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

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

Post by MarkN » 23 Dec 2018 18:11

Sheldrake,

You know, we're really not saying alot that is different. It's just that when we get to the end of our historical reasearch and analysis, you plump for the notion that 3.7-inch HAA guns reroled as ATk guns would have had a positive effect on the mobile battlefield if only somebody had bothered to try it by focussing on the physical capabilities and attributes of the weapon itself - whereas I focus more on the reasons why nobody tried it and lament the chances that they would have been used effectively.
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Dec 2018 02:38
#1 Lots of people, including senior Gunners, have claimed that the carriage could not cope with fire in l;ow trajectory or the lack of sights.
Indeed. There was significant resistence to putting HAA guns into (mobile) frontline formations even from the gunners themselves. Remember, how often were they put into such formations as HAA guns let alone reroled as ATk assets? Institutionally, the user, in the ME and in Home Command resisted such a move and, even with the efforts of the GoCinC HC (Brooke) putting his weight behind the move, succeeded.

Now, were they resisting for the sake of resistence or was there some other imperative, driver or understanding that had greater influence on their decsion-making?
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Dec 2018 02:38
#2 Anti tank guns don't usually do a lot of movement, even in mobile battles. The deploy and fire from where there. Hooked in guns and detachments in unarmoured tractors are vulnerable to just about any thing.
#3 There is a father ted phenomena related to survivability A 2 pounder or 50mm pak is smaller than a 3.7" or 88mm HAA. But the HAA can open fire from far away.
...
They are just as hard to see at the range at which they will engage a tank in per terrain as per the Western Desert.
Absolutely true. But for some reason, the user decided to do away with all that and concentrate on mobility and survival. Portee was supposed to be simple a means of transporting ATk guns: carry rather than tow. The gun was supposed to be taken off the back of the lorry and placed into a fire position with the lorry withdrawing in the same way that a towing Quad or tractor would have done. But almost immediatly, portee became faux pantser. The troops stopped taking their guns off their lorries. They even got into the habit of firing on the move. Mobility and survive was prioritized over concealment and battlefield success.
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Dec 2018 02:38
MarkN wrote:
20 Dec 2018 19:51
The Pz.IV firing HE in a support role was a threat to soft targets not pantsers. The British had CS pantsers to do the same job. The Pz.IV can still lob his HE from behind the hill, or sand dune, or whatever - thus putting out of reach of a direct-fire 3.7-inch gun despite being within range. Given the Germans already used the 88mm as an ATk weapon, understanding its capabilities and value on the pantser battlefield, I'm sure they already had a plan in mind should the British show up with a troop of 3.7-inch guns. I imagine the Germans would probably have come up with a workeable solution on the hoof before the battle had ended. The idea that a handful of 3.7-inch guns would have been a game changer is, in my mind quite daft. The 88mm was not a game changer for the Germans either.
If you want to talk about indirect fire solutions to identified anti tank positions, use field artillery not tanks. British CS tanks in the western desert lacked the range to engage HAA guns at 2,000m and neither British nor German tank crews were professionals in the indirect fire business. I don't know the probable error in range for the 75mm L24 firing HE. Do you, or anyone else on the board dedicated to Axis forces point me in the direction of an HE range table for this gun?

It was not easy to accurately estimate the range or location of objects in the desert. Field artillery was surprisingly survivable, especially when firing alongside tanks. I read of an account of The Chestnut Troop RHA brought up its 25 pdr guns in support of the Grants at Gazala firing over open sights. All guns survived unlike half the Grants.
Absolutely agree.

My constant referral back to the CS pantser is predicated upon poster Gooner1 and his obsession with the Pz.IV at el Duda; the British had a pantser (CS) that could do exactly the same thing. I have written on several occasions that it could be done even better by Fld Arty.

