Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

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Aber
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Aber » 09 Oct 2021 06:43

Richard Anderson wrote:
09 Oct 2021 05:50
Interesting anecdote, but I'm not sure how it is germane to the question?
Using howitzers in an AA role greatly reduces the number of different cannon you need. :D

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Oct 2021 09:25

Superficually there might be some advantages in having multi roled equipment, especially in peacetime when they look attractive to politicians and the treasury. In war time the money is there to develop special equipment if it is better.

However, a multi role artillery piece will result in compromises that will render the equiment less useful in any single role.

Take the 8.8cm Flak 36. It was designed as an AA gun, suitable for operations in the field, with secondary roles against ground targets. The ammunition designed for it included HE rounds with Point Detonating and AP shot as well as time fused AA. An AA gun will need to elevate to near verticle which requires a higher trunnion height than a dedicated Anti tank gun of the same calibre. If you wanted to hit a target behind a crest , a field gun/howitzer firing in the low register is far more accurate than an 8.8cm AA gun in the high angle. Not just is the PEr far lower, but it is much less effected by the wind and the time of flight is rather lower too!. The 8.8cm AA gun was not ideal as a heavy AA gun either. The Germans moved towards 12.8cm for static AA defences - as did the British with the 4.5 inch.

Ammunition may be optimised for differernt roles. A close support field artillery piece needs an HE round producing a very large number of small metal fragments. One will be enough to inflict a painful injury, but would only cause a small hole in the skin of an aircraft. An HE round for an AA gun may need large enough frgaments to bring down an aircraft. The same applies for HE rounmds intended for counter battery work.

A weapon system is more than just the artillery equipment itself. There is the fire control equipment - minimal for anti tank guns, but essential for AA work. Detachments need the right procedures and training in them - and in the conditions under which they would serve. A detachment of 8.8cm guns deployed in the static defences of a German city manned by teenaged hilferrn is not the same weapon system as the same equipment operated by a field unit.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 09 Oct 2021 15:44

The more important question would be sorting out priority of fires. Both in choice of fire mission in the moment, and in choosing battery positions. I can see a lot of difficult choices for the commanders and staff at all levels. Had a lot of staff confused when the USMC 'universalized' cannon battalions into a single staff & comm configuration and dropped the labels of Direct Support, General Support, ect.. The greater flexibility created confusion in some minds.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Oct 2021 09:30

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
09 Oct 2021 15:44
The more important question would be sorting out priority of fires. Both in choice of fire mission in the moment, and in choosing battery positions. I can see a lot of difficult choices for the commanders and staff at all levels. Had a lot of staff confused when the USMC 'universalized' cannon battalions into a single staff & comm configuration and dropped the labels of Direct Support, General Support, ect.. The greater flexibility created confusion in some minds.
Exactly.

Furthermore, weapons and units are deployed within a doctrinal context. The USMC are specialists in littoral operations. If the problem is what artillery is useful on a shallow beach heads with shipping a key constraint then mulkti role artillery makes sense, as per, the AA in Normandy, for the British at least. These matters are irrelevant in a larger land campaign.
Anti tank and field artillery were irrelevant to AA assigned to defending bases or the homeland. Nor was it sensible to allow field or anto tank artilelry to poop away at aircraft. AAA needed strict rule of engagement managed over the AA C3 to avoid friendly fire casualties.

The British took the opposite approach to the Germans when raising and equipping their heavy AA Units. The 8.8cm Flak 18 and Flak 36 were designed to be used in both ground and AA roles. The British 3.7 inch gun had been developed to meet the requirmeents for an AA gun to defend the UK and overseas bases. The air defence of Great Britain was a very high priority in the 1930s and AA Command, underwent massive expansion. The 3.7 inch gun was not initilaly equipped with any kind of ground sight and battlefield mobility was not considered an issue. The gunners of AA Command were separate from the rest of the Royal Artillery and its officers trained seperately.

During the war AA matter became a highly technical matter with civilian scientists attached to batteries to solve the problems arising from mmaking gun laying rader work. It was also work that could be undertaken by the women of the ATS.

Heavy AA units assigned to operations with the field army had to be extensively re-equipped and retrained. (Just to take trivial matters. A mobile heavy AA Unit needs a lot more drivers and wireless trained signallers than a static heavy AA unit. Its gunners, fed from an on site cookhouse and housed in huts do not need to know how to cook for themselves or live in the field.

The previous paragraph explains nsome of the hurdles to unsing the 3.7 inch gun as an anti tank weapon. But qwere the British wrong to focus on the primary role of Heavy AA during 1938-41?

