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View Poll Results: Do you think the 17pounder was the best of at gun of ww2?

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  • Yes! And way ahead of it's time too!

    4 22.22%
  • Well, it was the way of the future, but in ww2 the '88' ruled!

    5 27.78%
  • No, I'm a beliver in the German 88mm

    7 38.89%
  • the Soviet 76mm 'ratchbum', was good and there were so much more of them made...

    2 11.11%
  • Guns were leathal, but the 'way of the future' was hand held equipment

    4 22.22%
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Thread: The 17pounder at gun. The forgotten best tank killer of ww2!

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb The 17pounder at gun. The forgotten best tank killer of ww2!

    I'm here to remind people that although all in all the German 88 was probably all in all the most succesfull gun. And the T-34 both in it's 76mm and 85mm guns were the best tanks (because that there were about 50 000 of them all together, otherwize we could all just vote the Panther and King tiger, but the latter couldnt cross most bridges in Europe, and only under 200 were made, and from the 6000 Panthers made, they have figured that about 15 000 Stug IIIs, IV's and Jagdpanzer IV's, which sported the same L-70 75mm gun as th e Panther, could have been made! You make the math on which would have been a better defencive option).

    And although the Russian 85mm gun was good, there was one that not only had the same tank killing power as the german '88', but also was the father of all tank guns of today. How? It was the first gun to seriously fire SABOT rounds!

    Yep, although sabot's were experimented on on the good but not powerful enough 6pounder, and also some German contraption, the 17pounder had it's secret in this munition.

    I do not think that many here need to be explained what a SABOT round is, but for those who dont know here we go...

    Usually in say a 100mm gun, the shell is also 100mm thick right? But in a SABOT, there is this outer shell, that is 100mm thick, but inside there is a say 60mm long thin pointed anti tank 'needle', made of a heavier metal, than what is usually used, in ww2 this was Tungsten, the strongest metal found in nature, nowadays they use Depleted Uranium, which is even more heavier, and doesnt loose the sharpness of it's point on impact!

    So, when the 100mm shell exits the gun barrel, it has four serrations in the frontal part of the 'outer shell', and it kind of 'banana peels', off instantly to let the smaller 60mm 'dart', of heavier metal, which has used the larger blast of the thicker barrel to get more speed behind it, but being a heavy and think projectile, it fly's much straighter, and has the impact of a 'normal' anti tank 100mm shell, but impacting onto a 60mm area!

    So, you get almost 50% more mass hitting an area almost 50% less, so penetration is much easier! Also it's so strong, that the metal of the tank spalls more. Spalling is what is known as molten metal, of metal shards from the impact flying into the tank, usually causing horrible wounds to the crew, and often blowing up the tank by hitting internal ammunition stores...

    The Brits in ww2 made shure also that the SABOT arrow wouldnt just go through neatly, so they made most of the 'dart', from normal metal, and put a kind of Tungsten condom if you will onto the end, meaning that once it penetrated, the tungsten end, would separate, and both the arrow and the loose tip would bounce about inside, meaning ofcourse the equivalent of two bullets bouncing inside but both had a hitting power of say, a 40mm shell!

    This usually killed crew and also could blow up the ammo that the Germans crews often stored on the floor of the tanks, as they werent that regurlaly supplied after mid 1943, so they tried to get in as much shells as possible, as they didnt know when they would be supplied next...

    So, why wasnt the 17pounder recognized as the most advanced tank killer?

    Well, during ww2, the combat troops of Germany knew the danger of the 17pounder very well, so that when the Brit's managed to get one into a Sherman by tilting it's turret sideways, and then re- modelling it, they called this the Sherman Firefly.

    German tank and AT crews would always go for the Firefly's first. and the Brits would paint the part of the barrel that was longer than on the older Sherman, in a ligher colour, and sometimes it worked!

