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

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

Post by Urmel » 25 Nov 2018 19:32

I don't disagree with the 'getting excuses in early' angle. Norrie was so bad at his job that his mobile H.Q. was relegated to a siege op within two weeks, while the infantry corps was given the job of the pursuit (which it then cocked up). That says it all, really. Scott-Cockburn is probably the only man in the British army with the distinction to have managed to lose his Brigade twice in the course of six weeks. No wonder he got a D.S.O. for the job.

Wasn't my point though - that was rather that within ten days to two weeks max of the battle starting there were serious doubts about the continued competitiveness of the 2-pdr. Sufficient in any case that the numpties could trot it out as an excuse for their failures. This didn't only happen well after the operation was over and the OR had been analysed, it was based on battlefield observation.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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

Post by MarkN » 25 Nov 2018 21:01

How did the 2-pdr become so useless in the first 2 weeks of Op CRUSADER when it was up against the very same tanks, literally, that it had been hitting for the past 6 months?

Norrie's write up of 15 December was significantly weighted towards Scott-Cockburn's commentary rather than his other subordinates. Not surprising really since they had had a close relation for over 12 months training in the UK. Both are desperate to blame something for their dreadful performances.

The other commanders, with a bit of sand already on their boots were somewhat less dismissive of the 2-pdr. Davy, at the end of November was not whining about the efficiancy of the 2-pdr at all. He had to say...
The enemy's use of his A/Tk guns, pushed right up with or in front of his tanks, was a notable feature of most engagements. They are inconspicuous and very boldly handled, and he appears to use them for protection of his tanks in advance, withdrawal and during replenishment. On the afternoon of 21 Nov, the enemy succeeded in pinning 2 R Tanks with A/Tk guns on two sides while he attacked frontally with tanks.
If Scott-Cockburn's had his pantsers darting in and out of smoke trying to pop German pantsers, they probably didn't see the screen of German A/Tk guns under their noses. They probably weren't being outranged by pantser guns, they were being torn apart by close range A/Tk that they had failed to spot and then presented their sides and rear too as they "looped" back into the smoke.

Was it really a battlefield observation, or an excuse based upon a failure to observe the battlefield correctly?

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

Post by Gooner1 » 26 Nov 2018 14:39

Don Juan wrote:
25 Nov 2018 17:27
L-H also pointed out that the most powerful tank gun on the battlefield was the US 37mm. This is also borne out by the Ordnance Board and Official History figures.
Which sort of proves the adage that whatever Liddell Hart says, the opposite is probably the truth.

British OH Med. & ME Vol III gives penetration @ 500 yards
2-pdr - 52mm
37mm - 53mm
5cm L/42 - 53mm

7.5cm L/24 - 46mm or 75mm with hollow charge round.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 26 Nov 2018 14:41

MarkN wrote:
25 Nov 2018 21:01
How did the 2-pdr become so useless in the first 2 weeks of Op CRUSADER when it was up against the very same tanks, literally, that it had been hitting for the past 6 months?
The 2-pdr hadn't been that useful in the previous 6 months against German tanks either :roll:

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

Post by Urmel » 26 Nov 2018 15:59

MarkN wrote:
25 Nov 2018 21:01
How did the 2-pdr become so useless in the first 2 weeks of Op CRUSADER when it was up against the very same tanks, literally, that it had been hitting for the past 6 months?
Well... Not sure how many encounters they had in the six months before, the last one being BATTLEAXE, five months before, and maybe some minor stuff at Tobruk. BATTLEAXE doesn't exactly demonstrate the ability of the 2-pdr to do much damage, if you consider the very low numbers of write-offs suffered by the Germans.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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

Post by MarkN » 26 Nov 2018 16:34

Gooner1 wrote:
26 Nov 2018 14:41
MarkN wrote:
25 Nov 2018 21:01
How did the 2-pdr become so useless in the first 2 weeks of Op CRUSADER when it was up against the very same tanks, literally, that it had been hitting for the past 6 months?
The 2-pdr hadn't been that useful in the previous 6 months against German tanks either :roll:
By 6 months, I mean from when the Germans first met the British 2-pdr in North Africa (30 March) - which is just over 7.5 months to be precise.