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Oct 2021 21:35

Sheldrake wrote:
10 Oct 2021 09:30
Furthermore, weapons and units are deployed within a doctrinal context. The USMC are specialists in littoral operations. If the problem is what artillery is useful on a shallow beach heads with shipping a key constraint then mulkti role artillery makes sense, as per, the AA in Normandy, for the British at least. These matters are irrelevant in a larger land campaign.
Which reminds me the Base Defense Battalions of that era did have their 3" & 5" cannon configured for use against both aircraft and surface targets.

The previous paragraph explains nsome of the hurdles to unsing the 3.7 inch gun as an anti tank weapon. But were the British wrong to focus on the primary role of Heavy AA during 1938-41?
Part of the answer lies in looking at the entire Brit fire support kit for the division/corps. When examining these questions its best to consider the context & overall system of weapons for the forces in question. ie: The Navy or USMC Base Defense Battalions had a relatively specific role, tho in the case of Guadalcanal were used on & across the edge of doctrine. The cannon used by those battalions were chosen for their configuration or suitability for that role. The German 88 was chosen to fit a somewhat different context & doctrine. & the 3.7" for year another variation in tactical system/doctrine. Apples are different from Oranges because they grow on different trees. To completely understand the difference you have to look at the entire biome, not just the fruit or even the tree.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Oct 2021 21:37

We digress as is usual. To get back on track I need to take a look at my copy of Hogg & see what alternatives the Germans might have manufactured. Any further thoughts on this general topic ?

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Oct 2021 16:58

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Oct 2021 21:35
Which reminds me the Base Defense Battalions of that era did have their 3" & 5" cannon configured for use against both aircraft and surface targets.
Not actually Carl. The 3" Gun Group of the Defense Battalion was explicitly an AA unit and the 5" Gun Group was explicitly a CD unit. While the 3" Gun M3 did have the capability of 1 degree of depression, so could and did engage surface targets, the design of the Mount M2A2 in that case left the gun crew badly exposed as was discovered at Wake. The gun used by the CD Group was the pre-dreadnought 5"/51, which was an anti-torpedo boat gun. Its P13 and P15 mountings had only a maximum of 20 degrees elevation and so could not be configured as AA guns.

The replacement for the 3" AA Gun, the 90mm M1 and M1A1 Gun on Mount M1 was even more problematic as a "dual-purpose" weapon given it had no depression capability and was only able to achieve a zero degree elevation by removing the elevation stops. It was configured solely as an AA weapon as originally conceived. As a result, in July 1941, Ordnance directed development of two new mounts, a fixed, anti-torpedo boat mount with shield for defense of naval bases, and a mobile mount for use in the field. The fixed mount, designated the M3, was capable of engaging both surface and aircraft targets with a -8 to +80 degree elevation. The mobile mount, designated the M3, was also capable of engaging surface and air targets with a -10 and +80 degree elevation, and could also be fired from the carriage without removing the wheel bogies. However, to achieve that capability the weight of the gun and mount nearly doubled, although part of that was the addition of a fully automatic ramming and fuze-setting system, which greatly increased its AA effectiveness.
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by nuyt » 11 Oct 2021 20:51

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Oct 2021 21:37
We digress as is usual. To get back on track I need to take a look at my copy of Hogg & see what alternatives the Germans might have manufactured. Any further thoughts on this general topic ?
Hogg is not enough, outdated and written too much from the British perspective (though he does his best).

I can only repeat that a different approach to the calibre issue could have been interesting.

I am reading 9cm allover.

Germany develops a 9cm gun howitzer as main divisional artillery weapon. They have two options: the 9cm Rheinmetall (sold to China in the 1920s as the Solothurn 9cm to camouflage its origin) and the late 1920s Bofors 9cm (a Krupp design as the company was controlled by Krupp until 1933, after that a more covert relationship continued). The Wehrmacht turns the two designs into a successful hybrid Rheinmetall/Krupp production model by the mid 1930s and the Germans have a similar weapon as the British 25pdr (9cm). To complement the 9cm they return to the 12cm howitzer calibre and the 12 or 128mm field gun, plus 15cm Bofors (Krupp) howitzers. But instead the Wehrmacht relied on a mixture of 75mm field guns (scaled down from 77mm) and the horse drawn 105mm lFH18 developed in the 1920s.

