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Waterproofing 17-pounder anti-tank guns

Waterproofing 17-pounder anti-tank guns

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Waterproofing 17-pounder anti-tank guns

This picture shows members of the A.T.S. waterproofing a group of 17-pounder anti-tank guns before they were shipped across the Channel to Normandy in the immediate aftermath of the D-Day landings.

Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot

A new radically different ammunition was given to the crews of Churchill tanks, Sherman Fireflies and Infantry and Royal Artillery Anti-tank units.

Unlike any previous anti-tank ammuntion this type comprised of 1) the Sabot, a light metal "holder" with of same diameter as the gun calibre, and 2) the much smaller diameter tungsten Armour Piercing round held within the Sabot. On being fired the air resistance on the Sabot detached it from the Armour Piercing round which then travelled on to the target.

Strangely, only two calibres of APDS were ever issued, 57mm for the 6 Pounder and 76.2mm for the 17 Pounder. However, the most numerous main gun in most British, Canadian or Polish tanks was 75mm, and the crews of these lacked any reliable way of knocking out the German Panther (except for the side and rear if close and lucky) or the Tiger Mk 1 and Tiger Mk2 because their armour was of significantly better quality and design. APDS was not isssued to American units which were in a worse situation because their new 76mm gun had a very dissappointing performance compared to the 17 Pounder.

APDS was introduced in June 1944 for 6 Pounder 57mm guns and had a significantly higher penetration performance over any previous types of AP ammunition, in fact its performance was about twice as good/deep (140mm compared to 84mm at 500 yards) although it lost accuracy over long ranges (1000 yards plus) because of slight variations in the way that each Sabot detached from the Armour Piercing round about 100 yards after leaving the muzzle of the gun barrel.

The earliest account for 17 Pounder (76.2mm) APDS that I have found seems to be in October 1944 and possibly not for the Firefly but only for Royal Artillery Anti-Tank Regiments.

I also understand that just before Normandy Churchill tanks with 6 Pounder Guns were converted to the new British 75mm Ordnance Quick Firing gun and thus were unable to make use of APDS's potentially firefight winning properties. However, some Churchill units may have retained or converted back some of their tanks to 6 Pounders to specifically use this ammunition.

The infantry were luckier in that they kept their 6 Pounder Anti-tank guns and by mid June 1944 I understand that they may have recieved some APDS rounds to use.

Today's tank crews make use of an updated version of this round, APDSFS, the FS stands for Fin Stabilised.

Can any veterans recall their use of APDS?

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Ordnance QF 17-pounder

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/02/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

With full scale war across Europe in full swing, the battle tank was the forefront of any offensive armored spearhead. As the war raged on, developments in armor for such systems advanced as a bewildering pace. The Germans learned much with their initial Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks and the proceeding Panzer III and Panzer IV series proved capable up to a point. However, armor advancements would not stop there for heavy tanks such as the Panther and Tiger series were in the works. British authorities were not blind to the evolution of the tank and realized that their QF 6-pdr anti-tank guns would soon - if not rather quickly - be outmoded on the modern battlefield, a fate shared by the preceding QF 2-pdr series as well.

As such, by 1941 work had already begun on a larger caliber anti-tank gun system to supply British Army artillery forces in dire need of a more capable tank-stopping weapon. The next logical evolution of the anti-tank gun fell within the 76.2mm caliber and, for the British, the weapon type would be issued with a new 17lb projectile suitable for defeating any known enemy armor of the time. With the requirements now set, design proceeded quickly and ultimately gave birth to the larger and heavier "Ordnance, Q.F., 17-pounder" anti-tank gun family.

The Ordnance QF 17-pdr anti-tank gun was a vast upgrade from the preceding QF 2-pdr and QF 6-pdr gun designs (each system was so-named based on the weight of their respective projectiles). The QF-17 relied primarily on a new Armor-Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS) round that improved basic penetrative abilities of British ammunition and this round type was first introduced with the arrival of the QF 6-pdr.

With its larger design and dimensions, the QF 17-pdr naturally utilized a heavier projectile. The QF 17-pdr design was characterized by its conventional arrangement consisting of a long barrel, gun mount and carriage. The long, double-baffled gun barrel sat on an adjustable mount that featured a large breech block for loading at the rear. The gunnery crew was partially protected by a flat, thick angled armored shield. A pair of rubber-tired steel wheels straddled either side of the gun mount and a split trail carriage served as both the towing arms and recoil legs. A dedicated recoil system was fitted to a cylinder system underneath the barrel base. The barrel was formally classified as the "L/60" and measured in at 180 inches in length. Elevation was limited to -6 and +16.5 degrees with a 60-degree traverse. Muzzle velocity varied across the different ammunition types but ranged between 3,000 and 4,000 feet per second. As a whole, the QF 17-pdr weighed in at 4,619lbs and required a crew of at least seven personnel.

