17 pounder APDS - & 17 pdr in general.

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by mollusc, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    If I can tack on a question, does anyone know when APDS ammunition for the 17-pounder was first introduced?
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    What is the source of the documents? It looks like a graphic response to a question about whether the British should adopt the 90mm M1 AAA.
  3. Listy

    Listy Well-Known Member

    3.7 inch and 90mm AA guns: comparisons | The National Archives

    Is the source. If memory serves, at the time we were looking at producing the 3.7" in Canada. And the US were all happy and smiles as they were of the opinion we'd take up the M1 because its US kit and thus superior.
    We sort of shuffled our feet and said "we'll defiantly discuss the idea." The US went away happy and the idea got placed in the round file.
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    Thank you. I wonder if the expectation that we would take US Equipment might have been based on price rather than quality. US equipment was on Lend-Lease, i.e. on the never never.
  5. Listy

    Listy Well-Known Member

    The impression I got, although as I said from memory, read that document in 2016, is they honestly thought the 90mm was better.
  6. Delta Tank

    Delta Tank Member

    I tried to find the post over on Axis History Forum but I failed, there were approximately 150 US 76mm (actually 76.2 mm) armed Sherman tanks in England before D-Day. Those tanks were offered to tank battalions and nobody wanted them for various reasons. The M-36 Tank Destroyer arrived in France in September/October time frame.

  7. Delta Tank

    Delta Tank Member

    Sheldrake and all,

    Below are the gun test done before and after D-Day:
    The Chieftain's Hatch: US Guns, German Armour, Pt 1

    The Chieftain's Hatch: US Guns, German Armor: Pt 2

    The Chieftain's Hatch: US Firefly Pt. 1

    This line sums up the accuracy problems with APDS during the World War II time frame.

    “Then they tried at 1,000 yards. After firing 18 rounds trying to register, (Successive rounds with the same sight picture were observed as over, left, short) they decided to abandon further testing of the round except for armour penetration.”

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  8. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

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  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    If the American tests were done around D-Day, and they were using APDS, then the deposits left behind by the rounds must have been playing a role. edit: but maybe they weren't using APDS.

    I know this is more anecdotal, but I found a February 1945 report from a firing test by an Archer of 54th Anti-Tank Regiment. May I direct you to the bit I've highlighted in green?

    Screen Shot 2021-10-16 at 7.38.15 AM.jpg

    edited PS - I should note that the above was using "HE Red", that is, high explosive rounds with a reduced charge, not any form of AP or DS.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
  10. Delta Tank

    Delta Tank Member

    without re-reading the reports I posted above, one test was conducted in England before D-Day, three tests were conducted in France with various weapons and ammunition, APDS being in at least two of the test and one test had experience British gunners, since apparently the US was accused with not be able to shoot straight. The accuracy of the APDS round was awful and that is being kind.

    Read the gun test posts above they are enlightening.

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  11. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    To paraphrase Chieftain the Americans saw that the 17 pounder APDS was the only gun and ammunition that could prentrate German heavy tanks but rejected it as a 24% hit rate is too inacurate for service use.

    This seems bonkers. Surely it is better to have some capability to knock out the enemy than soleley rely on weapons that could not inflict damage even if they hit.

    The allies had plenty of tanks. So fire enough rounds and one will hit - (So writes the field artilleryman...)

    Consider the engagement at Rauray on 2nd July. 55th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Anti tank regiment's fired all their 6 pounder APDS ammuniton in action and ended the battle with C 40 German tank hulks. These boys the special ammuniton was brilliant. It killed Panthers.

    And how about the death ride of Wittman 8th August. Five tanks against how many Sherman Fireflys in two armoured brihgades? (Admittedly it was the dastedly fellow hiding in a wood flanking that did the damage)

    One of the factors is about confidence. However inaccurate, gun detachments and tank crews were confident that the 17 pounder would kill what it hit. Maybe they had not read the test results - but war is an art as well as a science.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
  14. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Didn't look Chieftain videos because I think I have seen them earlier but was the accuracy of 17pdr so awful, those who used the Isigny test as proof tended to overlook this part of the test report:
    (6) In contrast to the results obtained in this teast with 17pdr SABOT, in firing conducted by First U.S. Army at Balleroy on 10 July 44, 5 rounds were fired at the front plate of a Panther tank at 700 yards. Examination of pictures of this firing indicates that the first round struck the mantlet, the second between the track and the nose plate, the third at the junction of the nose and glacis and penetrated. The fourth and fifth were fair hits on the glacis and both penetrated. The conflict between these results and those obtained by the board is expalined by Col. A. G. Cole, Deputy Director of Artillery, Ministry of Supply. Col. Cole witnessed part of the test and states that the ammunition lot furnished the board had not been proof fired. He further states that, in his opinion, the lot is of sub-standard manufacture and if proof fired would not have been accepted.

