Artillery range drum

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Chris C, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Was the "range drum" an instrument only present for artillery pieces firing in an indirect role? Would one be used in firing an anti-tank gun normally?

    I am guessing the former rather than the latter, so a 17-pounder with a range drum (amongst other things) would be able to fire HE indirectly.
    CL1 likes this.
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Not strictly. Some tanks also had range drums for direct fire. They used a calibrated cam to offset the sight from the bore axis so that when the crosshair was brought on to the target the gun would be at the correct elevation above the line of sight. Well, that's how I understand it. A similar system might have been used on anti-tank guns, or they could be doing something else entirely...
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  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Thanks, idler!
  4. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    The range drum was usually part of a "sight gear", which was an elevation offsetting mechanism. These were generally intended for indirect fire, but could be used for direct fire from "turret down" positions, i.e. with the entire tank hidden. The range drum on the AFV Sight Gear for the 17 pounder had two scales - one for 1800 feet per second (HE fire), and one for 2950 fps (APCBC).
    Chris C likes this.
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Thanks Don Juan!

    The detail about the different shell velocities raises an interesting question... Was that the reduced charge HE? Only that wasn't available when many 17 pounder guns were manufactured. And did it have a different muzzle velocity?

    I think I'm going to have to get Dick Taylor's book on ammunition.
  6. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    The AFV Sight Gear No.2 Mk.I for the 17 pounder is shown below. This was fitted to the Centurion Mk.I, and was probably also the sight gear used in the Sherman Firefly etc., although I can't confirm this.

    AFV Sight Gear.jpg

    Not shown is the clinometer (a small spirit level) that fits on the clinometer bracket. This bracket is also known as the rocking bar, and this type of sight gear is often known as a rocking bar sight.

    My understanding of how it works is that the gun is aimed directly at the target to give a line of sight, and the rocking bar is set so that the clinometer is level. The distance is then set on the range drum via the handle, and as the range drum rotates, so does the rocking bar and clinometer. Once these have been set, the elevating gear on the gun is turned and the gun elevated. As the gun elevates, the rocking bar rotates back to its original position, and when the bubble in the clinometer is once again level, the correct elevation has been achieved.
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  7. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Great stuff! Thank you, Don Juan!
  8. rick wedlock

    rick wedlock Member

    i have a range drum from a churchill 75mm
  9. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Yes, I think the range drum for the 75mm was the No.1, and the one for the 77mm was the No.4. I'm not an expert on this, though, because this is a rarefied subject even for me.
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    The principles of these sights are described here.

    Here is a example for the multi charge 25 Pounder Gun Howitzer. This is a more complicated but follows similar principles.

    Chris C likes this.

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