The key element to all this is that the British believed they were conducting combined-arms warfare when they were not. Combined-arms warfare is not having different capbadges under the same command and acting out their own missions sequentially according the watch. Combined-arms warfare is when the different arms cooperate to defeat the shared enemy by the most effective means. Op CRUSADER is a great example of how the two sides acted out their differing understanding of combined-arms.
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Dec 2018 02:38
The capability of the 88mm gun to hit tanks at long range cast a profound psychological shadow over British and American tank crews. It may not have been a game changer, but it tilted the table. Owning a weapon system that worried the enemy is generally a good thing.
I don't believe it tilted the table at all. I'm not even sure that it was that much of a concern. At least, not enough to excite somebody enough to break the resistence and experiment with a battery in a frontline formation. It became the focal point for some as a tool of blame shifting: we're failing because they've got 88s. I don't think the Germans would have been worried by it at all. A slight tweek of the tactics and that's all.

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

Post by Clive Mortimore » 23 Dec 2018 20:58

MarkN wrote:
20 Dec 2018 19:51

I agree. No documentation that I have seen confirms one thing or another. The 100 ex HAA 3-inch tube story in Churchill pantsers and mounted on 17/25-pdr carriages is just one of many British weapon follies of WW2. A story of wasted time, effort and resources. Mind you, if they had been able to wave a magic wand and make them operational before a 70-90 ton behomoth landed at Dungeness, who knows what would have happened?
Has anyone seen a photo of a 3 inch 20 cwt mounted on a 17 pdr carriage?

It is odd that the 17 pdr was mounted on a modified 25 pdr carriage when introduced because the production of barrels was faster than that of the carriages so why at the same time did they find 50 spare 17 pdr carriages to fit the 3 inch 20 cwt barrels? Surely with a surplus of 17 pdr barrels they would have been a better to fit to these 17 pdr carriages?

Are there any drill manuals, service manuals, range tables or EMERs for these guns? Normally these are prepared before the weapon goes into service, the ones for the same gun mounted in the Churchill Gun carrier were published. Which regiments received them and were they ever used in action?

To fit a 17 pdr on a 25 pdr carriage was quite easy as the two guns shared a similar recoil system. That of the 3 inch 20 cwt was very different and would have involved the manufacture of a new mounting to attach the barrel to the recoil system.

There is so much missing which suggested to me that they were only ever a proposed paper exercise. If the failed 94mm Infantry Howitzer was well photographed so why wasn't the 3 inch anti tank guns, especially as it reported to have been issued to the forces in the middle east?
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 23 Dec 2018 23:19

Clive Mortimore wrote:
23 Dec 2018 20:58
Has anyone seen a photo of a 3 inch 20 cwt mounted on a 17 pdr carriage?
Does it matter?

We're still waiting for the TO to come up with some, any, evidence for the 100, later 50, Churchill 3-inch gunned carriers that he believes existed in 1941. Apparently, a picture of a single example in a muddy field on an unknown date is good enough for him to believe. :roll:

The entire story surrounding this issue is an embarrasment. Nevertheless, it has spawned a series of myths lovingly promulgated by the mischievous. Why do so many people show up on AHF and post with the attitude of being experts when their knowledge is derived entirely from myths and falsehoods?

The original 'plan' was based upon a need to combat something that didn't exist.
The original 'plan' was for 100 Churchill tanks to have the 3-inch tubes which only became availaible as their mountings were used for other purposes.
The decision to have 50 mounted in 17/25-pdr carriages was based upon (a) the available worn-out tube originally coming from a static mounting which had been taken for the UP project and (b) a capbadge bitch fight between RAC and RA!!!

This 'story's is a story about delusion, capbadge rivalry and incompetence. Nevertheless, it is lovingly used by mythmakers and purveyors of historical falsehoods to argue all manner of nonsense.

:welcome:

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

Post by Clive Mortimore » 23 Dec 2018 23:39

Hi Mark

I have been on Axis Forum for ages, just haven't posted on this section for a long time.

Ian Hogg mentions the 3 inch 20 cwt on 17 pdr carriages but is at a loss with any other information about them.