The weapon was cleared to fire a standard Armor-Piercing (AP) round, an Armor-Piercing, Discarding Sabot (APDS) round and a base High-Explosive (HE) round. Armor-piercing projectiles were naturally used to tackle armored targets such as tanks while High-Explosive projectiles were used against soft-skinned vehicles and troop concentrations. Maximum range was approximately 10,000 yards. The 76.2mm weapon could penetrate up to 130mm of armor thickness at 1,000 meters and her elevation capabilities (coupled with HE shells) allowed her to be used as a makeshift field howitzer for dislodging enemies. A well-trained and combat experienced gunnery crew could let loose with up to 10 rounds per minute.

British industry took on production of the QF 17-pdr and, while pre-production versions of the guns themselves were already available in August of 1942, the special carriages they were to rely on were not. As such, this forced the mating of the QF 17-pdr gun barrel with the existing carriages of the Ordnance QF 25-pdr artillery field guns for the interim until full production standards could be attained. This allowed the new gun to be fielded quickly to desperate British Army forces fighting the German Army across North Africa where the stout Tiger heavy tank series was to make its combat debut in numbers. At least 100 guns were airlifted to British Army forces stationed in North Africa where they were quickly set into action after being installed on QF 25-pdr mounts. These "mutt" variants took on the designation of "QF 17/25-pdr". With the conversions complete, the British were able to bring the new guns to bear against the equally new German Tiger tanks with success.

Once the proper QF 17-pdr carriages had become available, the guns finally appeared in their intended and completed production forms. However, these new carriage mounts proved rather heavy and required much in the way of manpower to reposition and a mover-type vehicle to transport over long stretches of terrain, precluding their use as an infantry-level weapon. Conversely, these same weapons sported a lower profile ideal for ambush and their penetrative powers spoke volumes. With the North African Campaign completed and Germany moved off of the continent, the finalized QF-17 production models were made available just in time for combat actions in the Italian Campaign of 1943 along the road to Rome and, finally, Berlin proper.

In 1945, the QF 17-pdr formally moved into position as the primary anti-tank gun of the British Army, serving primarily with her Royal Artillery batteries. The weapon proved so valuable to the Allied cause that she was furnished to Commonwealth forces in need of such a weapon. For the British Army themselves, the QF 17-pdr would go down in their military history as the last foray into dedicated anti-tank gun development, bring an end to a rather successful, though sometimes overlooked, contribution to the field of artillery. British Forces utilized the QF 17-pdr into the 1950s before discontinuing operational use and more combat actions greeted the type in the upcoming Korean War. The weapon survived a longer tenure in other armies however.

The QF 17-pdr gun was further fitted to the mobile chassis of the British Valentine Cruiser Tank to produce the "Archer" self-propelled gun vehicle. This vehicle was unique in that the gun was actually fixed to fire rearwards, allowing the vehicle to lie in wait for enemy tanks, complete the ambush and relocate to favorable ground without the need to rotate the entire vehicle for the retreat. The QF 17-pdr gun was also a fixture on the all-important M10 "Wolverine"/"Achilles" tank destroyers, the upgunned Sherman VC Firefly medium tanks, the Challenger and Comet Cruiser Tanks and the upcoming Centurion Mk 1 main battle tank series.

Building the 17pdr

The gun STL file is available for free here. It’s an upscaled version of a model which was originally 1/200 so the detail isn’t stunning, but overall I think it’s made the transition to 28mm pretty well. The main criticism I have of it is that the gun shield is a bit thick. It would have been nice if it was slimmed down a bit during the upscale. That and the lack of detail on the front of the shield is one of the reasons I’ve put a cam net on the front. I did see pictures of guns with those when I was doing my research so I thought it would be ideal.

The gun comes in relatively few parts: gun, gun shield, a single piece split trail, and two wheels. I printed most of it in standard resin but I did the gun barrel in tough resin to make it a bit more durable. I did also have to snip the ends off the axles, they’re way to long as printed and your wheels will stick out too far either side. I also tweaked the angle the gun is at, the default had the muzzle pointing up, and that always bugs me when I see it on AT gun models. In reality they fired very close to horizontal as they were generally engaging at under 1000m and you don’t need a lot of elevation for that with a powerful high-velocity gun.

This has been printed out at 0.05mm layers, which I think is a nice sweet spot between detail and speed for simple shapes like this. There were a few light layer lines in places which sanded right off.

