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

Discussions on all aspects of the The United Kingdom & its Empire and Commonwealth during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Andy H
Brave New World
New member
Posts: 1
Joined: 12 Dec 2019 12:39
Location: Deep South

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

Post by Brave New World » 12 Dec 2019 23:09

MarkN wrote:
08 Nov 2019 12:24
Gooner1 wrote:
08 Nov 2019 12:12
At the least the powers that be in the Desert can be accused of complacency before Crusader.
Complacent?

With a handful of exceptions, British field commanders were inept and incompetent at waging the type of battle the Germans brought to them.
Apologies for the delay in asking, as I've only just come across this thread and the question is an adjunct to the topic:

Briefly, who would you consider the "handful of exceptions", prior to First Alamein?

Regards

BNW

User avatar
MarkF617
Member
Posts: 134
Joined: 16 Jun 2014 21:11
Location: United Kingdom

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

Post by MarkF617 » 13 Dec 2019 16:45

The 6 pounder anti tank gun entered production in November 1941. Why would you ask for anti aircraft guns to use as anti tank guns when an effective anti tank gun was becoming available? Wouldn't it make more sense to request as many 6 pounders as can be shipped as soon as possible? Grant tanks, eith a 75mm gun, were also begining to arrive so the future looks bright.

Thanks

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

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4212
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

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

Post by Urmel » 14 Dec 2019 15:47

Absolutely. The lessons learned after CRUSADER that I have seen talk about a more powerful tank and anti-tank gun. Not re-roling a hunking piece like the 3.7" into this role.
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

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7404
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Dec 2019 19:21

MarkF617 wrote:
13 Dec 2019 16:45
The 6 pounder anti tank gun entered production in November 1941. Why would you ask for anti aircraft guns to use as anti tank guns when an effective anti tank gun was becoming available? Wouldn't it make more sense to request as many 6 pounders as can be shipped as soon as possible?...
Indeed. The Germans were behind the curve in updating their AT guns. The 5cm weapon was slow to be acquired & was certainly no cutting edge, like the 6lbr, or the US 3" that was near production. Hence their use of French 75mm 19th Century cannon or Soviet 7.62cm cannon for AT conversions. The Brits had a misstep in production of the 6lbr, but were still ahead of others here.

Not yet discussed here was the effacey of the 25lbr as a emergency AT weapon. Against the under armored German & Italian tanks of 1941 its ammunition was adequate & so was the accuracy in the limits of telescopic sights of 1941. Training, and a optimal doctrine or tactics were lacking in the early 1941 battles. But, as the year played out it appears the 25lbr troops & batteries were increasingly able to cope with emergency AT actions.

Another point not discussed specifically here was the location of the German 88 in the TO vs the 3.7". The former was issued to the division, typically in groups of eight. As a division weapon it was closer to the ground battle and far more available for emergency use as a AT weapon. This I strongly suspect had the most to do with its reputation as a AT weapon. That & fan worship. Perhaps if there had been a dozen or half dozen of the 3.7" cannon in the Commonwealth division artillery group we'd not be having this discussion?

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 2538
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

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

Post by Sheldrake » 15 Dec 2019 17:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 Dec 2019 19:21
Brits had a misstep in production of the 6lbr, but were still ahead of others here.

Not yet discussed here was the effacey of the 25lbr as a emergency AT weapon. Against the under armored German & Italian tanks of 1941 its ammunition was adequate & so was the accuracy in the limits of telescopic sights of 1941. Training, and a optimal doctrine or tactics were lacking in the early 1941 battles. But, as the year played out it appears the 25lbr troops & batteries were increasingly able to cope with emergency AT actions.

Another point not discussed specifically here was the location of the German 88 in the TO vs the 3.7". The former was issued to the division, typically in groups of eight. As a division weapon it was closer to the ground battle and far more available for emergency use as a AT weapon. This I strongly suspect had the most to do with its reputation as a AT weapon. That & fan worship. Perhaps if there had been a dozen or half dozen of the 3.7" cannon in the Commonwealth division artillery group we'd not be having this discussion?
The Germans had a substantial head start in anti tank defences. They invented the anti-tank gun on 15th September 1916.

By 1917 the Germans were using self propelled anti aircraft guns as a mobile reserve to counter penetrations by tanks. There is photograph 6 in Jack Sheldon's German Army at Cambrai shows a picture of a 77 mm SP gun with the caption "weapons of this type were rushed to Cambrai from across the western Front." From the end of WW1 the Germans considered AA guns to have a dual role. The British experience was oriented towards home defence. No British doctrine considered Heavy AA guns within a divisional area.
When, in 1941, there was a need to hit tanks at longer ranges that could be engages with 37-40mm guns, the Germans had another club in their bag.

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2092
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 15 Dec 2019 20:04

Sheldrake wrote:
15 Dec 2019 17:01
The British experience was oriented towards home defence. No British doctrine considered Heavy AA guns within a divisional area.
And to be fair to the much-maligned British Army, during the 1930's the role that they were assigned was home defence - plus the odd counter-insurgency mission against poorly armed opponents.

