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 MarkN » 28 Nov 2018 19:00

Don Juan wrote:
28 Nov 2018 13:01
I think more and more that the crucial difference between the British and the Germans was in how they viewed the efficacy of their tank and anti-tank weapons. For the Germans the paradigm seems to have been that the 5cm guns were, for the most part, disabling weapons. For the British, the paradigm was that the 2 pounder was a destroying weapon. This helps to explain why, for example, the Germans liked to engage at close range - it put disabled enemy tanks more in reach of their demolition teams, who were the real tank destroyers.

If Andreas is correct that the British were achieving more mobility/temporary kills, then this means, counter-intuitively, that the British were actually out-performing the Germans on the battlefield. The British were not being beaten by the German tanks or anti-tank gunners - they were being beaten by the demolition and recovery teams.

The problem was not in the British tanks or the 2 pounder, nor necessarily in the plans and tactics, nor even in the field commanders. The problem was in the fatal paradigmatic idea that the 2 pounder was a destroying weapon.

And when after Operation Crusader the British found out how few German tanks they had actually destroyed, the penny still didn't drop. They became disillusioned with the 2 pounder because it wasn't the destructive weapon they had assumed it to be. Hence the calls to carry more ammunition and bring in the 6 pounder. The Germans did not experience this arc of emotional trauma, as they had never had any illusions about the destructive capability of their 5cm guns.
I think that is a one step too far in the understanding - of both the British and the Germans. I don't think either of them had put any thought into disable or destroy debate. Both saw the need to neutralize enemy war chariots and assumed they would be victorious in the battle.

The notion that a war chariot could be reused by the enemy was predicated upon losing the battle - which neither considered as remotely possible. Institutionally, the British believed they were beating the Germans in Belgium and France and it was only the poor performance of the French that let them down. They lost in Cyrenaica because the politicians had denuded them of equipment and sent it to Greece. They lost in Greece because the Greeks let them down. They were losing in CRUSADER because the sneaky Germans had unfairly developped new tank guns that massively outranged their 2-pdrs and set their tanks alight.

I believe the reality is more along the lines of the Germans being able to understand their strengths and weakness, to adapt on the hoof and be flexible enough to change approach when it is demontrated that their ways are wrong. The British just blamed others for failure and were institutionally incapable of accepting they needed to change.

The Germans saw infantry, armour, field guns, anti-tank et al all as part of a single effort to win the battle: offence, defence, harbouring etc.

The British thought the infantry tank was to support the infantry as a mobile machine-gun or anti-tank gun and the cruiser tank was to engage in exclusive tank v tank battles. Field artillery was for softening up defences for the infantry to attack and anti-tank guns were for the infantry to defend themselves. Why would an armoured regiment need anti-tank gun support when each of its war chariots had an anti-tank gun sticking out the front? When an armoured regiment engaged enemy war chariots it focussed soley on the enemy war chariots and failed to spot the enemy anti-tank guns skilfully placed between them and ripping chunks out of their armour!

The Germans deliberately lobbed shells from afar to locate any (hidden) A/Tk guns, first neutralised them with field guns or Pz.IV rounds and then advanced. The British ignored any enemy A/Tk guns - if they saw them - and pressed ahead regardless. Just look at how Scott-Cockburn threw his pantsers onto Italian AT/k guns at Bir el-Gubi and then German ones a couple of days later. Davy threw his against the AT/k guns of 15.Pz-Div and KG Mickel on the same day. And so on and on...

As to the the legendary, perhaps mythical 88s, KG Stephan (Pz.Regt.5) had just 4 guns of 3./Flak.18 with them, 15.Pz-Div also had just 4 guns of 3./Flak.33 attached as part of Pz.Regt.8 and a further 4 guns of 2./Flak.18 were hastily brought westwards by AA.3 on 20 November and may have had a brief engagement against 6RTR on 21 November before hurrying off to help stem the Tobruk breakout. The other 12 guns of PanzerArmeeAfrika were tued down in the border Stutzpunkte. A look at 3./Flak.33's battle report for Sidi Rezegh round #1 suggests they didn't didn't do too much damage.

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

Post by MarkN » 28 Nov 2018 19:42

Urmel wrote:
28 Nov 2018 07:21
Of all the ridiculous stuff coming out of CRUSADER, Davy's 'Battle Memorandum' tops it.
Scott-Cockburn's "Battle Notes" have to be considered too for top award...
After two years of training we are about to put into practice all that we have learned. The measure of our success depends chiefly on our guts.

The following are not Training Notes but Battle Notes.
Later down the pages...
We have fast tanks. We must make use of their speed, and range and not use them for frontal attacks.
...
If you can, present an end-on target to the enemy and not a side view.
And then, decides to get his donkey wallopers performing "looping" movements which present more side and arse than front-end to the enemy. :roll:

And finally...
Be prepared to fire on the move. If you have the nerve, halt to shoot...
...
It is accurate gunnery that is going to win us this battle.