I like to put my guns on fairly small bases big enough for the gun and a couple of crew and that’s it. On the table they sometimes need to tuck in behind terrain or into gun pits, so a small base helps. The gun model comes with no crew, so I delved into the bits box and pulled out some old Warlord British plastics. Alas there were only two torsos left on the sprues, but I can scrape by with that. One is holding a shell made from a piece of styrene rod tapered down by sanding it a bit, and the other has got some binocular arms from a German sprue (don’t tell anyone he has a German arm, it might get interned for the duration of the war!). The rest of the crew (as shown above) can be the same guys I built to man my 6pdr.

So a nice quick and cheap little wargames model, with the crew coming from the bits box and the gun costing me a couple of quid in resin. I already had a 6pdr and that’s seen a bit of action, but on at least one occasion it has had to proxy itself as it’s bigger 17pdr brother so it’s nice to have the proper model available now.

IPMS/USA Reviews

The 17 Pounder was the largest of three anti-tank guns used by the British Army in the Second World War. Design work on the 17 Pounder began in April 1941 with the aim of replacing existing anti-tank guns. First deliveries of the new gun were made to Royal Artillery units in August 1942 and this type first saw action at the Battle of Medenine, North Africa, on 6 March 1943. The 17 Pounder was widely used in Italy and northern Europe and continued into post-war service for many years. Its use extended to being employed as a field gun, its high explosive shell proving a particularly useful charge in this role.


The kit is produced by Airfix, a well-known maker of scale model kits. The kit arrives in the usual red box with artwork of the gun crew firing the 17 pounder. There are some photos displayed on the side of the box showing close up detail of the gun and crew.

The kit consists of approximately 171 parts and comes on five grey sprues. The parts are nicely molded, but this kit is a reproduction and the molds are showing their age. There is flash on each and every part, and the gates are large. The 8 page instruction sheet shows the suggested assembly through 28 steps starting with the gun assemble and progressing through carriage, gun to carriage assembly, shells, and crew assembly. The decals are produced by Cartograf and printed with in registry with no silvering. There are decals provided for the uniforms for the crew.

The kit fits together well enough. Some the part assembly locations as depicted in the instructions are vague and you need to look at the subsequent steps to assure yourself you have the part placed correctly. This is however a nice kit for only being a skill level 2 kit. I had no problems with gluing together any of the main assemblies and did not have to use any filler at all. I actually built and painted all of the assemblies separately and then put it all together. The gun controls are a bit thick and would be due for replacement if an after market set were available. There is a nice touch to the kit in that the gun is movable in elevation as well as being able to traverse.

There is one page of the instructions devoted to the assembly and painting of the 6 figures for the gun crew. I assembled and painted one of the crewmembers to show the relation of the gun to the crew. The crew members are nicely molded and detailed.


There are 2 suggested units for the 17 Pounder gun, the 21 st Anti tank Regiment, Guards Armoured Division, Nijmegen Bridge and the 2 nd Anti Tank Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery, Antwerp Belgium. The 17 Pounder Guns used by both units are the same color, Olive Drab.

I painted the overall gun using Tamiya colors. I painted the gun and carriage the suggested olive drab with a faint pin wash and light dry brushing to bring out the details. The crew figure I painted the suggested matt khaki and added some pin wash and dry brushing. I am not a figure painter as can be seen in the photos.


The decal sheet is very basic with only a decal option for the 2 nd Anti Tank Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery, Antwerp Belgium. Apparently there were no unit markings for the 21 st Anti tank Regiment, Guards Armoured Division, Nijmegen Bridge? The decals laid down very nicely even over a flat sheen surface. There are decals provided for the crew uniforms.

Overall the kit is a joy to build and builds into a nice 17 Pounder Anti Tank Gun and Crew.

My thanks to Airfix and IPMS USA for the opportunity to build this kit. I look forward to building more of the Airfix kits in the future.

  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. I: Original variant
  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. II:Tank Gun variant (A30 Cruiser Tank Mk. IX Challenger, Archer Self-Propelled Gun
  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. III: Automatic loading system. Used by Royal Navy
  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. IV: Tank Gun variant. Revised Gun Breech system
  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. V: Tank Gun variant. Based on Mk. IV. Used on the Achilles self-propelled gun, and some M10 Tank Destroyer
  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. VI: Tank Gun variant. Shorter Gun breech block.
  • Ordnance QF 17-pdr Mk. VII:Tank Gun variant. Based on Mk. VI. Used on the Sherman VC Firefly
  • Ordnance QF 17/25 pdr: 17 pdr on a Ordnance QF 25-pounder gun shield.
  • Straussler Conversion: 4-wheeled version mounting the 17-pdr gun.
  • 77 mm HV: Tank Gun variant. Re-chambered 17-pdr gun. Fitted to the A34 Cruiser Tank Mk. X Comet

The 17-pounder gun was mounted on a variety of British (and Commonwealth) Tanks:

Australian Cruiser Tank (Sentinel) Mk. IV mounting the 17-Pounder gun (missing the bow machine gun)

Abilities [ edit | edit source ]

The 17 Pounder has 2 abilities: Armor Piercing Rounds and Face Weapon.

