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

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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 2019 19:55

Dili wrote:
12 Nov 2019 18:46
1 -That effective range is against what? don't tell me it is against tanks because they would not hit anything of that size unless by luck.

2- the overmatch of 3.7" gun round, its muzzle velocity vs Panzer III and IV armor would mean that any direct hit would seriously damage them if not kill.
I quoted the range of the German low velocity 75mm gun. A Panzer IV gunner does not need to hit an anti-tank to neutralise the weapon. The lethal splinter distance is around 8 metres - within this distance there s a 50% chance of receiving an incapacitating wound from a shell splinter. At 25 metres there is a 1-10%of a wound. The splinters from the ground burst of an HE round form a butterfly pattern. The HE round which incapacitates the gun detachment is the one that bursts beside it, though the nose cone at supersonic speed might well penetrate the Gun shield. It took a brave man to take post on an anti-tank gun under effective HE fire.

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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 » 12 Nov 2019 21:25

Sheldrake wrote:
12 Nov 2019 19:55
I quoted the range of the German low velocity 75mm gun. A Panzer IV gunner does not need to hit an anti-tank to neutralise the weapon. The lethal splinter distance is around 8 metres - within this distance there s a 50% chance of receiving an incapacitating wound from a shell splinter. At 25 metres there is a 1-10%of a wound. The splinters from the ground burst of an HE round form a butterfly pattern. The HE round which incapacitates the gun detachment is the one that bursts beside it, though the nose cone at supersonic speed might well penetrate the Gun shield. It took a brave man to take post on an anti-tank gun under effective HE fire.
I'm unsure how the handfuls of Panzer IV's the Germans employed in attacks managed to accurately pick out and neutralise British anti-tank defences from up to 6000 metres, when the British complained that entire batteries of 25 pounders firing sustained barrages against German anti-tank defences could not be relied upon to destroy all the guns. One of the major reasons that the Matilda tank was retired in July 1942 was precisely this - there were always too many AT guns left after a barrage to allow the Infantry tanks to assault static positions without incurring an unacceptable level of casualties.

This suggests to me, though I may well be incorrect, that it was often the case that the British took the arrival of incoming HE as a signal to abandon or remove their AT guns, whereas the Germans didn't.
"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 MarkN » 12 Nov 2019 22:47

Don Juan wrote:
12 Nov 2019 21:25
I'm unsure how the handfuls of Panzer IV's the Germans employed in attacks managed to accurately pick out and neutralise British anti-tank defences from up to 6000 metres, when the British complained that entire batteries of 25 pounders firing sustained barrages against German anti-tank defences could not be relied upon to destroy all the guns. One of the major reasons that the Matilda tank was retired in July 1942 was precisely this - there were always too many AT guns left after a barrage to allow the Infantry tanks to assault static positions without incurring an unacceptable level of casualties.

This suggests to me, though I may well be incorrect, that it was often the case that the British took the arrival of incoming HE as a signal to abandon or remove their AT guns, whereas the Germans didn't.
When you compare British written doctrine (FSR) with German, the similarities are quite numerous. However, when it came to practical implementation, their principle concern - survive to fight another day - dominated the process and the outcomes.

ATk gunnery is an excellent example of this. Where the German mindset was to site and operate their guns with the intention of winning the battle, the British tended to site and operate their guns so as not to lose the war. For the British, using mobility to ensure they could fight another day was more important than beating the pantsers today.

Another example is pantsers firing on the move. It was only after Gazala that it was deemed "uneconomical to fire on the move at targets over 1500 yds distant".... I doubt they had ever had a single success with that approach.

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

Post by Sheldrake » 13 Nov 2019 13:39

Don Juan wrote:
12 Nov 2019 21:25
(1) I'm unsure how the handfuls of Panzer IV's the Germans employed in attacks managed to accurately pick out and neutralise British anti-tank defences from up to 6000 metres, when the British complained that entire batteries of 25 pounders firing sustained barrages against German anti-tank defences could not be relied upon to destroy all the guns. One of the major reasons that the Matilda tank was retired in July 1942 was precisely this - there were always too many AT guns left after a barrage to allow the Infantry tanks to assault static positions without incurring an unacceptable level of casualties.

