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

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

Post by Aber » 14 Nov 2018 19:43

Damper wrote:
14 Nov 2018 19:31

Regarding one issue, that of removing Anti Aircraft assets, I would suggest that prior to the invention of the proximity fuze, HAA effects against high altitude bombers were pretty limited particularly considering the amount of resources consumed, ammunition and barrels in particular.
Surely a key part of HAA role is ensuring the bombers stay at high altitude.

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

Post by MarkN » 14 Nov 2018 19:57

Damper wrote:
14 Nov 2018 19:31
MarkN wrote:
12 Nov 2018 17:53
Personally, I don't believe 24 pretty immobile 3.7" HAA guns trundling around the battlefield circa Op Brevity, Battleaxe or Crusader would have made the slightest difference to either the outcome or events or the tactical thinking.
That's my view as well, however I'm curious about whether employing the guns in the Anti Tank role was investigated and then rejected after considering all the factors, or just never considered at all.
In the ME, surplus 18-pdr field guns were re-roled into ATk units starting from about September/October 1941.
Damper wrote:
14 Nov 2018 19:31
Also if the Army couldn't afford to misemploy HAA in the Anti Tank role, I would suggest that it could even less afford to misemploy field artillery such as the 25 pounder in the Anti Tank role. In particular prior to developing an effective AP shell.
Another myth that doesn't stand up.

The 25-pdrs were NOT reroled as ATk guns. 25-pdrs were employed throughout as field guns. But, if necessary - as in when they were being charged down by enemy panzers - they too had a go at ATk gunnery. That is EXACTLY the same paradigm as for LAA or HAA guns. The difference is that the 25-pdrs were up near the enemy and thus got charged by panters quite often - where as the HAA didn't.
Damper wrote:
14 Nov 2018 19:31
The obvious solution would be to use the 3 inch QF, my understanding was that there were a lot of these guns in storage, missing sights mounts and other various components. It was these guns that were used in Anti Tank trials, and later shipped to the Soviet union.
And therein lies what appears to be the 3rd myth in your understanding. Just like there wasn't a thousand 3.7" HAA guns sitting idle somewere, there wasn't a thousand 3" HAA sitting idle somewhere else. The 3" HAA gun was a WW1 relic. The majority of those in storage at the beginning of WW2 were brought into service in the UK as part of ADGB - because of the desperate need for AA guns. I suspect the ones not brought into service were the ones considered too worn out to be of practical value. However, since everybody has a different set of figures that they are working from, this discussion always goes round in a circle. Have you ever seen anybody produce evidence of any serviceable 3" HAA being horded anywhere? Moreover, since it was an old gun, those in service quickly wore out taking pot shots at the Luftwaffe over the UK. They only became 'available' as they were replaced by new 3.7" HAA off the production line. And that 'time' coincided with the introduction of the 6-pdr with the 17-pdr not far behind.

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 15 Nov 2018 02:35

MarkN wrote:
14 Nov 2018 19:57
In the ME, surplus 18-pdr field guns were re-roled into ATk units starting from about September/October 1941.
Not really "AT" (to the chagrin of its colonel), but at least as 13 April 1939 the 26th AT Regiment RA in Malta was manning 18-pdr, as well as 12-pdr, 3.7" howitzers, and 6" howitzers. :D
Another myth that doesn't stand up.

The 25-pdrs were NOT reroled as ATk guns. 25-pdrs were employed throughout as field guns. But, if necessary - as in when they were being charged down by enemy panzers - they too had a go at ATk gunnery. That is EXACTLY the same paradigm as for LAA or HAA guns. The difference is that the 25-pdrs were up near the enemy and thus got charged by panters quite often - where as the HAA didn't.

