3.7in AA gun NOT used as AT gun

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

  1. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    I would guess that Tobruk fortress was a special case where, due to the limited perimeter, the 3.7" could be sited in such a way that it could engage in meaningful ground shoots and air defense at the same time.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  2. jallanw

    jallanw Junior Member WW2 Veteran

    The MkIII mounting was not suitable for AT role in any way. The layers faced backwards, and the only way to aim was for No1 to peer along th line of the barrel and give orders to the layer - use;ess for a moving target, In spite of thois, AP rounds were issued (my regt in 1 Can army had them, and practised (silent) engagements. Modification would have entailed major rebuilding not possible in filed workshops and probably noy at all
    51 regiment did engage tanks at Tobruck and were not censured
     
  3. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Australian Army also used 3.7's in the ground role late in the war. A troop of them was employed by the 26th Australian Brigade on Tarakan. The guns were emplaced on Margy Hill, which became known as "HMAS Margy" from the number of guns of various calibers there. The 3.7's were not considered a great success. They were conspicuous targets and gave off a great deal of blast and smoke when fired, which greatly annoyed and inconvenienced the crews of other weapons nearby.
     
  4. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Revealing...
     

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  5. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    The 3.7-inch proved very effective in a coastal defence role. NZ replaced its 6-inch batteries in 1949-1951 with the 3.7 due to increased range and improved rate of fire. (The fact that NZ had a number of HAA guns in reserve may have also been a factor.)

    Just as an aside, does anybody know where we can get our hands on an old 3.7-inch for display in a military history park?
     
  6. Over Here

    Over Here Junior Member

    Hore-Belisha did what he could for the tanks and tank-minded officers, but it seems clear that there was a great deal of hostility in the War Office from the CIGS down. I've come to the conclusion that this was not only the "equine Tammany Hall" of WWI fame, but also sheer personal jealousy and resentment of aggressive and competent officers such as Hobart and Ironside, by the defensively and traditionally-minded. I am reminded of Wolsely's comment that his staff were "as jealous as school girls" of each other. There is a disinclination to recognize these behaviours: they are not "gentlemanly", rational or in any way admirable, but armies are always "a club" to use Churchill's phrase, with factions, cliques and fierce personal competitiveness. Sadly such thinking and behaviour is not exclusive of a personal sense of honour, physical bravery etc.; it is an aspect of human nature one must factor in when trying to understand why certain things happened the way they did. Why did Wavell fire Hobart who largely created the 7th Amoured Division, and was plainly the most fit and deserving to lead it? He was never able to offer a valid reason apparently; probably he was told to by his superiors. Their vindictiveness pursued Hobart throughout the war. Only thanks to Churchill and perhaps his familial connection to Montgomery was he allowed to lead the 79th Amoured and no doubt those who hated him and what he represented were mollified that he was never given the chance to actually command a conventional armoured division in the field. This vindictive, petty-mindedness, which is the only way it can be described since the ideas Hobart and those like him had been advocating since the 1920s had long since been vindicated by the Germans, must have extended to other areas and men also. Food for thought and research.

    It is recorded here http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v18/v18n1p-2_Constable.html how after building up the 11th Armoured Division, the clique attempted to have Hobart removed on various grounds, including medical ones. When they were rebuffed by Churchill the 11th was simply not sent to the Middle East. By no means must Hobart and the tanks be allowed to succeed!

    Prime Minister to Secretary of State for War:

    I see nothing in these reports [of the Medical Board report on General Hobart] which would justify removing this officer from command of his division on its proceeding on active service.

    General Hobart bears a very high reputation, not only in the service, but in wide circles outside. He is a man of quite exceptional mental attainments, with great strength of character, and although he does not work easily with others, it is a great pity we do not have more of his like in the service.

    I have been shocked at the persecution to which he has been subjected. I am quite sure that if, when I had him transferred from a corporal in the Home Guard to the command of one of the new armored divisions, I had insisted instead on his controlling the whole of the tank developments, with a seat on the Army Council, many of the grievous errors from which we have suffered would not have been committed.

    The high commands of the Army are not a club. It is my duty ... to make sure that exceptionally able men, even though not popular with their military contemporaries, are not prevented from giving their services to the Crown.


    General Sir Edmund Ironside's sudden retirement in 1941 has never been explained to my knowledge. Presumably a campaign was waged against him as well.

    Interesting to see that as the country struggled for its very existence, this clique was busy fighting a vendetta against officers of the type and thinking best suited to save it.
     
  7. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Which no doubt explains why in 1939 UK had the most highly mechanised army of any. Obviously a bunch of deadbeat generals couldn't have had anything to do with that so it must have been the fairies.

    'Ground role' is not anti-tank. It's the field artillery role, it's why the No 10 Dial Sight was invented specially for 3.7. By late 1944 there were quite a lot of HAA regts undulging in the ground role in Italy and NW Europe.

    The only residual horse units were the TA's 1st Cavalry Division, and you should read the Official History's volume on military psychology to learn about them (basically too thick for mechanised training).
     
