Ordnance Quick-fire 17-pounder gun

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by stolpi, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    The plot thickens. The attached minutes (from WO 165/89) indicate that the decision to mate the 3” to the 17-pdr carriage was taken at a meeting 12/12/41, when the decision to limit the Gun Carrier production to 24 vehicles was taken (finally raised to 50), but I have yet to find any evidence that this was carried out.

    This decision only makes sense to me if 17-pdr carriage production initially exceeded gun production (or was at least expected to). If surplus carriages were available then it begs the question why 17/25-pdrs were sent to Tunisia when presumably guns on their correct carriages would have been available.

    IMG_7430s.JPG IMG_7431s.JPG
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I think it was the result of Brooke's personal interest anti tank capability during his tenure as GOC Home Forces. He was unimpressed with a firepower demonstration in June 1941 and there are a scattering diary entries from 3 July mentioning the 3" 20 cwt as a counter to the threat of heavy German tanks. (and for the 3.7" AA gun to have AP shot).

    The agenda looks like a serious attempt to look at artillery mounted on AFVs for a range of concepts. There was high level representation from the RAC & RA and other directorates involved with AFVs. It is a "tiger team/ focus meeting" chaired by Brooke - by this time CIGS.

    This meeting didn't get a mention in Brooke's diary for 12/12/41. By this time he was CIGS and his priorities if reflected in diary entries were focused on strategic matters Malaya and the Middle East.

    They are a smoking gun, documenting the failure of the pre-eminent British soldier to get Britain's AFV procurement process to deliver. If any group of people should have been able to extract stuck digits this bunch should have been able to do so.

    Of the equipment discussed by this high powered group only the Bishop SP 25 pdr appears in service as an artillery equipment - and then only as a proof of concept.

    None of the 24 3" guns mounted on Churchill chassis will see service. It is worth remembering that during the period 1941-42 the British lacked an effective long range anti tank gun, doing much to undermine RAc morale. A Churchill mounting a 3" gun might have been equivalent of a Tiger tank if deployed in North Africa in Summer 1942. The British do not develop an SP anti tank gun until the Archer. This is after the lease lend M10 has been in service for a year. The Germans managed to get the 3" 20cwt into battle much more quickly. According to one account, at least one of the marder SP guns captured at El Alemein mounted an ex british 3" 20cwt gun shipped to Russia and captured there.

    Item 3 is the decision to abandon development of a 6" Howitzer on a Churchill chassis. The rationale for a tracked SP medium equipment is logically weak. Why would you ever need to position medium artillery somewhere that could not be reached by wheeled artillery resupply vehicles? Until...... D Day when the British have to borrow M12 SP guns from the US Army!

    Item four - the inter-changeable 6pdr/ 3.7" Howitzer mounting looks like the potential for a British StuG / PzJgr. But, the 6 pdr Atk gun/3.7" Howitzer didn't appear as an SP artillery equipment - except for one glorious day as the armament for the RM Armoured Support Group on D Day. Instead, it becomes the CS gun for armoured regiments equipped with British tanks. Who mans equipment that could be in tanks or assault guns or tank destroyers is a contentious area fraught with institutional politics.

    The meeting also documents the decision not to mount cupola AA weapons on British tanks -a matter of controversy judging from some of the military memoirs (Jake Wardop's diary?) among tankies.

    This is a record of failure and wasted efforts by institutions quite capable of developing innovative engineering equipment on the Churchill tank.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The better half bought a couple of War Illustrated magazines this morning. Flicking through one of them dated 19 Jan 1945, a little photo spread included the following caption:
    Could it be that the Mediterranean armies with their experience of Deacons, Bishops and Priests simply carried on the tradition?
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Copied across from:
    3" 20Cwt A/A gun conversion to Anti tank

    MacKenzie's Home Guard, quoted in Clarke's Britain's Final Defence, mentions:
    Clarke goes on to tell the standard tale of the Churchill Gun Carrier and the 17pr-carriaged 3" 16cwt guns but has anyone considered it's the RA staff history that's in the wrong? Given that 17pr carriages weren't available for the first operational 17pr guns (the Pheasants), the use of 4.5" Howitzer carriages seems plausible.
  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    An interesting discussion.

