3.7in AA gun NOT used as AT gun

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

  1. Over Here

    Over Here Junior Member

    Based on the size of the rings, that "Tobruk Mount" must have used the No.29/22C Sighting Telescope, which was built for the 6 Pdr. and also used for direct fire on the 25 Pdr.

    Optically it is just a heavy duty rifle sight; less in fact as it has no magnification and no internal adjustments. The reticule is very simple as shown. Apparently it wasn't thought worth producing a separate reticule for different guns.

    The eye relief is about 2.5", and as mentioned in the text I posted earlier, it was known for giving ex 2 Pdr. gunners "black eyes". The sight on the 2 Pdr. at least had a rubber eye cup, the No.29/22C does not.

    With the greater recoil of the 6 Pdr., to say nothing of the 3.7" AA, the whole set up would have made a flincher out of a cigar store indian, to borrow a phrase! Whoever designed it apparently didn't remember the difference in recoil forces.

    Was the layer/gunner giving verbal commands while looking through that sight, or was he working the "coffee grinder" in front of him as well as looking through the sight?

    Presumably some sort of padding like a few shell dressings was added to that rectangular steel plate the layer was expected to put his forehead against.

    A much more appropriate sight would have been the Ross 3.5X or even 7x binocular gunsights, which at least included a rubber head rest and anti-glare and night filters. But of course if using heavy AA guns for AT was heresy, borrowing naval gunsights would have been blasphemy as well.

    (A photo of the Canadian Ram Tank / 3.7AA adaptation. Notice the larger sighting telescope and relocated layer's adjusting wheel via shafts & 90 degree gearbox. The gap under the shield probably reflects the degree of depression possible.)
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. weescotty

    weescotty Junior Member

    Hi folks,

    Been researching my fathers war time efforts and having obtained his units war diaries (292 HAA Bty, City of Edinburgh) I was able to find out what convoy he was on and this was very interesting as five transport ships were sent thro the Med under a large escort because General Wavell had complained to Churchhill that his existing tanks armour etc was terrible so Winston ordered the ships thro as Operation Tiger and luckily they only lost one of the five, while the troops went the long way to Suez.

    Anyway as I was wanting to find more about his guns I found out that they were 3.7 so here I am trying to get pics and info. I read the thread about the guns hardly being used as AT role more AA so checked his units war diaries and found some entries which you may find interesting.

    "28th April
    A.tk practise carried out by gun detachments from all batteries in the area on section 2's guns. Damaged German and Italian tanks at ranges between 600-800yds used as targets.
    Practise also carried out on towed targets. Special open sights designed by S.O.M.E 12 AA Bde used. H.E and S.Ap fired with good results. Firing on second day witnessed by Eight Army Cmdr, A.O.C and B.R.A. Eight Army.

    13th May
    Ant-tank sights fitted to 3.7 guns.

    12th June
    Troop used in role of field arty under orders from C.P 76 rounds were fired against enemy columns consisting of tanks, armoured cars, lorried infantry and M.T.
    Section 3 engaged 3x 88mm guns which took up positions at ranges of 2600-4000 yds. A direct hit was secured on the nearest, using open sights and the other two withdrew. During the day the Troop destroyed 1x 88mm gun and one A.V.F and inflicted damage on two tanks (probably destroyed) and M.T.
    Brig Reid DSO MC visited sites and congratulated troops on days work."

    I'm fairly new to the forum but thought that this sounded pretty convincing evidence that the 3.7 was used in AT role.
    pic of their gun st up with two observers in the middle foxhole.jpg

    dad and the radio truck perhaps.jpg

    View attachment 67535
     
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  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Great post Colin..What year was that?
     
  4. weescotty

    weescotty Junior Member

    Sorry, it was in 1942
     
  5. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Hi guys

    Some very interesting stuff here, but some points that no one seems to have mentioned.

    First, the 3.7 was converted to an anti-tank gun (but not till post war) and the RA museum at Woolwich (Firepower) has (though possibly not on display at present) an example of the 32 pounder which was what it was called. The size of the thing shows you why it was never adopted, as the BAT series of 120mm recoilless weapons were much smaller and sufficiently effective, even if shorter in range. The 32 pounder was mounted on the Tortoise as previously mentioned.

    Second, German anti-tank weapons, except the 88, generally seem to have been rubbished in the thread. Tank crews tended to suggest that every tank penetrated was hit by an 88. But research showed that a high proportion of penetrations were caused by the 75mm Pak40 (not mentioned so far, as far as I can see) which was a purpose designed anti-tank gun and well capable of penetrating most allied tanks.

    I was also interested in the posts concerning the early 88 'Bunkerknackers' towed by a semi-armoured Sd Kfz 7 halftrack during the French campaign, though the subject seemed to get confused with later SP 88s like the Hornisse or Nashorn. The guns had a larger shield than the standard towed 88s, but as noted earlier, they do not seem to have been used after 1940. Presumably, whatever purpose they were intended for was not found to be very useful in practise.