And therein lies what appears to be the 3rd myth in your understanding. Just like there wasn't a thousand 3.7" HAA guns sitting idle somewere, there wasn't a thousand 3" HAA sitting idle somewhere else. The 3" HAA gun was a WW1 relic. The majority of those in storage at the beginning of WW2 were brought into service in the UK as part of ADGB - because of the desperate need for AA guns. I suspect the ones not brought into service were the ones considered too worn out to be of practical value. However, since everybody has a different set of figures that they are working from, this discussion always goes round in a circle. Have you ever seen anybody produce evidence of any serviceable 3" HAA being horded anywhere? Moreover, since it was an old gun, those in service quickly wore out taking pot shots at the Luftwaffe over the UK. They only became 'available' as they were replaced by new 3.7" HAA off the production line. And that 'time' coincided with the introduction of the 6-pdr with the 17-pdr not far behind.
Exactly. It appears that the total conversions of 3" 20cwt QF HA Marks I, II, III and IV guns from naval to army service totaled 431 prewar, at least 359 in the Great War, with another 27 converted September-October 1939 and 3 more in 1940. A total of 191 mobile carriages were also produced prewar, with 86 more in 1940 and 184 in 1941 (UK only, some carriages and possibly conversions were manufactured in India until 1943). That is out of a total of 596 Mark I, 198 Mark II, 44 Mark III, and 144 Mark IV manufactured. Of those, 553 Mark I, 186 Mark II, 27 Mark III and 111 Mark IV remained in service as of September 1939. I think the idea that 982 were originally manufactured is the source for the conflated notion that "1,000 were in storage" in 1939. No, 877 were in service, of which 431 were in Army 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 » 15 Nov 2018 15:30

Richard Anderson wrote:
15 Nov 2018 02:35
[3" 20cwt QF HA] 877 were in service, of which 431 were in Army service.
All data refers to Anti-Aircaft Command. Therefore it does not include guns outside their responsibility (BEF, ME, RN, other overseas command or those lost etc etc etc):
3 September, 1939
HAA: 2,232 requirement; 695 actual - this included 4.5", 3.7", 3" and "a number ... on loan from the Royal Navy."
LAA: 1,200 requirement; 253 actual - this included 76 x 40mm bofors and again, "some ... borrowed from the Royal Navy".

At the end of 1939 there were 850 HAA guns, 510 LAA and 3,361 searchlights.

At the end of June 1940, there were 1,200 HAA (355 4.5", 619 3.7" and 226 3"), 549 LAA (273 Bofors, 136 3" and 140 other) and 3,932 searchlights.

By May 1941, there were 1,691 HAA, 940 LAA, and 4,532 searchlights.

In December 1941, there were 1,960 HAA (416 4.5", 1,400 3.7" and 144 3") and 1,197 LAA (1,056 Bofors, 8 3" and 133 others)

In December 1942, there were 2,100 HAA (3 5.25", 406 4.5", 1,675 3.7" and 16 3") and 1,814 LAA (1,717 Bofors, 6 3" and 91 others)
So, to recap, of the 3" HAA guns 'available' at the beginning of the war, in June 1940 there were 362 in use with Anti-Aircraft Command in the UK. Additionally, I believe 120 were sent to France with the BEF/AASF and I have yet to see definite confirmation of any returning - but there could have been a few. Then, of course, there were other contingents dotted around the world (The South Africans had 8 in Kenya, the British 8 in Egypt and the HK&SA had 4 in Aden, 2 in Berbera and more back home in the Far East. There was a battery of 8 in India, some on Malta and Gibraltar I believe too.

18 months later, there was still 152 in operation with Anti-Aircraft Command. That's a reduction of 200. Where did they go? Some I know went to the ME. Some borrowed from the RN were returned. Some, no doubt, were consigned to scrap as they wore out. 100 were assumed surplus to requirements and made available for conversion to anti-tank duties in the UK - but that only occured in the latter part of 1941 when the 6-pdr was about to come online.

Where are all the missing 3" HAA guns hiding that some people talk about?

