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
MarkN
Member
Posts: 2637
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 2018 22:19

Damper wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:14
That's not a tank it's a self propelled gun. I don't have pictures of the other 49 but I'll get right on it.
Please do.

Remember, your belief/claim is that 50 existed by the end of 1941.

And whilst you are at it, feel free to do some research on the RAC v RA cat fight as to whether it was a pantser or a spg....

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2637
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 2018 22:25

Damper wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:09
Also if you have an issue with my posts and want the moderators to act why not message them directly rather than posting whiny passive aggressive appeals within your replies?
I don't have an issue with your posts specifically. They are very much the norm on AHF. If AHF ownership/management is willing to accept them, it is not for me to complain. If they have no inclination or desire to deal with posts that don't meet their written posting standards, so be it. It is for AHF ownership/management to decide whether your type of post fits their 'mission statement'and/or commercial interests.

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3751
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 2018 23:50

Damper wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:14
MarkN wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:13
Damper wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:09
MarkN wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:06
Damper wrote:
16 Dec 2018 22:02
So 50 3 inch guns weren't used to arm Churchill SP guns in 1941?
Novel idea.

Do your own research and come back with the evidence that supports your belief that such an event did occur in history.

PS. Forum Staff member Juha Tompuri, another typical AHF post for you to discuss with your collegues in AHF management.
Image
I see one tank in that picture with one ex-HAA 3-inch tube. Where are the other 49?
That's not a tank it's a self propelled gun. I don't have pictures of the other 49 but I'll get right on it.
Part of the answer to the first question may lie in the response...

The Royal Artillery and Royal Armoured Corps had a demarcation dispute about who manned what kind of AFV. Tanks were manned by the RAC - but who would own a Churchill 3" SP anti tank ?

103 Heavy AA Regiment was assigned in July 1941 with a secondary anti tank role. I don't know if any Gunner unit was assigned to man Churchill SP anti-tank guns.

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2637
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 » 17 Dec 2018 00:18

Sheldrake wrote:
16 Dec 2018 23:50
Part of the answer to the first question may lie in the response...

The Royal Artillery and Royal Armoured Corps had a demarcation dispute about who manned what kind of AFV. Tanks were manned by the RAC - but who would own a Churchill 3" SP anti tank ?

103 Heavy AA Regiment was assigned in July 1941 with a secondary anti tank role. I don't know if any Gunner unit was assigned to man Churchill SP anti-tank guns.
Indeed. :)

My initial response sort of gives the game away. However, it was meant more as a pointer as to where answers can be found to gain understanding of historical reality surrounding the wider topic in general.

The initial War Cabinet CoS Committee meeting approving the project (March1941) is very clear that the tubes are to be fitted to tanks with no indication that once fitted they would be anything other than tanks. No indication either as to the cap badge to be granted user rights.

It appears that a compromise was found and it was neither a tank nor a spg but a "carrier". The only confirmed user l know of was armoured corps (Canadian) cap badge.

Gooner1
Member
Posts: 2792
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 2018 12:54

Urmel wrote:
16 Dec 2018 18:40
Good point. I'm still waiting for an answer as to how the introduction of the 3.7" AA gun into AT regiments would have helped in any way to overcome the doctrinal failure of 8th Army to use combined arms warfare.

I mean... Did 22 Armoured Brigade integrate its AT guns into the combat group when it attacked Bir el Gobi? Well that would be a 'no'. Did 4 Armoured Brigade at Gabr Saleh? Well, no. Did 7 Armoured Brigade at Sidi Rezegh? Well, you guessed right... no. So the 2-pdr armed tanks wouldn't be helped by this, unless the way they were used was changed.

Now as part of a Pakfront, sure it could be expected to hole German tanks. But... The Germans had integrated artillery and mobile artillery in the form of the Panzer IV. They would have experienced this with surprise once or twice, and then the German artillery would have dealt with the quite sizeable and not superbly mobile gun rather savagely, is my guess.

