Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tank Gunnery 1976, Part 6, Moving Truck, Coax Machine Gun

The second to last target on Table VIII is a moving truck panel.  As with the moving tank target, we had practiced tracking moving targets more than anyone else in the battalion.  We were ready to perforate the track mounted panel as soon as we saw it.  But the real preparation for this engagement was done by my loader, Gene Pierce.  The M73 coax machine gun was a reliable weapon in general, but in my experience was finicky about dirt and ammo feed.

The night before Table VIII Pierce cleaned our coax to whatever coax perfection can be.  By the time we reached the moving truck target, we had fired the coax twice in engagements one and four, firing 100 rounds at each firing point.  We had 100 rounds to hit the moving truck, which is plenty, unless the gunner gets interrupted and has to re-acquire his sight picture.

We were tense rolling from the .50 cal. engagement looking for the moving panel.  We also knew pretty much where the panel would be since the moving panels are in roughly the same area of the range.  Pierce was scanning with me, mostly to show the grader we were following procedure, but he was ready to drop down the moment we saw the target and ready to keep the coax firing if anything went wrong.

I saw the target move.  Announced "Gunner! Coax! Moving Truck!"  We stopped smoothly as I swung the turret to the moving panel.  Pierce yelled "Up!"  Merc said "On the way!"  Pierce lightly held the belt of 7.62mm ammo as it fed into the M73 machine gun.  Tracers sailed winked out of sight as the passed through the panel.  Merc knew he was on target and burned the 100 rounds in short bursts.  I announced "Cease fire! Driver move out."

Now we were heading to the last engagement.  The last round on Table VIII is still one of my favorite all-time moments in the Army.

In the meantime, an instructional video on the M73 coax machine gun.

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