    Chris
     
  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

  7. REME Lad

    REME Lad Junior Member

    Re the comments about how slow the 17 pounders reached the battlefields. I started work in July 1943 in Blackburn in a large loom building plant. It had been converted to war work. I was involved in building metal cutting lathes for Russia, and a few feet away, was a line of benches where the 17 pounder breech blocks were assembled. The parts were all machined in our shops, and laboriously hand finished, and hand fitted, on these benches. There never seemed to be any urgency in the rate of production, and there was only an 8 hour day shift, and 4 hours on Saturday morning.
    If other factories, making the other components for the 17 pounder, were as laid back as ours, I'm not surprised that it took years to get those badly needed guns up to the front. Mind you, we really churned out those lathes for the Russians.
     
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Reme Lad -
    now we are getting to the meat and potatoes of the problem as the FiRST four 17 pounders were landed in North Africa Nov '42 - beamed down to Medenineto finish off Rommel- then shipped back to UK for a better platform - next time saw them was with a Canadian Battery who landed on Sicily July '43 - then the drought set in as they were all needed for D Day's Cromwells - apparently some were landed in Italy in the October '44-
    and as you know the war finished in late April there......so it sounds like you had a strong
    union in your shop with more allegiance to Uncle Joe than their own people

    Cheers
     
  9. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Re the comments about how slow the 17 pounders reached the battlefields. ... I'm not surprised that it took years to get those badly needed guns up to the front. Mind you, we really churned out those lathes for the Russians.

    ...so it sounds like you had a strong
    union in your shop with more allegiance to Uncle Joe than their own people

    I am rather ignorant on labour matters during wartime. Was this a common attitude? Weren't there targets set down by plant management, and if so were they flouted to comply with shop-floor sympathies? If so I am rather surprised at lack of discipline with a war going on.
     
  10. REME Lad

    REME Lad Junior Member

    Sorry Tom, yes, we had a Union like most plants back then, but ours was not militant at all, and definitely not pro-communist. The fact that we didn't work extra shifts, or at a faster pace, seemed to be more management related, also, the design and specifications were not conducive to mass production methods. I, personally, had to tap a blind hole for the firing pin, by hand, in the bottom of a trench mortar base that, because of poor design, was very difficult to tap.
    A bit like Rolls Royce building Merlin Engines by hand using highly skilled men, and Packard in the USA building Merlins with semi skilled women, at a much higher rate.
    Eventually, RR built them like Packard did.
    I also suspect, that at our plant, and probably many others, there was no one from the Department of Munitions who knew much about manufacturing, coming round and pressing the company to "get their finger out".
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  12. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Where does some of this nonsence come from? Lets start at the top. The Atk problem ended when 6-pr appeared and was well and truly over when 17-pr arrived (remember the first Tigers were destroyed by 6-pr in early 1943). Therefore the issue is resource allocation in late 41, early 42.

    So Q1 what was the AA ORBAT in the Med/ME (excl Gib, Malta)? The short answer is well short of 1000 3.7! As far as I can see in Oct 41 4 AA Bde in Tobruk had just 24 (1 regt) of 3.7 and 2 AA Bde in Egypt had 96 covering Alex, Port Said, Suez and the Canal. Furthermore it's not clear if these were all mobile mountings or some were static.

    Next, use of AA guns wasn't entirely an army matter. Egypt was a major base and the RN and RAF both had a major say in its defences. The expert opinion was that there was an air-threat to the base areas, notably the ports (which is where the guns were). Sounds like a very sensible military judgement at the time to me.

    By Alamein 8 Army had 2 AA Bdes (2 & 12) with a total of 6 HAA Regts (144 guns), which is none too many for AA defence of 8 Army rear areas. By Jan 1943 there were 16 HAA regts spread among the 7 AA Bdes in ME, some regts had only 2 btys, total guns 368 3.7. Still well short of 1000, and without allowing for any static mountings!

    Next, 3.7 was big, complicated and expensive, and the Matador was also big. Unarmoured bigness is not a good idea in a direct fire battle. It was not designed for forward area use. Proper ATk guns were much cheaper and simpler. Then there was the matter of sights. 3.7 was designed to be layed from a bty predictor with the layers matching pointers, it did have direct AA fire sights as backup, but proper ATk guns and 25-pr, had an ATk telescope with suitable graticules for the task. 3.7 use of two man laying, one on either side one them facing backwards would not have been an optimum design for ATk shooting.
     
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  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    See posts 35 to 36 for numerous mentions of Anti-Aircraft guns being used against tanks in N. Africa circa 1941 to 1942. There is even a mention of Bofors guns knocking out German armour !

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/royal-artillery/23736-129th-battery-15th-isle-man-regt-laa-royal-artillery-crete.html#post508865

    Hi Drew

    many thanks again for providing this, it is very interesting. It should be from 57 LAA Rgt by the way.

