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

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Gooner1
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Re: What prevented the QF 3.7-inch AA gun being used in the Anti Tank role.

Post by Gooner1 » 31 Oct 2019 12:27

Sheldrake wrote:
30 Oct 2019 22:10
Mark,
I am afraid these read as a litany of well rehearsed excuses for failure. Whatever explanations can be offered, the British Army failed to make use of heavy AA guns to cover the shortfall in anti tank guns when these were critically needed in the Western Desert.

Alanbrooke's intervention, as C-n-C Home Forces in July 1941 suggests that someone with nous could have worked it out, and someone with authority could have made things happen. No one in Middle East command sparked or extracted a digit.

The farcical programme to mount 3" guns on Churchills failed to achieve anything whatsoever. The idea of mounting an artillery piece was not difficult to implement. Alfred Becker did it in his spare time in 1940 and managed to turn out 1900 conversions before the British had built a single tracked SP anti tank gun.

This whole sad story of failed of tactical and technical innovation should be a case study on the curriculum of every staff college.
Yes, right on the money.

Although to add it wasn't just HAA guns Middle East neglected to use in the anti-tank role. As Oliver Lyttleton stated to Parliament on 1st July 1942
"It might be inferred from reading the newspapers that except for a small number of 6-pounders we have no weapons similar to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, which has been so skilfully employed in the present battle. Such an inference would be wholly wrong. We actually had in the Middle East enough guns for three regiments of 4/'s, and these have a great range and are quite capable of taking on the German 88 mm., although I do not want the House to think that these 4/'s were primarily designed as anti-tank guns. The 25-pounders, although not designed as anti-tank guns, have proved particularly effective against tanks; their rate of fire is lower than the ordinary anti-tank weapon, but experience has shown that both in penetration and mobility they are very useful guns against tanks in the desert. The same applies to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, originally put into the field as an anti-aircraft weapon. Apart altogether from the 2-pounder, the 6-pounder and the 24-pounder,"

Eighth Army had just been humbled at Gazala, Tobruk and Mersah Matruh and the Axis were now threatening the Delta itself. Middle East Command has enough guns for three regiments of 4" guns to take part in the last ditch defence so where the hell are they!
Strangely perhaps, not even Monty sought to use them and whilst he was a good enough commander to defeat the Axis attack, a few troops of 4" guns on Alam Halfa ridge wouldn't have gone amiss. It might have saved 22nd Armoured Brigades blushes at the hands of the PzIV Specials.
The earlier Eighth Army commander and the first choice successor would probably have lost that battle.

The SP saga is truly farcical. Hundreds of obsolescent guns, thousands of chassis of obsolescent tanks, a recommendation to acquire Self-Propelled anti-tank guns from the Summer of 1940 and four and a bit short years later the British finally got their first home produced model.
With the unique selling point of having its gun point backwards. :roll:

I believe the Germans actually made a few SPs using the British 3" guns, some being used in the desert IIRC.

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 31 Oct 2019 18:19

Um, with all due respect to the Honourable Member from Aldershot, the problem with the 4" QF Mark V was worse than that with the 3" 20 cwt QF, only 24 were in Army hands at the outbreak of war and the ones in Navy hands were always in high demand, like the 3" 20 cwt, as AA armament for Navy vessels and DAMS. If there were 72 4" Mark V in Egypt in Army hands, they were likely on HA fixed mounts, probably for airfield defense. Furthermore, at 5.3 tons for a low-angle mount and 7 tons for a high-angle, they were a bit heavy compared to the 3.1 ton weight of the 3" and did not have a mobile carriage. By July 1942, the 6-pdr AT was available in quantity and was perfectly capable of dealing with all German tanks then in the desert. Gazala was a product of poor tactics and possibly worse doctrine, combined with abysmal generalship, not a lack of 3" 20 cwt or 4" guns bodged into an antitank role on the front line.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 31 Oct 2019 18:38

MarkN wrote:
30 Oct 2019 19:19
Off the top of my head.

1) At a very early stage it was recognised that something more powerful than the 2-pdr would be required in the ATk role. The 6-pdr was proposed and accepted. However, its gestation and introduction was delayed by the WO prioritising maximum production of 2-pdrs.

