Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- As a 68-ton of steel, tracked M1A1 main battle tank rolls down a street, either patrolling or fighting in a highly threatening urban terrain, the crew must use their machine guns to take out insurgents on foot.
It’s either the mounted M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun or the mounted and coaxial M240G medium machine gun that will pick off individual threats. The tank’s main gun can fire off a high explosive round toward a single small target but is one small target worth a round that can take out a building? A round that disperses like a shotgun blast is being used today on urban terrain. The brutal effects of the round were recently experienced in the Combat Center’s training area.
Third Platoon, Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, fired M1028 120 mm Canister Rounds Sept. 19 at Combat Center’s Range 500.
Similar to a shotgun round, Canister Rounds are cartridges made for the M1A1 main battle tanks, which are comprised of approximately 1,100 tungsten balls, three-eights of an inch in diameter, which are dispersed when fired from the main gun. The fuse-less rounds disperse the balls in a cone-like shape, increasing its impact area as the distance toward the target increases.
The anti-personnel round provides effective and lethal reaction against assaulting infantry who could be armed with hand-held anti-tank and automatic weapons.
Delta Company’s Third Platoon got a chance to experience the destruction the Canister Rounds can cause to a target.
“Third Platoon has already executed their gunnery qualification,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Duvall, battalion master gunner.
“They are ready to set out with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Before they go I wanted to give the platoon a chance to test out the rounds. They have never seen the effects of them.”
Third Platoon lined up in their respective tanks at the firing line to blast off one canister round per crew. The targets were wooden silhouettes 100-meters-away, 200-meters-away and 300-meters away, spread out approximately 30 meters apart, laterally.
The rounds demolished the 100-meter target and left the 200- and 300-meter targets riddled with holes from the tungsten shower.
“It was like a powerful shotgun blast,” said Cpl. Windell Brackenridge, gunner, Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion. “Anything in front of the tanks doesn’t stand a chance with these rounds.”
“Additionally, this round will significantly increase the tank’s lethality and enhance the tank crew’s survivability,” said Duvall. “This additional capability will help the [main battle] tank survive rocket-propelled grenade ambushes and fully support friendly infantry assaults.”