Face Weapon [ edit | edit source ]

When activating this ability, select a point on the ground in the direction where you wish the gun to face. The gun's crew will rotate the cannon around its center axis towards the desired direction, and then set the gun down. The gun's arc-of-fire will now be facing the new direction permanently (or until you use this ability again).

Note that the 17 Pounder AT Gun does not automatically swivel to attack enemies outside its arc-of-fire you must use the Face Weapon ability to change its heading to attack such targets. However, the gun can fire up to 50° off its set facing without having to be rotated.

Armor Piercing Rounds [ edit | edit source ]

  • Costs: 50   50
  • Activation: Immediate
  • Duration: 45 seconds
  • Cooldown: 45 seconds

When this ability is activated, it will increase the potency of the 17 Pounder's attack for a period of 45 seconds.

The ability increases the gun's armor penetration by a factor of 5, making it possible to do significant damage to any target. Additionally, the gun inflicts 50% more damage and is 50% more accurate, for the entire duration of this effect.

Remember that the ability is paid-for in advance and lasts no more than 45 seconds - even if the gun does not fire a single shot for the entire duration of the effect.

Waterproofing 17-pounder anti-tank guns - History

The development of anti-tank artillery followed more or less the same process in many countries. This resulted in the USSR creating a 100 mm BS-3 gun in 1944 and the Germans with the 88 mm Pak 43 gun, a weapon with excellent characteristics that forced Soviet tank designers to rethink their requirements for armour protection. However, the British arrived at the best solution, creating the Ordnance Quick-Firing 17-pounder, which had the most balanced characteristics. You can familiarize yourself with the gun in detail by viewing these photos and read about its creation and trials in the Soviet Union here.

The fact that the 40 mm 2-pounder gun, adopted in 1935, wouldn't last long on the battlefield was obvious by 1938. The arsenal at Woolwich (ROF Woolwich) began developing a new gun with a caliber of 57 mm. The first barrels for the Ordnance QF 6-pounder were ready in 1940, but the development of the gun dragged on until the year later, and mass production only started in 1942. This delay (both for the tank and anti-tank versions) led to these guns only being used in the battle for El-Alamein that same year.

Meanwhile, in 1941, before the trials of the Ordnance QF 6-pounder, an idea was raised that the new gun won't last long on the battlefield either. To be fair, the 6-pounder turned out to be a great gun, with the 50 caliber version having similar penetration characteristics to the Soviet ZiS-2. Nevertheless, the idea of beginning work on a replacement for the 6-pounder was approved. The Ordnance Committee also learned that the Germans were working on a 75 mm gun capable of penetrating 80 mm of armour at 1800 meters. This was the Pak 40, which appeared on the front line in the spring of 1942 and compensated for the thicker armour of Soviet tanks.


Was this thing unwieldy unside the Firefly, has the Chieftain said it was?

This was higher than the 85 mm S-53 gun, and about the same as the BS-3 with BR-412 ammunition.

The WWII Gun vs Armor Calculator has the APCBC round of of 17-pounder penetrating 177 mm of armor at near point-blank range, inferior not only to the German 88 mm/L71 as this article cites, but also the Russian 100 mm D-10 and the Russian 122 mm A-19 by considerable margins (about 30 mm or more), and marginally inferior to the German 75 mm/L70 (about 15 mm).

I assume the article is citing the standard APCBC round because the APDS round's penetration is slightly superior to the German 88 mm/71.

Yes, the Soviets never received APDS ammunition to test with.

WW2 Gun vs Armour calculators does not reflect reality well because it presumes ideal projectile quality (unbreakable). The reality shows a large span of variation in contemporary projectile qualities, and their respective sensitivity to break up at various velocities and obliquities.
Performancewise, and using AP ammunition, the 17pdr is about the equal of the 75mmL70 KWK42 / PAK42.
However, the penetration performance at high striking velocities did require also a demand for highly alloyed steel, capped AP-shot projectiles, to prevent projectile break up striking at low or moderate obliquities.
This was not an option for the Soviets during ww2, consequently, this whole system was not going to be adopted, ever.
With domestic, low grade and uncapped AP ammunition, the performance would be the same at high obliquities, where projectile break up occurs nevertheless but decidedly inferior at low obliquities and ranges where the velocity is high enough for break up (presumably, down to levels approaching the 0° short range performance of the 75mm PAK 40 because complete projectile break up causes a roughly 1/3 reduction in penetration at 0°).

