 255,000 were produced and 5,380 were converted into M6 37 mm GMCs.

Design of the M6 Fargo

The final M6 was developed from a 3/4ton 4x4 Dodge WC52 truck, a combination that was factory designated the WC55. The vehicle was totally unarmored, except for the large 0.25 in (6.4 mm) thick gun shield, which only protected the crew when facing the enemy. Caught from the side or the rear, the crew were open to injury from small arms fire and exploding high explosive shell shrapnel.

The rear of the vehicle's chassis was fitted with a star-type riveted pivot and the gun was normally fired to the rear. When fired forward, the gun could not be fully depressed, and the blast could shatter the windshield and injure the driver and co-driver. Firing from the rear, the gun shield also protected the driver and it facilitated a quick escape or change of location. The vehicle was capable of carrying eighty rounds.

Improvised front mount for a M2 HMG cal.50 (12.7 mm) on a M6 GMC. It was used for anti-aircraft protection - Photo: Olive-Drab.com
Improvised front mount for an M2 HMG cal.50 (12.7 mm) on the M6 GMC. It was used for anti-aircraft protection - Photo: Olive-Drab.com There is no photo evidence so far of additional armor being mounted on the vehicle. The M6 GMC offered good off-road capabilities thanks to its large roadwheels and semi-elliptic leaf spring, although it was inferior in cross country performance to the half-tracks, especially in the muddy winter months in Tunisia. Its Dodge T-214 6 cylinder 4-cycle inline gasoline engine developed 99 hp (74 kW) for a 29.7 hp/metric ton power to weight ratio and top speed of 55 mph (89 km/h) on road. Its operational range was about 180 miles (290 km) by road.

The M3 37 mm gun

The 1940 37 mm (1.46 in) M3 gun was produced mainly by the Watervliet Arsenal. It fired the M74 Armor Piercing (AP) shot, which could penetrate 1.4 inches (36 mm) of armor at 500 yds (460 m). In order to improve performance, the Armor Piercing Capped (APC) M51 projectile was fielded. It could penetrate 2.4 in (61 mm) of armor at 500 yds. The High Explosive (HE) M63 Projectile was also used as an anti-personal round. The gun could depress from -10° to +15°, had a 60° traverse, and a 25 rate of fire per minute with a well-trained crew. The ammunition round's dimensions were 37 mm × 223 mm. The breech had a vertical block, the recoil lessened by an hydrospring. The muzzle velocity was 884 m/s (2,900 ft/s) and it had a maximum range of 6.9 km (4.3 miles).

The M6 GMC Fargo in action

The design was standardized in February 1942, production started in March, and lasted until October, when the 5,380th came out of the factory floor. It was the first and most current American tank destroyer when the 1st Division, the "Big Red One", landed in Tunisia, North Africa for Operation Torch. Two units used them, the 601st and 701st Tank Destroyer Battalions, until early 1943.

The initial idea of using three tank destroyer units, one light, one heavy and one towed was soon abandoned. A mixed heavy (M3 75mm GMC) and light (M6 37mm GMC) unit was introduced before the landing in North Africa.

By early 1942, the British 8th Army reported that their 2 pdr (40 mm) gun was already no longer sufficient and their 6-pdr was preferred (soon copied by the US and called the 57 mm M1). It was found the smaller caliber gun could not penetrate the uparmored German tanks. The US Army was aware of these reports but still deployed these now obsolete guns in North Africa. The M6 GMC rapidly became disliked by its crews and the vehicle was sent on to the Pacific Theatre, where it served in 1943 and 1944.

Knowing the standard M3 gun was now obsolete, the US Army planned its successor. The M3 GMC and T12 GMC replaced it, based on the standard White M3 half-Track. The M6 GMC was declared 'limited standard' in September 1943 but its use lasted until January 1945 when it was finally declared obsolete and retired for good. Its North African service left the impression of a failed expedient, its gun described in reports as "woefully inadequate" against German armor. By mid-1943, remaining M6s were converted back into WC carriers, while the 37 mm guns were mounted onto M2 halftracks as the M2 w/ M3 37 mm. These were used by the armored infantry, and were others given to the French Army, which later made their way with FFI (Interior French Forces) in France. They were used due to a lack of better solutions from the liberation until 1945. Comparatively, the M3 GMCs gave far better results.

