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#1 Rick

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 1919 PM

Was wondering about the hierarchy of tank crews. One can figure out what commander, driver, gunner, and loader(if applicable) basically do. Does one become a loader first then move up? If I was fresh out of army boot camp, what would happen to me if I was assigned to tanks or is there a tank crewman school beforehand? About what is the time span to learn each job? Did each tank company have their own medic?
Thanks. 

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#2 DKTanker

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 1957 PM

 

Was wondering about the hierarchy of tank crews. One can figure out what commander, driver, gunner, and loader(if applicable) basically do. Does one become a loader first then move up? If I was fresh out of army boot camp, what would happen to me if I was assigned to tanks or is there a tank crewman school beforehand? About what is the time span to learn each job? Did each tank company have their own medic?
Thanks. 

 

US Army:  Enlisted personnel who opt for an armor MOS will attend OSUT (One Station Unit Training).  Your first 4-5 weeks will be almost strictly about becoming a soldier and learning basic soldier skills.  Weeks 5-10 your training load will shift toward learning the basics of being an armor crewman, though you will also have some basic skill instruction.  Weeks 11-14 will be almost exclusively armor training to include tank live fire exercises.  Note, this is a general outline as the training needs change from time to time so too the timeline.

 

Once your OSUT training is complete you will be assigned to your new unit.  If the unit is at or near full strength, you'll be assigned as a loader.  If the unit isn't at full strength you'll probably be assigned as a driver.

 

Tank gunners are usually E4 or E5, so from 2-4 years to become a gunner.  Tank Commanders are usually E6, so 6-8 years.  Those are fairly normal time frames but of course needs of the Army, they may be compressed or expanded.

 

Medics haven't been organic to tank companies since about 1980, they are collective at the HQ company.  However, for training and combat, medical teams are assigned to the various line units.


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#3 Tim Sielbeck

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 2003 PM

At my first duty station my crew mates didn't want to be in the turret during the first field exercise I experienced with them.  I told them I was fine riding as gunner so long as that is what I did during gunnery.  They had no objections.


Edited by Tim Sielbeck, 11 April 2018 - 2003 PM.

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#4 Jim Warford

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 2150 PM

As a Tank Platoon Leader in the 1979-1981 time frame, my gunner was a Specialist-5 or "Spec-five" for short. He was a very good gunner who usually was patient with his inexperienced (but very eager) tank commander.
Although at the same (E-5) level as a Sargent, some performance/disciplinary issues kept him from getting the more meaningful 3-stripes to wear on is arm.

As a commander of a COHORT Tank Company, things were different. Somehow I manged to take command of a company of super soldiers. Those were the days...
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#5 Roman Alymov

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 0336 AM

As far as I understand standard career for conscript tank crew member in Soviet and post-Soviet armies (since 1970th, with 3-man tank crews) was “gunner => tank commander”, while driver was not career position. See for example career of Mikhail “Givi” Tolstykh as conscript in Ukrainian army - gunner => tank commander=>applied for professional army NCO but was kicked off because of having speech defect (later became pro-Russian btn commander).

One of our group members (Russian Jew) served as conscript in Israel tank forces as gunner, later joined tank commanders courses but was kicked out back to gunner for the rest of his conscription (he joked during interview with security officer).


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#6 Rick

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 0358 AM

As far as I understand standard career for conscript tank crew member in Soviet and post-Soviet armies (since 1970th, with 3-man tank crews) was “gunner => tank commander”, while driver was not career position. See for example career of Mikhail “Givi” Tolstykh as conscript in Ukrainian army - gunner => tank commander=>applied for professional army NCO but was kicked off because of having speech defect (later became pro-Russian btn commander).

One of our group members (Russian Jew) served as conscript in Israel tank forces as gunner, later joined tank commanders courses but was kicked out back to gunner for the rest of his conscription (he joked during interview with security officer).

Thanks Roman, always interested on "the other side.'