Regards

Tom

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2549
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

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

Post by MarkN » 15 Dec 2019 22:13

Sheldrake wrote:
15 Dec 2019 17:01
No British doctrine considered Heavy AA guns within a divisional area.
Indeed. And the reason for that is a combination of the lack of mobility and time required to bring the gun into/out of a firing position. The Germans had an almost exact same problem despite the 88mm being designed as a dual role weapon. The difference between the German and British approach to warfighting is the key to understanding why one put them into the divisional structure and lower and the other didn't: stand and fight to win the battle against keep mobile to survive and fight another day.

Take BATTLEAXE as an example. 15.Pz-Div had l./Flak.Abt.18 under command at the border. They had 8 of the 88mm guns dug in in static stutzpunkt. Dug in with intention of standing and fighting to the last. No mobility. Only 4 of their 88mm were given a mobile role as part of Pz.Regt.8

Same again with CRUSADER. 36 guns total in theatre. I./Flak.Abt.18 has 8 guns dug in in static defences and only 4 in the mobile role accompanying Pz.Regt.8. Same story with l.Flak.Abt.33. 8 guns dug in, 4 mobile with Pz.Regt.5. However, 4 of those dug in were reallocated to support AA.3 and the stutzpunkt of 90.lei-Div facing the Tobruk breakout. All 24 of these guns had ATk as a primary role. The other 12 guns of ll.Flak.Abt.25 were allocated to defending the Luftwaffe airfields in a static AA role. In other words, just 8 out of 36 guns had a fully mobile role, another 4 lurched between static and mobile. That's for the entire theatre, not a single division.

Look closely at the detail, and the mobile 88mm weapon was used far less as a mobile asset in reality than myth.

Now, consider the following. March and April 1941, the Germans and British clash for the first time in Libya. The first battle (as opposed to skirmish) was at Mersa Brega. The British tactic was to hold the line only as long as it took to organize a withdrawal. Keep mobile to survive and fight another day. The nearest HAA guns were in/around Benghazi. If roles are reversed, the Germans would have probably stuck eight 88mm guns into static firing positions to hold Mersa Brega and have four mobile with their pantsers.

How would that approach work for the British? I am sure eight 3.7-inch HAA guns dug in with the primary purpose of plinking advancing German pantsers would have inflicted a heavy toll. Would it have stopped Rommel? I doubt it. The British tactic was to be on their toes soon after first contact. Would the dug in HAA guns mitigate against their ability to be on their toes? What happens next?

Gooner1
Member
Posts: 1816
Joined: 06 Jan 2006 12:24
Location: London

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

Post by Gooner1 » 16 Dec 2019 13:29

MarkF617 wrote:
13 Dec 2019 16:45
The 6 pounder anti tank gun entered production in November 1941. Why would you ask for anti aircraft guns to use as anti tank guns when an effective anti tank gun was becoming available? Wouldn't it make more sense to request as many 6 pounders as can be shipped as soon as possible? Grant tanks, eith a 75mm gun, were also begining to arrive so the future looks bright.

Thanks

Mark.
I don't know. Why would 90th HAA Regiment write "these orders made one appreciate the thoroughness of training in ENGLAND, when anti-tank gunnery had been studied and practiced during the periods in the CHEVIOT HILLS" when UK forces had an abundance of already proven anti-tank weapons?
Professionalism perhaps?

User avatar
MarkF617
Member
Posts: 134
Joined: 16 Jun 2014 21:11
Location: United Kingdom

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

Post by MarkF617 » 16 Dec 2019 13:45

Units were training in England to perform a static role which was not an option in the Western Desert. Also in England there was British air superiority so anti aircraft guns could be spared to mess around in the hills. In Egypt the guns were all neeed to protect against Lufwaffe bombing.

Thanks

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

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 2538
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

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

Post by Sheldrake » 16 Dec 2019 18:09

MarkF617 wrote:
16 Dec 2019 13:45
Units were training in England to perform a static role which was not an option in the Western Desert. Also in England there was British air superiority so anti aircraft guns could be spared to mess around in the hills. In Egypt the guns were all neeed to protect against Lufwaffe bombing.

Thanks

Mark.
That is a little dogmatic. The UK Air Defences included a mixture of static and mobile HAA sites. Heavy AA was moved as the threat changed. On 26th June 1940 there were 313 3.7 " guns on static mounts and 306 on mobile mountings. By 21 may 1941 the numbers had risen to 644 on static mounts and 416 mobile guns. By July 1941 at least one Heavy AA Regiment (103) was assigned an anti-tank secondary role.

There was an awareness in AA command of the ground role of HAA. As early as 1st June 1940 Colonel Kennedy CRE of the unlucky 23rd Division gave a talk to the officers of 2nd AA Division and mentioned that a 3.7" gun blew two German tanks to bits. HAA parapets were lowered to enable the guns to engage German invaders.