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

Post by Gooner1 » 15 Nov 2018 17:52

MarkN wrote:
15 Nov 2018 15:30
At the end of June 1940, there were 1,200 HAA (355 4.5", 619 3.7" and 226 3"), 549 LAA (273 Bofors, 136 3" and 140 other) and 3,932 searchlights.

By May 1941, there were 1,691 HAA, 940 LAA, and 4,532 searchlights.

In December 1941, there were 1,960 HAA (416 4.5", 1,400 3.7" and 144 3") and 1,197 LAA (1,056 Bofors, 8 3" and 133 others)
On 18 September there were 225 3" HAA and 116 3" LAA.
Shame we don't know the numbers of May 1941.
100 were assumed surplus to requirements and made available for conversion to anti-tank duties in the UK - but that only occured in the latter part of 1941 when the 6-pdr was about to come online.
Yes, that's the annoying bit. Not making provisions for an anti-tank role earlier, especially since the FSR specifically stated that AA guns could be used against AFVs and as an AA gun was obsolescent at the beginning of the war.

Even without a purpose designed/converted carriage it could have been useful in the Desert.

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

Post by MarkN » 15 Nov 2018 19:24

Gooner1 wrote:
15 Nov 2018 17:52
Shame we don't know the numbers of May 1941.
I try to use primary documentation when I have it. For May 1941 I do not have it. However, I do have a number for May 1941 that I found on the internet and copied down. It was taken from a book, but I don't know which.
3" HAA: 192
3" LAA: 49
Still only referring to Anti-Aircraft Command.
Gooner1 wrote:
15 Nov 2018 17:52
Yes, that's the annoying bit. Not making provisions for an anti-tank role earlier, especially since the FSR specifically stated that AA guns could be used against AFVs and as an AA gun was obsolescent at the beginning of the war. Even without a purpose designed/converted carriage it could have been useful in the Desert.
It only seems to be annoying to people with the benefit of hindsight and to an exaggerated extent due to an understanding based upon myths.

In April/May 1941, the ME sent 16 mobile 3" HAA to Crete - where they managed to fire off a few rounds before the island was captured. About the same time, the 8 South African mobile 3" HAA were so worn that they seem to have been rejected by ME Command and returned to South Africa to be (re)installed at Simonstown and elsewhere. The SA gunners were expecting 3.7" HAA guns to replace them but due to the lack of guns ended up being reroled as LAA on Bofors.

There are three separate elements that all pulled decisionmaking in the same direction.
1) There was a desperate shortage of HAA throughout the Empire and thus anything capable of HAA operation was used for that purpose - and not shunted off elsewhere.
2) In respect of the 3.7" gun which had a decent life span ahead of it, its mobility was not suited to the mobile operation being conducted in Egypt and Libya.
3) There was no concensus at the time that there was a problem with ATk capability extant. That only changed in early 1942.

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

Post by MarkN » 15 Nov 2018 21:42

Going through some notes I made some years ago, the bruhaha over the 2-pdrs effectiveness only really kicked off in the summer of 1942 after - and no doubt because of - the rapid retreat from Gazala. When you have convinced yourself that you army is top-notch and a match for anybody, you have to find excuses to blame away reverses and failure. As all good British workers do, they blame their tools. What makes it so much fun, looking back, is that was a time when the 6-pdr was in operation (albeit not massive quantities) as well as 75mm guns in Grants.

The 2-pdr was still an effective weapon if used within its limitations. British tactics and method of employment lead to it being used more often than not outside these (well known) limitations. The problem was not the gun, the problem was the user. Hence why, even with 6-pdr ATk guns and 75mm armed tanks, the British were routed! The Germans were still able to get good effect out of their 37mm PAK36. When handling bigger 50mm PAK38, the results were even better.

