Wednesday 22 May 2024

Quick-Fix Tank Destroyer

British tank building was in crisis in the spring-summer of 1941. The latest Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks encountered in North Africa could only be defeated with the 2-pounder gun at short range. Intelligence reported on heavy and superheavy Pz.Kpfw.V, Pz.Kpfw.VI, and Pz.Kpfw.VII tanks that the 40 mm gun would be completely powerless against. The British were in urgent need of a vehicle with a more powerful gun.

Any color the customer wants

The British needed to find a suitable gun and a suitable chassis. There were promising weapons: the 57 mm 6-pounder and 76 mm 17-pounder. These guns could deal with the even the most modern tanks. There was, however, a small problem. Mass production was not scheduled to start until at least the end of the year. It was also necessary to develop new gun mounts and turrets to fit these guns. The issue of cost was also an important one, as the British had to replenish their tank fleet after abandoning a good part of it in Europe, and a 2-pounder gun was considerably cheaper than a 6-pounder, let alone a 17-pounder.

Penetration of the 3" gun using a new round with increased muzzle velocity. This gun could theoretically fight any German tank.

There was a more budget friendly variant. The QF 3-inch 20 cwt AA gun accepted into service back in 1914 was being pushed out of service by a more modern 3.7" gun. Old AA guns could still be found in storage, and they could make a powerful anti-tank weapon. 

Trials showed that the HE shell was useless against even light tank armour. However, 12.5 lb (5.67 kg) AP shot with a muzzle velocity of 2600 fps (792 m/s) could penetrate 75 mm of armour at 30 degrees from 400 yards (365 meters), 58 mm from 1000 yards (914 meters) and 37 mm from 2000 yards (1828 meters). An improved AP shot was also developed that was supposed to penetrate 100 mm from 100 yards (91 m) and 80 mm from 750 yards (686 meters). In trials, the shot penetrated 91 mm at 400 yards, 77 mm at 1000 yards, and 55 mm at 2000 yards. This weapon couldn't defeat phantoms like the Pz.Kpfw.VII, but it was good enough to fight any real German tank. There was also some discussion of developing an AP-HE shell that would be more effective than simple shot.

Carrier, Churchill, 3-inch Gun, Mk.I with a 3" 20 cwt gun. The WD number is still in a tank format.

Saturday 4 May 2024

Video: Why are we so obsessed with the Tiger tank?

Even though the Tiger tank was built in very limited numbers and not used very widely, it's seen as the quintessential German tank of the Second World War. I look at some reasons why that could be in my latest video.

If you're interested in the Tiger tank, check out my latest book: ACHTUNG TIGER! How the Allies defeated Germany's heavy tank now available on Amazon and directly from the publisher.