3.7in AA gun NOT used as AT gun

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

  1. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    As far as I'm aware the 2 pounder APCBC was certainly produced in experimental form. The decision for the Ministry of Supply in 1940 was to go either full AP or full APCBC. This decision was dependent on whether they thought German tanks (which they had no captured examples of) would be armoured with face hardened armour or rolled homogenous armour. They predicted it would be the latter, and so productionised the AP round. Unfortunately they called it wrong.

    As for HE, there was already a solution with the 3" Howitzer, which was actually a very effective weapon for its limited range. As the 2 pounder AP couldn't penetrate the Pz.III frontally at more than 200 yards, the 3" Howitzer HE might even have made a better anti-tank weapon, strange as that might sound. There was an oversupply of the 3" Howitzer, and it was interchangeable with the 2 pounder, so it could have been adopted on a greater proportion of tanks than it was. I think RAC doctrine was the obstacle here.

    Anyway, sorry for going OT everyone...
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Germans at the time and indeed German eBay sellers frequently claim 'beute' to be British (or 'English', they understand no difference). In the case of the former, it brings kudos (British material was harder to capture and inevitably scarcer than French) and for the latter, it will bring more favourable results and a higher price if the buyer accepts the assessment.

    Why would the Germans have been reluctant to use Dutch ordnance ? Captured Dutch transport was used immediately and much was captured before it could be deployed.

    I've travelled through Northern France multiple times per year over the last twenty years and I just cannot see this photograph as being near Dunkirk (where the British had no time to build anything) nor is it on the Gort line where the BEF had spent the winter of 1939/40 building and reinforcing concrete emplacements.

    It looks to me as if this is hastily constructed emplacement supporting one of the numerous forward airstrips that the Luftwaffe constructed in the pas de Calais in order to fight the Battle of Britain. I appreciate of course that this does not fit with an agenda of mocking British Army incompetence in leadership, equipment and morale.
  3. Over Here

    Over Here Junior Member

    I think I began my post by saying "you may be right", but so far I see less evidence than for the opposite scenario. Yes, one does see a lot of mislabelling of photos on eBay, although this seller got it right in identifying the gun as a 75mm.

    We could quickly resolve the matter by determining whether the Dutch used guns with wooden wheels. I see a photo here that purports to be a Dutch gun, but the wheels are steel as you can see. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Ford-DAF-TRADO.jpg

    There seems to be some ambiguity online about the Vickers M31 75mm AA gun https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickers_Model_1931 and this later model, possilbly an M1935 as the Germans referred to it as the "7.5cm Flak M35(h)"; "h" for "Hollandische" I suppose.

    The M35 being the updated M31 I assume, with the lower mounting. A really remarkably low profile gun for one that could also elevate to vertical!

    You can see here in the first post a reference to a published source stating that the Germans had a "7.5cmn Flak M35(e)" to denote being captured from the "English". http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=155357 (Other photos of Germans with the M35 gun in that thread also)

    I see there are many photos of the M35 in this thread also, including one with wooden wheels: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=88905&start=15

    As for the "agenda of mocking the British Army...", pointing out failures and mistakes is exactly that, not an agenda. All my sympathies are with Britain and "the Empire", but we don't need to be blinded by our sympathies do we? Frank self-criticism is the only road to learning.

    The Army was neglected between the wars, and itself neglected to learn the over-arching lesson of WWI: machines instead of men - a choice that should have been obvious as there was no choice: so many of the best men had been killed by incompetence in WWI that what was left and the missing generation of descendants - far larger than the number of those actually killed - made it impossible to ever field such a force again!

    There were very few officers of real drive and vision between the wars and they were obstructed at every turn. The Experimental Brigades were a farce, tank design was a farce, the Bren Gun Carrier was an amusing toy as an APC...where does one stop? Officers like Fuller and Hobart who tried to bring the Army forward were pursued by a clique that Churchill referred to when he said, "The Army is not a club!" Were those officers thinking of what was best for the Service and their country? They had just seen the Germans rub Europe's and their face in the lessons their own Tank Corps had learned in WWI. Would that urgency be enough for them to rise above their little animosities and resentments for the good of the "Empire"? Apparently not!

    The more I study the wars, the more I see the petty-mindedness, the infantile jealousies, the stupid inter-service rivalries. Not unique to any army of course, but not equally shared between them either. Or at least not allowed to stand in the way of efficiency to the same extents.

    Muddled through again, but only with the help of the Dominions and the Americans, and only thanks to Hitler's bumbling.

    How's that for a good "mocking"? And the way equipment was dropped in France in 1940 should have been the subject of court martials. All you need is petrol and a match, but if you want to scarper unobserved, the smoke may attract some planes, so you don't bother? Thousands of vehicles with what, maybe a punctured tire and broken distributor cap, or not even that? 8000 Bren guns left behind. Boys rifles? Vickers guns? It's not like they can't be carried onto a ship. Officers in charge of ordnance depots have some idea of the time and money it takes to produce such equipment. How many photos do we see of men milling around on the beaches without even a rifle? We can see from all the German photos just what was left and in what condition. Guns with their breachblocks still in place, sights in the cases...No one ever heard of a thermite grenade? Quite a few photos show guns and limbers simply unhitched and abandoned on the side of the road while the crew apparently drove off in the gun tractor!

