3.7in AA gun NOT used as AT gun

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Owen, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Reading "Alamein War without Hate" page 104. The Authors attack the British High Command for not pressing the 3.7 in AA gun into service in the anti-tank role as in the German 88. one Veteran says "no excuse for the sheer stupidity of the General Staff" in not allowing it's use in the anti-tank role."During all this time over a thousand 3.7 inch AA guns stood idle in the Middle East.....Many never fired a shot in anger during the whole of the war."Sounds like a fair point. Then looking into the 3.7 in gun I see ;- "A more telling reason was that the 3.75-inch gun mobile mounting was almost twice as heavy as the German "88". Redeploying it was a slower operation and the heavy AEC Matador truck which was normally required to tow it could operate on roads or hard surfaces only.Prolonged firing at low elevations (not part of the original specification) also strained the mounting and recuperating gear"There is the answer. Anyone wish to comment further?
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    But a weapon with near identical firepower to the '88' would still surely have been damned useful in the defensive battles in the desert. Even the 88 had to evolve and be modified in order to become such a useful gun & had it's own limitations in bulk and profile, it was still considered well worth the effort.
    And I've also seen Matadors going over off-road courses without too much bother.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Exactly what I thought. Deploy them in defensive line positions, such as Gazala line. Tobruk etc. Even if the mounting and recuperating gear did pack up surely they could have caused losses before that happened. Perhaps another reason they weren't used........no AP rounds. Saying that even a direct hit from a 3.7 (94mm) round is going to cause severe damage.I wondered if this was a cheap shot by the Authors at the High Command or a valid point by Lt (later Maj) David Parry 57th LAA Regt, RA (see book).My solution for a more powerful gun tractor is to use a tracked vehicle such as an obsolete tank.
  4. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    I am not genned up on artillery but couldn't they have redesigned or modified the existing mount. The obsolete tank would seem a valid option. Not using the 3.5 seems to be a classic foul -up by higher up. Do you think it was an oversight by them or do you think they didn't perhaps faith in the weapon in an anti tank role.
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I'm amazed at all the bizarre inventions the British came up with in WW2 and the collection of "outside-the-box" thinkers in the Military no-one thought of it.Maybe it just didn't work?
  6. spidge


    Maybe there were people (Generals & others) who did think of it but were overruled by their superiors and did not tell tales out of school.
  7. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Im sure if it would have been feasable to use the British gun it would have been. Im guessing it just didnt have the right kind of ammunition, sights, mount etc. You think about the vast amount of development work the germans put into the 88, multitude of different types and ammo, really did spend a lot of effort on it.

    Plus I think the myth around the dread 88 is a bit overblown in hype down the years (but then Ive never been shot at with one!) and its easy to think that the Germans didnt have any problems with the gun or interservice or interrank bickering about missuse of materiel. In Von Lucks book he tooks about the fmous episode in operation Goodwood where a battery of 88's took oout 20 or so British tanks in so many minutes and that it didnt nearly happen. Apperantly the guns where luftwaffe manned and the crews only fired on the British tanks under a lot of persusian. I think weopens where drawn.

    I think a lot of ther myth was down to Rommells mad tactics of laying traps for the allied armour and blasting them with dug in 88's. I guess Rommell was well known for cutting through the Prussian bullshit??

  8. Glider

    Glider Senior Member

    There was one unit that used its 3.7 as anti tank guns with remarkable success and I think he was disiplined for doing so. It was in in the paper earlier this year.
    Have to agree that it was stupid thinking. As for the Matador it was one of the best cross country trucks of the time so if anything could make it work then the Matodor could.
  9. MikB

    MikB Senior Member

    I too suspect that much of the hype around the 88 might be overblown. It was itself on a heavy mounting and took time to bring into action, whereas Britain's 25-pounder, a field piece equivalent in everything but armour-piercing capability, was more agile in deployment, far faster into action and a considerably less conspicuous target once in.

    With a gun like the 25 pounder in the armoury, and the drawbacks of the 3.7 in the ground role which OwenD has described above, I can quite understand a general reluctance to deploy it this way.

    Nevertheless, the overpunctilious application of that reluctance to the point where battles might've been lost because of it, probably does deserve criticism.

  10. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    The accusation might be levelled that some of the hierarchy still held onto strategies from the first war and were sticks in the mud with their attitudes. Monty was accused on a number of occasions of being over cautious and not being flexible - but others say he based his tactics on his experiences in the first. There is no doubt his courage as he was injured a number of times. It is easy for his detractors to criticise in hindsight. Then again looking at Hitler's ineptness and inflexible attitude, it would be interesting to see how the war would have progressed if Hitler had been killed/ died early on and the Generals had carried on.
  11. Pog

    Pog Junior Member

    Lack of ammo, lack of ground sights and lack of training for starters...