(2) This suggests to me, though I may well be incorrect, that it was often the case that the British took the arrival of incoming HE as a signal to abandon or remove their AT guns, whereas the Germans didn't.
Re 1. The limited amounts of HE, either from the proportion of tanks with suitable guns or an attached battery were not going to destroy all the anti tank guns. They would neutralise or in modern military terms pin them. This would give other unitys an opporuitnioty to manouivre unhindered. Someone would still have to get close and KO the guns./

Re 2. Gunners might well take refuge in shell scrapes or trenches, but vertical movement or bugging out in a soft vehicle wouldn expose the frightened soldier more. Give me a historic case of British anti tank gunners taking flight, and I will consider this more seriously
MarkN wrote:
12 Nov 2019 22:47

When you compare British written doctrine (FSR) with German, the similarities are quite numerous. However, when it came to practical implementation, their principle concern - survive to fight another day - dominated the process and the outcomes.

ATk gunnery is an excellent example of this. Where the German mindset was to site and operate their guns with the intention of winning the battle, the British tended to site and operate their guns so as not to lose the war. For the British, using mobility to ensure they could fight another day was more important than beating the pantsers today.

Another example is pantsers firing on the move. It was only after Gazala that it was deemed "uneconomical to fire on the move at targets over 1500 yds distant".... I doubt they had ever had a single success with that approach.
There is a popular implementation model To make an idea work in practice you need the technology, procedures and training.
German WW2 tank gunnery procedures and training did not include firing on the move.

The British manuals Military Training Pamphlets series published in 1939 made no reference to AA guns in an anti tank role. Indeed Infantry Division in Defence (1939) states that it is rare that anti air craft batteries ill be deployed in the forward area.

The 1942 publications include several new paragraphs that relate to this thread.

Pam 23 Part 1 General Principles, fighting troops and their characteristics, includes:

Para 13. 5 stating that a proportion of cruiser and army tanks are equipped with 3" Howitzers for close support with HE and smoke.

Para 16.9 includes a para explaining that all field and AA guns must be prepared to engage tanks over open sites

Pam 23 Part II Infantry Division in the Defence. This is a thorough re write of the earlier pamphlet which starts with a description of a modern battle. Anti tank localities are a key part of the plan. Para 10.2 mentions that when a gun has been located, it is german practice to envelop the gun and destroy it or its detachment by fire.

Pam 23 Part IX The Infanry Division in the Attack Part X The Infantry Division in the Advance, all stress the defensive role of anti tank guns within the all arms plan. There is no suggestion that anti tank guns should ever be man handled forward to engage tanks,

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

Post by MarkN » 13 Nov 2019 16:30

Sheldrake wrote:
13 Nov 2019 13:39
There is a popular implementation model To make an idea work in practice you need the technology, procedures and training.
German WW2 tank gunnery procedures and training did not include firing on the move.
We have already discussed part of this subject - the doctrinal way of doing things - in this very thread. See page 25 and thereafter for starters.

What was the doctrine for ATk gunners? Was it to engage enemy pantsers on the move from the back of their portees? How did the Germans do it? Who had the greater battlefield success? Who had the better survival rate to fight another day?

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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 » 13 Nov 2019 18:16

Sheldrake wrote:
13 Nov 2019 13:39
Re 1. The limited amounts of HE, either from the proportion of tanks with suitable guns or an attached battery were not going to destroy all the anti tank guns. They would neutralise or in modern military terms pin them. This would give other unitys an opporuitnioty to manouivre unhindered. Someone would still have to get close and KO the guns.
But this applies to the even more limited amounts of HE that the Germans had available to destroy British AT guns, does it not?

If it is too expensive for the British to use Matildas against German static positions even after 25 pdr barrages, how do the Germans manage to overcome British static positions with lower quantities of HE and more lightly armoured tanks? As the top hull and turret armour of the Panzer IV was only 10mm, I don't see how this vehicle would have been any more able to withstand a 25 pounder barrage than a field or AT gun. Trials certainly showed that the 14-19 top armour of the Cromwell was insufficient to withstand a 25 pounder HE barrage.
"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 » 14 Nov 2019 00:42

MarkN wrote:
13 Nov 2019 16:30
Sheldrake wrote:
13 Nov 2019 13:39
There is a popular implementation model To make an idea work in practice you need the technology, procedures and training.
German WW2 tank gunnery procedures and training did not include firing on the move.
We have already discussed part of this subject - the doctrinal way of doing things - in this very thread. See page 25 and thereafter for starters.

