3.7" Vickers QF HAA gun prototype

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by HAARA, Aug 30, 2014.

  1. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    I came across these photos of an early prototype 3.7" Vickers A.A. gun whilst researching 76th HAA Regt. These are Vickers' factory photos, probably originating from 1935. Whilst not good reproductions, I thought they might be of interest, particularly as it shows the gun and detachment (assumed to be factory employees in this case) from different angles.

    In the decade after World War I there was little significant development of anti-aircraft guns, this being restricted principally to the modification of some of the original 3” calibre guns brought into service during WW1, modification being principally to provide mobility through the fitting of trailer mountings. Guns at T.A. units in the inter war years, however, remained as static or semi mobile mountings of World War I vintage - it is interesting to read of accounts of T.A soldiers using these for drill, as late as 1938/9:

    "T.A. parades were on Tuesday evenings, with periodic obligatory week-end “camps” at H.Q. Evening parades, I recall, were from 19.00hrs to 21.00hrs, consisting of a variety of activities, including rifle drill, dismounted cavalry drill, lectures on guns and ammunition, and, treat of all treats, gun drill on a sadly worn World War I 3” A.A. gun. This had its amusing side, since it was supposed to be mobile, and there were hilarious sessions of taking the gun “out of action” on its wheels."

    It was not until the early 1930’s that the need to replace the 3” guns with a device more capable of dealing with higher and faster flying aircraft than those of WW1 vintage was recognised, together with the need for this to be mobile. A specification was developed and issued by the Director of Artillery, a new 3.7” QF (quick firing - meaning round and charge were combined) gun being prototyped from this by Vickers in 1934, and subsequently, after modification, going into initial manufacture in 1936. By 1937 the new 3.7” Vickers H.A.A. gun had completed the necessary trials and production been instructed, but the first deliveries did not commence until 1938, and then only in small quantities. By September 1938 just 480 guns had been delivered compared with a requirement for 1,260, a number that was to be subsequently increased. To meet the shortfall 450 existing First World War 3” guns were brought into service, approximately 200 of these having previously been modernised.

    Attached Files:

    Osborne2 likes this.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Those are brilliant, HAARA.
    Something pleasing about the flat caps & overalls too - not something we often glimpse.

    I wonder if they painted it grey for the photos too, like Steam engines were.

    Thanks for sharing.
  3. holyboy

    holyboy Member

    Great Pictures. Some similarities to the 88mm. Very low profile,was it ever considered/ used in Anti Tank role?
  4. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Actually in 1918 a very good 3.6 in HAA had been developed.
  5. hutt

    hutt Member

    Fascinating photos, can I ask where you found them?
    Also, I wonder if it may in fact be a wooden mock up (or perhaps partially wooden) rather than a true prototype or pre production / development weapon.
    The Wikipedia page has some info about an anti tank role.
  6. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member


    There is a thread on ww2talk that discusses the possible use of the 3.7" Vickers as an anti tank gun at some length, 3.7in AA gun NOT used as AT gun which you might find of interest. It is certain from the 76th HAA Regt war diaries that the batteries trained on an anti tank range prior to their departure to North Africa as part of Operation Torch, but there is no confirmation of the guns being used as such, either in NA, nor subsequently during their operations in Sicily and Italy. The Regt was, however, used in a field role from 26 July 1944 onwards from Collesalvetti northwards in support of IV Corps of US 5th Army. The records I have show that when used in this way the gun required regular re-levelling due to the recoil having the potential to slew the gun out of position. The recoil of the gun was absorbed by a cylinder of compressed air. It was found when using the gun at low elevation in a ground shooting role, as opposed to the high angles required in typical anti aircraft usage, that more air would be drawn into the recoil buffer resulting in a shorter and more violent recoil which could take the gun out of position. This was overcome by slackening off the air release plugs. This slewing/re-levelling may have been part of the issue in not using it against tanks.


    Yes, indeed, a 3.6" QF gun was developed in 1918, and, as I understand it, mounted on a tracked chassis. It seems, however, only a few were manufactured for testing, the project being abandoned following the end of WW1, no further development taking place until the specification for a new 3.7" QF gun was instigated, as I noted in my original post.


    Yes, I had wondered whether this was a wood mockup, including the shells - I use the word 'prototype' loosely! I came across these when researching the 76th HAA Regt at National Archives.

    This earlier post of mine might also be of interest. 3.7" Vickers QF HAA gun, battery in action
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2019
  7. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    All field and AA batteries were trained in anti-tank gunnery. It was their secondary role, primarily for self-defence but always the possibility of it as a temporary primary role in exceptional circumstances.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    On TV ,Yorkshire railway doing a WW2 themed event last year loading A QF on the train and nearly didnt they thought he weight was 8 tons but they stated it was 9 ton and the crane lifting was limited to 8 tons.Eden Camp have also provided an anti-aircraft artillery gun QF 3.7 which will be on display in a freight service which will be travelling along the heritage line. Grosmont Station: Railway in Wartime

    I did not realise how heavy the beauty was
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  9. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Wonder no more... it is a wooden mock-up created in 1934. A 4-inch gun was lined down to 3.7-inch for ballistic and fuse trials in 1935, and I presume that the prototype would have followed these.

    Attached is an extract from a letter from General Montgomery-Massingberd, CIGS, to General McNaughton, Chief of Canadian General Staff, dated 22 January 1935.

    Attached Files:

    hutt likes this.

Share This Page