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

Post by MarkN » 28 Nov 2018 19:51

Urmel wrote:
28 Nov 2018 07:21
Of all the ridiculous stuff coming out of CRUSADER, Davy's 'Battle Memorandum' tops it.
Scott-Cockburn's "Battle Notes" have to be considered too for top award...
After two years of training we are about to put into practice all that we have learned. The measure of our success depends chiefly on our guts.

The following are not Training Notes but Battle Notes.
Later down the pages...
We have fast tanks. We must make use of their speed, and range and not use them for frontal attacks.
...
If you can, present an end-on target to the enemy and not a side view.
And then, decides to get his donkey wallopers performing "looping" movements which present more side and arse than front-end to the enemy. :roll:

And finally...
Be prepared to fire on the move. If you have the nerve, halt to shoot...
...
It is accurate gunnery that is going to win us this battle.

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

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Nov 2018 16:35

MarkN wrote:
28 Nov 2018 19:00

The Germans saw infantry, armour, field guns, anti-tank et al all as part of a single effort to win the battle: offence, defence, harbouring etc.

The British thought the infantry tank was to support the infantry as a mobile machine-gun or anti-tank gun and the cruiser tank was to engage in exclusive tank v tank battles. Field artillery was for softening up defences for the infantry to attack and anti-tank guns were for the infantry to defend themselves. Why would an armoured regiment need anti-tank gun support when each of its war chariots had an anti-tank gun sticking out the front? When an armoured regiment engaged enemy war chariots it focussed soley on the enemy war chariots and failed to spot the enemy anti-tank guns skilfully placed between them and ripping chunks out of their armour!

The Germans deliberately lobbed shells from afar to locate any (hidden) A/Tk guns, first neutralised them with field guns or Pz.IV rounds and then advanced. The British ignored any enemy A/Tk guns - if they saw them - and pressed ahead regardless. Just look at how Scott-Cockburn threw his pantsers onto Italian AT/k guns at Bir el-Gubi and then German ones a couple of days later. Davy threw his against the AT/k guns of 15.Pz-Div and KG Mickel on the same day. And so on and on...

As to the the legendary, perhaps mythical 88s, KG Stephan (Pz.Regt.5) had just 4 guns of 3./Flak.18 with them, 15.Pz-Div also had just 4 guns of 3./Flak.33 attached as part of Pz.Regt.8 and a further 4 guns of 2./Flak.18 were hastily brought westwards by AA.3 on 20 November and may have had a brief engagement against 6RTR on 21 November before hurrying off to help stem the Tobruk breakout. The other 12 guns of PanzerArmeeAfrika were tued down in the border Stutzpunkte. A look at 3./Flak.33's battle report for Sidi Rezegh round #1 suggests they didn't didn't do too much damage.
At last.... the thread returns somewhere in the vicinity of the subject title.

These paragraphs encapsulate the principle, but hard to document reasons that not even a handful of 3.7" or obsolescent 3" 20 cwt AA guns was deployed in the Anti tank role before summer 1942. Despite inventing tanks, pioneering mechanised formations, and well developed combined arms tactics in the First World War the 1939-41 British Army was conceptually ill equipped to fight a mechanised war.

After the war there was a criticism of the Regimental system and a suggestion that too many cavalrymen saw tanks as replacement for the arm that "brought a touch of class to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl." The bigger issues might have been the institutional pressure of the new Arms the Royal Tanks and the Royal Armoured Corps. There was a clash between the RAC and the RA after the idea was mooted that anything on tracks should be RAC a la Panzertruppen, but predating that arm by five years. The 1943 film "Tanks in Battle" commissioned by the DRAC did not mention any other arm other than the RAF. There was far too much union rules thinking. The idea that the AA gunners might have something of use simply did not enter into their thinking.

There is a parallel between the abysmal standard of all arms co-operation in the desert and the neglect of Close support by the RAF. As an independent force the jobs it wanted to do were those where the RAF was doing its own thing or centre stage.


