37 mm gun M3

US 37 mm anti-tank gun of the Second World War.
History, development, service, specifications, statistics, pictures and 3D-model.

37mm gun M3
On frozen ground it was necessary for the gunners to lie across the trail legs of the 37 mm gun M3 to prevent it sliding backwards when fired.

37mm gun M3
Type: Anti-tank gun


During World War One the US Army adopted a 37 mm French gun as a trench cannon and anti-tank weapon. As time went on its performance fell behind in the race, until it became necessary to produce something better. The 37mm M3 gun was designed shortly before the war, being frankly based on the successful German PAK 36 design.

The weapon was quite conventional, having a split-trail two-wheeled carriage with small shield, but the breech was entirely hand-operated; semi-automatic operation was much more the rule in anti-tank weapons, and its omission here is quite inexplicable. In spite of this, a skilled detachment could reach a rate of fire of some 20 rounds a minute.

In order to stability of the weapon in action, firing segments were attached to the axle; these were lowered to the ground and the gun pulled across them so that the wheels were lifted from contact with the ground and the gun was then supported on the segments and the trail-end spades. While theoretically sound, these devices – popular in American design circles at that time – merely add complication and work, and study of a number of photographs of the gun in action show that the segments were rarely used.

The principal employment of the 37 mm gun was in the Pacific theater of war. By the time the United States entered the war the 37 mm was outmatched by the tanks it would have met in Europe; but the Japanese tanks were smaller and vulnerable to the 37 mm throughout the war, so that it retained its usefulness.

An interesting point was the provision of case shot for this gun, a shotgun-like round filled with lead balls for close-range anti-personnel firing. It was also found to be an excellent method of clearing away jungle foliage and undergrowth to clear fields of fire and flush out snipers.

Pictures of US 37 mm anti-tank gun M3

Specifications US 37 mm anti-tank gun M3


US 37mm gun M3 Specification
Typelight anti-tank gun
Length 1,979m (6 ft 10.5 in)
Weight travelling 410.4 kg (912 lb, in action 990 lb)
Calibre 37 mm (1.45 in)
Length of barrel82.5 in
Rifling 12 grooves, uniform right hand, 1 turn in 25 calibres
Elevation -10° to +15°
Traverse 30°; right and left
Muzzle velocity AP 885 m (2,900 ft) /sec
Maximum range effective: 457 m (500 yards); maximum: 12,850 yrds
Shell weight APC 0,86 kg (1.92 lb), HE 1.16 lb
Rate of fire maximum 20 rounds/min

Penetration mm at 30° armor plates:

100 yds?
500 yds 46-60mm (different sources)
1000 yds 25.4mm (42-54mm at 0°)
1500 yds -
2000 yds -

Service statistics:

US 37mm gun M3 figures
Production c.1939 - 1945
Price per unit?
Total production figure 18,702

Animated 3D model of US 37 mm anti-tank gun M3

References and literature

The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)
The Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of World War II (Ian V.Hogg)
Infanterie im 2. Weltkrieg (J.B.King, John Batchelor)
Die Geschichte der Artillerie (John Batchelor, Ian Hogg)
Artillery in Colour 1920-1963 (Ian Hogg)

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