During that period, brother clinthardware of this forum has a database of, according to reliable eyewitness accounts, over 100 German pantsers knock-out before BATTLEAXE - although not all to 2-pdr. And during BATTLEAXE a further 90 were claimed by 7th Armoured Division. That's a tidy sum for an ineffective weapon. Given the Germans hardly had any reinforcements arrive, the Germans should have been down to bare bones by CRUSADER.

So, where's the 'truth' in all this?

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

Post by Don Juan » 26 Nov 2018 19:26

Gooner1 wrote:
26 Nov 2018 14:39
Don Juan wrote:
25 Nov 2018 17:27
L-H also pointed out that the most powerful tank gun on the battlefield was the US 37mm. This is also borne out by the Ordnance Board and Official History figures.
Which sort of proves the adage that whatever Liddell Hart says, the opposite is probably the truth.

British OH Med. & ME Vol III gives penetration @ 500 yards
2-pdr - 52mm
37mm - 53mm
5cm L/42 - 53mm

7.5cm L/24 - 46mm or 75mm with hollow charge round.
Well the Ordnance Board estimate given in the second table that Mark posted was 57mm at 500 yards. It wouldn't surprise me if the 37mm had the best penetration as it was the only one of these rounds which was ballistically capped. My understanding for the 7.5cm L/24 is that 500m was about the limit for its accuracy, against tanks at least.
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Don Juan » 26 Nov 2018 19:33

Urmel wrote:
26 Nov 2018 15:59
MarkN wrote:
25 Nov 2018 21:01
How did the 2-pdr become so useless in the first 2 weeks of Op CRUSADER when it was up against the very same tanks, literally, that it had been hitting for the past 6 months?
Well... Not sure how many encounters they had in the six months before, the last one being BATTLEAXE, five months before, and maybe some minor stuff at Tobruk. BATTLEAXE doesn't exactly demonstrate the ability of the 2-pdr to do much damage, if you consider the very low numbers of write-offs suffered by the Germans.
How many British write-offs were the result of demolition teams though? My fairly limited reading of this period is that write-offs were largely due to demolitions or ammunition fires, as I don't think any of the tank guns available to either side were powerful enough to cause really significant structural damage. I suspect the low level of German losses in comparison to the British, as well as being down to who ended up occupying ground, was due to the British not having effective demolition or recovery teams.

One puzzle though is why the British suddenly experienced an epidemic of tank fires during Crusader and not earlier, as their ammunition had always been vulnerable.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 26 Nov 2018 20:45

I've just had a reread through Norrie's 15 December 1941 report - concentrating on the 2-pdr effectiveness argument. I think the poor chap had either lost the plot or was being deliberately disingenuous.

Image
This would seem to suggest that Norrie (and no doubt Scott-Cockburn too) had come out from the UK believing that tanks sallied forth to do battle with tanks alone. Which seems to be what Scott-Cockburn assumed throughout - despite mounting evidence to the contrary. It also seems to indicate a bit of surprise that the Germans had the audacity to play the all-arms game.

Note the words, "...the superior effective range of his tank guns...". Is that really true? How much more effective was the 50mm KwK L/42 over the 2-pdr?

Now consider the words just before it, "skilful use of numbers of anti-tank guns on his front and flanks". So, as British tankies and donkey wallopers were fixing on the German tanks in the distance, the Germans had craftily placed a screen of anti-tank guns between them (PaK36, PaK38 et al).

Was the British tank mounted 2-pdr really being outgunned by the 50mm KwK L/42 or were they being hit by the closer A/Tk guns?

Later, he summarizes:
Image
He is now giving the impression that German tank guns can penetrate British tanks up to 2,000 yds. Really? At best, he's conflated 88mm performance into his claim, at worst he's showing complete ignorance of the battles being fought under his command.

If the British tankies and donkey wallopers are firing at 1,500 yds, no wonder they're not succeeding.