2) Post BEF, massive shortage of ATk capability staring everybody in the face. All manner of surplus, stored, unwanted guns brought back to use as an immediate stopgap.

3) Bofors 40mm LAA units were given the tools, the training and the secondary role to do ATk as SOP.

4) 25-pdr field units were given the tools, the training and the secondary role to do ATk as SOP.

5) 'Surplus' 18-pdr field guns were reroled to do exclusive ATk work.

6) When 3" gun mountings were needed for the UP project, surplus 3" tubes were allocated to the Churchill ATk carrier project.

7) Some 3.7" units dabbled and equipped themselves, then were officially recognised as, having a 'last ditch' ATk capability/role.

You forgot 5a, the 1,000-odd American 75mm guns of various flavors gotten during 1940 and 1941. Except they required a two-man crew for training and elevation, which complicated the AT task considerably...which I believe was also the case with the 3" 20 cwt and the 4", although not the 25-pdr.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by MarkN » 31 Oct 2019 19:11

Gooner1 wrote:
31 Oct 2019 12:27
Eighth Army had just been humbled at Gazala, Tobruk and Mersah Matruh and the Axis were now threatening the Delta itself. Middle East Command has enough guns for three regiments of 4" guns to take part in the last ditch defence so where the hell are they!

...a few troops of 4" guns on Alam Halfa ridge wouldn't have gone amiss. It might have saved 22nd Armoured Brigades blushes at the hands of the PzIV Specials.
Indeed. Were the hell were they! Did they even exist? What effort have you made to establish the historical facts to this? Or is it yet another of your soapbox renditions based on nothing?

In November 1941, Middle East Command held six 4" guns. They were all ex. RN guns taken off ships and reroled as static coastal defence guns. Two at Tobruk manned by the RA, two at Alexandria manned by Egyptians and two manned by Cypriots at Famagusta.

If you would like to show us how these six guns increased to three regiments worth over the following 6 months and could have been adapted for mobile ATk operations, crack on.

If not, probably best to put your whining back in the box.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 01 Nov 2019 11:57

MarkN wrote:
30 Oct 2019 19:19
Plenty of thought went into doing ATk more effectively. Most of the time choices accompanied those thoughts. The number of HAA reroled into ATk is a good indicator of how that solution ranked in their thinking and choices.
The best thought that went into doing ATk more effectively was being achieved further down the food chain.
Make an argument to say they never considered reroling HAA into ATk if you wish and call that incompetent.
"Certain types of artillery (field gun and anti-aircraft gun) though not, except in special circumstances, sited primarily for use against armoured fighting vehicles, have always a secondary role of anti-tank defence" FSR (1935)

HAA didn't need to be rerolled into ATk, they needed to be able to perform their secondary role.

BTW you are confused about AA regiments being assigned to the Field Force from AA Command as being 'reroled'.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 01 Nov 2019 12:23

Richard Anderson wrote:
31 Oct 2019 18:19
Um, with all due respect to the Honourable Member from Aldershot, the problem with the 4" QF Mark V was worse than that with the 3" 20 cwt QF, only 24 were in Army hands at the outbreak of war and the ones in Navy hands were always in high demand, like the 3" 20 cwt, as AA armament for Navy vessels and DAMS. If there were 72 4" Mark V in Egypt in Army hands, they were likely on HA fixed mounts, probably for airfield defense. Furthermore, at 5.3 tons for a low-angle mount and 7 tons for a high-angle, they were a bit heavy compared to the 3.1 ton weight of the 3" and did not have a mobile carriage.
Uh, the improved Hansard website has resolved this issue:
" I think it would be true to say that the 6-pounder would give equality with the equivalent weapons of the enemy, but we must surpass them. As an anti-tank gun it is inferior to the 88 mm. used by the enemy, although the 88 mm. is less mobile. It might be inferred from reading the newspapers that except for a small number of 6-pounders we have no weapons similar to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, which has been so skilfully employed in the present battle. Such an inference would be wholly wrong. We actually had in the Middle East enough guns for three regiments of 4.5's, and these have a great range and are quite capable of taking on the German 88 mm., although I do not want the House to think that these 4.5's were primarily designed as anti-tank guns. "
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/1 ... onOfTheWar