    1. Does anyone know what the performance of the 3" 20cwt and 3" 16cwt with AP ammunition was (mm penetrated, etc)?
    2. This is the first I head heard of a special "75mm" Home Guard AT gun, quite surprised to hear that it was actually the 3" 20cwt on the 4.5" how carriage. Are there any more particulars of this weapon, or any pictures?
    3. Are there any pictures of the 3" on 17 Pdr carriage?
    4. I am not so sure that a 3" gun carrier would have been the equivalent of the Tiger in action. The Churchill was I think even slower than Tiger I, and the gun carrier of course had limited traverse for the 3" gun.
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I think a large part of the problem is the variety of '75s' that were issued to the Home Guard - most of which were American - and the fact that they were inevitably considered as antitank guns because of the Home Guard's role. The 75s also crop up in discussions of surviving concrete field artillery 'gunhouses' in the context of anti-invasion pillboxes.

    I hadn't heard of this hybrid before but immediately thought of the couple of threads on here.
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    A1. Clarke quotes figures of a 12.5lb shot at 2000fps penetrating 100mm of armour at 200 yds. In one note that's the 3" 20cwt, in the other, the 3" 16cwt!
  8. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    MacKenzie sources the original passage:

    K. R. Gulliver [actually Gulvin], Kent Home Guard: A History (Tonbridge, 1980), 32; PRO, WO 199/366, HF/636/Q(0), GS minute, 2 Aug. 1943, encl. HF2107/1/ G(HG).

    Perhaps someone with easy access to TNA could check and post images of the relevant pages.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Perhaps these might hold some clues:

    SUPP 4/41
    Mountings & Components 3.7" A.A. O.Q.F. 3" 20 cwt. Various items; O.Q.F. 4.5" A.A. Various items; Proofing of Guns at Ridsdale.

    SUPP 4/18
    Projector Rocket Gun, various, and including 3" & 5" U.P. Conversion of 40m.m. Mountings; Conversion of 3.7" A.A. Mountings. Conversion of 3" 20cwt. Mountings.

    SUPP 4/39
    Plant and Machinery for the Production 25 Pdr. 3.7"& 4.5" Gun Forgings; Conversion of 18 Pdr. to 25 Pdr. Conversion of 60 Pdr. B.L. to 4.5" B.L: Machining of 3" 20 cwt. Loose Liners; O.Q.F. 3.7" A.A. Equipment etc. O.Q.F. 3.7" H.A. Equipment etc; Tanks Gravity Buffer; 4.5" H.A. Equipment, Mountings & Loose barrels etc; Mountings 6 Pdr. twin A.A. O.B.L. 8" Howitzer Equipment;

    WO 199/1902
    HQ Southern Command. Home Guard. Ammunition and Weapons: Provision of artillery
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Side note - another part of this document is really interesting to me. A proposal for a Valentine with a rear-mounted turret and 270 degree rotation with the 3.7" howitzer? From "rear mounted turret" I would guess this would be a vehicle with a forward-facing turret at the back, but that would seemingly require reorganizing just about everything in the vehicle.

    edit: And then the document goes on to say "CIGS directed that development should proceed at once with this weapon both in the re-arranged Valentine chassis (as ordered by M. of S.) and for trials as the alternative weapon for use in 6-pdr tanks." So had the Ministry of Supply already ordered a reorganized chassis with a rear turret? It doesn't seem to be the same thing as "an alternative weapon for the 6-pdr Valentine".
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    More about the 'Achilles' or 'ATGun 17-Pdr mounted on SP M-10' on You Tube:

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The term used by units in contemporary documents for the M10 with 17 Pounder is the M10 "Firefly." This has a logic M4 + 17 Pdr = Sherman Firefly. M10 +17 Pdr = M10 Firefly.
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    There are quite a lot of contemporary documents just calling it the 17-pounder M10. I haven't run across M10 Firefly - yet!
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    It is in an excellent book by Desmond Flower, called the history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 5th Battalion: 91st Anti-Tank Regiment 1939-45. I found a copy in the IWM collection and read it this morning..

