What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

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Damper
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What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Damper » 09 Nov 2018 16:25

I've read a number of different reasons why it was never employed in an anti tank role, the British preferring to use detached 25 pounders instead.
    • The inability of the mount to absorb the recoil when firing at low elevations
    • Lack of an AP round (even though regular HE with the fuze deactivate was found to be effective)
    • Lack of direct fire sights on the gun
    • The large size of the making it difficult to emplace
    • Heavy Anti Aircraft regiments being Army level assets
    .
Are there any additional reasons people might be aware of? Or are some of the reasons above inaccurate?

Also with regards firing at low elevations, my understanding is the gun could depress below 0 degrees unlike a gun such as the American 90 mm Gun M1, so perhaps the issue with the mount is overstated? perhaps it was only a factor with prolonged fire?

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Michael Kenny » 09 Nov 2018 17:03

The UK had a very good series of powerful anti-tank guns capable of defeating German tanks. As every new Uber-panzer was introduced a new type of gun/ammo was introduced that was able deal with it.
Do not confuse the doctrinal decision to stay with the 75mm Sherman with a lack of capable AT guns.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Damper » 09 Nov 2018 20:14

Michael Kenny wrote:
09 Nov 2018 17:03
The UK had a very good series of powerful anti-tank guns capable of defeating German tanks. As every new Uber-panzer was introduced a new type of gun/ammo was introduced that was able deal with it.
Do not confuse the doctrinal decision to stay with the 75mm Sherman with a lack of capable AT guns.
My question is focused on the Anti-Tank applications of the QF 3.7 inch gun. Particularly on it's early marks of carriages, and before it started to utilised in the indirect fire role against ground targets.

So it's purely focused on it's use by the Royal Artillery, not any applications as a tank armament.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkF617 » 09 Nov 2018 23:19

The main reason that I know of is simply that they are anti aircraft guns, they were thetefore deployed and used against the enemy airforces. Britain was short of artillery, of all types, after Dunkirk and couldn't spare large, expensive anti aircraft guns to kill tanks when, except for a few months at the beginning of 1942, Britain had good anti tank guns. It wad during this period that 25 pounders were used as a stand in and were quite capable of destroying any German tank at that point in time. This was an act of desperation as British fire support suffered due to lack of field artillery.
Rommel is famous for using his 8.8cm flak to kill British tanks, both at Arras and in the western desert. He is also famous for complaining that the Desert Airforce relentlessly bombed and strafed his supplies leaving him at a disadvantage. The Desert Airforce may have been less successfull if more anti aircraft guns had been where they should have been rather than killing tanks.
As a last note, although nearly every knocked out tank was attributed to the dreaded "88" the vast majority of tank kills were made by PAK not FLAK.

Thanks

Mark.
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkF617 » 09 Nov 2018 23:25

Towards the end of the war 3.7" guns were used as indirect fire support as the Luftwaffe was no longer a real threat. It was still not considered in the anti tank role as there ware plenty of anti tank guns which despite " common knowlage" could easily deal with Tigers and Panthers.

Thanks

Mark
You know you're British when you drive your German car to an Irish pub for a pint of Belgian beer before having an Indian meal. When you get home you sit on your Sweedish sofa and watch American programs on your Japanese TV.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Michael Kenny » 10 Nov 2018 06:49

MarkF617 wrote:
09 Nov 2018 23:19

As a last note, although nearly every knocked out tank was attributed to the dreaded "88" the vast majority of tank kills were made by PAK not FLAK.
The Flak arm sent specialised 'tank hunting' 8.8cm Units to Normandy and they were a disaster. The lost more guns than tanks claimed.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Damper » 10 Nov 2018 09:26

MarkF617 wrote:
09 Nov 2018 23:25
Towards the end of the war 3.7" guns were used as indirect fire support as the Luftwaffe was no longer a real threat. It was still not considered in the anti tank role as there ware plenty of anti tank guns which despite " common knowlage" could easily deal with Tigers and Panthers.