What was the doctrine for ATk gunners? Was it to engage enemy pantsers on the move from the back of their portees? How did the Germans do it? Who had the greater battlefield success? Who had the better survival rate to fight another day?
Good questions.I am not sure a discussion board is the best medium for a response that would start to look like an academic thesis. The 560 odd posts on this topic suggest that there are a lot of opinions and maybe among the expressions of opinion some crowd sourced research. maybe its time to look back and see how many of the past posts through light on your questions? (However, this is probably a new thread as it is well beyond the scope of the topic title)

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

Post by Sheldrake » 14 Nov 2019 00:51

Don Juan wrote:
13 Nov 2019 18:16
Sheldrake wrote:
13 Nov 2019 13:39
Re 1. The limited amounts of HE, either from the proportion of tanks with suitable guns or an attached battery were not going to destroy all the anti tank guns. They would neutralise or in modern military terms pin them. This would give other units an opportunity to manouvre unhindered. Someone would still have to get close and KO the guns.
But this applies to the even more limited amounts of HE that the Germans had available to destroy British AT guns, does it not?

If it is too expensive for the British to use Matildas against German static positions even after 25 pdr barrages, how do the Germans manage to overcome British static positions with lower quantities of HE and more lightly armoured tanks? As the top hull and turret armour of the Panzer IV was only 10mm, I don't see how this vehicle would have been any more able to withstand a 25 pounder barrage than a field or AT gun. Trials certainly showed that the 14-19 top armour of the Cromwell was insufficient to withstand a 25 pounder HE barrage.
Good questions and worthy of an answer. However, I am trying to stay on topic. I posted the differences between the 1939 and 1942 pamphlets as evidence that the British accepted that the doctrine with which they started the war was deficient.

by 1942 British doctrine acknowledged that howitzer armed tanks could/should provide close support, i.e. that HE armed tanks were a threat to anti tank guns and anti-aircraft guns should have a secondary anti tank role.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 14 Nov 2019 13:05

Don Juan wrote:
12 Nov 2019 21:25
This suggests to me, though I may well be incorrect, that it was often the case that the British took the arrival of incoming HE as a signal to abandon or remove their AT guns, whereas the Germans didn't.
In a mobile role why wouldn't you move after being spotted and coming under HE fire if you can't reply effectively?

In a static role the British noted that "It takes some time to prepare - but, once the Mk.IV tanks have got into position, any attempted movement of our guns, or even of their detachments is costly."

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

Post by Gooner1 » 14 Nov 2019 13:37

Don Juan wrote:
13 Nov 2019 18:16
But this applies to the even more limited amounts of HE that the Germans had available to destroy British AT guns, does it not?
If it is too expensive for the British to use Matildas against German static positions even after 25 pdr barrages, how do the Germans manage to overcome British static positions with lower quantities of HE and more lightly armoured tanks?
What makes you think the Germans had more limited amounts of HE than the British?

Notes from Theatres of War No.10, October '42, has this

Phase 3 - deployment of a covering force

Pz. Kw. IV tanks take up a hull down position on the ridge and with the fire of their machine guns attempt to pin the defence. They may engage visible ATk guns with their 7.5cm guns. Under cover of their fire 8.8cm ATk/AA guns and 5cm ATk guns are moved forward. Medium machine guns and close support 15cm infantry howitzers are also deployed in an attempt to knock out the ATk guns of the defence or their detachments.

Under cover of the fire of the "covering force," the main attacking force forms in rear thus:-
i. Three waves of tanks about 50 yds apart and each row approximately 150 yds in rear of the one in front.
ii. When the tanks are in position the box forms up in rear .. the infantry all riding in their semi-tracked armoured trucks. Surprise is obtained not by attempting to hide the imminence of the attack but by concealing its extent and scope.

Phase 4 - the attack
At zero hour the whole moves forward at about 15 miles an hour. As they pass through their "covering force" the tanks begin to fire not so much with a view to hitting anything but simply for moral effect. On arrival .. the first wave of tanks drive straight through with a view to breaking through the gun positions; while second and third waves assist the infantry to mop up.
The latter do not usually dismount till they arrive in the locality, when they fan out, using tommy-guns extensively."