WW2 Gun vs Armour calculators does not reflect reality well because it presumes ideal projectile quality (unbreakable).

That is simply untrue. If you look at the predictions based on their site, they *do* predict likely failure due to round shattering, especially at oblique angles, and especially for uncapped AP rounds. Capped rounds perform better, as you say. But even allowing that, the BS-3 and D-25T Soviet guns are still more potent than the German 75 Kwk42/L70, which in turn is marginally better than the 17-pounder. If you take a Sherman Jumbo hull as the target (chosen because it's a reasonably tough target but not impossible target for all these guns, so that you can see the differences) the frontal penetration for the BS-3 is 900 m (uncapped AP round), for the D-25T 800 m (uncapped AP round), for the German 75 mm Kwk42/L70 600 m, and the 17-pounder 500 m. That's almost a 2-1 difference between the BS-3 and the 17-pounder range-wise for penetrating the same armor plate. And mind you, that's comparing uncapped Soviet rounds versus the capped German and British use the Soviet capped rounds for both guns, and the difference is huge.

I have quibbles with the WW2 gun versus armor calculator site too--but that's because it appears too reliant on German sources. Take the Panther's frontal hull--with it, the calculator predicts that all these rounds (BS-3's uncapped, D-25T's uncapped, and German 75/L70's and British 17-pounder's capped) all will bounce, even at point-blank range. But that's not the experience of Soviet tankers, who reported that their uncapped BR-471 122 mm *COULD* penetrate the Panther's frontal hull at ranges closer than 700 m (the turret could be penetrated much farther away). Here it wasn't the thickness of the Panther's hull armor that was the problem, but the hull's slope (after all, the Tiger I's thicker armor could be penetrated up to 2k) and the fact that the pointed BR-471 round had a hard time with sloped armor.

This concerned Soviet designers, who labored to either put a BS-3 on the IS-2 or to upgrade the BR-471 round. Finally, Soviet designers decided on taking the latter tack with the BR-471B, which solved the problem. Before that solution was implemented, the Geramns' lack of good alloys even before then "solved" IS-2 crew's problems when the D-25T's uncapped round suddenly started penetrating now-brittle Panther hulls even at 2500 m.

So who do you believe regarding the performance of the BR-471 versus the Panther's hull? I believe the reports of Soviet tankers, if for no other reason because of the overmatching effects of a large, massive, round like the BR-471 hitting armor considerably thinner than the thickness of the round. You can only get so much protection from sloping armor actual thickness counts too.

Before the QF 6-pounder had entered service, the British predicted that it would soon be inadequate given the increasing armour of German tanks. In late 1940, design of a replacement was started, and was largely complete by the end of 1941. A prototype production line was set up that spring, and with the appearance of Tiger I tanks in early 1943 in the North Africa, the first 100 prototype 17-pounder anti-tank guns were quickly sent to help counter this new threat. So great was the rush that they were sent before proper carriages had been developed, and the guns had to be mounted in the carriages of 25-pounder gun-howitzers. These early weapons were known as 17/25-pounders and given the codename Pheasant. They first saw action in February 1943.

When the allies encountered the first Tiger tanks in Africa in 1942 nothing they fielded at that time could effectively take these big cats on. The 17 pounder gun itself was available but the production of its carriage was lagging behind. As a stop gap measure some 17 pounder barrels were fitted onto 25 pounder carriages (incidentally that was also how the 25 pounder field gun concept started out: being fielded on the 18 pounder field gun carriage……): enter the 25/17 pounder, code name ‘Pheasant’. Some 150 units were produced.

At this early stage of the war only AP (solid) shot would have been available, some APC (capped) rounds might have been issued later in 1942 but at that time most Pheasants were probably already converted to ‘full’ 17pdr’s.

Generally the riveted 25 pounder carriage could sustain the abuse of the high velocity gun quite well. The first supplies of ammunition however did seem to suffer from accuracy issues and the solid shot projectiles prone to shatter on surface hardened armor plate. The later introduced cap prevented it from shattering at oblique impact angles.

The ‘Pheasant’ is certainly not the most refined looking gun, but this ugly duckling would profile itself as a potent tank killer and was a great boost for morale.

As one looks closely to the production 17 pounders the barrel slide and cradle are virtually identical. And with some minor adjustments the new barrel and slide could be fitted into the 25 pounder cradle. Main external (visible) change to the 25 pounder carriage was the firing mechanism which, due to the breech being much further backwards, was mounted on an extension arm bolted to the gun cradle.

The British Army Had a Great Anti-Tank Gun - But They Never Used It For That

Ultimately, the 3.7-inch gun was retained for what it was best suited, the AA role, and thus this excellent weapon never really got a chance to prove itself as the British equivalent of the German 88mm.

