British/Commonwealth performance

The Allies 1939-1945, and those fighting against Germany.

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Reb
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Post by Reb » Sat Feb 07, 2004 8:53 pm

Firefly was the best thing the Allies had on the Western Front until the Amis finally got some Pershings. Very nice gun - the Brits actually had it since late 1942 but didn't get it really rocking until later on. It wasn't perhaps as good as the better German guns (although I'll bet somebody here can tell us the stats on that) but it was better than the US 76mm.

Don't worry about ruffling feathers - you are well mannered and obviously mean no offense. Folks here from what I've seen at least, are very knowledgable in the field and very opinionated as well. (Including me) Sometimes folks have an agenda or a gripe that I imagine intrudes into the thought process.

I do try to save my more radical opinions about Brit / commonwealth (and having lived in Rhodesia I have some) since my presence here is primarily to learn as much as I can and share thoughts with folks who share my interest in WW2 history. I confess I am surprised at how heated some discussions get - I guess that happens on the Web since we can't share the glass of brandy that smooths out live conversation!

I must say though, it is a real treat to chat with people who know more than me on the topic. Doesn't happen a lot in daily life which please don't take as boasting - most folks just don't have the interest.

cheers
reb

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Post by Freiritter » Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:09 am

Amen to that, man. Not many people share my interests on this topic either. Well, I try not to ruffle feathers and I've been visiting this site since last year, because of the in-depth data here. Another question: ( Boy, am I chock full of 'em ) the SAS of WWII- were they a reconnaissance force, or were they something else? Note: Could the 17 pdr penetrate the hull of a Panther and was the Pershing a match for the Panther?

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Post by Kapten Gars » Sun Feb 08, 2004 10:49 am

Freiritter wrote: Note: Could the 17 pdr penetrate the hull of a Panther and was the Pershing a match for the Panther?
The ordinary 17pdr AP shot penetrated the follwing thickness of 30 degree sloped steel:
500m=136mm, 1000m=128mm, 1500m=119mm, 2000m=107mm

The fearsome sabot rounds were even more effective (once again 30 degree sloped steel) :
500m=200mm, 1000m=188mm, 1500m=172mm, 2000m=145mm

These are the lowest numbers I've found so far so should be closest to actual performance :wink:

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SAS

Post by Liam » Sun Feb 08, 2004 1:17 pm

Not specifically reconnaissance. Initially the WWII SAS were planned as an air-dropped commando unit for causing mayhem behind the German lines, but the desert wasn't a suitable place for paratroop ops (difficult to navigate over generally featureless terrain, unpredictable wind patterns, etc) so they became a motorised unit instead. In this they were assisted by the real desert recon experts - the Long Range Desert Group - who often led them to their destinations. After the Desert Campaign it was a bit more difficult to find them a specific role - so they got roped into various tasks - assisting resistance groups, commando-style raids, general mobile infantry, etc. Disbanded after the war of course, but I believe they might have been ressurected and been of some use to Her Majesty since!
Hitler...there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in ONE afternoon! TWO coats!! Mel Brooks, The Producers

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Post by Reb » Sun Feb 08, 2004 1:46 pm

SAS was often specifically tasked with raiding enemy airfields.

Post it was reincarnated as a very special for handling "delicate" tasks and taking out folks deemed a threat - as in bumping off some IRA targets in spain which caused something of a stink. I've know several of those guys and they are the most close mouthed folks you'll find in any military with the possible exception of US Delta who were themselves trained by SAS.

SAS are known sometimes as a 'final solution' when the political bigshots run out of ideas - SAS is who they call. SAS keeps a very low profile but has a very big and merited reputation.

I once had the task of demonstrating to rhodesian 22 sqdn SAS the best way to take our own tanks (t-54/55) with RPG and they certainly paid close attention. It kind of gave me the creeps honestly.

One morning we woke up and SAS had planted paper 'bombs' in all our vehicles at the Salisbury base. Our sentries had some explaining to do.

Australia maintains such a force as well.

reb

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Post by Reb » Sun Feb 08, 2004 1:48 pm

Kapten

You seem to know the topic well so perhaps you could answer this one:
I've read that the 6 pounder / 57 mm had a sabot round as well.

What was the effectiveness, when was it available, was it on general use and finally, if you're not already weary of me, was it used with those Churchill tanks which packed the 6pdr?

Thanks very much
reb

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Post by Kapten Gars » Sun Feb 08, 2004 2:43 pm

6 pdr APDS:
500m=130mm, 1000m=117-118mm, 1500m=101mm, 2000m=90mm

Issued to units from June 1944 onward (i.e Overlord/Normandy campaign)
AFAIK most Churchill's at that time were armed with the 75mm gun, although units in Italy may still have had the 6 pdr, don't know enough on that subject.