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Nov 2018 01:51

MarkN wrote:
15 Nov 2018 15:30
All data refers to Anti-Aircaft Command. Therefore it does not include guns outside their responsibility (BEF, ME, RN, other overseas command or those lost etc etc etc):
Good point, I missed that.
3 September, 1939
HAA: 2,232 requirement; 695 actual - this included 4.5", 3.7", 3" and "a number ... on loan from the Royal Navy."
LAA: 1,200 requirement; 253 actual - this included 76 x 40mm bofors and again, "some ... borrowed from the Royal Navy".

At the end of 1939 there were 850 HAA guns, 510 LAA and 3,361 searchlights.

At the end of June 1940, there were 1,200 HAA (355 4.5", 619 3.7" and 226 3"), 549 LAA (273 Bofors, 136 3" and 140 other) and 3,932 searchlights.

By May 1941, there were 1,691 HAA, 940 LAA, and 4,532 searchlights.

In December 1941, there were 1,960 HAA (416 4.5", 1,400 3.7" and 144 3") and 1,197 LAA (1,056 Bofors, 8 3" and 133 others)

In December 1942, there were 2,100 HAA (3 5.25", 406 4.5", 1,675 3.7" and 16 3") and 1,814 LAA (1,717 Bofors, 6 3" and 91 others)
I thought we had copied the data for AA Command when we did the BoB Database, but no, of course not, I just have the total guns reported. :|
So, to recap, of the 3" HAA guns 'available' at the beginning of the war, in June 1940 there were 362 in use with Anti-Aircraft Command in the UK. Additionally, I believe 120 were sent to France with the BEF/AASF and I have yet to see definite confirmation of any returning - but there could have been a few. Then, of course, there were other contingents dotted around the world (The South Africans had 8 in Kenya, the British 8 in Egypt and the HK&SA had 4 in Aden, 2 in Berbera and more back home in the Far East. There was a battery of 8 in India, some on Malta and Gibraltar I believe too.

18 months later, there was still 152 in operation with Anti-Aircraft Command. That's a reduction of 200. Where did they go? Some I know went to the ME. Some borrowed from the RN were returned. Some, no doubt, were consigned to scrap as they wore out. 100 were assumed surplus to requirements and made available for conversion to anti-tank duties in the UK - but that only occured in the latter part of 1941 when the 6-pdr was about to come online.

Where are all the missing 3" HAA guns hiding that some people talk about?
Malta? :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 16 Nov 2018 21:54

Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Nov 2018 01:51
Malta?
That's a naughty thought.... :lol:

50 x 3" HAA lobbing airburst shells over an Italian beach landing. That would make a mess. Still, probably get ruled out by the gamesmaster as it is impossible for the British to see the beach. :roll:

Any idea on how many were squirrelled away in Russia and when?

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Nov 2018 22:35

MarkN wrote:
16 Nov 2018 21:54
50 x 3" HAA lobbing airburst shells over an Italian beach landing. That would make a mess. Still, probably get ruled out by the gamesmaster as it is impossible for the British to see the beach. :roll:
Well, there is at least the mobile 3" 20cwt battery at Malta that appears to have doubled as an field artillery unit. So far, I have also found, that in July the harbor defenses were increased by two 4.7" and two 4" guns at Grand Harbour and by three 4" guns at Marsamxetto Harbour with a strength of 925 OR and that on 1 August 1940 a battery of two 4.7” naval guns were completed at F Verandah in Marsa and manned by 3rd Heavy Battery, Royal Malta Artillery. These guns wre known as ‘Barker Section’. :lol:
Any idea on how many were squirrelled away in Russia and when?
Sorry, no.
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 16 Nov 2018 23:12

Richard Anderson wrote:
16 Nov 2018 22:35
Well, there is at least the mobile 3" 20cwt battery at Malta that appears to have doubled as an field artillery unit. So far, I have also found, that in July the harbor defenses were increased by two 4.7" and two 4" guns at Grand Harbour and by three 4" guns at Marsamxetto Harbour with a strength of 925 OR and that on 1 August 1940 a battery of two 4.7” naval guns were completed at F Verandah in Marsa and manned by 3rd Heavy Battery, Royal Malta Artillery. These guns wre known as ‘Barker Section’. :lol:
There is plenty of evidence that the British were intending to defend Malta - even though they didn't actually perceive any serious intent on the Italians to commit to an amphibious/air assault.