    They were used in a ground role in the desert and in the defence of Calais where their effectiveness was hindered for the reasons above.
  12. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    They were used in a ground role in the Rhine Crossing, but as arty and to lay down a bombardment to assist the crossing. I also a vet from one of these units who said they had used them to knock snipers out of church towers in Normandy!
  13. kiwimac

    kiwimac Member

    We often forget just how superior a weapon the 88mm was. It was extraordinarily adaptable (including being mounted in at least one GA aircraft), it was used as in anti-tank, anti-aircraft, anti-shipping role and when it was linked to the late-war German radar system (along with the much less adaptable 150mm gun) it became superlative in the AA role.
  14. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    As far as I know the 88 was never mounted in any German GA aircraft, only the Pak-40 (75mm), the 37mm (in the Stuka and Bf-110) and the 50mm (Me-262).
  15. kiwimac

    kiwimac Member


    I thought that it had been mounted in an HS-129 as an experiment. I may well be wrong. If I can ever locate the book I think I saw it in, I'll post the reference.

  16. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    I thought only the 75mm Pak-40 and the 37mm where put in the HS-129 but if you have a source that says the 88 was to, I would like to see it.
  17. kiwimac

    kiwimac Member


    Nothing is more likely than that I am remembering wrongly. :D I'll see if I can locate the source but don't hold your breath or anything!

  18. Rob.Langham

    Rob.Langham Member

    There was one unit that used its 3.7 as anti tank guns with remarkable success and I think he was disiplined for doing so. It was in in the paper earlier this year.
    Have to agree that it was stupid thinking. As for the Matador it was one of the best cross country trucks of the time so if anything could make it work then the Matodor could.

    Sounds like my Grandad's regiment - he was on 3.7 inchers as me and my dad call them, his regiment got in a lot of trouble for using them in the anti-tank role. 3.7inchers WERE used at Tobruk, so successful that the Germans sent a number of men and machines (don't know how many) to wipe out the troublesome guns. Don't know for certain is this is my Grandads regiment as unfortunately he passed away before I was born, but he very narrowly escaped death/capture at Tobruk, and he changed regiments afterwards so presumably his regiment was wiped out or disbanded due to heavy losses.
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Back to British AA guns in A/T role.
    Well, they did think of it and trial it.
    Quoting from Alanbrooke's Diary again. (stop smirking VP.)
    They were still concerned about Invasion and how to counter it.

    page 168.
    3rd July 1941.
    Also making plans to employ 3" (20cwt) AA guns to engage 70 and 90 ton German tanks should any of these monsters be landed to overcome beach defences.

    page 173
    21st July 1941.
    Then proceeded to see Beaverbrook concerning production of A/T ammunition for 3.7" and 3" AA guns to deal with large tanks should they be landed.

    page 182
    9th September 1941.
    Motored onto Larkhill for anti-tank trials.....Had 2 pdr, 6 pdr, 25 pdr, 75mm, Bofors and 3.7" AA gun all firing.

    Where did British Intelligence get the idea the Germans had 70 & 90 ton tanks in 1941?
  20. ourbill

    ourbill Senior Member

    One reference to 3.7-inch is found in 'The Plain Cook and the Great Showman' by Gregory Blaxland.

    Eighth Army forces were assembling for the push on Medenine and the battle of the Mareth Line, the attack duly came in on Saturday, March 6 1943.
    It has been called Rommel's last fling and defeat, he left Africa for good due to ‘ill health’ on March 9 leaving his Army Group to von Arnim.

    ....deployed in front of Medenine, and behind the Guards stood all the tanks of 22nd Armoured Brigade. The 8th Armoured Brigade were further in rear, fully equipped with tanks that had been filched from the 2nd Armoured Brigade and brought to them by great feat of endurance on the part of the drivers of the tank transporters.

    Every battalion had by now received eight 6-pounders in place of the old 2-pounders, and with the aid of compressors to shift the rock they had been dug in to catch tanks in enfilade, in coordination with the 6-pounder of the divisional RA regiment, some 3.7-inch AA guns, and a few 17-pounders.

    It is not very clear whether the 3.7-inch were used in the AT or the AA role, but, to me, it seems very possible, why else put a AA gun in with AT guns.

    A second reference in found in ‘A Well-Known Excellence’ by Denis Falvey.
    Talking about the same battle as above:

    The Eighth Army had a great capacity for learning and there were a number of improvements compared with Alam Halfa. ALL anti-guns, including those with infantry units, had been carefully co-ordinated and sited in interlocking postions with pre-arranged zones of fire. At last we had taken a page from the German book, and our 3.7inch AA guns were deployed in an AT role.

    Seems to me to be quite definately 3.7-inch were used as AT guns during this battle.

    Hope it's some help.

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