I am not an expert on guns but having served as a gun fitter in REME I have a reasonable background knowledge.

Without evidence of one in a photo then yes it does matter because this story keeps coming up and by now someone would have unearthed a photo from somewhere.
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 24 Dec 2018 00:00

Hi Clive Mortimer,
Clive Mortimore wrote:
23 Dec 2018 23:39
Ian Hogg mentions the 3 inch 20 cwt on 17 pdr carriages but is at a loss with any other information about them.
Did Hogg, whoever he is, state that such ever existed? With or without evidence? If not, perhaps, it's a case of the reader/listener reading more into the statement than is actually given.
Clive Mortimore wrote:
23 Dec 2018 23:39
Without evidence of one in a photo then yes it does matter because this story keeps coming up and by now someone would have unearthed a photo from somewhere.
Still don't understand why it matters. The lack of evidence points to their non-existence. It only matters, perhaps, to somebody desperate to believe they did exist, not so? The 'fact' that it keeps coming up is not evidence that such existed but that the internet has a limitless supply of the deluded and the ignorant.

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

Post by Clive Mortimore » 24 Dec 2018 00:17

Ian Hogg, one of the worlds leading authors on artillery, and a ex master gunner Royal Artillery.

This fact comes from a post WW2 report on artillery of WW2 by some brigadier (can't be bothered to find his name at the moment) who was the first to mention these 50 guns going out to the middle east but apart from that no other "official" document or photo has appeared of them but the story ( can't call it a myth yet) keeps reappearing on forums like this.

Show me a photo of one of these or of the 50 (same number of guns) 75mm Mle 97 that were mounted on Pak 40 carriages and I will be happy.
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by MarkN » 24 Dec 2018 00:39

Clive Mortimore wrote:
24 Dec 2018 00:17
This fact comes from a post WW2 report on artillery of WW2 by some brigadier (can't be bothered to find his name at the moment) who was the first to mention these 50 guns going out to the middle east but apart from that no other "official" document or photo has appeared of them but the story ( can't call it a myth yet) keeps reappearing on forums like this.

Show me a photo of one of these ... and I will be happy.
So you are one of those who has decided to buy into the myth and is desperate for tangeable evidence to vindicate that belief.. Oh dear!

I cannot show you a photo of something that didn't exist.

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

Post by Clive Mortimore » 24 Dec 2018 07:50

Do you read what people have written?
Clive

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

Post by MarkN » 24 Dec 2018 11:12

Clive Mortimore wrote:
24 Dec 2018 07:50
Do you read what people have written?
Do you read what you have written?

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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 » 25 Dec 2018 12:49

Sheldrake wrote:
23 Dec 2018 02:38
If you want to talk about indirect fire solutions to identified anti tank positions, use field artillery not tanks. British CS tanks in the western desert lacked the range to engage HAA guns at 2,000m and neither British nor German tank crews were professionals in the indirect fire business. I don't know the probable error in range for the 75mm L24 firing HE. Do you, or anyone else on the board dedicated to Axis forces point me in the direction of an HE range table for this gun?
The maximum range of the 3" Howitzer in the CS tanks was 2400 yards firing HE and 1500 yards firing smoke, so theoretically at least they did have the range to engage HAA guns at 2000 metres.

However, one issue to bear in mind is that as the 3" Howitzer was interchangeable with the 2 pounder, it was elevated by shoulder control, rather than via geared elevation, and I would suspect this would have severe implications for obtaining, and maintaining, long range accuracy.