    The US army made a great mistake in not going for the Firefly, but their own 76mm version, which was a dissapointment... If they would have been as easy going as the airforce guys, who had no problem in duplicating the Rolls Royce Merlin, with the Packard licence for the P-51, thus making one of the most succesfull and probably the most long ranged figher of ww2, the Mustang...

    But the US Army was more founded in tradition, and couldnt abide the fact that the Brit's had come up with the answer to the '88'.

    And, although the Sherman was otherwize still pretty much a deathtrap, when the Brits put a 17pounder onto their new tank the Comet, they had finally came up with a tank about as good as the Panther, and better than the T-34/85. But it only really came onto the battlefields in 45, and that part of Germany, just didnt have much of any tanks defending it, so the Comets were basically dodging Panzerfaust anti tank rockets, and the final showdown to prove all those frustrating years when the Brits had inferior tanks would have been history!

    Still, people forget that for a short period in 1940 to 1941 (before Russia's T-34 became the new master of disaster along their KV-1), the Matilda II, was superior to any axis tank! They even called it the 'Queen of the battlefield' but the '88' was always stalking, and the Matilda crews knew their day was over when the long 75mm 'Panzer IV special', appeared in 1942.

    Still, in the desert, even the Six pounder which was the first gun of that design, and the 17pounder it's follow up, the six pounder could easily make mush out of the main Africa Korps battle tank in 41 and 42, the Panzer III. So, you can imagine the shock when the 17pounders started to blast the German tanks from ranges one km away!

    Nowadays all of the 'NATO standard tanks', meaning the Abrams (US ), Le Clerc(France), Leopard II (Germany), Challenger II (UK) and although not nato the Merkava (Israel), all use the 120mm (outer shell, the inner shell is a depleted uranium 'dart', about the thickness of a two Euro coin)! When it hit's a tank, the kinetic equivalent is that of a long passanger train going at 100mph hitting the area the size of a two Euro coin! Now that's a lot of power!!!

    And infact the kinetic heat, heats up the metal of the surrounding area to such a degree that it glows red, so you can imagine that very often the ammunition and petrol in the tank just blow up from the heat alone, let alone the spalling...

    And all this was already in use by the Brits during ww2!

    I'll post pics of the six pounder, and mostly the 17pounder and some tanks that had it... Remember, that military history is selective, and is constantly in need of new perspectives, which is more possible now that the cold war is history, and the idea that the US saved democracy is becoming outdated, the Europeans, lead by Britain, Russia, Yugoslavia, they did it, the US helped a lot shure, but the Europeans did it! Now the pacific is another kettle of fish, and I wont get into that, but that was the Chinese, and then the US who did the 'coup de crace' to the Japanese...

    But even there, one must be reminded that the longest lasting and most manpower consuming large land battle that the Japanese fought agaisnt the allies was in Burma!
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  2. #2
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    The 17 pounder is very good weapon but I dont believe it classifies as the best AT gun in ww2, for several factors.

    A) Extremely heavy and curmbersome weapon, actually more heavy than a 8,8 cm Flak 18.

    B) Bad or nonexistant high explosive ammo.

    C) The APDS round was supplied very very late in the war, normally the APCBC round failed to penetrate the glacis of the Panther from 200 meters, wich teorically could be defeated from 800 m ( according to rage shooting tables)

    D) Imposible to put in the turret of the normal british Cruisers and infantry tanks ( the sherman wasnt british )

    Also in here:
    I'm here to remind people that although all in all the German 88 was probably all in all the most succesfull gun
    ..It would be nice if point out what variant of the 88 you are talking about...the Flak 18/36/41 Pak 43, or maybe the tank Kwk 36 or Kwk 43, for better comparison.

    You have posted several pictures of the Comet tank, let me remind you that the Comet turret still was not big enough to mount the 17 pounder, it used a gun called "77mm OQF" wich was a derated 17 pdr with a shorter barrel and shorter catrigde case, thing that reduced its muzzle velocity and obviously had less armor defeating capabilities.

