‘Stop That Tank’ taught vehicle-killing skills
by MATTHEW MOSS
In early 1942, Disney produced an instructional film for the Canadian Army. Its subject — how to properly deploy the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle.
This was perhaps unsettling, but hardly unusual. Throughout World War II, Disney created instructional and propaganda films for the U.S. and allied governments.
The Boys film begins with a classic Disney-style animated short in which Hitler and his tanks attack a sleepy village, only to be repulsed by a squad of camouflaged soldiers and their armor-piercing Boys Rifles.
Introduced in 1937, the Boys was widely issued to British and Commonwealth forces during the first two years of the war. The Boys fired a .55-caliber round that was slightly larger than the classic .50-caliber round. It featured a top-mounted, five-round magazine.
In the late 1930s, the Boys might have been an effective tank-killer. The .55-caliber round could penetrate most light and medium tank armor out to 300 yards. But as Axis armor improved, the Boys grew obsolete.
Production ended in 1942, but Allied armies continued to use the Boys for tasks other than killing main battle tanks. Shooting up light tanks or other vehicles, for instance.
In any event, the 1942 film shows trainees how to load, aim and fire the rifle — and how to target a tank’s weaknesses. There’s a cutaway animation of the rifle’s internal workings and a separate sequence on how to clean and care for the weapon.
The slightly more effective PIAT replaced the Boys starting in 1942. The PIAT, however, did not get the Disney treatment.