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#7 Rick

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 0359 AM

 

 

Was wondering about the hierarchy of tank crews. One can figure out what commander, driver, gunner, and loader(if applicable) basically do. Does one become a loader first then move up? If I was fresh out of army boot camp, what would happen to me if I was assigned to tanks or is there a tank crewman school beforehand? About what is the time span to learn each job? Did each tank company have their own medic?
Thanks. 

 

US Army:  Enlisted personnel who opt for an armor MOS will attend OSUT (One Station Unit Training).  Your first 4-5 weeks will be almost strictly about becoming a soldier and learning basic soldier skills.  Weeks 5-10 your training load will shift toward learning the basics of being an armor crewman, though you will also have some basic skill instruction.  Weeks 11-14 will be almost exclusively armor training to include tank live fire exercises.  Note, this is a general outline as the training needs change from time to time so too the timeline.

 

Once your OSUT training is complete you will be assigned to your new unit.  If the unit is at or near full strength, you'll be assigned as a loader.  If the unit isn't at full strength you'll probably be assigned as a driver.

 

Tank gunners are usually E4 or E5, so from 2-4 years to become a gunner.  Tank Commanders are usually E6, so 6-8 years.  Those are fairly normal time frames but of course needs of the Army, they may be compressed or expanded.

 

Medics haven't been organic to tank companies since about 1980, they are collective at the HQ company.  However, for training and combat, medical teams are assigned to the various line units.

 

From what little reading about, admittedly WW2 tanks, it seems like back then a driver was a very important position. More so than this ex-sailor would have thought.


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#8 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 0157 AM

They played an important role in keeping Tank Commanders well grounded.


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#9 Deltic

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 1402 PM

 

 

 

Was wondering about the hierarchy of tank crews. One can figure out what commander, driver, gunner, and loader(if applicable) basically do. Does one become a loader first then move up? If I was fresh out of army boot camp, what would happen to me if I was assigned to tanks or is there a tank crewman school beforehand? About what is the time span to learn each job? Did each tank company have their own medic?
Thanks. 

 

US Army:  Enlisted personnel who opt for an armor MOS will attend OSUT (One Station Unit Training).  Your first 4-5 weeks will be almost strictly about becoming a soldier and learning basic soldier skills.  Weeks 5-10 your training load will shift toward learning the basics of being an armor crewman, though you will also have some basic skill instruction.  Weeks 11-14 will be almost exclusively armor training to include tank live fire exercises.  Note, this is a general outline as the training needs change from time to time so too the timeline.

 

Once your OSUT training is complete you will be assigned to your new unit.  If the unit is at or near full strength, you'll be assigned as a loader.  If the unit isn't at full strength you'll probably be assigned as a driver.

 

Tank gunners are usually E4 or E5, so from 2-4 years to become a gunner.  Tank Commanders are usually E6, so 6-8 years.  Those are fairly normal time frames but of course needs of the Army, they may be compressed or expanded.

 

Medics haven't been organic to tank companies since about 1980, they are collective at the HQ company.  However, for training and combat, medical teams are assigned to the various line units.

 

From what little reading about, admittedly WW2 tanks, it seems like back then a driver was a very important position. More so than this ex-sailor would have thought.

 

  Driving with an unsyncronized transmission takes  some coordination and practice. 


Edited by Deltic, 16 April 2018 - 1402 PM.

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#10 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 1536 PM

a good driver is a wonderful thing.  A bad driver is a VERY BAD thing.

The driver has to drive based on a nearly continuous set of instructions relayed by the tank commander (WW2 tank buttoned up) and translate the TC's wishes into something that will work while calculating what the tank itself can do all through a 2"x7" periscope vision block.  It is way harder than tooling down the road with all the hatches open and the seats up.


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#11 rmgill

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 1622 PM

And the TC has to talk on the radio, and the IC and give the gunner directions, and look out for the other side, and trees that may take his head off. And if he's leading the platoon, ALSO give the rest of the platoon orders as they move.