Thanks

Mark
My understanding is that the 6 pounder anti tank gun didn't enter service in quantity until well into 1942, and that the Two Pounder struggled to engage the later marks of Panzer III's and Panzer IV's. At the same time the 3.7 inch gun was available in large quantities, having received priority for production prior to the war.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Aber » 10 Nov 2018 09:35

Damper wrote:
09 Nov 2018 16:25
I've read a number of different reasons why it was never employed in an anti tank role,
Never is such a strong word.

Some evidence that they were deliberately used in that role at Medenine.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GYC ... ch&f=false

See also

viewtopic.php?p=519018

although the key link at the end is broken.

Overall the main reason seems to be organisational - they were owned by AA units and the British had enough effective AT guns.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 10 Nov 2018 16:05

Damper wrote:
09 Nov 2018 16:25
What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.
Distance.

For the most part, no tanks being in range is the simple and accurate answer. The QF 3.7-inch AA gun was not able to hit enemy tanks 50, 100 or 200 miles away. Remember, the British used the 40mm Bofors as their primary mobile AA gun up in the front line.
Damper wrote:
09 Nov 2018 16:25
I've read a number of different reasons why it was never employed in an anti tank role, the British preferring to use detached 25 pounders instead.
Damper wrote:
09 Nov 2018 20:14
My question is focused on the Anti-Tank applications of the QF 3.7 inch gun. Particularly on it's early marks of carriages, and before it started to utilised in the indirect fire role against ground targets.
In its early life, it was too busy doing its primary role AA to be roled specifically as an ATk weapon. Nevertheless, when it found itself unexpectedly in the frontline and being charged by pantsers, it was used against them.

Later in the war, when there was little Luftwaffe for them to worry about, they got pressed into the field gun role.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 11 Nov 2018 20:49

Hi,

Not for an anti-tank role but how about anti-shipping... :D

This is from WO171/258 - 1 Corps Op Order for Overlord dated 5 May 44:
80 AA Bde will site one HAA Tp on the eastern flank of 3 br Div so that surface targets can be engaged. :idea:
As for anti-tank role earlier in North Africa, you need to have a look at the numbers of AA guns the British had and the area which they had to defend against air attack. For example, for Nov 41 look here:

viewtopic.php?f=56&t=197093

In Cab80/32, I've found a table that gives the Middle East (excluding Iraq and Persia) totals for HAA and LAA guns:

Holdings of 30 Nov.
HAA: 404 (includes 100 guns for Turkey)
LAA: 750

Regards

Tom

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 11 Nov 2018 22:48

Damper wrote:
10 Nov 2018 09:26
My understanding is that the 6 pounder anti tank gun didn't enter service in quantity until well into 1942, and that the Two Pounder struggled to engage the later marks of Panzer III's and Panzer IV's. At the same time the 3.7 inch gun was available in large quantities, having received priority for production prior to the war.
Perhaps you have the data of how many 3.7" AA guns were historically available, where they were located and how many of them could be spared from their AA role to go off tank hunting.

Whilst it may be your impression, it would help if you actually verified that your impression has a basis in historical reality.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Damper » 12 Nov 2018 13:24

MarkN wrote:
11 Nov 2018 22:48
Damper wrote:
10 Nov 2018 09:26
My understanding is that the 6 pounder anti tank gun didn't enter service in quantity until well into 1942, and that the Two Pounder struggled to engage the later marks of Panzer III's and Panzer IV's. At the same time the 3.7 inch gun was available in large quantities, having received priority for production prior to the war.
Perhaps you have the data of how many 3.7" AA guns were historically available, where they were located and how many of them could be spared from their AA role to go off tank hunting.

Whilst it may be your impression, it would help if you actually verified that your impression has a basis in historical reality.
So the only source I can provide a quote from is an article from warfarehistorynetwork.com.