The often see-saw action across the North African littoral from 1940-1942 was fostered in part by both the British and Axis forces racing to innovate and implement novel tactics and upgraded weaponry.

From December 1940 through February 1941, British and Commonwealth forces under General Archibald Wavell were highly successful against the Italian Tenth Army in Cyrenaica, utilizing both surprise and the most heavily armored tank of its time, the Matilda Infantry tank. During Wavell’s Operation Compass, the Matilda, deploying a 2-pounder gun as its main armament, successfully engaged and defeated the more thinly armored Italian vehicles as well as infantry and artillery sangars in fortified positions.

After German General Erwin Rommel entered the Libyan battlefield in March 1941, tactics changed dramatically. As author Niall Barr has noted, “The Royal Artillery’s [2-pounder] anti-tank [AT] regiments provided the backbone of AT defence for infantry and armoured divisions….When the [2-pounder] gun was formally approved in January 1936, there was little doubt that it was the best AT gun in the world…. By 1940, the gun’s performance was less impressive and by 1941, once German tanks had been up-armoured, it was dangerously obsolete.” In combat against the Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK), British and Commonwealth AT gunners could only knock out German panzers at extremely close range with the 2-pounder.

As a DAK tactical modification, for example, during Operation Crusader, Nazi tanks stayed well outside the effective range of the 2-pounder, while their own vaunted 88mm antiaircraft gun deployed in an antitank role destroyed the recklessly charging British armored squadrons that had to close the distance with the German panzers for their 2-pounder or 37mm tank guns to be effective. After the Germans destroyed the British armor, their artillery and advancing panzers, impervious to the 2-pounder armor-piercing shot at customary combat range, knocked the British guns out quickly. After decimating much of the British forward AT artillery, the DAK would then typically attack just before dusk with the sun at their backs with tanks and infantry close behind to overrun British positions.

An improved British 6-pounder gun was not due to arrive in North Africa in appreciable numbers until April 1942. A major reason for this delay rested on the sobering fact that over 500 2-pounder AT guns had been lost in France in 1940. The 6-pounder AT gun was ready to go into production after the Dunkirk evacuation however, the munitions overseers were confronted with the quandary between retooling the factories or continuing production of 2-pounders to make good the loss first. Gun manufacturers were ordered to comply with the second option to avoid an interval in which the Home Isles would be devoid of a requisite number of AT guns of any kind.

The decision to continue manufacturing the 2-pounder, although expedient, was indeed problematic. The main deficiency with the 2-pounder as an AT weapon after Dunkirk was its lack of penetration at long range unless it could hit the enemy tank’s turret or be presented with a shot at the less-armored flank or rear of a panzer.

British Antitank Gun Stop-Gaps

Thus, the British desert commanders needed to drastically change their field gun tactical doctrine because of the disadvantage under which the Eighth Army operated. Once the Germans had learned to stand off and suppress the 2-pounders with machine-gun and artillery fire, the guns ceased to be of much value. Until the 6-pounders arrived, an alternative AT weapon would be needed. The British addressed the problem by increasingly employing their excellent 25-pounder field gun, the mainstay of the field artillery regiments, in an AT role. Thus, the 25-pounder field gun was drawn into the desert battles as a direct-fire weapon to protect the infantry. Fortunately, its indirect fire role was not abandoned however, every British formation commander demanded a share of the artillery guns, which, in fact, did dissipate the barrage artillery effort of the 25-pounder.

Not only did this tactic often deprive the British field artillery of its ability to develop concentrated fire, but it also increased losses among the 25-pounder guns and crews from their often forward positions as AT weapons. The 25-pounders were not deployed in a purely AT pattern, but in a dual role with the guns situated forward in open positions, sometimes in front of the infantry. Another tactical modification was for frontline British commanders to requisition tanks to be detached from the armored brigades for use with desert infantry columns. Likewise, this maneuver, although affording the infantry some much-needed protection, lessened the firepower of the armored brigade.

One glaring question along tactical lines then is why the British did not use an AA gun in a similar AT fashion as the Nazis employed their 88mm guns. Some have argued that there was an alternative solution to the deficiencies of the 2-pounder AT gun while Eighth Army awaited the debut of the 6-pounder. The arrival in service of the 3.7-inch heavy AA gun made the older 3-inch 30-cwt medium AA gun, with an excellent AT potential, redundant.