On the other hand, it should have been no problem for Matilda CS tanks firing HE to engage the 5cm Pak 38, which necessarily had to fire at close range, and I am somewhat at a loss as to why these weren't issued with a majority of HE rounds during attacks on prepared positions. From mid-1942, the Soviets asked for their remaining Matilda deliveries to be equipped across the board with the 3" Howitzer, and specified the overwhelming majority of the ammunition for this weapon to be HE. I suspect the Soviets had a much clearer idea of how to employ these tanks than the British did.
"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 Sheldrake » 26 Dec 2018 00:11

Don Juan wrote:
25 Dec 2018 12:49
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Dec 2018 02:38
If you want to talk about indirect fire solutions to identified anti tank positions, use field artillery not tanks. British CS tanks in the western desert lacked the range to engage HAA guns at 2,000m and neither British nor German tank crews were professionals in the indirect fire business. I don't know the probable error in range for the 75mm L24 firing HE. Do you, or anyone else on the board dedicated to Axis forces point me in the direction of an HE range table for this gun?
The maximum range of the 3" Howitzer in the CS tanks was 2400 yards firing HE and 1500 yards firing smoke, so theoretically at least they did have the range to engage HAA guns at 2000 metres.

However, one issue to bear in mind is that as the 3" Howitzer was interchangeable with the 2 pounder, it was elevated by shoulder control, rather than via geared elevation, and I would suspect this would have severe implications for obtaining, and maintaining, long range accuracy.

On the other hand, it should have been no problem for Matilda CS tanks firing HE to engage the 5cm Pak 38, which necessarily had to fire at close range, and I am somewhat at a loss as to why these weren't issued with a majority of HE rounds during attacks on prepared positions. From mid-1942, the Soviets asked for their remaining Matilda deliveries to be equipped across the board with the 3" Howitzer, and specified the overwhelming majority of the ammunition for this weapon to be HE. I suspect the Soviets had a much clearer idea of how to employ these tanks than the British did.
I'll ask you the same question I posed to MarkN

If tanks with HE were so useful as a surrogate for artillery, could someone give me a link to a firing table showing the elevation and probable error in range for any equipment other than the Centaur 95mm or Sherman M4.

IIRC there were two CS tanks per squadron.Military Training Pam 41, Tactical Handling of the Armoured Division and its components Part 2 the Armoured Regiment 1943 makes no reference to the HE capabilites of CS tanks, merely their ability to project smoke.

You may be right with the Soviets.

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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 Dec 2018 17:37

Sheldrake wrote:
26 Dec 2018 00:11
If tanks with HE were so useful as a surrogate for artillery, could someone give me a link to a firing table showing the elevation and probable error in range for any equipment other than the Centaur 95mm or Sherman M4.
I'm not sure whether your if clause is a help or a hinderence here. To be useful requires both the equipment to be effective and the user to handle it effectively. It only takes one of the two to be ineffective for useless, perhaps, to be applied. Given the above, I'm not sure whether a firing table will provide conclusive evidence one way or another. No, I do not have a copy of one. Nor have I made any attempt to look for one so can give no indication as to whether one ever existed.

What I have done, based upon the limited documentation I have available, is to see a progression in doctrinal thought from the late 1920's through to WW2 and beyond, in what was presumed the purpose of the CS pantser and how it was intended to be used.

David French wrote (my underlining):
The results of the experiments conducted by the work of the experimental mechanized force in 1927 (renamed the experimental armoured force in 1928) were incorporated into the 1929 edition of FSR. It was the first manual to discuss explicitly 'Armoured units' and to include a detailed analysis of their weaknesses, strengths, and functions. It asserted that they could be employed either to break through the enemy's defences, or, by outflanking it, attack its lines of communication and headquarters. In conformity with the general staff's commitment to combined arms action, it insisted that tanks alone could not overcome a properly entrenched enemy, and if they were used in a frontal attack they had to have the support of artillery to neutralize the enemy's batteries and infantry to overcome its anti-tank guns and to consolidate their gains.
Written into FSR (1929) was the doctrine that artillery and infantry would be required to support the pantsers and deal with enemy infantry and anti-tank defences. Practically, this was not being done as late Op CRUSADER. On the otherhand, the Germans seem to have lifted British written doctrine from a decade earlier to show them how to do the el Duda attack that poster Gooner1 likes to remind us of.