    And by the way, I dont forget about the good characteristics of the Matilda, if you look into this section you ll see a topic called "Matilda, queen of the desert".

  3. #3
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    I dont know much about the 17 pounder, i have only recently began reading about it and it turned out to be far more potent than i first thought.

    For penetration, APDS at 1200 m sec.. i have read the following, 140mm/ 185mm/ 208mm and 231mm all of these are at 1000 meters, maybe someone can clarify.

    Another thing i always hear when talking or reading about the APDS round is that it was highly inacurate, the first APFSDS (fin stabalized) that i know of is a german effort under the name treibspiegel.

  4. #4
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    Well 17pounder was a very good AT gun in ww2 but not the best . So i agree with PK . Well it equiped some Shermans (Sherman Fireflly) , and also the M10 tank destroyer . The capabillities of this gun were good but it wasn't able to destroy the front haul of the Panther or the Tiger armor . That's why i say that the best AT gun was the German 88 . No allied tank could resist on it's power
    Respectfully Kall

    The blade itself incites to violence
    -Homer

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kallinikosdrama1992 View Post
    Well 17pounder was a very good AT gun in ww2 but not the best . So i agree with PK . Well it equiped some Shermans (Sherman Fireflly) , and also the M10 tank destroyer . The capabillities of this gun were good but it wasn't able to destroy the front haul of the Panther or the Tiger armor . That's why i say that the best AT gun was the German 88 . No allied tank could resist on it's power
    Well, I just cannot help that if the Americans would have gone for mass construction of Sherman Firefly's, instead of their 76mm, and a high explosive would have been developed, then we would all have a very different view of this gun...

    The 88, I'm talking of the Anti Air version, which was converted to that 'classic 88', with a frontal armour plate which went after a large halftrack that pulled it... and ofcourse the not so numerous PAK 88, which was murder to pull around I hear... I suppose that since the main tanks of even 44 were panzer IV's (often mistaken for Tigers by allied troops, especially if having the panzer skirts on the turret), then you will understand why the Germans at least had a healthy respect for the 17pounder... Even Michael Vittmann, said in early 44, that enemy tanks didnt bother him anymore, the only thing he feared were the Russian 76mm 'RatchBum', anti tank, & anti personel guns, which he called 'lairs of death', as the Russians were experts at masking their positions, and 'gun nests', which would be half underground if possible...

    The Russian 76mm got the name 'RatchBum', from the German infantry as you didnt have time to take cover when you herd it fire, it was instantly followed by the exposion. So it sounded like 'RatchBum'! Still it wasnt subsonic like the 88, and I belive some of the later allied munitions...

    One funny detail was, that some British army officers suggested that the Brit's used their 3 and half inch AA guns like the Germans used their 88's against tanks... But the ordnance section said that this would be a too 'heavy' gun...

    Alas, when the British army looked for the replacement for the 17pounder and ended up getting the 20pounder into Centurions, it was basically the very same AA gun from ww2 with a fiew modernifications!

    Can you imagine what benefits the Brits would have had in say the desert war, if they would have got cracking with this idea in 1940-41? A gun precisely the equivalent of the 88 in the British hands... Well, they did have the most strongly armoured tank in the Matilda II, which could only be destroyed by an 88... Against the mark III's and IV's (with the short 75mm), the Matilda couldnt be destroyed from front, and hardly from side either... It was partly because of this that Rommel developed the sword and shield tactic... Although, it could have been borne in Russia when a T-34 or two ran amoc through the German panzers, only to be stopped by direct hits from divisional heavy artillery ( 105s and150mm's)!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 17poundr View Post
    Well, I just cannot help that if the Americans would have gone for mass construction of Sherman Firefly's, instead of their 76mm, and a high explosive would have been developed, then we would all have a very different view of this gun...
    It has to be said that I think the US got it spot on correct with this decision. The primary role of the Sherman was anti-infantry rather than anti-tank, and a 17pdr variant would never have been as good - if only because the rate of fire would have been lower. Going for purely fireflies would have meant the allies had fewer, less effective tanks acting in infantry support and hence infantry casualties would have been much higher. Given how few Tigers and Panthers there were in Normandy, tank crew casualties would not have been reduced appreciably.

