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

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Don Juan
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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 » 24 Nov 2018 15:43

MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 14:47
A shot from this gun [MarkNote: 50mm Pak38] at 50 yds range penetrated the front armour of our Mk.II "I" tank and lobbed inside, breaking the driver's ??? There was no splintering effect on the armour whatsoever.
It is not clear whether this was a British test shoot with a captured gun (unlikely) or the observations noted after the Brevity battle (likely). It also mentions that the Germans are using solid shot, when we know they didn't have any. This seems to suggest the bursting charge regularly didn't go off - a reliability problem that you have already highlighted.
This could also have been a Pzgr.40, as even 50 yards was pushing it for standard 5cm AP against the Matilda. My guess at the moment is that for standard 5cm AP, the majority of cases where this broke up on penetration was due simply to the impact, and only occasionally due to the charge going off. That said, I'm sure there were many instances when this round did not break up at all. Worth noting the integrity of the Matilda's armour too.
MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 14:47
The tenor of the documents over a period of time encourages the British gunner (tank or ATk) to have a go at quite some distance and show some degree of bewilderment that the Germans deliberately hold their fire until much later.
Yes. From this I derive the view that the Germans were just as sceptical of the penetrative capability of their weapons as the British were of theirs. The resolution to this problem seems to have diverged however. For the British, the idea was to ascertain which enemy tank plates could be attacked from distance, whereas for the Germans the solution seems to have been to get closer, and to devise methods to encourage the British to facilitate this.
"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 » 24 Nov 2018 16:03

Don Juan wrote:
24 Nov 2018 15:43
Yes. From this I derive the view that the Germans were just as sceptical of the penetrative capability of their weapons as the British were of theirs. The resolution to this problem seems to have diverged however. For the British, the idea was to ascertain which enemy tank plates could be attacked from distance, whereas for the Germans the solution seems to have been to get closer, and to devise methods to encourage the British to facilitate this.
Not sure I agree entirely with your thoughts on the British approach, but wholeheartedly concur on the German side. I suspect it was based upon lessons learned in Belgium and France 1940.

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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 » 24 Nov 2018 17:15

MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 16:03
Not sure I agree entirely with your thoughts on the British approach, but wholeheartedly concur on the German side. I suspect it was based upon lessons learned in Belgium and France 1940.
Well, I suppose you could also say that the British approach was to yearn for weapons that would one day suit their tactics.
"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 » 24 Nov 2018 18:12

Don Juan wrote:
24 Nov 2018 17:15
MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 16:03
Not sure I agree entirely with your thoughts on the British approach, but wholeheartedly concur on the German side. I suspect it was based upon lessons learned in Belgium and France 1940.
Well, I suppose you could also say that the British approach was to yearn for weapons that would one day suit their tactics.
I take the view that the British in North Africa were fixated on mobility and survival; they weren't giving much consideration to hitting power and success at all. Of course, the later was probably not even perceived as a being a problem until the documents captured during CRUSADER showed the true sacle of overclaiming that had gone before.

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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 » 24 Nov 2018 19:47

MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 18:12
I take the view that the British in North Africa were fixated on mobility and survival; they weren't giving much consideration to hitting power and success at all. Of course, the later was probably not even perceived as a being a problem until the documents captured during CRUSADER showed the true sacle of overclaiming that had gone before.
It's interesting then that the British reaction after Operation Crusader was to claim that they were being out-ranged, even when the Germans were not fighting by this method, but had instead been conducting short range ambushes. The implication that the British themselves needed to consider firing at closer range appears to have been anathema to them.

Anyway, Christian Ankerstjerne of this very site has penetration figures for the 5cm KwK 38 that are even worse than the ones I have already posted:

https://panzerworld.com/armor-penetration-table
"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 » 24 Nov 2018 20:36

Don Juan wrote:
24 Nov 2018 19:47
MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 18:12
I take the view that the British in North Africa were fixated on mobility and survival; they weren't giving much consideration to hitting power and success at all. Of course, the later was probably not even perceived as a being a problem until the documents captured during CRUSADER showed the true sacle of overclaiming that had gone before.
It's interesting then that the British reaction after Operation Crusader was to claim that they were being out-ranged, even when the Germans were not fighting by this method, but had instead been conducting short range ambushes. The implication that the British themselves needed to consider firing at closer range appears to have been anathema to them.
I suspect the bewilderment about how near the Germans deliberately let them come was partly based on their false belief that the 2-pdr was having the same success at 800 yds!!!! :lol:

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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 » 24 Nov 2018 23:41

Urmel wrote:
20 Nov 2018 23:25
Time to post this again:

https://rommelsriposte.com/2010/04/27/g ... atilda-ii/

The Liddell-Hart figures are almost certainly the KwK38, since they refer to a document captured during BATTLEAXE (14 June 41).
I've queried this document before, but the figures I've posted in this thread convince me even more that this does not show a successful firing trial. This is because both German and British figures show that the 5cm Pzgr.39 fired from the Pak 38 could not penetrate the Matilda at an acute angle even at point blank range, let alone at 600 metres. On the other hand, you would be lucky to hit an aircraft hanger at 600m with the 5cm Pzgr.40, let alone a Matilda.

I think this is an itinerary for a demonstration, and not the results of a demonstration. Although how the hell they expected to specifically hit the wheel assembly with Pzgr.40 at 600m I don't know.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

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

Post by Urmel » 25 Nov 2018 05:52

Don Juan wrote:
24 Nov 2018 19:47
MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 18:12
I take the view that the British in North Africa were fixated on mobility and survival; they weren't giving much consideration to hitting power and success at all. Of course, the later was probably not even perceived as a being a problem until the documents captured during CRUSADER showed the true sacle of overclaiming that had gone before.
It's interesting then that the British reaction after Operation Crusader was to claim that they were being out-ranged, even when the Germans were not fighting by this method, but had instead been conducting short range ambushes. The implication that the British themselves needed to consider firing at closer range appears to have been anathema to them.
Ummm... Not sure where this comes from. Here's what 22 AB CO had to say in the 15 December report by XXX Corps (which would have been written up in the ten days or so before, so within two weeks of the start of CRUSADER):
The enemy always tried to make use of his greater range. of fire, avoided close fighting when he could and retained his Block formation. The main problem to be faced was therefore how to fight the enemy with fire when our tank 2-pdr guns were so much outranged.
In the same report, Norrie refers to the British tanks as "[...]equipped with the more lightly armed tanks." and:
[...]the enemy, by skillful use of numbers of anti-tank guns on his front and flank and the superior effective range of his tank guns, usually managed to penetrate out tanks before they got within range of his.
and
[...]his superior armour enables his Mk. IIIs to carry out attacks akin to those of our "I" tanks; frontally they have little to fear from our tanks and A/Tk guns, and they protect their flanks with their own A/Tk guns.
and
The 2-pdr. penetrates, and often passes through the sides of any enemy tank at our effective range [800-1,000 yards I think] but does not set the enemy tank on fire. The GERMAN tank gun fires a projectile which penetrates our tanks similarly, but at greater ranges, and sets them on fire instantaneously. [...]

and
But these guns [the 2-pdr and 37mm M3 gun] are no match for the German tanks, and, as long as the Germans can penetrate us at 1500 or even 2000 yards, as they were doing, one cannot judge too harshly those tank commanders - and there were many - who opened fire at 1,500 yards, a range at which the 2-pdr shall has already lost more than half its initial velocity.
and
We need a much more powerful gun than the 2-pdr[...]
There's a interesting bit on the use of smoke too to deal with this, a note of concern over rounds marked 'SAND', and a lamentation on the absence of 2-pdr HE which was popular with junior commanders.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 25 Nov 2018 12:04

And a snippet from a bit later in the war showing that size isn't everything! 8O
20 January 1944 Newmarket
1800 A special D.R. from H.Q. 30 Corps arrives with a new W.E. for A.Tk. Btys.
Comments are required by HQRA 30 Corps on the proposed establishment which will give one troop 6-prs and 2 troops 17-prs. The establishment of vehicles is better than our present W.E. but the introduction of another troop of 17-prs at the expense of 6-prs is not approve of.
This was from the war diary of 102nd Anti-Tank Regiment of 50th (Northumbrian) Division who had seen a fair amount of action in both North Africa and Sicily by then. (Wo171/929).