    When the 1st Canadian Division was told to turn around and go back to England some panicky evacuation officers told them to destroy their transport on the quay. One wonders how many other times this happened? Thankfully they didn't, and got it most of it back with them, making them the most fully equipped division in the UK.

    Now back to guns!
  4. hutt

    hutt Member

    For Information, 26th AA diary recording 3.7" guns going to Larkhill for A/T shoot as noted in Allanbrooke's diary.

    Attached Files:

  5. Geoff.Maple

    Geoff.Maple Member

    There has been published a new book by Bill Todd with the title

    " Gunner, the story of Sgt Leslie Todd & the 90th Heavy Anti -Aircraft Regiment in World War 2 " by publishers DLE-history

    My fathers old regiment
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    The history of 103 Heavy AA Regiment includes reference to being assigned in July 1941 to Op Bargain - anti invasion role of moving deploying Bedford and Bletchley and being ready to engage German armour in the anti tank role. It isn't clear whether this was to be with the 3" 20 cwt or the 3.7" equipments. This is possibly one result of Brooke's interest in anti tank capability expressed in his July 1941 diary entries.
  7. Young Tom

    Young Tom Member

    The idea of raising this topic came to me after reading about the use of the 88 in Normandy, but I see the matter has been well covered. Owen's reference to Alanbrooke's diary caught my eye. He came to my interest as the BMRA of the 18th division in the Great War, and wrote on artillery matters between the wars. I would appreciate some detail of his diaries which I would like to read.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

  10. Young Tom

    Young Tom Member

    Owen and Sheldrake. Many thanks !
  11. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

  12. DebK

    DebK New Member

    My grandfather's regiment. I've just read the book. Very interesting and emotional. It has at last provided me with answers and a real insight into what my grandfather and his mates went through. Thanks to Bill Todd for putting this book into print.
    Dave55 likes this.
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I know this is sort of incidental detail compared with if or when the 3.7" gun was used in the AT role, but the thread reminded me of this memo I saw in the Canadian archives late last year.

    Juha and Dave55 like this.
  14. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    Interesting quote ref 25 pdr.
    I recently had a conversation with a neighbour in his late 80's who revealed that he learned to drive on Quads with 19th Field Regt around 1950/53.
    (They had fought alongside 67 FR in 1st Inf Div).
    He mentioned that the old sweats in the Regt said that the best defence against tanks in the desert was an anti tank gun and the best thing to do with a 25 pdr was to hitch up and clear off because the rounds bounced off the German armour.
    I was somewhat surprised as the brief training I had with 25 pdrs was with 267 FR whose old guys fought at Banana Ridge with the 67th FR and killed a few tanks admittedly at very close range.
    The later A/T round and supercharge (plus Muzzle brake to reduce recoil) should have cured the problem.
    Luckily we never had the chance to prove it either way.
    Tolbooth, Dave55 and Chris C like this.
  15. DebK

    DebK New Member

    I'm many years late commenting in this thread but my grandad was a gunner in 90th HAA. The photo attached shows him on the right in the thick of it taken near Conde sur Noireau in August 1944. Source of photo is Imperial War Museum.

    Attached Files:

    Owen, Chris C, Dave55 and 1 other person like this.
  16. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    For all you fans of operating the 3.7" in the ground role, here's some instructions on its use from the Italian theatre:

    3.7 pg1.jpg

    3.7 pg2.jpg

    3.7 pg3.jpg

    The most interesting point made here is how quick the gun was to get into action, and how it could be fired from its mobile carriage. This tends to confirm my suspicion that the usual excuses for not using it in the AT role (its heavy weight etc.) really were just excuses for something that they didn't want to do anyway.
    Owen, HAARA, canuck and 2 others like this.
  17. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    You would not say that if it was your job to dig an emplacement for the thing. It was very high and would suffer the same fate as any 8.8cm caught firing directly at advancing tanks. A brief period of success followed by complete destruction when the range is found.
  18. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Well exactly! That's one of the real reasons why they wouldn't have wanted to use it.
  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    "If they're in range, we're in range."
  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    Not strictly. If the ground is open and visibility 5km the side with an 88mm gun facing an enemy with tanks lacking HE and poor co-operation with field artillery has a good chance of picking off any number of tanks.

    I think this letter relates to the discussion in post #143
    3.7in AA gun NOT used as AT gun

    It is addressed to Commander in Chief, Home Forces i.e. Brooke. Note the reference to 3" & 3.7" AP ammunition not currently in production. Brooke's diary mentions taking up AP production with Beaverbrook. Even without the AP ammunition the 3" and 3.7" AA might have had decent performance against German armour they faced in the desert 1941-42.

    As I posted in Post #203, 103 Heavy AA had already been tasked with a secondary anti tank role from July 1941. This was the plan to deal with any Tiger tanks in a 1941 Op Sealion.

    That Brooke had to take a personal interest suggests that there were cultural/ internal political/ blimpishness thant needed to be overcome. In the Western Desert no one seems to have gripped the problem.

    By May 1942 the British were trying to use the Heavy AA in the desert. Some, in ones and twos were deployed in the Gazala battles. 2 RHA had two with them at Knightsbridge. The CO sent them away as being un-battleworthy. Perhaps because of a lack of training. Homes Forces set up a training programme for AA Units deploying to the field army.
    Chris C likes this.

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