Links and sources

US tank destroyers in combat, Steven J Zaloga, 1996.
RP Hunnicut: Armored Car: A History of American Wheeled Combat Vehicles
Weapons of Patton's armies
More specs on https://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/37mmgmcm6.html

GMC M6 Fargo specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H)4.52 x 2.2 x 2.1 m 14ft 8in x 7ft 2in x 6ft 9in
Curb weight, battle ready3300 kg (7,350 lbs)
Crew4 (driver +3 gun crew)
PropulsionDodge T-214 6 cyl. gas. 99 hp
Top speed55 mph (89 km/h) road
Maximum range180 miles (290 km) road
Armament37 mm (1.46 in) M3 gun
Armor6.4 mm (0.25 in) gun shield
M6 GMC, 601st TD batallion, Tunisia, November 1942.
M6 GMC, 601st TD batallion, Tunisia, November 1942.
Camouflaged M6 GMC, Tunisia, winter 1942-43
Camouflaged M6 GMC, Tunisia, winter 1942-43.
Nice photo of a brush mud-painted M6 GMC in Tunisia using cactus to camouflage.
Nice photo of a brush mud-painted M6 GMC in Tunisia using cactus to camouflage. There were extra rear stowage racks and the shield protection was somewhat augmented by the addition of the crew's latched stores - Photo: Zaloga, US TDs in combat

Video of a 37 mm GMC life fire demo by Forgottenweapons.com

WW1 Vehicles

British ww2 WWI trucks
FR: Berliet CBA, Berliet Type M, Châtillon-Panhard, Latil TAR, Panhard-Genty 24 HP, Renault EG

allied ww2 Allied ww2 Vehicles

British ww2 British Vehicles
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-Guy Lizard ACV
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-Morris ML Ambulance
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-Morris GS Terrapin
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-Scammell Pioneer SV1S/SV2S
-Thornycroft Hathi (1924)
-Thornycroft Nubian
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French ww2 French Vehicles
-Berliet DGRA
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-Berliet 30
-Bernard fuel carrier
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-Laffly 20TL
-Latil TAR H2
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-Matford F917
-Panhard K113
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-Willeme DU10
Soviet ww2 Soviet Trucks
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-GAZ AAA M1937
-GAZ AAA M1940
-Ford Marmon HH6 Katiusha
-SU C-6
-Yag-10 SPG
-ZIS-33 HT
-ZIS 41 HT
-FN-Kégresse T3

Soviet staff cars
-GAZ M1 "Emka"
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-GAZ 67 Amphibious armoured cars
US ww2 US Trucks
-Ford B3000 S
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-Ford BB
-Ford V8-51
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-Ford V8 M1937
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-T5 half-track
-T7 half-track
-T9 half-track
-G8T 2-1/2 ton 4x2 Truck
-International B2
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-Chevrolet m1931
-Chevrolet m1936
-Chevrolet G-506 ​1 1⁄2-ton 4x4
-Chevrolet G-7107 4-1/2 ton 4x4
-Chevrolet 3116 1-1/2 ton 4x2
-Studebaker US6x4 U7
-Studebaker US6x4 U-6
-Studebaker US6x6 U-5 6x4
-Studebaker US6 U4 bz35S 2-1/2 ton 6x6 truck
-Dodge 1⁄2-ton Ambulance
-Dodge 1⁄2-ton Carry-all
-Dodge 1⁄2-ton (Radio) Command Reconnaissance
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-Dodge WC-51/52 (3⁄4-ton Trucks, Weapons Carrier)
-Dodge WC-53 (3⁄4-ton Carryall)
-Dodge WC-54/64 (3⁄4-ton Ambulance)
-Dodge WC-55 (3⁄4-ton Truck, M6 Gun Motor Carriage)
-Dodge WC-56/57/58 (3⁄4-ton (Radio) Command Reconnaissance)
-Dodge WC-62/43 (G-507, 11⁄2-ton, 6x6 truck)
-Dodge M6 GMC
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-White/Corbitt 6 ton 6x6 Prime Mover
-Ward LaFrance
-Four Wheel Drive Auto Company (FWD) SU-COE 5-6 ton 4x4
-White Motor Company
-Inl KR-11 5 ton 4x2 dump truck
-Inl M5-6 318 2-1/2 ton 6x6 swb
-Mack NR15 10-ton 6x4
-Reo 28 XS 10-ton 6x4

US ww2 Small truck/car & Misc.
Bantam Reconnaissance Car
Ford GTB
6x6 Willys 'MT-TUG' ("Super-Jeep")
-Willys MB light truck
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Buick Century Series 60
1941 Plymouth P11 Staff Car
Ford Fordor 1942 Staff Car
Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle

Axis ww2 Axis Trucks

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Sd.Kfz 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 were half-tracks designed just before the war as prime movers, to carry supplies, ammunition, personal, and tow artillery. Many were also converted during the war as armored versions carrying AA FLAK guns (Flakvierling, 37 mm, or the legendary 88 mm Rheinmetall als used as tank hunters), or were converted as nebelwerfer (rocket launching armored vehicles). They were built by Hanomag, Steyr, Mercedes-Benz, Bussing and many other manufacturers until 1945, over 20,000 half-tracks.

