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Tank Battalion Maintenance Function

Excerpted from War Department Field Manual
FM 17-33 "Tank Battalion," December 1944


I. Organization and Function
The tank battalion is equipped and trained to perform maintenance to include second echelon, and to accomplish the battlefield recovery of its own disabled vehicles. The battalion maintenance platoon, however, must be prepared to do third echelon maintenance, especially during combat. The performance of third echelon repairs at the expense of first and second echelon maintenance and replacement of parts must be avoided. Preventive maintenance is the primary mission of all maintenance elements within the battalion.

II. Battalion Motor Officer (S-4)
The tank battalion motor officer is a member of the battalion commander's special staff. He is directly responsible to the battalion commander for the recovery and repair of disabled vehicles. As a special staff officer he is an adviser and supervisor to the company maintenance officers. He should develop a high standard of operation and maintenance throughout the battalion by exercising close technical supervision.

II. Maintenance Operations
  A. See TM 9-2810.

  B. On the march, company maintenance sections follow their respective companies. The battalion maintenance platoon marches in the rear of the column, just ahead of the rear guard. It recovers and brings with it any disabled vehicle which is beyond the capabilities of the company maintenance section but within its own power to repair. If the damage is too great, the vehicle is turned over to the ordnance maintenance battalion.

  C. IN COMBAT. Because of the great mobility and long range operations of armored elements, prior planning is necessary to insure efficient maintenance support for the combat troops.

1. In planning an operation consideration must be given to the location of the battalion service park. Whenever possible, it is located to permit the maintenance platoon to make rapid battlefield recovery to a centralized location. The locations of the operating establishment and proposed service parks are designated by the battalion commander and announced in battalion orders.

2. In the early stages of an operation, vehicles are recovered to the operating service park. As the operation progresses and the distance to the service park becomes so great that the recovery elements are unduly hampered, they are notified to move and recovery is effected to the next proposed location farther forward on the axis of evacuation.

  D. To insure maintenance support, second echelon maintenance and recovery plans must be coordinated with the plans of the third echelon maintenance, recovery, and evacuation.

1. Vehicles beyond the scope and facilities of second echelon maintenance are handled in the following order of preference:
a. Recovered to the vehicle collecting point established by the ordnance maintenance battalion, the location of which is announced in division orders, and operated by the ordnance maintenance company (detachment) in support of the combat command.

b. Recovered to the battalion service park or the proposed location if the distance to the operating establishment becomes too great.

2. The ordnance maintenance liason party, operating out of combat command headquarters or the ordnance maintenance company located at the collecting point are notified of:

a. Type of vehicle.

b. Exact location.

c. Extent of damage.

d. Pertinent phases of the tactical situation.

IV. Evacuation
  A. Evacuation is the function of the battalion maintenance battalion, or the maintenance company supporting a separate tank battalion.

  B. The ordnance maintenance battalion evacuates those vehicles which the battalion maintenance platoon cannot readily repair. These vehicles are usually evacuated from the unit service park or collecting point, but in emergencies may be picked up farther forward if the battalion maintenance elements are unable to recover them.

  C. Continuous liason between the ordnance maintenance battalion and the tank battalion maintenance platoon is necessary. This is accomplished through the liason parties sent out by the former, and through efforts of the tank battalion motor officer.