The Evolution and Demise of U.S. Tank Destroyer Doctrine in the Second World War
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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This study examines the U.S. Armys use of tank destroyers in World War II, particularly the origins and evolution of tank destroyer doctrine, changes in training at the tank destroyer school at Camp Hood, and selection of weapons systems taken to the field. The author will punctuate these events with three distinct battles that tank destroyers played a predominate role in and evaluate their successes and failures. Tank destroyers as a branch are unusual because they originated out of fear of an immense German armored threat, based on the early days of the war, particularly the German invasion of France in 1940. Once the U.S. Army found itself facing German armor, American forces found there was little practicality in using tank destroyers as the initial doctrine prescribed. This was not due to failures in the tank destroyers themselves or their doctrine, but changes in German armor and its employment. With the absence of large German armor formations, heaver German tanks, U.S. Army commanders at all levels, employed tank destroyers as they saw fit. Their nondoctrinal employment is usually interpreted as incorrect and a waste of tank destroyer assets. The author contends that this nondoctrinal employment was instead an evolution in the development of tank destroyers and necessary to allow the branch to grow from its peacetime concept to the realities of the battlefield.
- Combat Vehicles