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Thread: Req.: TOE involving M56 Scorpion 90mm SPG

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    Senior Member Steak-Sauce's Avatar
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    Default Req.: TOE involving M56 Scorpion 90mm SPG

    I'm looking for a table of organization and equipment for US airborne units equipped with the M56 Scorpion self-propelled anti-tank gun. Ca. late 1950s to mid-60s? Wikipedia and other sources say it was used more or less only by the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, as well as the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and saw service in Vietnam.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    Senior Member tercio67's Avatar
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    Maybe e-mail this guy?
    http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/m56spat.html



    The Army deployed the 173rd ABN BDE from Japan to Vietnam in 1965. This brigade was the only American Army brigade to have its own organic tank support, D company 16th Armor.

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    **** you 20122. how goes does gaz type drunk? dricl. man Hellfish's Avatar
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    ^ Blashphemer

    I won't claim to be an expert, but I've looked into these before for a game design I've been tinkering with. The M56 was deployed in the assault gun platoons of the combat support companies in Airborne Battle Groups with pentomic divisional organizations. It was also available to leg infantry battle groups at some point, but as a substitute for ENTAC jeeps or M47 tanks (M47s were apparently retained in assault gun platoons through the 60s, at least in CONUS). In '63 and '64, when the 82d and 101st became ROAD divisions, I'm not sure how the M56s were organized and issued, but I suspect they were retained by the individual battalions in either HHC or weapons companies. Six guns per platoon seems to be the standard.

    There was also an independent M56 unit, D Company of the 66th Armor that was alerted for Cuba in '62. It was based at Fort Campbell, but I don't have much info about it beyond that. As far as I can tell, it only existed until the 82d and 101st became ROAD divisions, and I suspect it was absorbed into the 101st or disbanded entirely. The 66th Armor histories I've seen don't mention this company at all, but a phone roster at Fort Campbell from Feb '62 confirms its existence, though it also indicated that is was possibly equipped with M41 Walker Bulldogs.
    Last edited by Hellfish; 12-26-2012 at 02:26 PM.

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    Senior Member Steak-Sauce's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies!

    As a matter of fact did I already stumble upon both the website and the video, tercio, but didn't even think about writing a mail. That's probably a good idea.

    Regarding D Company, 16th Armor: I've read about 15 SPATs altogether assigned to this unit, in addition to a platoon of M106 mortar carriers. So maybe six M56 in two platoons, plus the remaining three to be used as reserve in the HQ element? Would that make sense?

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    **** you 20122. how goes does gaz type drunk? dricl. man Hellfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steak-Sauce View Post
    Thanks for the replies!

    As a matter of fact did I already stumble upon both the website and the video, tercio, but didn't even think about writing a mail. That's probably a good idea.

    Regarding D Company, 16th Armor: I've read about 15 SPATs altogether assigned to this unit, in addition to a platoon of M106 mortar carriers. So maybe six M56 in two platoons, plus the remaining three to be used as reserve in the HQ element? Would that make sense?
    Disregard the warning about that website - it's not the one I was thinking of. For some reason I confused it with the Dynamic Para website, run by Sparky, but they are two separate websites. This one is cool.

    Tank company TO&E in the Vietnam era was 17 tanks to a company - three platoons of five tanks, plus two in the HQ. It might be that the HQ didn't use M56s, given the dispersed nature of the operations. The HQ was probably too busy supporting the platoons attached to the airborne battalions to use them, and possibly handed them over to the brigade motor pool as sources of spares or as replacement vehicles. Being that there were only 15 M56s in Vietnam, spares were probably difficult to come by and it wouldn't be unthinkable to cannibalize two superfluous vehicles to save several weeks fighting the supply chain from Guam and CONUS. The mortar platoon was possible a mortar section of two vehicles. A mortar platoon was usually a battalion-level asset; mortar sections would be more fitting at the company level. But D Co 16th was a pretty unique organization in Vietnam. IIRC they turned their M56s in for surplus Marine M50 Ontos, M113 ACAVs and I think even M48A3s at various times.
    Last edited by Hellfish; 12-27-2012 at 11:36 PM.

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    **** you 20122. how goes does gaz type drunk? dricl. man Hellfish's Avatar
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    For some reason I thought Tercio had posted the combatreform.com site, which was the one I was warning about. The AFV Database he actually did link to is great.

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