Shrug.
Of course 8th Army practiced combined arms warfare.
How would adding 2-pdr anti-tank guns to a force of 2-pdr armed tanks possibly have helped?

I think it has been established that the 3.7" was too large, too immobile and too lacking in appropriate optics to imitate the 88s.
Assuming the sights issue was fixed and an AP round was available, at what distance do you see the Panzer IV being able to safely shell the 3.7" gun?
(A War Office estimate was that the 3.7" might penetrate about 25% more than the 17-pdr)

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4918
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 » 17 Dec 2018 13:38

Gooner1 wrote:
17 Dec 2018 12:54
Of course 8th Army practiced combined arms warfare.
Not in Operation CRUSADER, it didn't. Some parts of it did. Most noticeably, not the armoured force though, with the exception of the I-tanks.

Gooner1 wrote:
17 Dec 2018 12:54
How would adding 2-pdr anti-tank guns to a force of 2-pdr armed tanks possibly have helped?
Is this a serious question?
Gooner1 wrote:
17 Dec 2018 12:54
I think it has been established that the 3.7" was too large, too immobile and too lacking in appropriate optics to imitate the 88s.
Assuming the sights issue was fixed and an AP round was available, at what distance do you see the Panzer IV being able to safely shell the 3.7" gun?
(A War Office estimate was that the 3.7" might penetrate about 25% more than the 17-pdr)
First off apologies to readers, I meant to write 3", not 3.7".

Nevertheless, the range of the 75L24 was 6,200m. Regardless of that, the range at which it could safely engage was dependent on terrain features, since it did not need direct line of sight but would be able to engage from a hull-down position. Should be obvious.
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: 2792
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 2018 14:38

Urmel wrote:
17 Dec 2018 13:38
Is this a serious question?
Of course.
First off apologies to readers, I meant to write 3", not 3.7".

Nevertheless, the range of the 75L24 was 6,200m. Regardless of that, the range at which it could safely engage was dependent on terrain features, since it did not need direct line of sight but would be able to engage from a hull-down position. Should be obvious.
And they would have the same problem the British artillery did. If they can't see the target they are just shelling random areas of the desert.
Meanwhile the 3-inch 20 cwt AP should punch a hole about as effectively as the Pak40. So potentially the MkIVs are vulnerable upto about 2000 yards.

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3751
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 » 17 Dec 2018 18:04

Gooner1 wrote:
17 Dec 2018 12:54
I think it has been established that the 3.7" was too large, too immobile and too lacking in appropriate optics to imitate the 88s.
Hmm.
This is one of the points of dispute.

It is true that this is an excuse that is given, but the 3.7" AA gun WAS used effectively in the anti-tank role at Tobruk in 1942 and at 1st El Alemein. HAA units were also assigned dual anti tank role from July 1941 for Home Forces and in Normandy.

Neither the Flak 88mm nor 3.7" Equipment was ideal as an anti tank gun. Besides being heavier and higher than dedicated anti tank guns, it misused specialists and equipment optimised to work as part of specialist AA fire control.

But when this was the key weapon size and weight were problems that could be worked around. It was less of an issue at long engagement ranges, say 2000m+.

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2637
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 » 17 Dec 2018 19:19

Sheldrake wrote:
17 Dec 2018 18:04
Hmm.
This is one of the points of dispute.

It is true that this is an excuse that is given, but the 3.7" AA gun WAS used effectively in the anti-tank role at Tobruk in 1942 and at 1st El Alemein. HAA units were also assigned dual anti tank role from July 1941 for Home Forces and in Normandy.
Hmmmm indeed.

Sometime in 1941, I don't recall the exact timeframe, all LAA and HAA units and sub-units in field formations were trained to fire at pantsers and issued with AP (and SAP) rounds. But they were not reroled or duel-roled per se; they were given a chance to defend themselves if the need arose. The HAA guns in Boulogne 1940, the HAA guns in Tobruk 1942 and the el Adem Box at the same time were not (re)roled at ATk assets, their location was being overrun by the enemy. A slop jockey in the mess does not become an infanteer if he/she his given a rifle to defend him/herself with as a last resort.