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily ... e-what-if/

This was the British 3.7-inch (94-mm) anti-aircraft gun, and Lieutenant (later Major) David Parry of the 57th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, for one, felt there was ‘no excuse for the sheer stupidity of the General Staff’ in not allowing it to be used in an anti-tank role…. He recalled in a post-war memoir: ‘During all this time over a thousand 3.7-inch AA guns stood idle in the Middle East…. Many never fired a shot in anger during the whole of the war.’”
I want to be clear that I don't support the thrust of the article that the 3.7 inch would have made an effective anti tank gun.

I believe there are very good reasons the gun was never employed as an anti tank gun, however I don't believe that it was because there wasn't a need for it. Until the 6 pounder entered service in 1942 it was clear that British anti tank artillery was a disadvantage, even with improved ammunition for the 2 pounder.

You can see this in the botched attempt to modify 3 inch anti aircraft guns for anti tank use. Though I wonder if this didn't influence future development of the 77mm HV.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Michael Kenny » 12 Nov 2018 13:59

Damper wrote:
12 Nov 2018 13:24
Until the 6 pounder entered service in 1942 it was clear that British anti tank artillery was a disadvantage, even with improved ammunition for the 2 pounder.
The 2pdr was a capable gun. The 6dr was ready for full-scale production in 1940 but a decision was made to delay the introduction due to the equipment losses in France. A gun in the hand (2pdr) was deemed better than an improved model in the bush (6 pdr). The simple fact is there was no pressing need to put a hulking great target like a 3.7 inch gun into front-line AT service.

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 12 Nov 2018 14:40

Damper wrote:
12 Nov 2018 13:24
So the only source I can provide a quote from is an article from warfarehistorynetwork.com.
https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily ... e-what-if/
This was the British 3.7-inch (94-mm) anti-aircraft gun, and Lieutenant (later Major) David Parry of the 57th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, for one, felt there was ‘no excuse for the sheer stupidity of the General Staff’ in not allowing it to be used in an anti-tank role…. He recalled in a post-war memoir: ‘During all this time over a thousand 3.7-inch AA guns stood idle in the Middle East…. Many never fired a shot in anger during the whole of the war.’”
Which sadly is factual nonsense!!!!

Having now read the article, it seems to me that Jon Diamond formed his opinions based upon reading other people's opinions on a variety of tangental themes rather than studying the issue itself, understanding the issue and then building an opinion from that.

He shows little understanding of what was going on in Egypt and Libya 1940-1942, why the British were 'winning' or 'losing', how the British were dealing with the ATk issue, how the Germans were dealing with the ATk issue. He does, however, have a good knack of repeating the most favoured myths.

The German 88mm was not the problem on the battle field; the 2-pdr was not as bad as Jon Diamond makes out. However, this is worth focussing on...
In an acerbic vein, Bidwell and Graham commented, “In any case even if the guns [3.7-inch] had been made available it is doubtful if the desert commanders would have used them correctly, in view of the hash they made of the employment of all their own artillery.
Damper wrote:
12 Nov 2018 13:24
I want to be clear that I don't support the thrust of the article that the 3.7 inch would have made an effective anti tank gun.

I believe there are very good reasons the gun was never employed as an anti tank gun, however I don't believe that it was because there wasn't a need for it. Until the 6 pounder entered service in 1942 it was clear that British anti tank artillery was a disadvantage, even with improved ammunition for the 2 pounder.
The QF 3.7" AA gun was designed to defend rear areas: cities, ports, airfields etc etc. The 'mobile' version was designed to provide mobility to move from one rear location to another along decent roads. The 'mobile' version was not designed to provide front line unit or formation protection.

To engage a tank, the gun has to see the tank. It therefore has to be right up in the front line. The powers that be did not consider the QF 3.7" AA gun suitable for use as the AA gun for front line units. Why? If it wasn't suitable as a front line AA weapon, when it was a superb AA weapon, how does it become suitable as a front line ATk weapon?
Damper wrote:
12 Nov 2018 13:24
You can see this in the botched attempt to modify 3 inch anti aircraft guns for anti tank use.
In what way was this "botched"?