    So at Balleroy 3 out of 5 shots from 700 y penetrated, one was not fair for the test purpose but in a real situation, who cares. APDS, at least for heavier guns, was perfected only after the war, early 50s IIRC.
  15. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    In fact the tank mounted 17pdr in Firefly was much less accurate than the antitank gun version. In many respects this is not so surprising given the jury rigged ad-hoc mounting of the 17pdr into the Sherman turret. But it is true that US 75 mm and 76 mm guns were more accurate then the British tank/A/T guns, even the 77 mm.
  16. Delta Tank

    Delta Tank Member

    I did not post any videos. I posted written reports with comments/analysis.

    Or your results could be this! On a test range at Fort Knox with no adrenaline flowing through your veins, etc.

    “Then they tried at 1,000 yards. After firing 18 rounds trying to register, (Successive rounds with the same sight picture were observed as over, left, short) they decided to abandon further testing of the round except for armour penetration.”

    I think they went for coffee, not sure. When did other armies decide to use the APDS? Why did other armies wait if it was so good?

  17. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    OK, but anyway the link was to the US site and they recommended to switch to the European site but that was not possible before the cookie acceptance, and because I dislike cookies and the acceptance system was a little odd, I left the site.
    But the 3rd opinion, the Soviet one:
    1. The penetrative power, stability, and precision of the English 17-pounder anti-tank gun makes it a powerful anti-tank gun that meets modern requirements for anti-tank artillery.
    However, the gun is very heavy for its caliber (2862 kg), has a low use of metal coefficient (112) and many other drawbacks, listed in section 3.

    The report listed drawbacks but they had nothing against the accuracy of the gun, but they probably had only APCBC ammo for use.
    See: http://tankarchives.blogspot.fi/2014/03/17-pounder-trials.html
  18. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    And British POV from Dec. 1944, my apologies for poor image quality.

    Attached Files:

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  19. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

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  20. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    A couple leads on the introduction of the 17-pdr APDS ammo

    Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot by Julian Shales - WW2 Site Helper

    ...The earliest account for 17 Pounder (76.2mm) APDS that I have found seems to be in October 1944 and possibly not for the Firefly but only for Royal Artillery Anti-Tank Regiments...

    Message 1 – APDS Posted on: 18 May 2005 by Weaponcharles
    I am Charles Markuss, a British 'guns and armour' nut and wargamer / researcher involved in the Advance Squad Leader board wargames produced in the USA.

    ...17 pdr APDS first became available in small quantities in September 1944 and always remained far less accurate than APCBC; troops were urged to conserve supplies and a vehicle might have between 5 and 10 rounds available in ideal circumstances - this from verterans' recollections. Anti-tank units would have had priority in supplies over tanks, but scrounging and barter probably took place...

    Why did the British abandon the 6 pounder as a Tank gun? - Page 4 - Axis History Forum

    Re: Why did the British abandon the 6 pounder as a Tank gun? #53 Post by RichTO90 » 27 Apr 2010, 04:42
    [RichTO90 a.k.a Richard C. Anderson Jr.]

    ...17-pdr SABOT though is a different matter. It seems the initial shipment was the unproofed lot issued for the Balleroy and Isigny test. Later, in RAC Letter Number 3 from 29 December, it is mentioned (Para. 66) that "small quantities of "17-pr SVDS" (Super Velocity Discarding Sabot) had been received and that it was being tested in order to ensure "it was up to specification" - presumably meaning the accuracy problem was solved - "before it is put into operational use". That test is also described in the same letter (this time called "17-pr DS shot", Para. 77) as occuring 23 November. It was an accuracy test only, firing at screens at 800 yards with good results, but the test was limited by poor visibility during the day.
    The implication was that 17-pdr SABOT (APDS/SVDS/DS shot) was not issued operationally until sometime after the 23 November-29 december timeframe, i.e. sometime in 1945

    On the other hand some two months earlier

    The Normandy campaign. - Page 4 - Axis History Forum

    Re: The Normandy campaign. #47 Post by RichTO90 » 08 Feb 2010, 03:22

    The 17-pdr sabot only became available in very small quantities of defectively manufactured lots in August and was only generally becoming available in October.
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