The 9cm cal apparently was a magic number and guarantee for a versatile weapon. Both the German 88 as well as the 25pdr fall in this category, as do the US 90mm AA (and later tank and AT) gun, plus the 3.7 inch comes close (94mm). Postwar the Swiss, french and Cockerill of Belgium developed 90mm AT and tank guns. The Soviets, here they are again, developed an 85mm divisional gun from 1943 to replace the 76mms.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Oct 2021 18:35

Richard Anderson wrote:
11 Oct 2021 16:58
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Oct 2021 21:35
Which reminds me the Base Defense Battalions of that era did have their 3" & 5" cannon configured for use against both aircraft and surface targets.
Not actually Carl. The 3" Gun Group of the Defense Battalion was explicitly an AA unit and the 5" Gun Group was explicitly a CD unit. While the 3" Gun M3 did have the capability of 1 degree of depression, so could and did engage surface targets, the design of the Mount M2A2 in that case left the gun crew badly exposed as was discovered at Wake. The gun used by the CD Group was the pre-dreadnought 5"/51, which was an anti-torpedo boat gun. Its P13 and P15 mountings had only a maximum of 20 degrees elevation and so could not be configured as AA guns.

The replacement for the 3" AA Gun, the 90mm M1 and M1A1 Gun on Mount M1 was even more problematic as a "dual-purpose" weapon given it had no depression capability and was only able to achieve a zero degree elevation by removing the elevation stops.
Well, you got me on the 5". Extrapolating trajectory at 20 degrees elevation allows it to only reach 3200 feet altitude at some ranges. I guess if your naval base is attacked by torpedo bombers thats ok, otherwise...

Elevation to zero degrees or below matters only if you are attacking a target with negative angle of site, down hill. I don't have the trajectory charts for the 3" AA guns but some extrapolation & arithmetic indicates that shooting at a ship at 5000 meters range with a cannon/ammunition of a 850 mv would put the elevation at 4+ degrees. 10+ degrees with other combinations.

'Flat' trajectory is a term & concept we were not taught in artillery school. & not much used in the workday vernacular of my peers. maybe in some other army, but not in my experience. With high mv cannon the projectile trajectory as a elipse becomes important & tube elevation is a thing beyond 1000 meters, unless you want your projectiles skipping off the sod or waves in random directions.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Oct 2021 18:46

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Oct 2021 21:37
We digress as is usual. To get back on track I need to take a look at my copy of Hogg & see what alternatives the Germans might have manufactured. Any further thoughts on this general topic ?
nuyt wrote:
11 Oct 2021 20:51
I am reading 9cm allover.

Germany develops a 9cm gun howitzer as main divisional artillery weapon. They have two options: the 9cm Rheinmetall (sold to China in the 1920s as the Solothurn 9cm to camouflage its origin) and the late 1920s Bofors 9cm (a Krupp design as the company was controlled by Krupp until 1933, after that a more covert relationship continued). The Wehrmacht turns the two designs into a successful hybrid Rheinmetall/Krupp production model by the mid 1930s and the Germans have a similar weapon as the British 25pdr (9cm). To complement the 9cm they return to the 12cm howitzer calibre and the 12 or 128mm field gun, plus 15cm Bofors (Krupp) howitzers. But instead the Wehrmacht relied on a mixture of 75mm field guns (scaled down from 77mm) and the horse drawn 105mm lFH18 developed in the 1920s.
Im unclear on exactly what the Germans were thinking in their selection of the 105mm projectile. I have some clues for the US decision, but its a lot more vague for the FH18 & ammunition. Their familiarity with effects of the 105mm HE round and wartime experience with the FH16 & predecessor must have influenced them.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by T. A. Gardner » 12 Oct 2021 19:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
12 Oct 2021 18:46
Im unclear on exactly what the Germans were thinking in their selection of the 105mm projectile. I have some clues for the US decision, but its a lot more vague for the FH18 & ammunition. Their familiarity with effects of the 105mm HE round and wartime experience with the FH16 & predecessor must have influenced them.
It was most likely settled on because even in WW 1 105mm had become a widely used caliber. For example, the Schneider Canon de 105 mle 1913, was a WW 1 workhorse complementing the 75mm. It kind of makes sense that as gun size increased, the 105mm replaced the 75mm and the 150 / 155mm replaced the 105mm as the divisional heavy artillery.
Italy and Japan stuck with the 75mm / 105mm combination of WW 1 because they really had little choice.
Russia stayed with their 76mm / 122mm combo because of the lack of motor transport available more than anything else.
The British opted for the 25 pdr because they saw it as a combination artillery piece and antitank gun trying to get a quart out of a pint pot.

I think it was a case of the cheapest course forward evolutionary for artillery in most cases.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 12 Oct 2021 23:59

T. A. Gardner wrote:
12 Oct 2021 19:01
The British opted for the 25 pdr because they saw it as a combination artillery piece and antitank gun trying to get a quart out of a pint pot.
Mocketh not the supposedly puny 89mm calibre 25 pounder.