Last night, whilst reading up a document for another subject, a paper submitted by the Chiefs of Staffs in London regarding what was likely to happen if Italy joined the war on the German side (paper was from April 1940), Malta receives a single sentence which ran something like this, "we expect it to hold out until relieved". The British never gave up on Malta and continually reinforced when they could with what they could. Unfortunately, there was very little to go around.

The idea that Britain had (already) given up on Malta is a historical falsehood.

How long the British garrison would hold out is impossible to say. They had nowhere to run, and unlike France/Belgium were unlikely to see an armada of small ships arriving to whisk them away. So, fight or surrender was probably their only dilemma.

And then there are the local Maltese themselves. Almost always forgotten in the discussion. Are the locals going to stand aside and claim third-party non-combatant status or will they actively take sides? I suspect a good fair few would choose the later on the side of the British. Unfortunately, I suspect the bullets and the shells would run out before 'relief' arrived and the British would be left with a decision of a forced entry or turn round and fight another day. The latter is the sensible response.

Nevertheles, it would have been a real slog for the Italians, and I suspect the cost would have been high.

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

Post by MarkN » 17 Nov 2018 14:57

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:
10 Nov 2018 09:26
... the 3.7 inch gun was available in large quantities, having received priority for production prior to the war.
I have no idea what your principle motive was for asking the original question, but your understanding of the realities at the time seems to have been deeply flawed.

If it had been true that precious 25-pdr field guns were being reroled into ATk duties whilst over a 1,000 3.7" HAA guns were sitting idle and unused in the ME somewhere AND another few hundred mobile 3" HAA were sitting idle and unused somewhere else, then I suspect I would feel a bit outraged with the decisionmaking. But since none of those three things are historically true, I struggle to understand the concern.

So Damper, what are your thoughts now?

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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 » 18 Nov 2018 00:36

MarkN wrote:
15 Nov 2018 21:42
Going through some notes I made some years ago, the bruhaha over the 2-pdrs effectiveness only really kicked off in the summer of 1942 after - and no doubt because of - the rapid retreat from Gazala. When you have convinced yourself that you army is top-notch and a match for anybody, you have to find excuses to blame away reverses and failure. As all good British workers do, they blame their tools. What makes it so much fun, looking back, is that was a time when the 6-pdr was in operation (albeit not massive quantities) as well as 75mm guns in Grants.

The 2-pdr was still an effective weapon if used within its limitations. British tactics and method of employment lead to it being used more often than not outside these (well known) limitations. The problem was not the gun, the problem was the user. Hence why, even with 6-pdr ATk guns and 75mm armed tanks, the British were routed! The Germans were still able to get good effect out of their 37mm PAK36. When handling bigger 50mm PAK38, the results were even better.
I've started picking up some info that suggests that the 5cm Pak 38 was quite a bit less powerful than the British suggested it was. Which has me thinking that the emphasis on being out-ranged by enemy tanks was rather exaggerated.
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Urmel » 18 Nov 2018 03:03

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
Not just towards the end of the war, it started much earlier: https://rommelsriposte.com/2012/10/09/u ... ound-role/
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Urmel » 18 Nov 2018 03:10

Gooner1 wrote:
15 Nov 2018 17:52
Even without a purpose designed/converted carriage it could have been useful in the Desert.
How? Serious question. By the time the Empire forces began to understand the value of integrating various arms (which I would put sometime after July 1942) they started to have 6-pdrs in sufficient numbers, which arguably are the better option for Panzer killing.
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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