JESUS the workload. First time I tried it playing at war, I think my brain blue screened once or twice.


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#12 Ken Estes

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 0022 AM

You tried playing at war?

 

 

Forget it.


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#13 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 0738 AM

operating a Stuart tank platoon in what amounts to a training exercise is a breathtaking amount of work

The piece in STEEL BEASTS by Harry Yeide (I think I got that right) with the radio traffic is just excellent


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#14 Inhapi

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 0757 AM

on a tangent: is there a "chain of command" in a tank crew. If the TC is incapacitated, who takes over command of the tank  ? (i presume there are rules and procedures for this because this is a critical situation that needs immediate and clear action)


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#15 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 0947 AM

gunner is what I am used to,

everyone else is down in the hull and cant see much

 

I didn't get to finish my earlier comment about the radio stuff.  You can't imagine the isolated and dysfunctional feeling that you get when the comms are down.

Harry's book puts such a good example of how important radios are.  On the older equipment radios are the difference between success and failure.  See France '40


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#16 rmgill

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 1348 PM

You tried playing at war?

 

 

Forget it.

Really? You're going to bitch about this again?

Yes, and I know it was play Ken. That's why I chose that self deprecating term. It's play. I have piles of humility about that fact. However, you can learn things by playing. You should try it. Learning things CAN be fun. You don't ALWAYS have to be super serious Marine Officer with a stick up your backside. 

You obviously know that other folks on this board also re-enact and 'play' with the vintage vehicles. Oddly enough, I know plenty of other veterans who do it and they're fine with it. One of our members who's 'played' at it with me was at Hue city during Tet. So, I really don't give a crap it it offends your sensibilities.


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#17 rmgill

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 1353 PM

Inhapi. It's going to depend on the tank's configuration and doctrine. Some have 3 man turrets, some have 2. When the TC is killed, the workload for the gunner goes up dramatically. Trying to run things in a 2 man turret which means loading the gun some times for the gunner is a LOT of work in addition to the other stuff that has to happen. I'll let the guys who did it for real speak to that doctrinal component.

As to the mechanics of it, the increase in size of ammo is also rather dramatic. For the WWII stuff, early war, projectiles/case were small. You reach down one handed, unclip it and hand it over and run it into the breech. You can almost do it without getting your head inside the turret. Later as the ammo got larger and heavier, its a LOT more work, more bending over, more time away from what's around the vehicle and eyes away from trying to find threats.

 


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#18 Paul G.

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 2056 PM

And the TC has to talk on the radio, and the IC and give the gunner directions, and look out for the other side, and trees that may take his head off. And if he's leading the platoon, ALSO give the rest of the platoon orders as they move.

JESUS the workload. First time I tried it playing at war, I think my brain blue screened once or twice.


Forgetting navigating the platoon, reporting to the Co commander, and calling in artillery support, while managing three nets. Add attached infantry for fun. Company Defense is simple, hasty attack is hard but a deliberate breach is downright complicated.
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#19 shep854

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 0806 AM

In the novel Team Yankee, there's a good depiction of a replacement tank platoon commander's utter confusion while trying to manage a movement to contact.  My brain wanted to lock up just reading it.


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#20 Ken Estes

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 1154 AM

 

You tried playing at war?

 

 

Forget it.

Really? You're going to bitch about this again?

Yes, and I know it was play Ken. That's why I chose that self deprecating term. It's play. I have piles of humility about that fact. However, you can learn things by playing. You should try it. Learning things CAN be fun. You don't ALWAYS have to be super serious Marine Officer with a stick up your backside. 

You obviously know that other folks on this board also re-enact and 'play' with the vintage vehicles. Oddly enough, I know plenty of other veterans who do it and they're fine with it. One of our members who's 'played' at it with me was at Hue city during Tet. So, I really don't give a crap it it offends your sensibilities.

 

Then why all this blather above?  "a stick up your backside" looks like projection to me.


Edited by Ken Estes, 19 April 2018 - 1202 PM.

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