4.5's - which must be the medium gun, as opposed to the 4/ in the previous entry :oops: :roll:

Monty, sensibly, did not rerole his few medium artillery regiments at Alam Halfa then. :D
By July 1942, the 6-pdr AT was available in quantity and was perfectly capable of dealing with all German tanks then in the desert. Gazala was a product of poor tactics and possibly worse doctrine, combined with abysmal generalship, not a lack of 3" 20 cwt or 4" guns bodged into an antitank role on the front line.
The 6-pdr owing to its crappy AP shot was only good out to about 500 yards against the frontal armour of the panzers. The Grant 75mm was no better.
Whilst I agree about Gazala, it is always a case that provision of more and better anti-tank guns couldn't have done any harm.

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

Post by Damper » 01 Nov 2019 14:22

Richard Anderson wrote:
31 Oct 2019 18:38


You forgot 5a, the 1,000-odd American 75mm guns of various flavors gotten during 1940 and 1941. Except they required a two-man crew for training and elevation, which complicated the AT task considerably...which I believe was also the case with the 3" 20 cwt and the 4", although not the 25-pdr.
The Germans modified thousands of captured French 75mm into the anti Tank Role, one of the modifications was altering the traverse and elevation linkages so the Gun could be layed by a single crewman.

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 01 Nov 2019 15:14

Damper wrote:
01 Nov 2019 14:22
Richard Anderson wrote:
31 Oct 2019 18:38


You forgot 5a, the 1,000-odd American 75mm guns of various flavors gotten during 1940 and 1941. Except they required a two-man crew for training and elevation, which complicated the AT task considerably...which I believe was also the case with the 3" 20 cwt and the 4", although not the 25-pdr.
The Germans modified thousands of captured French 75mm into the anti Tank Role, one of the modifications was altering the traverse and elevation linkages so the Gun could be layed by a single crewman.
The American Army did the same IIRC with the 918 75mm Antitank Gun M1897A4 on Carriage M2A2 and M2A3 converted 1 June 1940-30 November 1941. None of those went to the British though AFAIK and none of the guns received were so converted by the British. Again, there just seems there was no interest in a bodge job when the purpose-designed weapons the 6-pdr and 17-pdr were doing so well. Yes, perfection is the enemy of progress and all that, but it is also not something unique to the British Ordnance establishment.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 01 Nov 2019 15:33

Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 12:23
Uh, the improved Hansard website has resolved this issue:
" I think it would be true to say that the 6-pounder would give equality with the equivalent weapons of the enemy, but we must surpass them. As an anti-tank gun it is inferior to the 88 mm. used by the enemy, although the 88 mm. is less mobile. It might be inferred from reading the newspapers that except for a small number of 6-pounders we have no weapons similar to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, which has been so skilfully employed in the present battle. Such an inference would be wholly wrong. We actually had in the Middle East enough guns for three regiments of 4.5's, and these have a great range and are quite capable of taking on the German 88 mm., although I do not want the House to think that these 4.5's were primarily designed as anti-tank guns. "
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/1 ... onOfTheWar

4.5's - which must be the medium gun, as opposed to the 4/ in the previous entry :oops: :roll:

Monty, sensibly, did not rerole his few medium artillery regiments at Alam Halfa then. :D
Holy crap, but the Honourable Member was crackers! The only people else I can think of loony enough to try and use a medium field gun as an antitank gun were the Soviets at Kursk and it did not work too well.
The 6-pdr owing to its crappy AP shot was only good out to about 500 yards against the frontal armour of the panzers. The Grant 75mm was no better.
Whilst I agree about Gazala, it is always a case that provision of more and better anti-tank guns couldn't have done any harm.
I was not aware that the British AP shot was any crappier than the American designed APC (= British APC HE) or AP (= British APC and APCBC), which was pretty crappy indeed. Certainly the 17-pdr APCBC was considered superior to the equivalent American 76mm/3" M62 APC or M79 AP. The 75mm AP M72 as used in the Medium Tank M3 early on at Gazala before 75mm M61 APC was available was so bad that it was famously discarded and substituted for with captured German 7.5cm projectiles.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by MarkN » 01 Nov 2019 17:44

Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 12:23
4.5's - which must be the medium gun, as opposed to the 4/ in the previous entry
Or the 4.5" dual role HAA/coastal arty gun. Some in the Middle East too.

