Sheldrake wrote: ↑
09 Jan 2019 17:30
According to Anti-Aircraft artillery 1914-1955 by WW2 Light AA Gunner Brigadier Routledge OBE TD p119-120 3.7" guns were used against tanks at Boulogne and Calais - but with mixed results.
When tanks from the German 2nd Panzer Division attacked the Boulogne perimeter they were engaged one troop of four 3.7" Guns from 4/2nd HAA Battery. Two tanks were knocked out before the batteries were overrun.
The defences of Calais included seven 3.7" guns from 6th/2nd HAA Battery. During the attack by the German army the HAA Guns engaged tanks but immediately subjected to heavy shelling and mortar fire and forced to disable their guns and retire to avoid capture.
The 3.7" gun didn't have any sights to engage ground targets. Hitting tanks, therefore, would have depended on a combination of extremely good judgment and luck.
Why Home Forces didn't expedite the production of suitable ground sights to turn the 3.7" gun into a proper all-round weapon, I don't know.
The 19409 writing on the wall is that HAA can be used against tanks but is vulnerable to counter battery fire.
The corollary is that 88mm works well for the Afrika Corps because the British fight as unsupported brigade groups of tanks.
It is harder for the British to make HAA a decisive weapon in the desert because the Germans work in all arms battle-groupsas part of co-ordinated divisions which concentrate artillery fire.
The British Artillery weren't just motoring about the desert with their thumbs stuck up their arses.
"On November 22 the main attack began. Omar Nuovo had fallen very easily in the morning, and the British tanks then came over to Libyan Omar, where three of the four Italian companies surrendered with little resistance. The assault on the German positions began late in the afternoon, and the 88-mm guns knocked out 17 infantry tanks before dark. As usual, the 88-mm guns were vulnerable to British artillery, and a combination of artillery and tanks silenced them just before nightfall."
The Development of German Defensive Tactics in Cyrenaica—1941
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 5, October 16, 1942
"The four 88-mm attached to the Regiment had participated in the first frontier action. After opening up at 2,000 yards they knocked out 12 tanks, 2 of them infantry tanks struck at 1,320 yards. British artillery then forced the 88-mm guns to withdraw (it will be noted increasing that the chief fear of the Germans is British artillery).
In the Capuzzo action of the second day 88-mm guns, firing through a mist, knocked out eight infantry tanks, including one hit in the turret at 550 yards. British artillery, however, forced the crews of the 88-mm guns to take cover and British tanks meanwhile approached to within 330 yards and damaged three of the four guns. The one intact 88-mm and two 20-mm guns knocked out three more British tanks at ranges between 275 and 350 yards, "
Report from I./Flak-Regiment 33
"The majority of our actions, once the withdrawal began were of a counter-attack nature and were nearly always held up by these anti-tank gun screens, which, because of their numbers and very clever concealment, were difficult to neutralize with the amount of artillery at our disposal.
The use of the 8.8cm. gun in the boldest possible manner had a considerable effect on these operations. This gun was often moved into position, particularly on the flanks of our armoured formations, to within 1,500 yards of our tanks. Their casualties must have been very high amongst crews and many of their guns were knocked out, but the damage they did, even to our Grant tanks, was considerable."
Notes From Theatres of War No.10 October 1942.
A couple more on how the Germans saw British Artillery:
" There has been much emphasis in reports on the good cooperation between British tanks and artillery (85-mm. (3.40-inch) and 105-mm. (4.20-inch)) which is very mobile as close-support artillery.
"Artillery fire is usually very accurate and is often directed by three armored cars. Fire is accurate even against moving columns, and when it is opened, the troops are much worried. In general no serious effect was produced on the tanks, except for the discomfort caused by the closing of the slits.
"In contrast to the English, we still lack mobile close-support artillery."
German Methods of Warfare in the Libyan Desert
Military Intelligence Service, Information Bulletin No. 20, July 1942
"“Artillery shooting is good both in range and accuracy. At the beginning of the war its fire was over-schematic; but it has become more flexible. The effect of the 25-pr. gun-howitzer is comparatively slight, as the calibre is too small and the splinter effect poor. The lack of medium artillery is one of the principle weaknesses of the British Army”
Manual of the British Army April 1942.