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

Post by Urmel » 25 Nov 2018 12:28

Probably because the 17-pdr was overkill for most of the stuff they would expect to encounter, and a b*tch to handle by comparison to the 6-pdr.

102 AT Rgt R.A. had been involved in CRUSADER, supporting 4 Armoured Brigade at the start.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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

Post by MarkN » 25 Nov 2018 13:01

Urmel wrote:
25 Nov 2018 05:52
Don Juan wrote:
24 Nov 2018 19:47
MarkN wrote:
24 Nov 2018 18:12
I take the view that the British in North Africa were fixated on mobility and survival; they weren't giving much consideration to hitting power and success at all. Of course, the later was probably not even perceived as a being a problem until the documents captured during CRUSADER showed the true sacle of overclaiming that had gone before.

It's interesting then that the British reaction after Operation Crusader was to claim that they were being out-ranged, even when the Germans were not fighting by this method, but had instead been conducting short range ambushes. The implication that the British themselves needed to consider firing at closer range appears to have been anathema to them.
Ummm... Not sure where this comes from. Here's what 22 AB CO had to say in the 15 December report by XXX Corps (which would have been written up in the ten days or so before, so within two weeks of the start of CRUSADER):
I don't think Scott-Cockburn's post-battle excuses to blame away his own tactical ineptitude is the soundest of evidence to use.

On 19Nov he managed to lose almost half his brigade charging the Italians at Bir el Gubi thinking he was running the 2.30 at Haydock Park. The 22ArmdBde WD entry for the day says: "The position was a fairly strongly held one and we suffered a number of tank casualties principally from Breda guns in dug-in positions which, firing at close range, broke tracks."

This was the same Breda gun that gave 7ArmdDiv no cause for concern during Op COMPASS.

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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 Nov 2018 16:11

Urmel wrote:
25 Nov 2018 05:52
Ummm... Not sure where this comes from. Here's what 22 AB CO had to say in the 15 December report by XXX Corps (which would have been written up in the ten days or so before, so within two weeks of the start of CRUSADER):
The enemy always tried to make use of his greater range. of fire, avoided close fighting when he could and retained his Block formation. The main problem to be faced was therefore how to fight the enemy with fire when our tank 2-pdr guns were so much outranged.
In the same report, Norrie refers to the British tanks as "[...]equipped with the more lightly armed tanks." and:
[...]the enemy, by skillful use of numbers of anti-tank guns on his front and flank and the superior effective range of his tank guns, usually managed to penetrate out tanks before they got within range of his.
and
[...]his superior armour enables his Mk. IIIs to carry out attacks akin to those of our "I" tanks; frontally they have little to fear from our tanks and A/Tk guns, and they protect their flanks with their own A/Tk guns.
and
The 2-pdr. penetrates, and often passes through the sides of any enemy tank at our effective range [800-1,000 yards I think] but does not set the enemy tank on fire. The GERMAN tank gun fires a projectile which penetrates our tanks similarly, but at greater ranges, and sets them on fire instantaneously. [...]

and
But these guns [the 2-pdr and 37mm M3 gun] are no match for the German tanks, and, as long as the Germans can penetrate us at 1500 or even 2000 yards, as they were doing, one cannot judge too harshly those tank commanders - and there were many - who opened fire at 1,500 yards, a range at which the 2-pdr shall has already lost more than half its initial velocity.
and
We need a much more powerful gun than the 2-pdr[...]
There's a interesting bit on the use of smoke too to deal with this, a note of concern over rounds marked 'SAND', and a lamentation on the absence of 2-pdr HE which was popular with junior commanders.
What are your thoughts on the accuracy of this account, Andreas?

From what I know of this incident, this was a combined attack by two Panzer Divisions against piecemeal attacks from 22AB, so the volume of fire would have been going overwhelmingly in one direction.