German Italian or Japanese troops on the recieving end of three rounds gunfire from a British field artillery regiment did not ignore the incoming on account of its poor fragmentation pattern and weak HE charge. They hit the dirt or became casualties.

The poor fragmentation pattern and weak busrting charge allied with vaccurary made for a barrage or concentration that could be approached with confidence by friendly forces. Germans could not understand how the British could follow up their artillery fire so closely with infantry. The Eberbach papers include a report by Heinz Harmel(?) explaining British tactics by inventing non lethal "glass shells" which allowed the British troops to get to close enough to assault before the defenders recovered.

The 25 pounder is probably the best close support artillery piece of the 20th century - and maybe beyond that.

THe desgtructive power of 105mm ammunition is overrated. If you want to cause serious hurt to dug in troops or armoured vehicles the minimum calibre is 150mm.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Oct 2021 00:42

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
12 Oct 2021 18:35
Well, you got me on the 5". Extrapolating trajectory at 20 degrees elevation allows it to only reach 3200 feet altitude at some ranges. I guess if your naval base is attacked by torpedo bombers thats ok, otherwise...
It was not a "got ya", I suspected you knew better, but had a brain freeze. :D :lol:
Elevation to zero degrees or below matters only if you are attacking a target with negative angle of site, down hill. I don't have the trajectory charts for the 3" AA guns but some extrapolation & arithmetic indicates that shooting at a ship at 5000 meters range with a cannon/ammunition of a 850 mv would put the elevation at 4+ degrees. 10+ degrees with other combinations.

'Flat' trajectory is a term & concept we were not taught in artillery school. & not much used in the workday vernacular of my peers. maybe in some other army, but not in my experience. With high mv cannon the projectile trajectory as a elipse becomes important & tube elevation is a thing beyond 1000 meters, unless you want your projectiles skipping off the sod or waves in random directions.
Yes, I realize that and that any steely-eyed American Army or Marine Field Artilleryman could work around it, but it is irrelevant given the Coast Artillery and Ordnance considered it enough of an issue in the 3" M3 Mount and 90mm M1 and M1A1 Mount that it was specifically addressed in the design of the 90mm Gun M2 and M3 Mounts. For the M3 "Anti-torpedo boat/Antiaircraft" mount depression was increased and a sturdy gunshield was incorporated in the mount to protect the crew. You will find as well that many of the ATB batteries were placed on elevations, for the simple reason that the high-Mv "flat-trajectory" naval gunfire was less effective in firing at them, and were sited to bring fire on enemy ships and boats at under 1000 meters to ensure first-round hits.
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by T. A. Gardner » 13 Oct 2021 03:32

Sheldrake wrote:
12 Oct 2021 23:59
T. A. Gardner wrote:
12 Oct 2021 19:01
The British opted for the 25 pdr because they saw it as a combination artillery piece and antitank gun trying to get a quart out of a pint pot.
Mocketh not the supposedly puny 89mm calibre 25 pounder.

German Italian or Japanese troops on the recieving end of three rounds gunfire from a British field artillery regiment did not ignore the incoming on account of its poor fragmentation pattern and weak HE charge. They hit the dirt or became casualties.

The poor fragmentation pattern and weak busrting charge allied with vaccurary made for a barrage or concentration that could be approached with confidence by friendly forces. Germans could not understand how the British could follow up their artillery fire so closely with infantry. The Eberbach papers include a report by Heinz Harmel(?) explaining British tactics by inventing non lethal "glass shells" which allowed the British troops to get to close enough to assault before the defenders recovered.

The 25 pounder is probably the best close support artillery piece of the 20th century - and maybe beyond that.

THe desgtructive power of 105mm ammunition is overrated. If you want to cause serious hurt to dug in troops or armoured vehicles the minimum calibre is 150mm.
Yea, but the Russians and Americans are both firm believers in the concept that there is never enough overkill in firepower...

As an unrelated but illustrative idea of this:

British MBT. 2 torpedo tubes, a few .303 machineguns...

Image

US MBT. 37mm cannon forward, 4 .50 machineguns a 20mm AA gun a 40mm AA gun two 4.5" rocket launchers, 4 torpedoes, and pistol in the captain's hands...

Image

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Oct 2021 07:24

Ummmmm, never mind that you are comparing a design and construction from 1939 with one from November 1944 :lol: ...an Elco 70 footer like PT-10 would be a more apt comparison. Note that when the Brits received one of that class they immediately increased the torpedo armament from 18" to 21" and added two twin-.303 Lewis guns, a20mm, and two depth charge throwers to it.
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