In respect of North Africa, post Gazala withdrawal, a deliberate effort was indeed made to ensure HAA units were ready to be used if necessary as a 'final ATk stop line' rather than just as being able to defend themselves. That is the nearest I've seen (notwithstanding your comment about UK dual-roled units in 1941 which I know no more about) to a dual role status prior to Normandy.

Given that the armor penetration power of the 3.7-inch HAA was not disputed and given how effective it could be if called into use (proven not just estimated), it seems to me that the (lack of) mobility of the 3.7-inch HAA to be a bit more than just an "excuse" in the decision-making. In the desert, up to the arrival of Montgomery, the practical approach of the British was based around mobility and survive NOT fight to win. Existing 2-pdr ATk units had got into the habit of using their portee guns as faux pantsers firing on the move from the backs of the lorries. Camouflage, concealment, accuracy and success were sacrificed to the need to retain mobility to survive. The 3.7-inch HAA gun just doesn't fit into that tactical approach. To put the 3.7-inch HAA gun into front-line use required a complete change of mindset. History shows that didn't happen. My argument is that it couldn't happen due to the institutional inability of the British Army to deal with such challenges to the existing order.
Sheldrake wrote:
17 Dec 2018 18:04
Neither the Flak 88mm nor 3.7" Equipment was ideal as an anti tank gun. Besides being heavier and higher than dedicated anti tank guns, it misused specialists and equipment optimised to work as part of specialist AA fire control.
Correct. And an operational analysis of the 88mm Flak shows that it was nowhere near as effective in mobile formations as the myth would have one believe. Formiddable weapon in heavily defended Stutzpunkte with nowhere to run. I do not believe the 3.7-inch HAA gun would have been a success in mobile formations, rather the opposite I suspect would occur.

Interestingly, and returning to a point I made earlier, the Germans had captured neigh on 240 3-inch and 3.7-inch HAA guns in Belgium and France and another 48 in Greece, and yet the only evidence that I have seen that they put them to use was in the HAA role.

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3751
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 » 17 Dec 2018 21:41

MarkN wrote:
17 Dec 2018 19:19
Sheldrake wrote:
17 Dec 2018 18:04
Hmm.
This is one of the points of dispute.

It is true that this is an excuse that is given, but the 3.7" AA gun WAS used effectively in the anti-tank role at Tobruk in 1942 and at 1st El Alemein. HAA units were also assigned dual anti tank role from July 1941 for Home Forces and in Normandy.
Hmmmm indeed.

Sometime in 1941, I don't recall the exact timeframe, all LAA and HAA units and sub-units in field formations were trained to fire at pantsers and issued with AP (and SAP) rounds. But they were not reroled or duel-roled per se; they were given a chance to defend themselves if the need arose.
That is not so. 103 Heavy AA were given a secondary role in Home Forces as a Anti tank against the threat of German heavy tanks in the event of the invasion. Source Regimental History 103 Regiment HAA Manuscript from Firepower Archive.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4918
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 » 17 Dec 2018 22:07

Gooner1 wrote:
17 Dec 2018 14:38
And they would have the same problem the British artillery did. If they can't see the target they are just shelling random areas of the desert.
Meanwhile the 3-inch 20 cwt AP should punch a hole about as effectively as the Pak40. So potentially the MkIVs are vulnerable upto about 2000 yards.
The Germans kept the Mk. IVs back 2,000 yards or so quite regularly. Maybe they had figured something out the British artillery didn't?
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

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4918
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 » 17 Dec 2018 22:08

Sheldrake wrote:
17 Dec 2018 21:41
MarkN wrote:
17 Dec 2018 19:19
Sheldrake wrote:
17 Dec 2018 18:04
Hmm.
This is one of the points of dispute.

It is true that this is an excuse that is given, but the 3.7" AA gun WAS used effectively in the anti-tank role at Tobruk in 1942 and at 1st El Alemein. HAA units were also assigned dual anti tank role from July 1941 for Home Forces and in Normandy.
Hmmmm indeed.