    Important to note that this refers to LAA, and that's a different story, in terms of placement (with frontline units), sub-ordination (under frontline Brigades/Divisions), and doctrine at the time (the gunners really seem to have been expected to have it out with tanks). The Germans in their documents actually called the Bofors a PAKFLAK (AT/AA).

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  14. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Sence at last! thank you:rolleyes:
    This thread was becoming VERY boring.
    Best Rob
    Where does some of this nonsence come from? Lets start at the top. The Atk problem ended when 6-pr appeared and was well and truly over when 17-pr arrived (remember the first Tigers were destroyed by 6-pr in early 1943). Therefore the issue is resource allocation in late 41, early 42.

    So Q1 what was the AA ORBAT in the Med/ME (excl Gib, Malta)? The short answer is well short of 1000 3.7! As far as I can see in Oct 41 4 AA Bde in Tobruk had just 24 (1 regt) of 3.7 and 2 AA Bde in Egypt had 96 covering Alex, Port Said, Suez and the Canal. Furthermore it's not clear if these were all mobile mountings or some were static.

    Next, use of AA guns wasn't entirely an army matter. Egypt was a major base and the RN and RAF both had a major say in its defences. The expert opinion was that there was an air-threat to the base areas, notably the ports (which is where the guns were). Sounds like a very sensible military judgement at the time to me.

    By Alamein 8 Army had 2 AA Bdes (2 & 12) with a total of 6 HAA Regts (144 guns), which is none too many for AA defence of 8 Army rear areas. By Jan 1943 there were 16 HAA regts spread among the 7 AA Bdes in ME, some regts had only 2 btys, total guns 368 3.7. Still well short of 1000, and without allowing for any static mountings!

    Next, 3.7 was big, complicated and expensive, and the Matador was also big. Unarmoured bigness is not a good idea in a direct fire battle. It was not designed for forward area use. Proper ATk guns were much cheaper and simpler. Then there was the matter of sights. 3.7 was designed to be layed from a bty predictor with the layers matching pointers, it did have direct AA fire sights as backup, but proper ATk guns and 25-pr, had an ATk telescope with suitable graticules for the task. 3.7 use of two man laying, one on either side one them facing backwards would not have been an optimum design for ATk shooting.
     
  15. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    3.7 use of two man laying, one on either side one them facing backwards would not have been an optimum design for ATk shooting.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers, Mapshooter :D
     
  16. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  17. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    The use of the 3.7 in a "Ground Role" is widely known thoughout the war years,
    paricularly after the Battle of the Bulge with the introduction of the proximity fuse for this gun, which proved very successfull in action, as i have said before in this thread.
    But it seems 'Ground Role' is again being confused with "Anti-Tank Role" which of course it is not.
    I said to myself i was'nt going to post any more on this thread but it keeps winding me up:mad:
    Rant over
    Rob
     
  18. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    The use of the 3.7 in a "Ground Role" is widely known thoughout the war years,
    paricularly after the Battle of the Bulge with the introduction of the proximity fuse for this gun, which proved very successfull in action, as i have said before in this thread.
    But it seems 'Ground Role' is again being confused with "Anti-Tank Role" which of course it is not.
    I said to myself i was'nt going to post any more on this thread but it keeps winding me up:mad:
    Rant over
    Rob

    Hope I didn't wind you up Rob. :)

    I understand the difference, but thought it was useful in any case.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  19. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    One other point to make however, we are talking late 41 here. If the 3.7" had been regularly used in the ground role at this stage, this would not have appeared in lessons learnt, in my view. So it was considered unusual and worthy of inclusion in this document.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  20. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    As usual tactical thinking is missing the strategic issues. It's what you'd expect from soldiers and more junior officers commenting on matters outside their area of competance.

    If you add up the number of HAA regts in the Middle East in 1941/2 there weren't huge numbers of 3.7. Very few of these guns were under command of army or corps level. Most were defending the vitally important base areas, ports and airfields in the Suez Canal area, despite the expert opinion of numerous Pte Snooks, this was a vital task.

    British policy was that all AA (and field) guns had Atk as a secondary role, but this meant that the guns engaged tanks from their AA positions, something that would only happen in extreme circumstances. Giving them a primary role of Atk meant they deployed in atk positions, probably unsuitable for AA.

    Atk fire was opened at a range of no more than several hundred yards, concealing something as big as a 3.7 in the desert to achieve this was probably a tad difficult (never mind concealing the Matador). If they lost surprise then tk MG fire at least would make life very difficult, never mind main armament. The key detachment members for a 3.7 didn't have a shield and were seated relatively high in atk terms.

    The other point is that 3.7 were complex and expensive. 6-pr did the job, was small, cheap and simple. The first Tigers destroyed by UK were by 6-pr. And 17-pr was just around the corner. Oh, and Crusader gun tractors for atk were't available until 1944 or so.
     
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