Disney’s Stop That Tank!

boys rifle

Our friends at Forgotten Weapons published the Boys anti-tank rifle training film created by Disney for the Canadian Army. It is pretty hilarious. It starts off with Hitler complaining to the devil that they can’t win the war because of the Boys anti-tank rifle, and ends with a private making out with his Boys rifle under the sheets (hoplophilia?) …

According to Wikipedia the movie was made because the troops loathed the rifle. I can just imagine a General who never saw the Western Front deciding that his troops should crawl within 100 yards of a light tank, with a huge rifle, to shoot it in precisely the right places (joints, treads) and at precisely the right angle in order to disable it … only to find it had its armor upgraded and the bullets were useless against it, all the while its gunner is taking aim at them.

… increases in vehicle armour during the Second World War left the Boys largely ineffectual as an anti-tank weapon. A shortened version was issued in 1942 for issue to airborne forces and saw use in Tunisia, where it proved completely ineffective because of the reduced velocity caused by the shortened barrel.[6] The Boys was so unpopular that the Canadian government commissioned a Disney training film, Stop That Tank, to oppose the rifle’s “jinx” reputation.

The weapon was standard issue to British and Commonwealth forces which attempted to stem the Japanese onslaught through the Pacific theatre. At Milne Bay, the weapon proved completely ineffective. It also failed to stop Japanese tanks in Malaya. Some accounts claim that the 1/14th Punjabis knocked out two light Japanese tanks at a roadblock.[6] This claim, however, has never been substantiated from the Japanese side.

I remember my grandfather, an Army captain during WWII, telling me about his anti-armor training. He and his fellow officers were very skeptical about many of the techniques they were taught.

 

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • bbmg

    The popularity of large bore anti-materiel rifles with modern armed forces hints that there was a role to be played by the Boys on the WW2 battlefield, however stopping a tank was clearly not one of them. If a 37mm anti tank gun was already unsuitable for the role in the first years of the war, then clearly a 0.55″ rifle wasn’t going to be up to the job.

    My deepest respect to those who brought those guns to their shoulder in action regardless.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      There probably was a role, but I don’t think they realized it and did not utilize it in that role. Unlike our accurate .50 cal anti-material rifles that descended from those anti-tank guns, they are scoped for accurate long range use, have improved ammunition, not punishing on the shooter and can be broken down for easy transport.

      The fact that the Boys was only shot from and transported with vehicles, unless in an emergency, shows how ineffective it must have been. Who is going to drive up in a Jeep to within 100 yards of an armored tank? A VERY brave or very crazy person!

  • M.M.D.C.

    Jiminy Cricket, that thing must have been deafening!

    • BillC

      WHAT?!

  • scw

    These rifle must be very bad if you cannot even stop a japnese light tank.

  • Lee

    Wow. This thing is 40 lbs fully loaded, and it’s totally useless. I can see why the Canadian infantry hated this thing.

  • Lance

    Useless weapon only against light Panzer 1 and 2s they could damage them Larger panzers Mk 3 and MK4 would not knock them out little lone the Tiger or Panther tanks. The M-2 is a better anti armor concept to infantry. All of these went away with the arrival of the Bazooka and panzer Shrek.

  • Casey

    watching the recoil of that beast makes my spine feel compressed.

  • Alexander

    This vid has been on youtube for ages. It’s kinda striking how two bloggers I follow, and I dont follow many, discovered this video just this week.

  • http://postmodernpulp.com/ Jack Badelaire

    To be fair, most of the European armies had similar weapons, and they were all largely ineffective by the time the war kicked into high gear. The Germans had one, the Panzerbüchse 39, that fired just a 7.92mm bullet behind a HUGE powder load, and it had a tiny tear gas pellet in the bullet that was supposed to drive the crew out of the vehicle (Hah!). Others, such as Finland’s 20mm Lahti-39, were more effective, but not by all that much. Also consider that, say, during the battle for France in 1940, I believe only one Boys rifle was issued per platoon (or maybe only one per company?). So there’s never going to be a time when a vehicle is going to be worrying about more than one or two AT rifles.

    I think using such weapons for killing trucks, armored cars, and other light vehicles seems like a far better option than trying to stop any tank made after, say, 1938. My latest novel actually has a scene where a number of Boys rifle teams ambush some Italian Autoblinda 41s in North Africa.

    Ultimately, at the start of the war, no one had a suitable infantry-portable anti-tank weapon, and even later on, the bazooka and PIAT also required getting uncomfortably close to the target in order to score a hit. Certainly beats one of the British Home Guard’s “recommended” anti-tank tactics, which involved somehow climbing onto the enemy tank with a hammer and a Mills bomb,then banging on the hatch with the hammer until one of the Jerries kindly opened it so you could toss in your grenade.

    • Madeleine Goddard

      The Boys was the standard British infantry platoon anti-tank weapon, operated by a two-man detachment within then platoon HQ. This gave 3 x Boys per company, with the British having 4 companies to a battalion. The rifle sections (squads) were equipped with anti-tank grenades from 1940. It was mandatory to wear earplugs when firing it because of the very sharp report. The weapon was used successfully in North Africa by the Long Range Desert Group and SAS for sniping parked Axis aircraft on airfields, so it did have some utility. From 1942-3 the Boys was replaced by the PIAT ATk projector, another odd weapon, which lasted until c1951 when the UK bought the US 3.5″ Super Bazooka during the Korean War.

  • Andrey Martim

    That was fun… I had never saw one of these Disney WWII propagandas, so it was new to me… Very nice.

  • noob

    huh. I wonder how many people didn’t properly torque the muzzle brake end plate and sent it down range? probably not many, but you’d never live it down if you did.