According to author Michael E. Haskew, “The grandfather of British AA weapons was the venerable Ordnance QF, 3-inch 30 cwt, which had been in service with the army as early as 1914. The 3-inch weapon was, by 1939, widely in use as a static and mobile gun, and it was deployed to the continent with the British Expeditionary Force in 1939. By the beginning of WWII, the 3-inch gun existed in numerous configurations, including a variety of breechblocks and carriages. While troops in the field preferred the lighter weapon over its proposed replacement, the 3.7-inch cannon, most of the guns were abandoned during the evacuation at Dunkirk in the summer of 1940 and captured by the Germans who renamed them the 75mm Flak Vickers (e). Some of the 3-inch guns found extended life in Home Guard units and coastal defenses, few of them remaining active by the end of the war.”

A conversion plan, in England, was in fact underway to fit 50 3-inch pieces onto Churchill tank chasses to provide a self-propelled model and 50 other such guns onto field carriages. Unfortunately, this refitting process was so slow that it was eclipsed by another upgraded ordnance modification, namely, the production of the 17-pounder AT gun. Thus, the project was abandoned. Critics have claimed that it would have been better to have shipped as many unmodified 3-inch 30 cwt guns as possible on their wheeled mountings to Egypt for deployment as AT direct-fire guns. It has been argued that these weapons would have been no more vulnerable than the unmodified German 88mm guns used in an AT role or the British 2-pounders, which were habitually fired over the tailboards of their portee trucks.

A number of issues to such a tactical paradigm shift immediately arose, however. First, from a theoretical standpoint dual-purpose guns were problematic because of the difficulty in blending the requirements for each type and because each was deployed differently on the battlefield. Second, from a logistical perspective, the 4.5-inch gun for use in fixed emplacements and a mobile 3.7-inch, both with effective ceilings of 25,000-30,000 feet, were available when the war broke out. However, the decision to refit these modern AA weapons as AT guns was deferred since the use of these weapons was almost strictly prioritized for the defense of the home air space. Although the dark days of the Battle of Britain and the Operation Sea Lion scare had passed, the Blitz on Britain’s civilian population was still in full throttle.

According to authors John Bierman and Colin Smith, “For the British tank crews the odds against survival were alarmingly shortened by the range and accuracy of the German 88s, and there was considerable resentment within the Eighth Army at the failure of their superiors to give them a comparable weapon, which many believed was already at hand if only the general staff had the wit to adapt it and press it into service. This was the British 3.7-inch (94-mm) anti-aircraft gun, and Lieutenant (later Major) David Parry of the 57th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, for one, felt there was ‘no excuse for the sheer stupidity of the General Staff’ in not allowing it to be used in an anti-tank role…. He recalled in a post-war memoir: ‘During all this time over a thousand 3.7-inch AA guns stood idle in the Middle East…. Many never fired a shot in anger during the whole of the war.’”

Developing the 3.7-Inch Gun

In the late 1930s, the British Army was researching the idea for a weapon between the 3-inch and 4.7-inch guns. After gunners had done some investigation, it was found that a 3.7-inch gun firing a 25-pound shell could fill the gap, and so in 1933 a specification for a 3.7-inch gun weighing eight tons, capable of being put into action in 15 minutes and being towed at 25 miles per hour, was issued. A design by Vickers in conjunction with the Woolwich Arsenal was accepted, and the prototype passed proof in April 1936 with production being authorized a year later.

Simple Really - Towing Vehicles for the 17 Pounder?

May 15, 2010 #1 2010-05-15T15:01

What would the logical choice (beyond the Crusader GT) be for towing a 17 Pounder?

Once again, we're talking new-tooling and styrene and it's a manufacturer's request for information.

Managing Editor, Newsdesk

Armorama / KitMaker Network

May 15, 2010 #2 2010-05-15T15:58

The most interesting, albeit arcane and obscure, would be the Straussler Conversion. This was an experimental gun, designed by Nicholas Straussler that was fitted with a motorized gun-carriage. A modified ammunition limber would be attached to the gun's trails, making a four-wheeled, self propelled vehicle and removing the need for a truck to tow the gun.

To answer your question Jim, the Morris C8AT 4 X 4, Morris C8 Field Artillery tractor with Body No 5 and American M5 half tracks were used to tow the 17Pdr. The M5 was also used as an ammunition carrier for 17Pdr troops.

There was also the Sherman Gun Tower - A British field conversion in Italy by removing turrets from old M4A2 Sherman tanks to tow 17 pdr AT gun and carry crew with ammunition.

I have also seen references to the CCKW-352 in British service being used as a tractor for the 17Pdr AT gun, I could only find this picture, though the troops look like GIs to me


No need really for a new tool

May 15, 2010 #3 2010-05-15T16:58

What would the logical choice (beyond the Crusader GT) be for towing a 17 Pounder?

Once again, we're talking new-tooling and styrene and it's a manufacturer's request for information.

Managing Editor, Newsdesk

Armorama / KitMaker Network

but the M5A1 minus turret was used after the war as a gun tractor.
Simple really for AFV Club to release one (thought Best Value Models might be one company to release such a kit).


