3.7mm anti aircraft cannon a missed opportunity

aggienation

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Jul 2016
9,738
USA
German tactics associated with the Flak 8.8cm was defensive. Either they brought them forward to repel an enemy armor thrust (like at Arras), or else was used in conjunction with panzer forces screening an advance, running into heavy concentration of enemy armor in a movement to contact situation (both sides advancing on one another); at which point the panzers would perform a fighting retreat as the divisional AT batteries would be moved forward to a defensive line, and the German armor would lure the enemy armor into attacking by way of feigned retreat. The 88s would decimate enemy armor at which point the German armor would counter attack or flank/encircle them.

In North Africa the Germans used a technique involving very slow movement of vehicles to stop dust plumes from rising. Their forward recon units were on the alert for enemy dust plumes, and if they saw them it meant enemy armor/vehicles, at which point they'd halt and form a defensive line with their Flak 88 present. This is what annihilated the US Army tank battalion in the initial stages of the larger Kasserine Pass battle, they were advancing hell bent in the desert, their dust plumes were visible for nearly a dozen miles or more, so the Germans knew they were coming and prepared to meet them.
 
Jan 2018
70
Iowa
The Pak 88 had high muzzle velocity to get the rounds up high. That is why it worked well in the anti-tank role as well.

The Brit 3.7 .....guessing ballistics and rate of fire (along with aiming) were not set-up for anti air use
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,738
USA
The Pak 88 had high muzzle velocity to get the rounds up high. That is why it worked well in the anti-tank role as well.

The Brit 3.7 .....guessing ballistics and rate of fire (along with aiming) were not set-up for anti air use
QF 3.7-inch AA gun, not cm. So it was similar in caliber to the Flak 88 (94mm). It actually had a faster muzzle velocity than the Flak 88 too, but it was 2 tons heavier, was bulkier, they weren't authorized batteries in maneuver units (regiments, brigades, divisions), they were for rear area forces, and it was not British doctrine to use them for anti-tank. When the 2 pounder (40mm) failed against newer German armor they rather quickly transitioned to the 6 pounder (57mm), which worked rather well for some time and was still maneuverable for ease of movement and use, and later went to the 17 pounder (76mm), which although very large and hard to position was effective against most German late war armor. Early on they augmented the 2 pound gun with their standard 25 pound howitzers as makeshift AT guns until they got the 6 pound guns; they chose that option because those guns were already organic to all artillery batteries, so available in battle.

Whereas the Germans, who promoted AAA in all levels of units down to the battalion, had AA batteries in every division and corps that had numbers of Flak 88s, so in times they needed to press them into AT service, it was just a matter of getting on the radio and telling the unit to move forward to such and such location and prepare an AT ambush, often including mines and other weaponry like standard artillery, while lead German mobile forces retreated and pulled the enemy into the fire sack. This technique proved very useful in Russia and North Africa.
 

redcoat

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Nov 2010
7,809
Stockport Cheshire UK
Instead of the 3.7inch, the British used the 25 pdr in the anti-tank role in an emergency.
 

Pendennis

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Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Thanks to everyone who replied.
Further question -what was the best -performance wise- in actual battle-the British Piat or the German Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck ? re armour penetrative and destructive power?
Also how did the Panzerfaust's hollow charge actually work in pirniciple?
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,738
USA
Thanks to everyone who replied.
Further question -what was the best -performance wise- in actual battle-the British Piat or the German Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck ? re armour penetrative and destructive power?
Also how did the Panzerfaust's hollow charge actually work in pirniciple?
Panzershreck was the best, it had the longest range and great penetrative performance. Its chief problem was exhaust, that large shield was designed to prevent the shooter from inhaling the toxic gases, early iterations required the gunner to wear their gas mask when firing.

There were numerous variants of the panzerfaust with different sized warheads and different ranges, but by and large they all used the same Munroe Effect shaped charge warhead that the PIAT, Panzershreck, Bazooka, and AT rifle grenades used.
 

Poly

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Apr 2011
6,698
Georgia, USA
QF 3.7-inch AA gun, not cm. So it was similar in caliber to the Flak 88 (94mm). It actually had a faster muzzle velocity than the Flak 88 too, but it was 2 tons heavier, was bulkier, they weren't authorized batteries in maneuver units (regiments, brigades, divisions), they were for rear area forces, and it was not British doctrine to use them for anti-tank. When the 2 pounder (40mm) failed against newer German armor they rather quickly transitioned to the 6 pounder (57mm), which worked rather well for some time and was still maneuverable for ease of movement and use, and later went to the 17 pounder (76mm), which although very large and hard to position was effective against most German late war armor....
Actually the 6 Pdr gun was in development before WWII even started as the limitations of the 2 Pdr were already recognized.

Likewise the development of the powerful 17 Pdr (3"/76mm) began in late 1940

The 3.7" AA gun was too big and heavy for anti-tank use. There was also no shield to protect the crew.

In retrospect the British army should never have adopted it and focused on a 3" dual purpose AA and A/T gun.

The British had a 3" (76mm) AA gun in WWII....
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,460
South of the barcodes
Thanks to everyone who replied.
Further question -what was the best -performance wise- in actual battle-the British Piat or the German Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck ? re armour penetrative and destructive power?
Also how did the Panzerfaust's hollow charge actually work in pirniciple?

Performance on the Panzerfaust was low. it had a shorter range but it was designed to be disposable so it was small, light, easy to carry and available in large numbers. Since its light and cheap theres also a chamce to experiment with variants, such as anti-personnel variant, using them as booby traps and other oddities.



Panzerschrek is large, heavy and well built since it has to be reused but has longer range and destructive power. It also tends to need a couple of men to use it efficiently.



PIAT is sort of midway between the two. The upside of PIAT is that since it doesnt use the recoilles principle its easier to use in urban fighting inside rooms and for ambushes.


All three have got their advantages in range, but in sheer power then the Shrek by a clear mile.


On the other hand only the Panzerfaust is still in service today, since its later heavier variants became the RPG2 and then the RPG7