Six notes are made the last of which reads:
"Such attacks are now being beaten off, and it is apparent that in future they will not succeed without much more artillery support"

Probably the replacement of the 2-pdr by the 6-pdr is an important factor there.
As the top hull and turret armour of the Panzer IV was only 10mm, I don't see how this vehicle would have been any more able to withstand a 25 pounder barrage than a field or AT gun. Trials certainly showed that the 14-19 top armour of the Cromwell was insufficient to withstand a 25 pounder HE barrage.
I'd certainly like to see that trial report. I've never seen anything to indicate light/field artillery firing HE was anything other than an inconvenience to tanks.

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

Post by Urmel » 14 Nov 2019 16:55

Apples and oranges. The British never assigned sufficient guns to their tanks. And when they hit contact they didn't involve them (e.g. 22 Armoured Brigade at El Gubi).
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 » 14 Nov 2019 22:48

Gooner1 wrote:
14 Nov 2019 13:37
Notes from Theatres of War No.10, October '42, has this

Phase 3 - deployment of a covering force

Pz. Kw. IV tanks take up a hull down position on the ridge and with the fire of their machine guns attempt to pin the defence. They may engage visible ATk guns with their 7.5cm guns. Under cover of their fire 8.8cm ATk/AA guns and 5cm ATk guns are moved forward. Medium machine guns and close support 15cm infantry howitzers are also deployed in an attempt to knock out the ATk guns of the defence or their detachments.

Under cover of the fire of the "covering force," the main attacking force forms in rear thus:-
i. Three waves of tanks about 50 yds apart and each row approximately 150 yds in rear of the one in front.
ii. When the tanks are in position the box forms up in rear .. the infantry all riding in their semi-tracked armoured trucks. Surprise is obtained not by attempting to hide the imminence of the attack but by concealing its extent and scope.

Phase 4 - the attack
At zero hour the whole moves forward at about 15 miles an hour. As they pass through their "covering force" the tanks begin to fire not so much with a view to hitting anything but simply for moral effect. On arrival .. the first wave of tanks drive straight through with a view to breaking through the gun positions; while second and third waves assist the infantry to mop up.
The latter do not usually dismount till they arrive in the locality, when they fan out, using tommy-guns extensively."

Six notes are made the last of which reads:
"Such attacks are now being beaten off, and it is apparent that in future they will not succeed without much more artillery support"

Probably the replacement of the 2-pdr by the 6-pdr is an important factor there.
But this, which I assume is from here, just shows how the Germans used their weapons as part of a combined arms team in a methodological attack. Even if the British had brought forward the 3.7" AA gun, I don't see them knitting it in with 2 pounders, 6 pounders, 25 pounders, CS tanks, standard tanks, medium machine guns and motorized infantry in a seamless coordinated whole.
Gooner1 wrote:
14 Nov 2019 13:37
I'd certainly like to see that trial report. I've never seen anything to indicate light/field artillery firing HE was anything other than an inconvenience to tanks.
I'm going to walk this one back, as the problem with the Cromwell (actually a Centaur) during this trial was found to be its riveted seams, and the recommendation was for them to be welded. The trial was Operation Elpenor, conducted by 9th Armoured Division on 19th November 1943. The report is in the 9AD 1943 War Diary WO 166/10511.
"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 » 15 Nov 2019 11:39

Don Juan wrote:
14 Nov 2019 22:48
But this, which I assume is from here, just shows how the Germans used their weapons as part of a combined arms team in a methodological attack. Even if the British had brought forward the 3.7" AA gun, I don't see them knitting it in with 2 pounders, 6 pounders, 25 pounders, CS tanks, standard tanks, medium machine guns and motorized infantry in a seamless coordinated whole.
3.7's knitted in fine as artillery as part of coordinated whole in the breakout from Tobruk.

The few 3.7's emplaced in 'boxes' at Gazala also did well in the defence.

Nice combined arms attack here: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarl ... Ba-c6.html

"Another enemy pocket, a much larger one, well supplied with anti-tank guns, mortars and machine guns, and occupying a long, low rise about midway between Sidi Rezegh and Belhamed, had become 4 Brigade's chief concern. Under the sadly mistaken belief that the enemy there was ready to surrender and could be rounded up without difficulty, two companies of 20 Battalion were ordered to attack on 27 November. They met intense mortar and machine-gun fire, and after suffering nearly 100 killed and wounded, had to be extricated from a hopeless position after dark.