May 15, 2010 #4 2010-05-15T18:17

What would the logical choice (beyond the Crusader GT) be for towing a 17 Pounder?

Once again, we're talking new-tooling and styrene and it's a manufacturer's request for information.

Managing Editor, Newsdesk

Armorama / KitMaker Network

The Morris C8 with the No5 body.

Jim, contact me please off line.

Universal & Windser Carrier(T-16)

May 16, 2010 #5 2010-05-16T01:00

What would the logical choice (beyond the Crusader GT) be for towing a 17 Pounder?

Once again, we're talking new-tooling and styrene and it's a manufacturer's request for information.

Managing Editor, Newsdesk

Armorama / KitMaker Network

There are a few photos of these carriers being used to tow them.

RAM was used

May 16, 2010 #6 2010-05-16T03:00

What would the logical choice (beyond the Crusader GT) be for towing a 17 Pounder?

Once again, we're talking new-tooling and styrene and it's a manufacturer's request for information.

Managing Editor, Newsdesk

Armorama / KitMaker Network

The Canadian RAM tank was used to tow them I believe. I have to dig through my references but I am 99% certain of this. Hey if Dragon is going to do an M3 they might as well do a RAM series. Why not? =)

17 pdr tractors

May 16, 2010 #7 2010-05-16T13:58

What would the logical choice (beyond the Crusader GT) be for towing a 17 Pounder?

Once again, we're talking new-tooling and styrene and it's a manufacturer's request for information.

Managing Editor, Newsdesk

Armorama / KitMaker Network

the Danish army used the 17 pdr post war. In its servicelife it har lots of different tractors.

Just after the var it was towed by te M5 IHC Halftrack. Later on Chevrolet CGT and GMC 353 was used.
I have seen pictures of Morris C8 FAT and Loyd carriers towing them aswell.

Cdn Tractors

May 16, 2010 #8 2010-05-16T15:21

The most interesting, albeit arcane and obscure, would be the Straussler Conversion. This was an experimental gun, designed by Nicholas Straussler that was fitted with a motorized gun-carriage. A modified ammunition limber would be attached to the gun's trails, making a four-wheeled, self propelled vehicle and removing the need for a truck to tow the gun.

To answer your question Jim, the Morris C8AT 4 X 4, Morris C8 Field Artillery tractor with Body No 5 and American M5 half tracks were used to tow the 17Pdr. The M5 was also used as an ammunition carrier for 17Pdr troops.

There was also the Sherman Gun Tower - A British field conversion in Italy by removing turrets from old M4A2 Sherman tanks to tow 17 pdr AT gun and carry crew with ammunition.

I have also seen references to the CCKW-352 in British service being used as a tractor for the 17Pdr AT gun, I could only find this picture, though the troops look like GIs to me


Working from memory here. The info is drawn from the War Establishments as published by CMHQ London in WW II. Will try to dig out the files in the next couple of days.

Corps Anti-Tank Regiments - two SP 10" / 17 pdr batteries and two tracked towed 17 pdr batteries employing turretless Ram towers.

Armd Div Anti-Tank Regiments - two SP 10" / 17 pdr batteries and two towed 17 pdr batteries batteries employing Field Artillery Tractors (same tractor as the 25 pdr field batteries). The FATs proved unsatisfactory in the mud of both Italy and NWE resulting in expedient, albeit official, in lieu issues. In Italy 4 Atk Regt held 16 6 pdrs and eight towed 17 pdrs with six Sherman Mk 4 gun towers and a mix of LAA tractors and 3 ton Portees for the remainder. In NWE 5 Atk Regt was issued Crusader Gun Towers for the towed 17 pdrs in the fall/winter of '44. Their War Diary indicated that while they were better than the wheeled tractors, they were tired vehicles and mechanically unsound. The batteries were eventually converted to M5 / M9 halftrack towers late in the war.

Inf Div Anti-Tank Regiments - four batteries of various configurations throughout the war. SP troops where present were Archer (Valentine) 17 pdr weapons. Towed 17 pdr were authorized the Field Artillery Tractor.

Watch the video: British 17 Pounder Field Guns 1943 (June 2022).


  1. Bem

    I can not participate now in discussion - there is no free time. But I will return - I will necessarily write that I think.

  2. Native American

    In my opinion. You are mistaken.

  3. Tila

    I don’t know about you all, but I am delighted. Someone will say that there is nothing special in the post, that there are hundreds of them, that the information is not new, and so on. And I will say in response - if you are not interested, why comment? For me, the post is just perfect - I not only read it with pleasure, but also retold the content to my colleagues at work.

  4. Milosh

    Bravo, the excellent idea and it is timely

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