Nevertheless, what effort have you made to establish the historical facts to this? Or is it yet another of your soapbox renditions based on nothing?
Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 11:57
"Certain types of artillery (field gun and anti-aircraft gun) though not, except in special circumstances, sited primarily for use against armoured fighting vehicles, have always a secondary role of anti-tank defence" FSR (1935)

HAA didn't need to be rerolled into ATk, they needed to be able to perform their secondary role.
If 3" or 3.7" HAA guns were to used as you propose as ATk guns in suppirt of manouver forces (similar to how DAK used their 88mm) then they had to be reroled as mobile units trundling around the desert with ATk as their principle task.

A secondary ATk role, as written up in FSR1935, was always applicable - as can be read in several war diaries - for HAA guns, LAA guns and Fld arty.
Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 11:57
BTW you are confused about AA regiments being assigned to the Field Force from AA Command as being 'reroled'.
No, l'm not. The reduction of HAA guns frequently cited by you or others from ADGB as evidence of surplus guns being wastefully squirreled away is actually evidence of guns changing command. Home Forces command wanted HAA guns for their units. They wanted them as HAA guns to shoot down aircraft not to shoot up 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 » 01 Nov 2019 17:56

Richard Anderson wrote:
01 Nov 2019 15:33
Holy crap, but the Honourable Member was crackers! The only people else I can think of loony enough to try and use a medium field gun as an antitank gun were the Soviets at Kursk and it did not work too well.
Poster Gooner1's handwave is related to why 3 regiments worth of guns were not used as ATk guns. Putting aside the technical or doctrinal merits of using medium arty in such a manner, they actually had to be present. Not so?

Until poster Gooner1 makes an effort to demonstrate such a number of guns actually existed, his handwave is nothing more than unsubstantiated whining.

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

Post by Sheldrake » 01 Nov 2019 18:06

Richard Anderson wrote:
01 Nov 2019 15:33
Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 12:23
Uh, the improved Hansard website has resolved this issue:
" I think it would be true to say that the 6-pounder would give equality with the equivalent weapons of the enemy, but we must surpass them. As an anti-tank gun it is inferior to the 88 mm. used by the enemy, although the 88 mm. is less mobile. It might be inferred from reading the newspapers that except for a small number of 6-pounders we have no weapons similar to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, which has been so skilfully employed in the present battle. Such an inference would be wholly wrong. We actually had in the Middle East enough guns for three regiments of 4.5's, and these have a great range and are quite capable of taking on the German 88 mm., although I do not want the House to think that these 4.5's were primarily designed as anti-tank guns. "
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/1 ... onOfTheWar

4.5's - which must be the medium gun, as opposed to the 4/ in the previous entry :oops: :roll:

Monty, sensibly, did not rerole his few medium artillery regiments at Alam Halfa then. :D
Holy crap, but the Honourable Member was crackers! The only people else I can think of loony enough to try and use a medium field gun as an antitank gun were the Soviets at Kursk and it did not work too well.
George Garro Jones who made the confusing remarks about 4.5-in guns and howitzers was not a military man. He went on to say
I listened to a long controversy here yesterday about whether the 4.5 weapon was a gun or a howitzer when in fact there are a 4.5 gun, a 4.5 howitzer and a 4.5 anti-aircraft gun, ​ three entirely different weapons. I mention that only to illustrate how easy it is to become involved in a tangle of technicalities.
Which could be a comment on this thread....

He went on to say.
We have heard it said, and I dare say the Prime Minister will claim, that the weapons with which we are now fighting are weapons which were designed long ago, but that does not apply to the 88-mm. gun. It is true that the gun itself, while I will not say it is stale, was designed a good many years ago, but. what matters about that gun is its mounting—its all-round traverse, its self-propelled vehicle, and its general adaptation to use as an anti-tank gun. We could have done precisely the same thing with our 3.7 anti-aircraft guns. There is no technical reason, I am informed, why, if the factor of thought had operated on the British General Staff as ​ well as it operated on the German General Staff, we should not have had a weapon corresponding to the 88-mm. gun even before the Germans had it.

That remains a fair summary.