I have a suspicion that intra-institutional politics

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

Post by Urmel » 29 Nov 2018 19:38

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Nov 2018 16:35
There is a parallel between the abysmal standard of all arms co-operation in the desert and the neglect of Close support by the RAF. As an independent force the jobs it wanted to do were those where the RAF was doing its own thing or centre stage.
I don’t think that’s fair at least for this period. The RAF was better integrated than the Luftwaffe. The problem was that the system was in its infancy and the available weapons weren’t the right ones. But they certainly did fly close support, there are a lot of references to it.

https://rommelsriposte.com/2011/12/30/c ... sader/amp/

Note that the lack of effectiveness wasn’t restricted to the RAF:

https://rommelsriposte.com/2012/06/24/t ... ombed/amp/

The RAF basically did s shuttle run over Halfaya, with questions being raised in London whether that was useful at all.

https://rommelsriposte.com/2011/06/17/t ... rison/amp/
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 Sheldrake » 30 Nov 2018 10:46

Urmel wrote:
29 Nov 2018 19:38
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Nov 2018 16:35
There is a parallel between the abysmal standard of all arms co-operation in the desert and the neglect of Close support by the RAF. As an independent force the jobs it wanted to do were those where the RAF was doing its own thing or centre stage.
I don’t think that’s fair at least for this period. The RAF was better integrated than the Luftwaffe. The problem was that the system was in its infancy and the available weapons weren’t the right ones. But they certainly did fly close support, there are a lot of references to it.

https://rommelsriposte.com/2011/12/30/c ... sader/amp/

Note that the lack of effectiveness wasn’t restricted to the RAF:

https://rommelsriposte.com/2012/06/24/t ... ombed/amp/

The RAF basically did s shuttle run over Halfaya, with questions being raised in London whether that was useful at all.

https://rommelsriposte.com/2011/06/17/t ... rison/amp/
I wasn't referring to the lessons the Desert Air Force was learning the hard way in 1940-41 but to the systematic neglect by the RAF of the aspects of air operations that concerned co-operation with the Army or the Navy. In his recent book on the Norway campaign John Kiszely referred top occasions where the RAF had suppressed reports from the Spanish Civil War about the effectiveness of Close Air Support.

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

Post by Urmel » 30 Nov 2018 11:14

Thanks for clarifying!
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 MarkN » 30 Nov 2018 12:57

Sheldrake wrote:
30 Nov 2018 10:46
I wasn't referring to the lessons the Desert Air Force was learning the hard way in 1940-41 but to the systematic neglect by the RAF of the aspects of air operations that concerned co-operation with the Army or the Navy. In his recent book on the Norway campaign John Kiszely referred top occasions where the RAF had suppressed reports from the Spanish Civil War about the effectiveness of Close Air Support.
Whilst it is historically true that leadership of the interwar RAF were rather beholden to strategic bombing as the 'solution' to future wars, I feel it is rather a large elephant to introduce into this particular room. The RAF may well have neglected understanding and development of CAS, but the Army was hardly banging on their door demanding cooperation, was it? The RAF cannot develop effective CAS in the absence of a LAND force showing interest. Moreover, highlighting the lack of cooperation between services is rather missing the point of the lack of cooperation within a service - or, to be more precise - the inability of army types within the same cap badge to cooperate!

Even today, 2018, cap badge rivalry and/or service/arm/branch/cap badge turf war is the single greatest obstacle to a 'truely' effective British military. The RN's carrier vanity project has gutted the entire MoD budget and had profound (negative) consequence upon military capability throughout all three services. 'Save the wegiment' campaigns guarantee an imbalance in the Army structure that reduce deployment capacity. And so on....

British Army written 'doctrine' of the mid-1930s (ie. FSRs) was/is pretty sound. However, the British Army was institutionally incapable of getting its act together as written 'doctrine' was anathema to practical 'doctrine' (ie. every commander from battalion upwards did as he chose). Add to that the individual and institutional determination not to learn any lesson that questionned the organizational status quo, and it is no wonder the British took 4 years to catch the Wehrmacht up. And even that is questionnable whether they managed to do it at all. Perhaps the most effect division in the latter stages of the war was the Guards Armoured Division. Not because they were tall chaps with connections, but because they had rid themselves of internal cap badge rivalry and were doing it all themselves inhouse: armour, recce, arty, inf etc..

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

Post by Gooner1 » 30 Nov 2018 13:45

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Nov 2018 16:35
These paragraphs encapsulate the principle, but hard to document reasons that not even a handful of 3.7" or obsolescent 3" 20 cwt AA guns was deployed in the Anti tank role before summer 1942.
The problem of using the 3.7-inch gun in the anti-tank role has been described - too big, too immobile, no sights and too few. The non use of the 3-inch AA gun is less explicable.
But before we condemn the failure to use the 3-inch gun in the anti-tank role too harshly, lets not forget that seventy-six years later and with all the information we have to hand, some people still refuse to accept that the 2-pdr was often bloody useless! :D

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

Post by MarkN » 30 Nov 2018 14:17

Gooner1 wrote:
30 Nov 2018 13:45
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Nov 2018 16:35
These paragraphs encapsulate the principle, but hard to document reasons that not even a handful of 3.7" or obsolescent 3" 20 cwt AA guns was deployed in the Anti tank role before summer 1942.
The problem of using the 3.7-inch gun in the anti-tank role has been described - too big, too immobile, no sights and too few. The non use of the 3-inch AA gun is less explicable.
Hand waving your opinion without any substance whatsoever is just silly.