    Flower, who was the adjutant in Normandy uses the introduction to extoll the virtues of the 17 Pounder M10 and castigate the towed 17 pounder as the whitest of white elephants. Here is a flavour

    "There was no comparison between the 3" and 17 Pounder: The 3" M10 was a good SP Gun. The 17 Pounder was a terror. I never heard of one failing to knock out any tank it hit..... with such superb weapons at our disposal it is a great pity that they were all too often neither understood nor appreciated by the other arms with which we worked,"
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  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I have had the chance to consult Flower's book but I have not sat down and read it. The Toronto Public Library Reference Library has a copy in the back stacks (so one must request it). I don't question why these books are there; I am merely grateful.

    They also have a copy of History of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 6th Battalion, 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment (William Pratt Paul) in which - after saying very nasty things about the Archer - the author had this to say about the M10:

    "On the other hand, with the M.10s, which we knew well, and the M.10C, which we were getting for the first time, we had really good weapons which proved invaluable in harrying the Boche."
  16. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Greetings Chris
    would there be any chance of getting quotes from Paul's opinion about Archer here?

  17. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Juha,

    This was about some trial Archers which arrived in Italy in September '44. That's how they were able to "pass them on".

    "The Valentine S.P.s, such as were left of them--one having been knocked out by enemy mortars and another bogged down--were got rid of by handing them over to the Canadians. We wished the Canadians no ill, but were glad to see these S.Ps go. They were quite useless. They fired backwards, and the driver had to be removed before going into and out of action. Their armour would not stand up to enemy mortar fire, and their traverse was limited. It seemed to us that certain 'high-ups' had taken the first carriage that came to hand and hashed up a weapon that was certainly not battle-worthy. On the other hand, with the M.10s, which we knew well, and the M.10C, which we were getting for the first time, we had really good weapons which proved invaluable in harrying the Boche."
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
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  18. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Thanks a lot Chris!
    On the question could the driver stay on his seat or not during firing we are again back on the square one. In the Archer thread Don Juan posted a docu that showed it was possible to the driver stay on his seat even if at least some drivers didn't like it. Also the position of the recoil guard indicated that. Of course it had to be uncomfortable that the spent catriages hit the end of the recoil guard just some icnhes behind one's back of the head. Or were there some accidents after which the drivers simply refused to stay on their seats during firing?

    "Their armour would not stand up to enemy mortar fire" There are over 40 years from my military service but IMHO 20 mm of armour should keep at least 80 mm mortar ammo fragments out, not so sure on 120 mm. But he might have referred to the engine deck protection. Its armour was only 10 mm thick (vs, 19 mm in M 10). And contrary to the engine deck of the Valentine tanks it had fairly large grille protected openings, maybe a mortar bomb hit there might immobilize the vehicle. Of course the fighting compartment was open but so was the turret of M 10.

    The traverse was not so bad for a turret-less vehicle, appr. the same that of the comparable open-topped Marder III and better than that of the open-topped Nashorn or appr double of those of JgPz IV and StuG III which had overhead protection.

  19. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Juha,

    I think there's quite a bit of evidence that says that the driver could stay in his seat. David Fletcher turned up a set of RA firing instructions which included instructions from the Number One to the driver to turn the vehicle as needed. (In an article in a vehicle magazine from about 10-15 years ago.) Don Juan got a copy for me of a set of interviews with anti-tank gunner representatives from late 1944 and there is actually a snippet in there about a fearful driver being reassured that he could keep his seat.

    I would speculate there was something wrong with these Archers, or the men of the 93rd just asserted that the driver couldn't possibly sit that close to the recoiling gun. One Canadian anti-tank unit which got Archers in April(?) 45 whose guns would recoil too far back due to a manufacturer's fault and were never used. I (edit) can dig up that detail (as I don't fully understand the implications - could you shed any light on it?) if you are interested.

    I agree that he might have been commenting on the roof of the engine compartment. The grilles proved to be a fairly serious vulnerability, I think.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
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  20. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Anyone have any more info on British use of M12s? There weren't many of them for anyone.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018

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