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 » 18 Dec 2018 00:35

MarkN wrote:
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?
You are asking questions which would take an essay or an MA dissertation to answer properly .
The story of the AA organisation is a rather British story of the undesirable side effects of re-organisation in the name of efficiency. In 1938 AA Command was established as a separate Branch of the Royal Artillery. It was part of the air defence of Great Britain - to protect against the threat of mass bombing. In the expansion all frills,such as dual training or event transfers between AA and Field were dropped. In the context of 1938 it seemed like a good idea.

103 became a Home Forces reserve unit in mid 1941 specifically to provide a mobile defence against heavy German armour. It does tie in with Brooke's Diary entries expressing his anger at the poor show by the Gunners in extracting a digit regarding offering an effective anti tank capability. He also leaned on Beaverbrooke to expedite production of an 3.7" AP round - which happened in September. It did not matter whether the Heavy tanks Brooke worried about existed or not. The significance is that he reached for heavy AA as a solution.

I don't know any other regiment than 103. I know of 103 because I have an extract from their history because they landed on Sword Beach on D Day.

Converting a UK based Heavy AA Regiment to a mobile dual role wasn't straightforward. AA Command operated from mainly static positions. There wasn't enough transport to move the whole unit. Nor was the unit trained to move tactically or even live in the field. In 1939-41 the priority was to have the maximum number of HAA guns defending against the blitz. Everythign el;se was secondary. When the war developed in the allies favour, the Army set up a training centre to convert Heavy AA units to operate with the field force.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 18 Dec 2018 13:13

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.

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+.
Unlike the 88mm the 3.7" gun lacked a telescope and even open sights, so its ability to hit small targets, especially ones that are moving, would have been strictly limited. In April '42 about 60 3.7" guns were fitted with locally produced sights but its doubtful they would have matched in quality the purpose built sights of the 88.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 18 Dec 2018 14:34

Urmel wrote:
17 Dec 2018 22:07
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?
I'm sure the British artillery did fire at ranges in excess of 2,000 yards. Doesn't mean they could see what they were firing at.
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?
There is nothing there novel or something the British couldn't do. The only thing, apart from a powerful AT gun, the British are missing there was an OP tank.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 18 Dec 2018 14:40

Urmel wrote:
17 Dec 2018 22:17
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
1) Flank protection - standard part of British AT doctrine.
2) Draw the enemy tanks onto a pak front of 2-pdrs? :lol:

The 2-pdr anti-tank guns have the exact same inadequacy in dealing with German tanks as the 2-pdr tank guns did, except with added vulnerability.
Drawing the enemy tanks on to your anti-tank screen is made enormously easier when your tanks outrange his.

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

Post by Urmel » 18 Dec 2018 15:47

Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 14:34
Urmel wrote:
17 Dec 2018 22:07
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?
I'm sure the British artillery did fire at ranges in excess of 2,000 yards. Doesn't mean they could see what they were firing at.
:roll:
Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 14:34
Urmel wrote:
17 Dec 2018 22:07
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?
There is nothing there novel or something the British couldn't do. The only thing, apart from a powerful AT gun, the British are missing there was an OP tank.
You're missing the point. Pretty much completely. It's not that the British couldn't do it. It's that they didn't. The reason they didn't wasn't because they lacked the magic ingredient in the form of a powerful anti-tank gun.

As for the rest, the British used normal tanks as OP tanks. They also had better integrated forward air liaison during CRUSADER (as in: anything they had was better than the Axis, which didn't have any). But they were incapable of integrating their cruiser tanks into combined arms groups.
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 » 18 Dec 2018 16:37

Sheldrake wrote:
18 Dec 2018 00:35
You are asking questions which would take an essay or an MA dissertation to answer properly .
Whilst an MA dissertation length response would go a long way to helping the understanding of the subject as a whole, you have excellently dealt with both questions I had with your post. Thank you.
Sheldrake wrote:
18 Dec 2018 00:35
It did not matter whether the Heavy tanks Brooke worried about existed or not. The significance is that he reached for heavy AA as a solution.
I think the fear of those 3 non-existent heavy tanks had more impact that you give it credit. The 'instant' need for a significantly more powerful (penetratively) gun seems to coincided with their 'appearance' on the scene. Secondly, as the circular made its way down the chain, various elements were ignored, inferred and embellished. By the time it made it to 7th Armoured Division, all thought of using HAA more proactively as ATk guns is lost as they concentrated on the data that confirmed 2-pdr remained good against Pz.I to Pz.IV.