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 6395
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

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

Post by Michael Kenny » 16 Dec 2019 19:48

Any 1940 75mm 'gun' could blow most tanks to bits when the standard tank/AT gun everywhere was under 40mm. Its just that most 75mm guns were not suitable for regular AT work. I would venture the 5.5 inch would be a better AT gun than the 3.7. Far more mobile at least. A 3.7 in the front line is a Kamikaze weapon. Is it being suggested that AT Platoons in Armoured Divisions be equipped with the 3.7? The silliness of actually asking that shows how far we have strayed in fantasy land.
One of the biggest problems Allied tankers faced in Germany were the fixed AA sites defending urban centres. Does that mean the Germans planned it all from the start because they knew the homeland were going to be overrun? Yet another example of the superior German forward-planning?

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2549
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

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

Post by MarkN » 16 Dec 2019 20:28

Michael Kenny wrote:
16 Dec 2019 19:48
Any 1940 75mm 'gun' could blow most tanks to bits when the standard tank/AT gun everywhere was under 40mm. Its just that most 75mm guns were not suitable for regular AT work. I would venture the 5.5 inch would be a better AT gun than the 3.7. Far more mobile at least. A 3.7 in the front line is a Kamikaze weapon. Is it being suggested that AT Platoons in Armoured Divisions be equipped with the 3.7? The silliness of actually asking that shows how far we have strayed in fantasy land.
Prior to CRUSADER, ME Command had received a tidy collection of 75mm guns from the UK for use as ATk guns. More were on the way.

User avatar
MarkF617
Member
Posts: 134
Joined: 16 Jun 2014 21:11
Location: United Kingdom

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

Post by MarkF617 » 16 Dec 2019 20:33

There's mobile and there's mobile. Moving a battery from one site to another and leisurely seytting ip is one thing, manoeuvring in the face of the enemy and quickly setting up is quite another.
You know you're British when you drive your German car to an Irish pub for a pint of Belgian beer before having an Indian meal. When you get home you sit on your Sweedish sofa and watch American programs on your Japanese TV.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4212
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

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

Post by Urmel » 16 Dec 2019 21:57

MarkN wrote:
16 Dec 2019 20:28
Michael Kenny wrote:
16 Dec 2019 19:48
Any 1940 75mm 'gun' could blow most tanks to bits when the standard tank/AT gun everywhere was under 40mm. Its just that most 75mm guns were not suitable for regular AT work. I would venture the 5.5 inch would be a better AT gun than the 3.7. Far more mobile at least. A 3.7 in the front line is a Kamikaze weapon. Is it being suggested that AT Platoons in Armoured Divisions be equipped with the 3.7? The silliness of actually asking that shows how far we have strayed in fantasy land.
Prior to CRUSADER, ME Command had received a tidy collection of 75mm guns from the UK for use as ATk guns. More were on the way.
Huh?
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

Gooner1
Member
Posts: 1816
Joined: 06 Jan 2006 12:24
Location: London

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

Post by Gooner1 » 17 Dec 2019 13:11

From 'Ball of Fire, The Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War' http://www.ourstory.info/library/4-ww2/Ball/fire08.html

In the Gazala battle after the failure of Operation Aberdeen

"The rest of Ten Brigade with the motor battalion of the 22nd Armoured Brigade and Truscott's 4th Field Regiment, stayed in their positions on Dahar El Aslagh, to hold the ridge. Here they awaited the enemy's next move, with orders to hold on to the last. To dig in the guns was impossible.
<snip>

That morning, June 6, Ten Brigade, unprotected by armour, was attacked on Dahar El Aslagh. At seven o'clock heavy shelling started, and sixty tanks slowly approached the 4/10th Baluch, making use of the ground, hull down. They halted beyond effective anti-tank range, and all our six-pounders were knocked out of action without being able to retaliate with success. The 4th Field Regiment was slowly destroyed. Our guns were obliged to use their ammunition sparingly. Should they fire shells at too great a range for accuracy, or wait till the German tanks came near enough to hit with effect? If the guns did wait, they were exposed to terrible fire, for their positions were exposed. One by one, slowly, systematically, the field guns were blown up.

By half-past nine only two 25-pounders were still firing. The Baluch carriers had been overrun. At the same time the leading company commander telephoned to Lieutenant-Colonel B. L. Sundius-Smith and said, "The tanks are coming through now." Ten minutes later the Colonel ordered another company to retire to the box at B.180. His battalion headquarters was taken by the first group of tanks that roared across the position. With no opposition but small-arms fire, they came forward, and sat over our slit trenches, their guns trained at point-blank range, while dismounted lorried infantry gestured "Get out---or else. . ." And so our infantry were mopped up, still fighting, but with their ammunition exhausted or very low. It was this battle that Brigadier Boucher had heard when walking over the Desert that morning towards eventual capture. Only scattered remnants of Ten Brigade escaped to tell the tale and to fight another day."

What do we learn from this?
How would the dynamics of the battle have changed with a battery of anti-tank trained and equipped HAA guns positioned 500-1000 yards behind the 6-pdrs?

Return to “The United Kingdom & its Empire and Commonwealth 1919-45”