German ww2 German Military trucks
-Opel Blitz
-Opel Maultier
-Mercedes-Benz L3000
-Magirus A3000
-Krupp Protze Kfz.19
-Krupp Protze Kfz.21
-Krupp Protze Kfz.68
-Krupp Protze Kfz.69
-Krupp Protze Kfz.70
-Krupp Protze Kfz.81
-Krupp Protze Kfz.21
-Krupp Protze Kfz.83
-Borgward B 3000
-Skoda Rad Schlepper
-Ost RSO Porsche 175
-Steyr Type 2000A
-Einheits Lkw Kfz.62
-Krupp LKW L3
-Bussing-Nag 4500
-Opel Blitz Omnibus
-Bussing-Nag L
-Mercedes-Benz L1500
-Beute Studebaker
-Krupp L3H
-Hanomag SS-100
-Beute Ford B3000 S, V3000S, V3000A
-Beute Ford model BB
-Beute Ford model V8-51
-Beute Tatra 111

German ww2 German Staff Cars

-Horch 81
-Horch 108
-VW 182 Kübelwagen
-VW Schwimmwagen
-Sd.Kfz.2 Kettenkrad
italy ww2 Italian Military trucks
L. Trucks (Autocarro Leggere)
-ОМ-32 Autocarretta da Montagna
-Camioneta SPA TL.37
-Camioneta AS.43
-Fiat 618

Med. Trucks (Autocarro Medio)
-Alfa Romeo 430RE
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-Breda Dovunque-41
-Bianchi Miles
-FIAT-626 NM
-Isotta Fraschini D65
-Isotta Fraschini D80
-SPA Dovunque-35
-SPA Dovunque-41
-SPA AS.37
-Autocarro Dovunque SPA 41/42

H. Trucks (Autocarro Gigante)
-Fiat 661
-Lancia Ro
-Lancia 3Ro
-Lancia EsaRo
-ОМ Taurus
-ОМ Titano
-Autocarreta Mod.35
-Autocarri Unificati Ursus

italy ww2 Artillery tractors
-Breda 51
-Breda 52
-Breda 61 (licenced SdKfz-7)
-Fiat-SPA T.L.37
-Pavesi Р4.31 (L140)
-Fiat 727 - half-track artillery tractor
-SPA TM40 - wheeled artillery tractor

italy ww2 Staff Cars -Alfa Romeo 6С2500 Coloniale
-Fiat 508M/CM Ballila
-Fiat 1100 (1937) (Balilla-1100 Coloniale)
-Lancia Aprilia Coloniale
-Bianchi VM 6C
-Fiat 2800 CMC

italy ww2 Motorcycles
-Benelli 500 M36/VLM
-Bianchi Supermil 500
-Gilera 500 LTE
-Moto Guzzi Alce/Trialce
-Volugrafo Aermoto 125
Japan ww2 IJA/IJN ww2 vehicles
-Toyota 4x4 Su-Ki (Amphibious truck)
-Isuzu Type 94 truck
-Type 94 6-Wheeled Truck
-Type 95 Mini-truck
-Type 97 4-Wheeled Truck
-Type 1 6-Wheeled Truck
-Type 2 Heavy Truck
-Toyota KB/KC Truck
-Nissan 80 Truck
-Nissan 180 Truck
-Amphibious Truck "Su-Ki"

Japan ww2 Tractors
-Type 92 5 t Prime Mover "I-Ke"
-Type 98 6 t Prime Mover "Ro-Ke"
-Type 92 8 t Prime Mover "Ni-Ku"
-Type 95 13 t Prime Mover "Ho-Fu"
-Type 94 4 t Prime Mover "Yo-Ke"
-Type 98 4 t Prime Mover "Shi-Ke"
-Type 96 AA Gun Prime Mover
-Type 98 20 mm AA Machine Cannon Carrier
-Type 98 Half-tracked Prime Mover "Ko-Hi"
-Type 98 20 mm AA Half-Track Vehicle
-Experimental Heavy Gun Tractor Chi-Ke
-Experimental Crawler Truck
-T G Experimental Crawler Truck
-Fordson Prime Mover
-Pavessi Gun Tractor
-50 hp Gun Tractor
-Komatsu 3 ton Tractor
-Light Prime Mover
-Clarton Prime Mover
-Holt 30

Japan ww2 Staff cars
-Toyota AA/AB/AC
-Type 93 6/4-Wheeled Passenger Car
-Type 95 Passenger Car "Kurogane"
-Type 98 Passenger Car
-Model 97 Nissan Staff Car, Nissan 70

Japan ww2 Motorcycles
-Rikuo Motorcycle
-Rikuo Type 97 Motorcycle
-Rikuo Type 93 side car

Japan ww2 Misc.
-Type 94 Ambulance
-Type 94 Repair Vehicle

Cold War