It's a what if that doesn't deserve space here, but I think it a good mental exercise for individual posters to do in their own time privately. Imagine Norrie's XXX Corps had a regiment (3 batteries of 8 guns each) of 3.7-inch HAA under command for Op CRUSADER. Issued to him so that he could 'replicate' the efforts of Cruwell's 24 off 88mm HAA guns. We know how Norrie divvied up his other RA assets (25-pdr Fld, 18-pdr ATk, 2-pdr ATk, 40mm LAA), how do you think he would have divvied up nis 24 off 3.7-inch HAA guns? How do you think they would have then fared?

Personally, I mirror the Bidwell response...
In an acerbic vein, Bidwell and Graham commented, “In any case even if the guns [3.7-inch] had been made available it is doubtful if the desert commanders would have used them correctly, in view of the hash they made of the employment of all their own artillery.”

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

Post by Gooner1 » 18 Dec 2018 16:49

Urmel wrote:
18 Dec 2018 15:47

:roll:
What's the :roll: for? You should know full well that a common German tactic was shell suspected locations in the hope that the British would open fire and reveal their positions. Other tanks and/or infantry would be sent forward of the MkIVs to facilitate this.
2000 yards is quite a distance to see something in the desert that is not moving or firing and has taken effort to conceal themselves.
You're missing the point. Pretty much completely. It's not that the British couldn't do it. It's that they didn't. The reason they didn't wasn't because they lacked the magic ingredient in the form of a powerful anti-tank gun.

As for the rest, the British used normal tanks as OP tanks. They also had better integrated forward air liaison during CRUSADER (as in: anything they had was better than the Axis, which didn't have any). But they were incapable of integrating their cruiser tanks into combined arms groups.
A powerful anti-tank gun is the missing ingredient.
Should a more powerful anti-tank gun have been available in time for Crusader, I suspect the armoured brigades would have been the last to have them allocated to. The Support Group, possibly the first.

Did the Royal Artillery use OP tanks in Crusader already?

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

Post by MarkN » 18 Dec 2018 16:57

Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 16:49
Did the Royal Artillery use OP tanks in Crusader already?
RHA had them as part of their orbat from before the start of the war. It was part of their doctrine for the RA OPs to identify and lay targets for their gunners. The pantser squadron commanders were responsible for identifying and laying targets for their own CS pantsers.

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

Post by MarkN » 18 Dec 2018 18:47

Urmel wrote:
17 Dec 2018 22:07
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 doctrinal German pantser formation included light pantsers and armoured cars for recce, medium pantsers to do battle with enemy pantsers and support panters to throw bigger shells. They also put into their divisional structures support arms: infantry, field artillery, anti-tank artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers and so on.

Guess what?

By 1941, the doctrinal British pantser formation included armoured cars for recce (they'd done away with light pantsers), medium pantsers to do battle with enemy pantsers and support panters to throw bigger shells. They also put into their divisional structures support arms: infantry, field artillery, anti-tank artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers and so on.

Where a German Pz.IV could lob an HE shell 2,000yds, a British CS panster could lob an HE shell 2,000yds.

Where a German field gun could lob an HE shell 6,000yds, a British field gun could lob an HE shell 6,000yds.

Where German doctrine detailed how that should be done, British written doctrine detailed how it should be done.

In practice, British commanders decided to do it differently.

Where the German practical approach saw anti-tank guns as an excellent adjunct to panzerwaffe and closely integrated them into all their schemes, the British practical approach seemed at a loss as to what to do with their anti-tank guns. Why have them accompany a pantser which has it's own ATk gun???? Why exploit their excellently engineered 360deg traverse and low profile when you can put them on the back of truck and play faux pantser????

Where German doctrine suggested that an advance should be commenced after an anti-tank screen had been neutralized, the British written doctrine hints at the same - but in practice they just advanced when the watch told them to.

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

Post by Urmel » 18 Dec 2018 22:54

Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 16:49
Urmel wrote:
18 Dec 2018 15:47

:roll:
What's the :roll: for? You should know full well that a common German tactic was shell suspected locations in the hope that the British would open fire and reveal their positions. Other tanks and/or infantry would be sent forward of the MkIVs to facilitate this.
2000 yards is quite a distance to see something in the desert that is not moving or firing and has taken effort to conceal themselves.
Radio. 3" AA guns are kinda hard to hide too.
Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 16:49
You're missing the point. Pretty much completely. It's not that the British couldn't do it. It's that they didn't. The reason they didn't wasn't because they lacked the magic ingredient in the form of a powerful anti-tank gun.