I do think that there were som problems with using the APDS rounds for both the 17 pdrs and 6pdrs mounted in tanks due to the length of the ammunition. If I remember things right that was one of the two main reasons (weak armor was the other) why the Swedish army turned down buying surplus Fireflys after the war and instead got on the waiting list for the Centurion. Of course the 17pdr was a major reason why the army wanted to buy Brittish.

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Post by Gerry Chester » Sun Feb 08, 2004 4:55 pm

Reb wrote: The Tiger furniture van is so obviously German and the Stalin III so sinister and vaguely oriental, the Sherman so mass produced looking - like a boring office job in steel. And the churchill - what can I say?
When properly deployed (as advocated by Winston Churchill as below stated) the Sherman performed magnificently - when not, only too often, it was with unfortunate consequences for the men who crewed them.

Under the heading "Tank Supply Policy' Winston Churchill wrote a 6-point memo dated 23rd April 1943. Written as a result of receiving positive reports on "his" tank, it was addressed to Sir Edward Bridges, Brigadier Jacob of Defence Committee (Supply) et al. An extract: "The idea of having a spear-point or battering ram of heavily armoured vehicles to break the enemy's front and make a hole through which the lighter vehicles can be pushed has a very high military significance."

Having crewed Churchills in Africa and Italy, not only did they go places where the Germans expected no tank could go, no AFV in WW II was a safer one in which to face the enemy Panzers.

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Post by Reb » Sun Feb 08, 2004 6:09 pm

Mr. Chester

"Having crewed Churchills in Africa and Italy, not only did they go places where the Germans expected no tank could go, no AFV in WW II was a safer one in which to face the enemy Panzers."

I can't imagine a finer testimony to a tank than that.

I was deeply moved when I read that some British Vets had organized an old churchill to put as a monument on Hill 112. I know the darn thing is goofy looking but I've always had a soft spot for 'em.

best
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Post by Freiritter » Sun Feb 08, 2004 11:44 pm

That's cool. What was the armor thickness of the Panther? Also, hopefully an interesting question. I've heard that British snipers came about because of the German snipers of WWI. How did Brit/Commonwealth snipers of WWII compare to their U.S. and German counterparts? I've heard that British and Canadian sniper schools had helped train U.S. snipers in the current day.

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Post by Darrin » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:40 am

Freiritter wrote:
Note: Could the 17 pdr penetrate the hull of a Panther and was the Pershing a match for the Panther?

The 17lb AP rounds gave similar performance as the panthers own gun. The APDS rounds also in max theory gave equal up close pen as the panthers own APCR rounds and better farther away. The 17 APDS round and maybe the 6 pd round was problem mattinc during mid 44. Manufacturing problems in mid 44 lead to discarding sabot not discarding correctly. This supoposedly led to large accuracy problems and even pen decreases as well. By the end of the war almost half the CW shermans were firelys.

The pershing was very equal to the panther. Equal protection and at least equal pen with its 90mm gun. Only sometihing like 20 entered combat by the end of the war around mar. Somthing like 1500 were made by the end of the war in europe alone. The 90 mm gun was also present on the battlefield as AAA gun although it rarly engaged enemy tanks except in emergcy cond. It was also presnt in the M36 tank des which was starting to appear in small numbers by the ard off. Maybe 2000+ of these were made during the war.

I don´t have much info about how common either type rounds were. The US HVAP rounds were not that common apparently.

The panthers frontal arm was 80+mm at 55 deg meaning it was extremly dif to destroy even with these guns and and special ammo. The side and rear of the panther was only 40-50 mm thick and poorly sloped. Which allowed even a sherman 75mm AP round to pen.
Last edited by Darrin on Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Reb » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:38 am

I saw a surprising picture on the web recently. It showed a panther that had been hit five or six times in the frontal armour by an M-36 Jackson with 90 mm at 600 meters. Only one shot penetrated.

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Post by Darrin » Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:16 am

Reb wrote:I saw a surprising picture on the web recently. It showed a panther that had been hit five or six times in the frontal armour by an M-36 Jackson with 90 mm at 600 meters. Only one shot penetrated.

reb

It appears that by mid 44 onwards a certain number of panthers had flaws in thier glacis that reduced resistance somewhat. Allowing for non pen rounds to fully penetrate sometimes.

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Post by Freiritter » Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:26 am

Interesting. Was armor thickness and degree of slope the deciding factor in how effective the enemy fire was?

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Post by Reb » Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:33 am

Freiritter wrote:Interesting. Was armor thickness and degree of slope the deciding factor in how effective the enemy fire was?
To a degree, but manufactoring flaws could be an issue. Also the typeof amunition fired, velocity and so forth. Slope of course is very important and can make up for lack of thickness as in the original T-34s. The type of plate can be important too - and the manufacturing process used in producing it.

The history of armour is essentially a history of shot against plate and someone is always claiming that the day of the tank is over. Nowdays, the tank is temporarily in the ascendent again but that won't last.

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