Don't you think it remarkable that it was possible for Parliament to debate the conduct of the war during the conflict itself? Many of the post war historical debates were first exercised on the floor of the Houses of Parliament.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 01 Nov 2019 18:28

MarkN wrote:
01 Nov 2019 17:44
Nevertheless, what effort have you made to establish the historical facts to this? Or is it yet another of your soapbox renditions based on nothing?
Are you really that thick that you can't bloody read? :roll: The source was Oliver Lyttleton in the Houses of Parliament on 1st July 1942.
But calm down dear it was merely a transcribe error in Hansard.
If 3" or 3.7" HAA guns were to used as you propose as ATk guns in suppirt of manouver forces (similar to how DAK used their 88mm) then they had to be reroled as mobile units trundling around the desert with ATk as their principle task.
So what?

And anyway probably the best use of any reroled 3" guns in later 1941 would be in boosting the A/Tk defence of Tobruk.
A secondary ATk role, as written up in FSR1935, was always applicable - as can be read in several war diaries - for HAA guns, LAA guns and Fld arty.
Except, as has been mentioned several times, the 3.7" gun did not have proper ground sights, making it pretty useless in the anti-tank role. :roll:
And no much effort was made in the UK to correct this egregious oversight.
No, l'm not.
:lol:
The reduction of HAA guns frequently cited by you or others from ADGB as evidence of surplus guns being wastefully squirreled away is actually evidence of guns changing command. Home Forces command wanted HAA guns for their units.
Ok then, how many army HAA guns in the UK were not in AA Command then? Say May 1941 and May 1942, just out of interest. :milwink:

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

Post by Gooner1 » 01 Nov 2019 18:44

Richard Anderson wrote:
01 Nov 2019 15:33
I was not aware that the British AP shot was any crappier than the American designed APC (= British APC HE) or AP (= British APC and APCBC), which was pretty crappy indeed. Certainly the 17-pdr APCBC was considered superior to the equivalent American 76mm/3" M62 APC or M79 AP. The 75mm AP M72 as used in the Medium Tank M3 early on at Gazala before 75mm M61 APC was available was so bad that it was famously discarded and substituted for with captured German 7.5cm projectiles.
The British rated the AP performance of the ballistic capped M3 37mm rounds better than that of the uncapped 2-pdr. I don't think Eighth Army got any capped rounds for their 2-pdr and 6-pdr until they got to Tunisia. The 17-pdr had to wait until 1944 to get ballistic capped rounds. IIRC all those laboriously converted 75mm rounds were (re)captured by the Germans.
Not a great tale all told.

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

Post by MarkN » 01 Nov 2019 20:58

Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 18:28
MarkN wrote:
01 Nov 2019 17:44
Nevertheless, what effort have you made to establish the historical facts to this? Or is it yet another of your soapbox renditions based on nothing?
Are you really that thick that you can't bloody read? :roll: The source was Oliver Lyttleton in the Houses of Parliament on 1st July 1942.
But calm down dear it was merely a transcribe error in Hansard.
Are really that thick that ypu think l've forgotten you, poster Gooner1, wrote:
Middle East Command has enough guns for three regiments of 4" guns to take part in the last ditch defence so where the hell are they!
..., a few troops of 4" guns on Alam Halfa ridge wouldn't have gone amiss. It might have saved 22nd Armoured Brigades blushes at the hands of the PzIV Specials.
Whether there is a transcribe error ir not, whether Lyttleton said 4" or 4.5", it is completely irrelevant.

You are peddling on this forum the idea that a significant number of guns existed that could have been put to better use. Where is your evidence that they ever existed?

Or is your excuse that your whining is to be excused because you were daft enough to believe what a politician said 75 yeats ago?
Gooner1 wrote:
01 Nov 2019 18:28
Ok then, how many army HAA guns in the UK were not in AA Command then? Say May 1941 and May 1942, just out of interest.
Wrong question. HAA guns were in many different commands in many plaves around the world. In June 1941, ADGB held 1,712 HAA guns. In June 1942, ADGB held 1,920 HAA guns. I'm sure even you understand that considerable more than 200 HAA guns were produced and delivered during those 12 months. Where do you think they went? Into some REMF warehouse in Egypt never to be seen again?

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