As for the rest, the British used normal tanks as OP tanks. They also had better integrated forward air liaison during CRUSADER (as in: anything they had was better than the Axis, which didn't have any). But they were incapable of integrating their cruiser tanks into combined arms groups.
A powerful anti-tank gun is the missing ingredient.
No, it maybe one of the missing ingredients. Another one was the doctrinal ineptness of the RAC.
Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 16:49
Should a more powerful anti-tank gun have been available in time for Crusader, I suspect the armoured brigades would have been the last to have them allocated to. The Support Group, possibly the first.
And that's based on, what exactly?
Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 16:49
Did the Royal Artillery use OP tanks in Crusader already?
Yes.
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 Gooner1 » 19 Dec 2018 11:18

Urmel wrote:
18 Dec 2018 22:54
Radio. 3" AA guns are kinda hard to hide too.
Und ze superior German eyezight! The 3-inch gun would be easier/just as hard to hide as an 88 and Eighth Army had trouble spotting them before they got within effective range to the end of the campaign (indeed, war).
The German tactic mentioned at El Duda was for the German medium tanks to cruise about outside the effective range of the 2-pdrs and 25-pdrs and try to spot them/get them to reveal their positions. Against a 3-inch gun they would have to be hundreds of yards further back. Infantry and other soft targets creeping forward would be the responsibility of the artillery, released from its role as ersatz anti-tank guns.
And that's based on, what exactly?
Based on the Support Group having all the guns and the Armoured Brigades none (exception 4th, which was independent).
Of course had 3-inch AA guns been available for the A/Tk role they may all have been allocated to the infantry divisions or possibly retained as a Corps asset.

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

Post by MarkN » 19 Dec 2018 12:18

OK. This thread is rapidly descending into Gooner1's fantasy what if...

What if the armoured brigades didn't have forward artillery observers (FAO) up with the pantser regiments - when they did.
What if the armoured brigades didn't have field artillery guns under direct command - when they did.
What if the armoured brigades didn't have anti-tank guns under direct command - when they did.
What if the armoured brigades didn't have anti-aircraft guns under direct command - when they did.
What if the armoured brigades didn't have their own CS pantsers under direct command - when they did.
What if the armoured brigades didn't have infantry under direct command - when they did.
What if the 25-pdr field artillery guns under armoured division command had been reroled as "ersatz anti-tank guns" - when they hadn't.

In this fantasy what if scenario positted by Gooner1, would 3-inch HAA guns reroled as ATk guns have turned the British into serial battlefoeld victors?

Remember:
Gooner1 wrote:
18 Dec 2018 16:49
A powerful anti-tank gun is the missing ingredient.
Historical facts:
For Op CRUSADER, 7 (Davy) and 22 (Scott-Cockburn) Armoured Brigades had CS pantsers, 25-pdr Field Artillery, 2-pdr ATk guns and infantry under their direct command as well as RHA FAOs in pantsers up with the pantser regiments. 4 (Gatehouse) Armoured Brigade also had all of the above except CS pantsers.
25-pdr Fld artillery guns were not reroled as ATk guns. They were, however, expected to do their bit if their location was charged by pantsers. Which happened quite often due to poor British tactical command and employment of resources and assets.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 19 Dec 2018 12:58

MarkN wrote:
18 Dec 2018 18:47
Where a German Pz.IV could lob an HE shell 2,000yds, a British CS panster could lob an HE shell 2,000yds.
So the 3.7" Mortar and the 3" Howitzer in the CS tanks are as good as the 7.5cm KwK 37 of the PzIVs now?

In the fantasy world where the 2-pdr is the equal of the German 5cm guns and the 88 barely exists, sure, why not.
Where the German practical approach saw anti-tank guns as an excellent adjunct to panzerwaffe and closely integrated them into all their schemes, the British practical approach seemed at a loss as to what to do with their anti-tank guns. Why have them accompany a pantser which has it's own ATk gun???? Why exploit their excellently engineered 360deg traverse and low profile when you can put them on the back of truck and play faux pantser????
How many times does it need to be said? One-step forward, one-step back. :roll:
The German Pak38 anti-tank gun was superior to their tank guns which were themselves superior to the British tank guns. What does bringing 2-pdr anti-tank guns to the fight achieve? They have the same inadequate killing power as the tanks but with added vulnerability.
Where German doctrine suggested that an advance should be commenced after an anti-tank screen had been neutralized, the British written doctrine hints at the same - but in practice they just advanced when the watch told them to.
Damn sight easier to neutralise an enemy anti-tank screen, when your tanks can cruise about not too far from them in complete safety. Indeed cam pretty much charge home in comparative safety.

And In practice sometimes the tanks do have to advance at the anti-tank screen according to the watch.

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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 » 19 Dec 2018 13:05

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.
By "heavy" tanks the British thought that the Germans might have tanks with 80+ mm armour, so I think these preparations were mainly against tanks that they believed might have existed, but in fact 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 Don Juan » 19 Dec 2018 13:08

Gooner1 wrote:
19 Dec 2018 12:58
The German Pak38 anti-tank gun was superior to their tank guns which were themselves superior to the British tank guns.
But the 5cm KwK 38 just was not superior to the 2 pounder. All the available penetration figures indicate this. If you can't accept this simple basic fact you are a waste of time debating with.
"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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