British "75mm AT gun"...

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phylo_roadking
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British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by phylo_roadking » 07 May 2009 15:48

In a number of threads on the BoB and Sealion, discussion of the "legendary" 75mm Antitank Gun has arisen. The Home Guard eventually were given these, but in mid-1940 they were listed at a number of emplacements along the South Coast of England, and occur in listings for various strongpoints through the Home Counties...

The possibility has been raised that these were the 1,000 or so American-supplied QF 75mm guns in the French style that formed some units divisional arty in mid-1940 immediately after Dunkirk, but firing solid AP shot...but just today I've come across reference that the "75mm AT" MAY have been a domestic creation after all...
The introduction of the new 3.7-inch guns (AA guns - my note) resulted in the mountings from existing 3-inch guns being required. This left the War Office with a surplus of several hundred 3-inch anti-aircraft gun barrels and breach mechanisms; also stockpiled were large numgers of gun carriages from the vintage First World War field gun, the 4.5-inch (35pdr) Field Howitzer.

These factors, together with an identified need for an anti-tank capability, provided part of the catalyst for the creation of a new weapon. In essence it was a "mongrel" creation manufactured from spare parts of other guns. The 4.5-inch Field Howitzer gun carriages were overhauled and given new wheels with pneumatic tyres, while the barrels of the old 3-inch A/A guns were shortened and mounted on the reconditioned carriages. This whole piece was then redesignated as the 75mm anti-tank gun.
Duty Without Honour , David Orr (the history of the Ulster Home Guard)

In the local example, several units of the UHG took possession of 75mm AT guns at the end of 1942, as the RAF Regiment in the province was withdrawn for more active operational roles - North Africa, Italy etc. As the Home Guard took over responsiblity for guarding aerodromes here, they ALSO took over the two 75mm AT guns that provided the A/T defences on each airfield. (Later, as more became available from the UK, an extra 15 were issued to bolster the Home Guard defences of Belfast and Derry City)

At THIS point I'm presuming a similar process occured in the rest of the UK; historically from late 1940/early 1941 the Home Guard took over more and more "base establishment" duties - manning coastal defences, airfield defences, AA batteries etc. ...and that AFTER a Home Guard unit took over a defence responsibility from a Regular unit going abroad, the weapons they left behind...allocated to a location rather than the unit...appeared on the roster of the respective Home Guard unit.
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 07 May 2009 16:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by phylo_roadking » 07 May 2009 16:20

Going by the description above of the "mongrel" weapon, a combination of earlier parts on modern pneumatic tyres....makes me think THIS unidentified weapon in the hands of a Home Guard unit is possibly the legendary 75mm AT gun...

Image

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by nuyt » 08 May 2009 09:56

Hi Phylo,
INteresting story!
But I have another explanation, though I am by no means an expert of WW2 British units and such.
Is the gun in your picture not more likely the 75mm Field Gub M1917, the US built 75mm versin of the 18 pdr, of which no less than 895 were supplied to Britain during WW2?
The Brits called it the Ordnance QF 75mm on Carriage, 75mm /18 pr Mark 1PA. It was used by units in Britain alone, though some were supplied on to Greece.
Chamberlain and Gander show some pics of a similar piece as yours (Light and Medium gun booklet).
If you want I can scan.
Also to back this theory up; in your story I miss the link between 3 inch barrels and the result: 75mm. That does not make sense. You cant rebore from 76,2mm to 75mm. The other way round yes.
AFAIK the Brits used only one 75mm field pieve, the US built one. So, in the hands of the Home Guard, this might have been called the Anti-tank gun?

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by nuyt » 08 May 2009 10:16

The pics
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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by phylo_roadking » 08 May 2009 15:41

Nuyt, thanks for the pics! As I said up the thread, I was aware of the US-origin QF 75mms, these were the ones used as regular Army divisional arty for a time in 1940. I always attributed all the comments re "75mm A/T" I'd found as meaning these, until that passage above indicated a second type of 75mm in service. But I'm both glad to be corrected about the original pic AND to at last get pics of the US item :D

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by Ironmachine » 08 May 2009 19:59

Were these guns refitted prior to being sent to Great Britain? Because Finland bought 200 during the Winter War, though they arrived after it had finished, and they were had wooden wheels and were in pretty bad shape:
Finland purchased 200 of these guns and almost 209,000 shots for them from United States during Winter War. The acquired ammunition included at least HE-shells, HE-shells with reduced propellant charge and AP-shells. However the guns were not delivered until after the Winter War in summer of 1940. Again the guns were very cheap, but they also proved to be in very poor shape. Practically all were in desperate need of repairs and maintenance before they could be issued.
Year 1941 US military replaced the original wooden wheels with steel hoops of those guns still remaining in use with new ones, which had pneumatic tires. During early part of WW2 United States delivered these guns to many friendly states (such as Great Britain and Philippines) and the guns also saw some use in Pacific with US troops until rest of the guns were issued to training use only.
http://www.jaegerplatoon.net/ARTILLERY3.htm