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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Sheldrake » 12 Nov 2018 15:06

<r><QUOTE author="Damper" post_id="2168260" time="1541777116" user_id="39823"><s>
Damper wrote:
09 Nov 2018 16:25
</s>
I've read a number of different reasons why it was never employed in an anti tank role, the British preferring to use detached 25 pounders instead.<br/>

<LIST><s>
  • </s><LI><LIST><s>
    • </s><LI>The inability of the mount to absorb the recoil when firing at low elevations</LI><e>
    </e></LIST>

    <LIST><s>
    • </s><LI>Lack of an AP round (even though regular HE with the fuze deactivate was found to be effective)</LI><e>
    </e></LIST>

    <LIST><s>
    • </s><LI>Lack of direct fire sights on the gun</LI>
      <e>
    </e></LIST>
    <LIST><s>
    • </s><LI>The large size of the making it difficult to emplace</LI><e>
    </e></LIST>

    <LIST><s>
    • </s><LI>Heavy Anti Aircraft regiments being Army level assets</LI><e>
    </e></LIST>.</LI>
    <e>
</e></LIST>

Are there any additional reasons people might be aware of? Or are some of the reasons above inaccurate?<br/>
<br/>
Also with regards firing at low elevations, my understanding is the gun could depress below 0 degrees unlike a gun such as the American 90 mm Gun M1, so perhaps the issue with the mount is overstated? perhaps it was only a factor with prolonged fire?
<e>
</e></QUOTE>

The 3.7" AA Gun was used in the Anti tank role. At Tobruck and El Alemein in June-July 1942. 103 HAA Regiment in Home Forces had a secondary role from July 1941 as Heavy Anti tank guns in the event the Germans landed heavy tanks in Britain. The Heavy AA guns defending the D day beaches all had a secondary anti tank role. <br/>
<br/>
There were technical problems that had to be overcome - lack of AP ammunition and suitable anti tank telescopes, but they were overcome eventually. Semi mobile Heavy AA gunners would need additional vehicles and training to fight effectively as anti-tank troops.<br/>
<br/>
The real question is why didn't the British use the 3.7" AA Gun in the Western Desert 1941-42? (Or use some of the thousand 3" 20cwt (76mm) AA guns in the anti-tank role. <br/>
<br/>
Three main reasons:-<br/>
<br/>
#1 Organisational. At the start of WW2 the Royal Artillery was separated into the Field and AA Branches. There was no cross posting between branches. AA Branch had a priority of dealing with the Luftwaffe which posted a significant threat. There were plenty of AA guns defending Alexandria, Haifa and Suez, but no one below C-in-C middle east transfer resources from there to 8th Army. Neither Wavell nor Aukinleck was asked or took the trouble to get involved. In the UK the C-in-C Home Forces, Brooke took a personal interest and thumped tables and demanded that the minister for supply provide AP ammunition. <br/>
<br/>
#2 Doctrinal blind spot(s). The commanders in the field don't seem to have noticed the effect of German anti-tank guns British early war combined arms doctrine, such as it was, didn't have a place for anti-tanks working with tanks and infantry. <br/>
<br/>
3# Technological/ procurement blind spot. No one seems to have noticed that the 3" 20 CWT gun had pretty much the ideal characteristics of an anti-tank gun. It was within one mm of the main anti tank guns used by the German, British, Soviet and US Armies. The ministry of supply was focused on building as many 2 Pounders as possible and the Army with the introduction of the 6 Pdr. <br/>
<br/>

The fame of the 88mm AA gun might also be a matter of luck. The Germans entered the war with tanks and anti tank guns too weak to penetrate heavy Allied tanks and happened to have under employed heavy AA guns. (Though they also had the foresight to train and equip their Heavy AA gunners for a dual role.

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