Nevertheless, it was during this very same timeframe (late 1920s) that the RTC were giving themselves CS pantsers by modifying some of their existing Vickers Mediums. I think we are probably on the same page in our understanding of how there was within the RTC a strand of thought that they could do it all themselves without the need for artillery and infantry to tag along in support. Delivering smoke seems to be the priority in RTC thought. But the delivery of HE was in their mind from the very start. General Duncan wrote:-
Image

Then, by the mid-1930s a new set of FSR came out and thought had changed a bit. FSR II (1935):-
Mixed tank battalions are organized into companies containing medium, light and close-support tanks. The medium tanks is the principle assault weapon. The light tanks protect the medium tanks by reconnaissance and by the neutralization of anti-tank weapons. Close-support tanks differ from medium tanks only in having, instead of a 3-pdr gun, a howitzer, which throws a smoke or HE shell: their nominal role is the protection of the medium and light tanks by placing a smoke screen between them and any anti-tank weapons which open fire unexpectedly during the course of an action: they carry also a small proportion of HE shell for their mortars for use in an attack on buildings, or other special occasions.
Enemy anti-tank guns are now to be dealt with internally at the pantser company level rather than by supporting infantry. Counter-battery fire is not mentionned. Interestingly, this is to be done when enemy anti-tank guns are encountered "unexpectedly". I need to read more thoroughly to see if there is advice on how to deal with expected anti-tank guns prior to the start of the pantser charge!

ATP41 (July40) is not very helpful in the understanding of combined-arms. Indeed, one could argue the lack of attention to those details is in itself an indication of the lack of understanding then held and weaknesses in practical terms. Nevertheless, a very generalised...
iii. Covering fire [MarNote1: later explained as other pantsers within the unit not arty or other support] is essential and must include arrangements for dealing with enemy defences that are not disclosed until the attack starts.
iv. The plan will generally include the use of smoke from the squadron close support tanks, which must also be ready to assist in any unforseen contingency during the action.
... no mention specifically of how to deal with enemy anti-tank guns, but it seems reasonable to assume that dealing with it internally implies with their own machine guns, 2-pdr rounds or whatever the CS pantser chooses to lob.

I'm not bothering to transcribe what ATI No.3 (May 1941) has to say on the role of the RHA Fld regt and the ATk regt as it seems to avoid the point completely with misdirection!!!

From the above and a fair amount of reading around the subject, I summarize (and yes, it is my speculation) the following:-
- FSR (1929) were on the right track for combined-arms operations.
- However, the RTC fancied doing their stuff all on their own and thus created the CS pantser as a support gun for all occasions.
- Unfortunately, the CS pantser was found to be good at delivering smoke, but not HE. Which should come as no surprise as the RTC was wedded to the doctrine of firing on the move (mobility to survive).
- Thus, the role of CS pantser changed from being a support gun for all occasions to principally a source for delivering smoke.
- Moreover, instead of looking for solutions to the ATk threat outside the cap-badge, they just shifted that role to the machine guns of the light tanks etc.

They could have revisited the CS pantsers capabilities and put doctrine and training into place to make the howitzer more capable of firing HE accurately: halt to fire, better sights, gunner training.
They could have looked outside the capbadge for even better ways of dealing with an ATk threat etc: Fld arty and infantry. That didn't even mean thinking out of the box; just revisit FSR (1929).
Moreover, I also sense (in parallel with the above) little effort to move away from attacking according to the watch to attacking according to threat type. In otherwords, an artillery barrage softens up the enemy at a predetermined time for a predetermined duration, then the pantsers charge at a predetermined time. It is understood that threats may be encountered "unexpectedly". The idea of using artillery to neutralize specific threats as one goes along is absent.

It was the user, and his way of thinking, that made doing an el Duda difficult for the British. They had the equipment to do it, the equipment had the capabilities to do it, but the user thinking prevented it.

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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 Dec 2018 19:11

I have never seen a range table for the 3" or 3.7" CS howitzers, and if their primary job was viewed as delivering smoke, then there may never even have been a HE range table produced.