During 1941, British Int Summs contained a series of "German tanks tactics" writeups. Repeatedly, they speak of the Germans drawing British tanks onto their screen of A/Tk guns. It seems Norrie and Scott-Cockburn had not done their homework and, even after encountering the evidence themselves, seemed incapable of understanding the significance of it.

The 2-pdr did not suddenly become ineffective at the beginning of Op CRUSADER. The write-ups changed because two new faces were in town who were looking to excuse their own incompetence and blame others.
Don Juan wrote:
26 Nov 2018 19:33
One puzzle though is why the British suddenly experienced an epidemic of tank fires during Crusader and not earlier, as their ammunition had always been vulnerable.
Perhaps the newly arrived 22ArmdBde hadn't read the memo on proper use of internal stowage bins. :wink:

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

Post by Don Juan » 26 Nov 2018 21:18

MarkN wrote:
26 Nov 2018 20:45
Perhaps the newly arrived 22ArmdBde hadn't read the memo on proper use of internal stowage bins. :wink:
Blagden again from AFV Tech Report No.1 of 30th December 1941:

Blagden.jpg

I expect if 7AD were out to destroy the Panzer Divisions, they were loaded up to the gills with 2 pounder.
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"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Don Juan » 26 Nov 2018 21:45

In fact, it's just occurred to me that if you are carrying lots of excess ammunition, especially loose ammunition, you don't have to be penetrated for this to go off. You just need the internal armour to flake, an internal rivet to fly off, the electrical system to spark, or an internal fitting to be dislodged, and BOOM! up you go.

It's possible that 7AD were effectively driving round in moving bombs.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Don Juan » 26 Nov 2018 22:16

Looking back at the whole thing, the sudden catastrophic explosion of tanks was such a new and unprecedented phenomenon, that the British initially thought that the Germans had developed a new kind of shell, which they posited used Thermite. But NOTHING had changed from previous battles.

They then did some research, and correctly concluded that the reason was due to unprotected ammunition, and firstly instituted a ban on carrying loose ammunition in the turret, and then implemented the fitting of armoured bins.

But they never asked, at least officially, why they hadn't seriously encountered this problem prior to Operation Crusader. I think 2 RTR lost about 12 or 13 Cruiser Mk.IV's to spontaneous detonations in the space of a few minutes.

The only explanation can be reckless over-stowage of ammunition. It's Beatty at Jutland all over again.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

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

Post by Urmel » 26 Nov 2018 22:34

MarkN wrote:
26 Nov 2018 16:34
So, where's the 'truth' in all this?
Now you're just trolling. :thumbsup:

It's clear that the truth is that the Germans had higher numbers of temporary kills, but mostly owning the battlefield, and having months to engage in repairs, they got most of them going again.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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

Post by Urmel » 26 Nov 2018 22:42

Don Juan wrote:
26 Nov 2018 22:16
Looking back at the whole thing, the sudden catastrophic explosion of tanks was such a new and unprecedented phenomenon, that the British initially thought that the Germans had developed a new kind of shell, which they posited used Thermite. But NOTHING had changed from previous battles.

They then did some research, and correctly concluded that the reason was due to unprotected ammunition, and firstly instituted a ban on carrying loose ammunition in the turret, and then implemented the fitting of armoured bins.

But they never asked, at least officially, why they hadn't seriously encountered this problem prior to Operation Crusader. I think 2 RTR lost about 12 or 13 Cruiser Mk.IV's to spontaneous detonations in the space of a few minutes.

The only explanation can be reckless over-stowage of ammunition. It's Beatty at Jutland all over again.
This is a very impressive bit of deduction.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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

Post by Don Juan » 26 Nov 2018 22:49

Urmel wrote:
26 Nov 2018 22:42
This is a very impressive bit of deduction.
I aims to please.

I also deduce in the actions described by Scott-Cockburn/Willoughby Norrie, that the German tanks opened up at long range on 22AB with the same old plan of turning away and inducing the British tanks onto the anti-tank gun screen. But when, to their (no doubt) amazement the British tanks started going up in flames, both the German tank and anti-tank guns decided to pile in together.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

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