The Royal Artillery’s Seventeen-Pounder
The quick-firing (QF) seventeen-pounder was a three-inch (76 mm) howitzer introduced in 1942. It was primarily intended as an antitank gun, but no suitable carriage was available in production quantity until 1943, when the weapon entered combat in Italy. With a variety of ammunition it could defeat 130 mm of armor at a thousand yards. Its capability against Tigers was enhanced with discarding-sabot projectiles issued in 1944. Typically the 2.9-ton weapon was towed by a Morris Commercial C8/AT, served by a seven-man crew.
The six-pounder (57 mm) gun Mark 2 replaced the prewar two-pounder antitank gun in 1941–42. Served by five men, it fired 6.38-pound round out to five thousand yards. However, its utility was limited in that no high-explosive ammunition was available until 1944. By then its antitank capability was demonstrably lacking against Panthers and Tigers, but a discarding-sabot round developed by 1944 prolonged the weapon’s use. At 1.1 tons it was light enough to be towed by a jeep.
The standard British army artillery piece was the twenty-five-pounder (weight of the projectile), with a specified range of 13,400 yards. Longer ranged than its American counterparts, the 3.45-inch weapon was generally regarded as the Allies’ most effective antitank gun. With the discardingsabot round just coming into service in mid-1944, the twenty-five-pounder was rated to penetrate 130 mm (5.2 inches) of armor at a thousand yards. Nominally a 1944 British infantry division had seventy-two twenty-five pounders deployed in three Royal artillery regiments.
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