Sometime in 1941, I don't recall the exact timeframe, all LAA and HAA units and sub-units in field formations were trained to fire at pantsers and issued with AP (and SAP) rounds. But they were not reroled or duel-roled per se; they were given a chance to defend themselves if the need arose.
That is not so. 103 Heavy AA were given a secondary role in Home Forces as a Anti tank against the threat of German heavy tanks in the event of the invasion. Source Regimental History 103 Regiment HAA Manuscript from Firepower Archive.
I'd still put this down as a zebra, rather than a horse.
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

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4918
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 » 17 Dec 2018 22:13

As for the overall use as part of a combined arms force, read this:

https://rommelsriposte.com/2018/05/27/p ... the-d-a-k/

Now, which elements of this instruction are unlikely to be seen when it comes to 3" AA gun use as AT gun by the 1941 CRUSADER 8th Army?

Is it:

1) Full integration with the tank force?
2) Assignment of a command tank for battery control?
3) Assignment of the battery on the wing of the tank force for flanking impact?
4) All of the above?
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

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4918
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 » 17 Dec 2018 22:17

Gooner1 wrote:
17 Dec 2018 12:54
How would adding 2-pdr anti-tank guns to a force of 2-pdr armed tanks possibly have helped?
How did assigning the Pak38 help the German tanks? Sure it had marginally better penetration, but it wasn't that, in my view.

1) It provides flank protection to the tank force
2) It enables the establishment of a Pak front that is difficult to make out in battle (granted, don't try this with portees), and onto which the enemy tank force can be drawn
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

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2637
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 » 17 Dec 2018 23:13

Sheldrake wrote:
17 Dec 2018 21:41
That is not so. 103 Heavy AA were given a secondary role in Home Forces as a Anti tank against the threat of German heavy tanks in the event of the invasion. Source Regimental History 103 Regiment HAA Manuscript from Firepower Archive.
As I wrote in my previous post, I acknowledged your information regarding 103 Hvy HAA as being new to me and for which I know nothing else about. I was not disagreeing or disputing your information. My research and knowledge on the subject is limited to those fighting a war not those in Home Command training for a invasion that didn't come. As we have previously discussed, RA matters were distinctly different between Home Command and Middle East Command.

Interesting you mention German "heavy tanks". It was in early 1941 that the WO put out a circular to commands that the Germans then had three "Heavy" tanks in use: Mk.V, Mk.VI and MK.VII. According to the circular, the 2-pdr could penetrate the frontal armour of all pantsers up to the Mk.V - although only at ranges under 300yds for the Mk.V. It could not penetrate the frontal armour of the Mk.VI or Mk.VII at all.

As we know, these pantsers didn't exist. However, I do not believe it is a coincidence that the decision to put ex. 3-inch HAA tubes into Churchill tanks to deal with "Heavy tanks" was taken in the same time frame. It seems the need for HAA guns in an ATk role was directed at dealing with a threat which did not exist. The 2-pdr was deemed capable of dealing with the pantsers which did exist: Pz.I to Pz.IV.

Was it just a single HAA regiment in Home Command thus reroled? If so, hardly a great vote of confidence in the necessity to rerole HAA assets.

If I understand the history correctly, HAA gunners were trained between the wars in their AA role but also as a stopgap ATk asset. But this practice ended in 1938ish(??) due to cost restrictions!!! If true, the doctrinal understanding of a subsidiary ATk role would be in the DNA. At some point after the war had begun, this practice was reintroduced. In North Africa, it was imperative that HAA units serving in field formations be competent in this respect and were issued with the appropriate ammunition. But as I posted earlier, this was not part of a dual role concept but as a last ditch self defence mechanism. Only after el Alamein part 1 did serious thought at command level be given to HAA guns being given a specific ATk task - and even then it was in the sense of a last line of defence.

Was the write up regarding 103 Hvy HAA along the lines of training for a task or, as in the desert, a last ditch self defence mechanism?

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