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T34 Calliope

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The Rocket Launcher T34 (Calliope) was a tank-mounted multiple rocket launcher used by the United States Army during World War II. The launcher was placed atop the M4 Sherman, with its prominent vertical side frames anchored to the turret's sides, and fired a barrage of 4.5 in (114 mm) M8 rockets from 60 launch tubes. It was developed in 1943; small numbers were produced and were used by various US armor units in 1944–45. It adopts its name from the musical instrument "Calliope", also known as the steam organ, which had similar parallel or clustered pipes.

Variants


  • Rocket Launcher T34 (Calliope) – Version carrying 60 4.5 in (114 mm) rockets in arrangement of a group of 36 tubes on the top, and a pair jettisonable groups of 12 tubes (24 tubes of jettisonable groups) on the bottom (Not jettisonable from M4A1 Sherman variant). A large support beam bolted to the left and right turret cheeks supported the weapon placed 1 meter above the turret. The rack was physically connected to the barrel of the M4’s 75mm gun using an arm. This arm was connected to the rack via a pivoting joint and clamped to the gun with a split ring. This allowed the missile launcher to follow the same elevation and depression arc of +25 to -12 Degrees.
  • Each rocket was armed with a 4.5 inch (114 mm) fin-stabilized projectile armed with High-Explosive that had the same explosive yield as a 105mm Howitzer, and had a maximum range of 4100 yards (4 km).
    The range was increased to 5250 yards (5 km). The rockets were fired electronically using cables that were inserted through the commander's hatch. The 75mm main gun could not be fired once the rocket launcher has been attached. This caused the tank crews to modify the launcher's installation in the field, thereby allowing the main gun to fire albeit at a reduced elevation for the launcher . Later models of the launcher also had flame deflectors to help prevent rocket exhaust from entering the engine compartment.
    • Rocket Launcher T34E1 (Calliope) – Same as T34 but groups of 12 jettisonable tubes replaced by groups of 14 tubes.
    • Rocket Launcher T34E2 (Calliope) – Caliber of rockets increased from 4.5 in (114 mm) to 7.2 in (183 mm), number of tubes remains at 60. Saw combat in 1944–1945.

    Service history

    Although Calliopes were originally manufactured before D-Day and were envisioned for bunker-busting duties on the beaches, the proposal was dropped due to the tank's high center of gravity which makes its transportation unsteady. Thirty M4s of the 743rd Tank Battalion had the T34 launchers installed to assist a planned push by the 30th Infantry Division in December 1944. The German Ardennes offensive stopped this plan, and the launchers were subsequently removed and not reinstalled on tanks until February of 1945 with General Patton'ss army. In March of 1945, when Patton's army was pushing through the Saarland in Western Germany, the launchers did manage to see some usage in armored divisions.
    In 1945, it was used in various actions by the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 12th, and 14th Armored Divisions.The General Board, United States forces, European Theater. (1945) Armored Special Equipment, P. 41-42 https://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/documents/carl/eto/eto-052.pdf Although seeing limited action, it was effective as a weapon for psychological warfare. The noise generated by launches was enough to scare enemy soldiers.

    See also

    • T40 Whizbang – a similar turret-mount MRL launcher for the Sherman, with larger calibre (183 mm) projectiles.
    • Matilda "Hedgehog" – Australian armoured fighting vehicle using spigot mortars.
    • Sherman Tulip – British Sherman with two "60 lb" 3-inch rockets mounted on turret.
    • Mattress – British multiple 3-inch rocket launcher used by Canadian troops
    • Katyusha – Soviet truck-mounted rocket launcher
    • Panzerwerfer – German 15 cm Nebelwerfer barrage rocket system, on an armored half-track or its likely replacement
    • List of U.S. Army Rocket Launchers By Model Number

    Sources

    • Hunting, David. The New Weapons of the World Encyclopedia. New York City: Diagram Visual Information Ltd., 2007.
    • Nash, Mark (January 27, 2018). "Rocket Launcher T34 'Calliope'". Online Tank Museum.
    • Green, Michael. American Tanks and AFVs of World War II. Osprey Publishing, 2014,

    External links

  • Military Factory article

  • Category:Self-propelled artillery of the United States
    Category:World War II self-propelled artillery
    Category:Self-propelled rocket launchers
    Category:World War II artillery of the United States
    Category:Multiple rocket launchers of the United States
    Category:M4 Sherman tanks
     
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