How many 3" HAA guns were available to be reroled as A/Tk guns in North Africa and when?

This thread has already highlighted the falsehood of several claims underpinning the opinions of many people when engaging with this topic. I hope your handwaving is based upon solid understanding of the reality and not just the handwaving of an unspecified agenda.
Gooner1 wrote:
30 Nov 2018 13:45
But before we condemn the failure to use the 3-inch gun in the anti-tank role too harshly, lets not forget that seventy-six years later and with all the information we have to hand, some people still refuse to accept that the 2-pdr was often bloody useless!
Let's not forget that seventy-six years later, and with all the information we have to hand, some people still refuse to accept that the 2-pdr was no less useless than the 50mm KwK38 L/42 of the Pz.III. British battlefield failure was not down to the so-called "bloody useless" 2-pdr.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 30 Nov 2018 15:14

MarkN wrote:
28 Nov 2018 19:00
The Germans deliberately lobbed shells from afar to locate any (hidden) A/Tk guns, first neutralised them with field guns or Pz.IV rounds and then advanced. The British ignored any enemy A/Tk guns - if they saw them - and pressed ahead regardless.
Notes from Theatres of War March '42:
"German tactics at El Duda. - in the armoured attack on El Duda, the German tanks cruised about very slowly outside the effective range of the 2-pr., continuously shelling the position with their 75mm guns. They gradually goaded our anti-tank guns to fire, and, when satisfied that all had been located, they knocked them out quickly with fire from gun tanks and supporting artillery. Then, just before dusk, the tanks moved forward with infantry close behind and overran the centre of the position."

Now why couldn't the British just do the same? :roll:

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

Post by MarkN » 30 Nov 2018 15:22

Gooner1 wrote:
30 Nov 2018 15:14
MarkN wrote:
28 Nov 2018 19:00
The Germans deliberately lobbed shells from afar to locate any (hidden) A/Tk guns, first neutralised them with field guns or Pz.IV rounds and then advanced. The British ignored any enemy A/Tk guns - if they saw them - and pressed ahead regardless.
Notes from Theatres of War March '42:
"German tactics at El Duda. - in the armoured attack on El Duda, the German tanks cruised about very slowly outside the effective range of the 2-pr., continuously shelling the position with their 75mm guns. They gradually goaded our anti-tank guns to fire, and, when satisfied that all had been located, they knocked them out quickly with fire from gun tanks and supporting artillery. Then, just before dusk, the tanks moved forward with infantry close behind and overran the centre of the position."

Now why couldn't the British just do the same?
They could. But they didn't.

The correct question is, why didn't they?

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

Post by Gooner1 » 30 Nov 2018 15:32

MarkN wrote:
30 Nov 2018 14:17
Hand waving your opinion without any substance whatsoever is just silly.

How many 3" HAA guns were available to be reroled as A/Tk guns in North Africa and when?
Memory going a bit goldfishy? We know from this thread that there was a reduction in the number of 3-inch Anti-Aircraft guns in AA Command between June 1940 and December 1941 of 210 pieces. What happened to them? Or the 3-inch AA already in the Middle East, clearly obsolescent in their role?
Let's not forget that seventy-six years later, and with all the information we have to hand, some people still refuse to accept that the 2-pdr was no less useless than the 50mm KwK38 L/42 of the Pz.III.
:thumbsup: You should get a special prize for that. What next, you'll be claiming that the 40mm maximum armour on the Crusader is equal to the 62mm of Armour on the Panzer III?

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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 » 30 Nov 2018 15:38

Gooner1 wrote:
30 Nov 2018 15:32
:thumbsup: You should get a special prize for that. What next, you'll be claiming that the 40mm maximum armour on the Crusader is equal to the 62mm of Armour on the Panzer III?
The 60mm armour of the Valentine and the 75mm armour of the Matilda were more than equal to the frontal armour of the Panzer III, and on those British tanks the thick armour covered a far larger portion of the vehicle.

It's almost as though the British were using the wrong type of tank for their tank vs. tank engagements.
"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 » 30 Nov 2018 15:43

MarkN wrote:
30 Nov 2018 15:22
The correct question is, why didn't they?
Your on a roll! :D

Because the British didn't have a tank that could chuck High Explosive effectively.

Because the superior effective range of the Pak38 meant British Cruisers would have to cruise about a lot further away from the gun-line than the Panzers. Like about a mile.

Because if the German saw the British buggering about like this, they'd order up an 88 to put holes in British tanks to about the distance one can notice the curvature of the earth.

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