17 pounder APDS - & 17 pdr in general.

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by mollusc, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    There are certainly entries in British war diaries of German tanks being destroyed by single first-hit rounds of APDS. Maybe they aimed 100 yards to the side of the target and got lucky.

    Seriously though, as with much else, the contemporary evidence over 17 pdr APDS accuracy is quite contradictory. Chris C mentioned above the issue of the APDS leaving deposits at the breech end of the barrel rifling and this would accelerate barrel wear, and promote inaccuracy even when firing APCBC. This would be another reason to restrict its use in combat. I'm not sure of the wear rate on the 17 pounder, but I do know that for the 20 pdr on the Centurion, it was inititally estimated that EFC barrel life firing APDS was 120 rounds, this eventually being reduced to around 60 after real-world experience. It was also estimated that 2000 HE rounds would have to be fired to cause equivalent barrel wear, so you can see that firing APDS had quite serious technical ramifications.

    What I think was overlooked at the time was that APDS should not really have been an interchangeable round with APCBC - it really was a different kind of weapon, and needed to be thought of very differently. i.e. it probably needed to be fired from a new barrel, should never have been fired speculatively, and would have necessitated far more frequent barrel changes. It would have also needed much more crew attention with regard to barrel cleaning in order to remove debris. So one of the faults in British thinking was probably that APDS was a simple solution to the Tiger/Panther problem, when in fact it necessitated a whole new operational paradigm. I should also note that for the 20 pdr Centurion, APDS was the only anti-tank round provided, with no APCBC, so the British had obviously learnt that particular lesson by 1950.
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    The British had a high confidence in the 17 pounder. To paraphrase one anti tank battery commander, "The M10 with the 3 inch gun is a good SP Anti tank gun. The M10 Firefly armed with the 17 pounder is a terror."

    I suspect the small stocks of 17 Pounder APDS were for use of they ever met a tank that could not be KO'd by the AP round.
    Chris C likes this.
  3. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    I have never seen any crew complaints about the 17 pdr in wartime accounts. None at all. On the other hand criticism of the 75mm AP performance is common.
  4. Delta Tank

    Delta Tank Member

    To all,

    I was an Armor Officer in the US Army from 1981 to 1997. At that time all the tanks that I served on (M60A1, M-1, and M60A3) all had the 105mm gun, a British gun that we called the M68 Gun System. We were taught to always seek a flank shot, always. If the enemy tank is advancing you will eventually get a flank shot or some other tank in your unit will get a flank shot. If you are attacking and the enemy has a prepared position things become much more difficult.
    The flanks of a Panther were very lightly armored, so lightly that IIRC a 75mm armed Sherman can penetrate it at normal combat ranges. Tank warfare is not Gladiatorial combat were two opponents face each other, it is more complicated than that.

    Battle of Arracourt - Wikipedia

    All things considered I would want to go into combat with a tank gun that could do the job from any angle!

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  5. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Yes, at least the great majority of Britons. I have read complaints that crews used APDS for targets that could have been destroyed by APCBC. This does not necessarily mean that crews had doubts on the effectiveness of the 17-pdr APCBC but may simply be due to the fact that once soldiers have been given a new special / superior thing, some of them must try it at the first opportunity to see if it was so special after all. 17-pdr solved the Tiger I problem but the glacis plate of the Panther and Jagdpanther and the frontal aspect of the rare Tiger II and Jagdtiger remained problem to the end of the war. Even 17-pdr could not reliably hit (APDS) and penetrate (APCBC) them at normal battle ranges. I sometimes think that APDS was as axial turbojet the way forward but too complicated for reliable use during the WW2, there was not enough time to solve all production problems during the limited time available before the end of the war. APCR/HVAP would have been simple and probably adequate solution.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Does anyone have info on what types of ammunition were issued when? I think it may have differed between anti-tank regiments and armoured ones. The 55th Anti-Tank Regiment War Diary notes:

    - October 16 1944: "further change of 17-pdr APCBC for APC"
    - Nov 15: "Scale of ammunition for SPs estimated at 16 HE and 33 APCBC" (Was APC phased out?)
    - Jan 25 1945: Officer of 220 battery attended demonstration at Lommel range of 17pr DS and HEAT ammunition
    - 4 Feb: Sabot issued, 3 rounds per 17-pounder gun
    Juha likes this.
  7. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    I dunno if APC was phased out. There were certain stowage bins in the Challenger that would only take APC, but what was actually issued to Challengers is unclear.

    There was also that test in Italy, which I think I posted somewhere on this site a while ago, where a 17 pounder APC round went straight through the glacis of a Panther at 800 yards, and I aimlessly wondered if somehow APC was a more effective round in certain circumstances. It may have been the case that AP or APC ammo was concentrated in the Italian theatre, with NWE getting priority for APCBC.
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  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    That was evidently the case for the Archer as well, and yet when ammunition is mentioned being fired, it's invariably only APCPC or HE.

    Also in 55 Anti-Tank's WD - I missed this:

    Feb 11: "Scaling of ammunition for 17 pounder guns discussed between CRA and CO. Adopted: 10 DS, 30 APCBC, 20 HE rounds per gun". (That's more than the Archer could carry - the rest would been on a B veihcle.)

    It may be that the anti-tank regiments got priority on APCBC.
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  9. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Interesting, anyway armour penetration is a complicating phenomenon and the large quality variation of later Panthers' glacis made it even more unpredictable.
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  10. Delta Tank

    Delta Tank Member

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  11. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    On the whole though, it's kind of amazing that a few months after we've witnessed the entire Western military-industrial complex being defeated by a bunch of Toyota driving Afghan shepherds, that people still think that the comparatively miniscule technological differences between the Allies and Germans during WW2 made any real practical difference.
    Ewen Scott and Chris C like this.

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