Saying that the 2 pounder was only going at less than half its velocity at 1500 yards kind of misses the point that so would the 5cm, which started out about 400 fps slower, at least from the KwK 38. It may have been the case that 22AB's tanks were Crusader Mk.I's, which only had a 40mm basis, but I really find it difficult to believe that even these were being penetrated at 2000 yards. The explosions were due to unprotected ammunition stowage, of course.
"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 » 25 Nov 2018 16:59

Don Juan wrote:
25 Nov 2018 16:11
From what I know of this incident, this was a combined attack by two Panzer Divisions against piecemeal attacks from 22AB, so the volume of fire would have been going overwhelmingly in one direction.
Scott-Cockburn's report does not specify which battle it refered to. Logic suggests it was an overal summary of events from 18Nov to 10Dec41.
Don Juan wrote:
25 Nov 2018 16:11
Saying that the 2 pounder was only going at less than half its velocity at 1500 yards kind of misses the point that so would the 5cm, which started out about 400 fps slower, at least from the KwK 38. It may have been the case that 22AB's tanks were Crusader Mk.I's, which only had a 40mm basis, but I really find it difficult to believe that even these were being penetrated at 2000 yards. The explosions were due to unprotected ammunition stowage, of course.
22 ArmdBde had both Crusader Mk.1 and Mk.2 - although the majority were Mk.1

Here's another section from the same report:
(iii) The attacking unit or sub-unit (Regt. or Swn.) moved up to about 1000 yds. at an angle to the enemy, moved forward again quickly under Smoke to about 800 yds., fired quickly and returned under Smoke. As soon as one such attack had finished others were launched at different points. The C.S. tank or tanks must keep well out of the battle and not get involved in their own smoke nor in the fire fight.

On coming out from under the smoke no tank should remain static but keep continually moving and "looping". Repeated thrusts of this nature give the enemy a false impression of our numbers and give us opportunities to use our tank guns with good effect.
To summarize, Scott-Cockburn's tactics were to pop out of smoke when about 800 yds range and conduct "looping" exercises. Movements that immediatly present sides and rear of tank to enemy fire - whilst enemy is probably facing with strongest part of armor forward! Moreover, constant movement makes spotting concealed/camouflaged ATk guns far more difficult and if the tactic was to fire whilst on the move at 800 yds it's almost guaranteed to mean the British hardly hit anything! The Germans probably saw this as a bit of a duck shoot!

Keep mobile and survive.... :roll:

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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 Nov 2018 17:27

Liddell-Hart thought that 7AD were doomed from the moment they decided to operate as three separate brigades, instead of as a single concentrated formation. This just invited the Germans to write them down one brigade at a time.

L-H also pointed out that the most powerful tank gun on the battlefield was the US 37mm. This is also borne out by the Ordnance Board and Official History figures.
"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 » 25 Nov 2018 18:50

Don Juan wrote:
25 Nov 2018 17:27
Liddell-Hart thought that 7AD were doomed from the moment they decided to operate as three separate brigades, instead of as a single concentrated formation. This just invited the Germans to write them down one brigade at a time.
Hmmmmm.

Until recently I'd never looked at Op CRUSADER. However, encouraged by Urmel, I've now had a good read of the planning, preparation and the first 3 or 4 days of the battle(s).

I'm not sure it's a simple as Liddell-Hart makes out. The British had created their plan. As they were attacking, they got to choose the timing and the location of the battles - at least the first ones. Evidence shows that they had a very good idea - albeit not perfect - awareness of where the Axis forces were located. But they blew all the advantage they had away. How?

Well, in my opinion it is not as simple as they sent the brigades in different directions. Documents show the problems were far more deeprooted than that. The fundamental problem was a nonsensical belief that they were still the better fighting force and that winning was a foregone conclusion based upon a simple totting up of the number of tanks they had compared to the Axis. That delusion flowed down into the belief that a British armoured brigade (group) had greater battlefield competence and combat power than an entire German panzer division. I'm not joking! Try and lift your jaws up from the floor. And on it went....

It's no wonder they did so poorly.

And, as regards the concentration of tank forces, the Germans were little better at it than the British. In fact, Rommel essentially handed the first stage of victory to the British on 19 November when they sent a weakened Pz.Regt.5 to fight the entire 3 armoured brigades of the 7th Armoured Division. Of course, the British had already contrived to screw it up. :roll:

Given how badly the British generalship was, it is no surprise that Norrie spent so much effort blaming his equipment. 8-)

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