The answer to this setback was a well-organised attack next day by eleven tanks, ten Bren carriers, and three platoons of 18 Battalion, supported by both 4 and 6 Field Regiments and 5 and 6 MG Platoons. The Vickers were to fire across the fronts of the tanks from forward positions on Belhamed. ‘Everything went according to plan & I might say in passing was pretty to watch,’ is Johansen's impression. At small cost some 600 prisoners were taken, and the last obstruction to a firm link between the New Zealanders and the Tobruk garrison was eliminated."

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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 2019 11:42

MarkN wrote:
13 Nov 2019 16:30
What was the doctrine for ATk gunners? Was it to engage enemy pantsers on the move from the back of their portees?

"In Greece only 34 Battery had had portées; now all batteries had them and had to master gun drill appropriate to them and learn a new set of tactics. The policy was to carry the guns into the forward area (the 2-pounders suffered damage when towed far over rough ground), but to dismount them when action threatened and engage the enemy from ground positions. Only in an emergency were the guns to be fired from the portées. This had seemed, on the flimsy basis of some of the experiences of 34 Battery in Greece, to be the best way of handling this equipment; but conditions in the desert were different and there was more to be said for portée action there."

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarl ... ti-c5.html
How did the Germans do it? Who had the greater battlefield success? Who had the better survival rate to fight another day?
They were not the same guns.

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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 » 15 Nov 2019 12:10

There are some interesting snippets to be garnered from the full report at Lone Sentry that were excerpted above. For example:
The 88-mm, although a very effective antitank gun, is included in the box primarily to protect the "soft-skinned" vehicles from air attack.
Well fancy that!
United Nations observers in Libya have reported that there are four principles that German armored units seldom fail to consider before advancing to attack.

a. The primary role of the tank is to kill infantry.

b. The machine gun is therefore an important weapon of the tank.

c. The tank can be successful only when it is used in conjunction with all arms.

d. Tanks must be used in mass.

As a result of these views, the Germans will not fight a tank versus tank battle if they can avoid doing so. Moreover, their tactics are always based on having their armor move with other arms, in close support, in the form of a "box" or moving defense area.
This is, of course, the opposite to the British approach as regards their armoured brigades, whose purpose, initially at least, was to destroy the enemy's tanks and therefore actively seek out the tank vs. tank battle. This also contravenes the British assumption that the tank was THE most important weapon.
The whole formation is directed toward an objective which, if seized, will force the opposition to fight and thus become engaged on ground of German choosing.
Again, this is contrary to the "hunter-killer" conception of the British armoured brigades, which were expected to search out and destroy the enemy armour. It's notable that during Operation Crusader 6 RTR seized Sidi Rezegh airfield, thus forcing the Germans to retake it, but 6 RTR then discovered that their Crusaders were useless for holding ground, and they didn't have sufficient AT or artillery support. If they had been equipped with sturdier Valentines, and kept their ground and not gone on mad charges, they may have had a better chance.
If the opposition attacks the German left flank, the troops on the left of the box at position "B" fall back to position "C." If the opposing tanks pursue, they not only are engaged frontally by the German tanks from position "C," but are caught in the flank by the antitank and antiaircraft guns protecting the left side of the box. The tanks of the German right flank at position "B" then swing around and engage the attackers in the rear.
This shows that the German method of dealing with enemy tanks was not, as the British believed, to outrange them frontally with their "superior" tank guns, but to manoeuvre so as to subject the enemy tanks to AT fire from their flanks.
At zero hour the entire formation moves forward at about 15 miles per hour, depending on the terrain. As the tanks pass through their covering force, they begin to fire, not so much with a view to hitting anything as for psychological effect.
Interesting that the attacking German tank force moved forward at 15 mph, which was the top speed of the Valentine. The British armoured Brigades insisted on the Crusader over the far more reliable and durable Valentine precisely because they thought the latter was too slow to be the main tank of the armoured brigades.
The whole form of the attack has been reduced by the Germans to a "battle drill."
I don't think the British had such drills, did they?
"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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