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by phylo_roadking » 08 May 2009 20:15

I-M...I'm not sure; there are certainly mentions of them being in the UK in mid-1940...which obviously pre-dates "Year 1941 US military replaced the original wooden wheels with steel hoops of those guns still remaining in use with new ones, which had pneumatic tires." It would be interesting to know what condition they arrived in the UK...

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by dor1941 » 09 May 2009 02:19

I suspect nuyt is correct.
I raised the question of some stop-gap 75mm guns on 18pdr carraige in another thread in looking for confirmation of their use by British and Dominion anti-tank regiments in the Middle East in Nov 41. The casual reference to 18pdrs in those regiments in virtually all published sources on Crusader-including OH's-has obscured the existance of these modified guns and the question of their combat employment in the ME. Murphy in the NZ OH mentions his regiment being partially equipped with 75mm guns before Crusader. I believe their distribution was much greater than second-line units in the UK.

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by phylo_roadking » 09 May 2009 02:44

Murphy in the NZ OH mentions his regiment being partially equipped with 75mm guns before Crusader.
it would be interesting to establish where these came from. The Australians and New Zealanders ended up with some strange A/T stuff in the desert - the Aussies having Blacker Bombards, for example, possibly from airfield defences in the Canal Zone...and remember, the RAF Regiment was using "75mm AT guns" for airfield defence :wink: The Australians were also "enthusiastic" users of the No.74 ST Grenade, the "Sticky Bomb"...when the British Army wouldn't touch it with a bargepole...

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by nuyt » 09 May 2009 09:51

The KNIL, the Dutch East Indies army also received a batch of 48 or 50 of these guns in early 1942.
They were used all over Java at fixed positions. They had the rubber tyres as shown in the other pics.

The guns lacked sights or any optical instruments. So they were useless as divisional artillery, but placed in prepared defences, where they were to be used in the direct fire role.

If the guns supplied to Britain also lacked sights, that may be the reason they were deployed as AT guns. Note that in the only pic we have so far of the gun during manoevres, the gun appears to be in the direct fire or possibly anti-tank role. Of course it may also have been a moral boosting measure, after Dunkirk, to name the guns "Anti-tank" guns.

Enclosed a rare (Japanese) pic of one of the Java guns, in the defences of the city of Semarang.
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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by nuyt » 09 May 2009 10:01

dor1941 wrote:I suspect nuyt is correct.
Murphy in the NZ OH mentions his regiment being partially equipped with 75mm guns before Crusader.
Could these not have been Italian guns, captured in the Western Desert?

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by nuyt » 09 May 2009 10:03

If the guns were also issued to the Greek Army in 1941 by the British, than they must have been shipped through Egypt or at least the Eastern Med. That makes it possible that another batch was used in North Africa at the same time.

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by Njorl » 09 May 2009 15:16

nuyt wrote:Also to back this theory up; in your story I miss the link between 3 inch barrels and the result: 75mm. That does not make sense. You cant rebore from 76,2mm to 75mm. The other way round yes.
Slightly off-topic: it is possible to rebore 76,2 to 75 mm. In 1920's Poland rebored and rechambered several hundreds ex-Russian 3 inch M. 1902 field cannons to use French 75 mm rounds (the same as used by Schneider's Mle. 1897 field cannon) - such guns were called 75 mm cannon wz. 02/26 (informally putilovian or orthodox) and were used in IR field guns platoons, horse artillery battalions (German Abteilung would be more suitable term) and some armoured trains. They simply put some sort of boot into barrel that slightly modified the calibre.

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by David W » 10 May 2009 00:03

Slightly off-topic: it is possible to rebore 76,2 to 75 mm.
You just beat me to it!

Yes, by the insertion of a sleeve.

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Re: British "75mm AT gun"...

Post by dor1941 » 10 May 2009 01:20

nuyt wrote:
dor1941 wrote:I suspect nuyt is correct.
Murphy in the NZ OH mentions his regiment being partially equipped with 75mm guns before Crusader.
Could these not have been Italian guns, captured in the Western Desert?


All of the action reports for Murphy's regiment-7th NZ Anti-Tank-refer only to 18pdrs and 2pdrs. Italian 75/27 guns were used by British and Polish troops in Tobruk at the time, but apparently not outside the fortress.

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