There is however, a report in the 17/21st Lancers war diary for 1943 in which a single Crusader CS tank successfully suppressed enemy infantry and mortars at Steamroller Farm in Tunisia from a distance of 1000 yards using HE.
"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 Gooner1 » 28 Dec 2018 14:28

MarkN wrote:
21 Dec 2018 18:36
The basics are simple. The British armoured brigades had the all-arms equipment to deal with the scenarios you presented - but they repeatedly failed.
The basics are simple, so you're half right!

"The plates [on the German tanks] were found to break up the 2-pdr uncapped shot at all ranges"
"Firing trials were then held against the Crusader II, which was found to give much less protection than had been expected of a tank on a '50-mm armour basis'"

So?
I guess that 'So?' means that action at El Duda has become the latest entry in your library of fixed ideas as proof that defeating an anti-tank screen is a piece of piss, thus any evidence to the contrary can be ignored?

I'm wondering if Urmel can confirm if this action at El Duda is the one against 1st Essex of 70th Division by 15th Panzer on 29th November?
The Essex wouldn't have had the protection of that many anti-tank guns plus the Germans would have had the support of the rather formidable Boettcher Artillery Group.
Happily the German presence at El Duda was a short one. A midnight counter-attack by 11 Matildas and 2/13th Australian retook all the positions that had been lost.
We could spend all of next year discussing British manufacturing and procurement follies and still not cover half of them. Your point is?
Not obvious? A bit of time and effort invested into making the 3-inch AA gun an ersatz anti-tank gun could have produced a far better return than all that money and time wasted producing so many 2-pdrs ...

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

Post by MarkN » 29 Dec 2018 14:59

Gooner1 wrote:
28 Dec 2018 14:28
MarkN wrote:
21 Dec 2018 18:36
The basics are simple. The British armoured brigades had the all-arms equipment to deal with the scenarios you presented - but they repeatedly failed.
"Firing trials were then held against the Crusader II, which was found to give much less protection than had been expected of a tank on a '50-mm armour basis'"
"The plates [on the German tanks] were found to break up the 2-pdr uncapped shot at all ranges"
I see you are back to your time-shifting flat-earth arguments. :roll:

The German only received pantsers "on a '50-mm armour basis'" in 1942. Thus quite irrelevant to the discussion up to the end of 1941 and Op CRUSADER. When the Germans received their 50mm armoured pantsers, the British were receiving their 6-pdr ATk guns and some 76mm armed pantsers.

And, requoting that excellent post by DonJuan that your blinkered vision refuses to deal with:
Don Juan wrote:
14 Dec 2018 23:19
What is so amazing about the 30 mm RHA side armour of the Panzer III, and the 20mm RHA side armour of the Panzer IV, that allows German tanks to perform such remarkable feats?
Gooner1 wrote:
28 Dec 2018 14:28
I guess that 'So?' means that action at El Duda has become the latest entry in your library of fixed ideas as proof that defeating an anti-tank screen is a piece of piss,
And what made it "a piece of piss" for the Germans at el Duda? It certainly wasn't the Pz.IV KwK37 or the scarce 88mm (were there any at this (in)famous el Duda skirmish) or the quite impenetrable 30 mm RHA side armour of the Panzer III or 20mm RHA side armour of the Panzer IV. :lol:
Gooner1 wrote:
28 Dec 2018 14:28
... thus any evidence to the contrary can be ignored?
Projecting again I see. :roll:
Gooner1 wrote:
28 Dec 2018 14:28
We could spend all of next year discussing British manufacturing and procurement follies and still not cover half of them. Your point is?
Not obvious? A bit of time and effort invested into making the 3-inch AA gun an ersatz anti-tank gun could have produced a far better return than all that money and time wasted producing so many 2-pdrs ...
Oh dear!!!! They tried it and failed to come up with anything of operational use or value. Why was that?

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