  8. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Boy, do I love it when a forgotten thread comes back to life... :biggrin:‚Äč
     
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Warlord

    I can only agree but errors tend to worm their way in e.g.....Over Here's comment on why Wavell fired Hobo and could n't account for it ..simple - HE DIDN'T Fire Hobo - that was Gordon-Finlayson-
    before Wavell took over - Hobo then joined the Home Guard and when invited by the GIGS - Alanbrooke to discuss the creation of 79th Div - he asked if he should come to the War House as a Home Guard or a Major General- Alanbrooke told him not to be so bloody cheeky and get his arse in here

    Cheers
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, I know that ground and anti-tank are not the same, I was simply pointing out some of the difficulties encountered with the 3.7 in a role for which it was not designed.

    Which official volume are you referring to? I did read Ahrenfeldt and the RAMC official histories, I may have missed that bit about the cavalry. I have read some histories of cavalry and yeomanry outfits, and going by those some of them at least took enthusiastically to mechanisation. Conversion of yeomanry units to the artillery role doesn't seem to have been much of a problem.
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I found a nice report today on German 88's used in the AT role in a 7 Armoured Div file covering the N African campaign. I'll post it on here when I get home.
     
  12. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Ahrenfeldt

    Apart from needing suitable sights there was not significant issue with using 3.7 in the ground role. ATk was a diferent matter altogether.
     
  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Oh yes please.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andreas - Just for you :p

    From 7 Armd Div GS August 1942 file
    [​IMG]
     
    Andreas likes this.
  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Thanks! I feel special now.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  16. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

    On the subject of the late-war 32 pr fitted to a towed anti-tank mounting and to the Tortoise armoured SPG, it was said earlier in this thread that it was a conversion of the 3.7" AA gun. This is commonly believed, but not true - the ammunition fired by the 32 pr was entirely different from either of the 3.7" AA guns (Mk 3 or the big static Mk 6) and not compatible with either, the only common point being the calibre.
     
  17. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    How many ships did they sink? How many rounds per ship sunk? (seems like a reasonable measure of effectiveness).

     
  18. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Came across this whilst researching 76th HAA RA - see 3 July.
     

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  19. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    And another reference of interest.......... see last sentence of 7 April.
     

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  20. jallanw

    jallanw Junior Member WW2 Veteran

    After second-hand reminiscence and quotes from memoirs, a first-hand comment may be useful
    I spent 6 years with 3.7 HAA units, as gunner, NCO, troop officer and finally as troop commander before being posted to 14th Army where their sole HAA regt (101) had no jap a/c to fire at and was being used as infantry. So I ended the war as ` 25pdr troop officer.
    The mobile 3,7 came in two main versions: the Mk 1 mounting introduced in 1938 was heavily over-engineered and over complicated. While it could be brought into action by a display team on a barrack square in 10 minutes or so, in the field on a rough and sloping terrain it might take 2 hours or more. This was the gun that armed the BEF and which my regt (82nd) took to Norway in 1940 (and left there). The Mk 111 mounting (Mk 11 was a static equipment) was a much less elaborate affair and though more ungainly, handier - though I have known it take on hour or more on exercises,
    From the users viewpoint the main difference - and this is important - was that in the Mk 1 the layers faced forward and had open sights, so that they could have followed a tank had the occasion arose, on the Mk 11 the layers face the rear of the gun had no open sights, and could not have seen the target
    Hence, there were only two ways the gun could have fired at a tank: either the No 1 could look along the line of the barrel and give orders - traverse right, up QE etc and hope for the best. Have you any idea what that means, following a moving target simply on simple commands? The alternative was to track the tank by the predictor, which meant that all four guns were firing at the same target: destructive, yes, but hardly an efficient use of equipment.
    As for deployment, mobile units were expected to be able to engage thanks if necessary, and were indeed issued with solid shot AP ammo: but this was a secondary role and for use in emergency.
    It will be reralised that usage in the two roles was basically incompatible. AT deployment needs to be up withe infantry or close behind, (as also with 25prds). A/C defence on the front line needs to be mainly against low=flying straftng, i.e LAA, 40mm Bofors and 20mm Oerlikon. HAA is best deployed against high flyers on the L of C. airfield defence etc: its AT role is likely to be called for only if enemy break through the line (as happened at Tobruk).
    In short. the 3.7 on HAA mounting was not used AT both for all the reasons given above, but because if was an inefficient weapon for that purpose. It could not easily be deployed for advancing troops, it was inefficient in a defensive role,
    That the gun itself would have formed a highly effective AT weapon if mounted on a suitable equipment. But by the time that demands for HAA for home defence and strategic deployment with field army had been met, the highly efficient 17 pdr was coming off the production line. To have two equipments in the same role, demanding duplication of ammunition spares etc would be avoided at all costs by the supply people.
    The generals did know what they were doing They used what they had in the most efficient way they could: it might not have been ideal, but always remember, "the ideal is the enemy of the good" by the time you have developed the ideal, it is usually too late.
     
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