    Believe me, even a 75mm Sherman looks like an armoured behemoth when you're an infantryman with only a rifle. Suddenly everyone's main efford is "kill this beast as fast as possible".
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Without reading this thread beyond the title, I was under the impression that the German 75mm may have been the best purebred antitank weapon of WWII? Not the much vaunted 88, and would be the real direct comparison to the 17 pounder/77mm guns...

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    You mean the Pak 40 ?
    less powerful than the 17 pounder, but definately it had more punch that the 77mm, the same applied for the KwK/Stuk 40 gun.

  9. #9
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    Well, if you go for pure firepower, there definatly were more hard hitting guns than the 75 mm pak 41, but if you base it on a ratio like firepower:calibre or something like that it was imho the best.
    Last edited by Drake; 01-04-2008 at 07:37 AM.
    Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

  10. #10
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    well 17pounder believe me i've read many about michaell wittmann . I know how he died . He was fighting with five or six Firefly tanks and he died . He admitted that it was a very nice gun , i can't say a word , but from what i've read for AT guns of world war 2 88 is the top . About the use from the Americans . You said that there would be built explosive and other type of rounds and we would "see" this gun from other side . Well this didn't happen and we don't know what there would be created
    Respectfully Kall

    The blade itself incites to violence
    -Homer

  11. #11

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    There is a certain amount of misinformation in this thread. It would help to be clear about exactly what we are talking about.

    The 17 pdr normally used APCBC ammo, with which it penetrated 118mm/1000 yards/at 30 degrees from normal. The APDS version used a solid tungsten carbide core (I have one on my shelf) which was 57mm rather than 76mm diameter, and was fired at a much higher velocity since the entire projectile was lighter. It could penetrate 170mm/1000 yards/30 degrees. The 17 pdr gun weighed just over 4,600 lbs in action.

    The comparable German 75mm PaK 40 was lighter at 3,140 lb but significantly less powerful, it could only penetrate around 90mm/1,000m/30 degrees with AP, and not much more with tungsten-cored ammo. So unless light weight was a priority, the 17 pdr was clearly the better gun.

    The German 88mm FlaK 36 used in the anti-tank role was a monster, weighing in at 11,000 lb, and was also very high and easy to see - not ideal! Armour penetration of the L/56 gun was nothing special, only around 100mm/1,000 yards/30 degrees: worse than the 17 pdr. It was a far worse anti-tank gun on all counts than the 17 pdr, no question. It became famous because it was available early in WW2 and at that time was vastly more powerful than any other gun used in the anti-tank role, but by 1944 it had been overtaken.

    There was one purpose-designed German 88mm anti-tank gun, the PaK 43. This was much lower than the FlaK gun, but still very heavy at 8,150 lb. The L/71 gun was much more powerful and could penetrate 167mm/1000m/30 degrees with ordinary AP ammo: in other words, it could match the performance of the 17 pdr firing APDS. It was a formidable gun but very few of them were made.

    APDS as used in WW2 had problems with accuracy and also with the manufacture of the tungsten cores, which sometimes shattered on impact. These problems were corrected after the war.

    Current tank AP ammo is APFSDS, firing arrow-shaped projectiles. This is considerably more effective than APDS.
    Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website

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    There is no doubt that 17lbdr has something here. Fireflies went from carrying anti tank ammo only and being one out of every 4 Shermans to being the majority of Shermans in the UK inventory and firing HE too.

    To say that the 17 lbdr couldnt penetrate a Tiger from the front is wrong, as it could and did, captured Tigers were used to test the gun, why else build it?

    Yes the Sherman was designed as an infantry support tank and did sterling work there, but I do think the brits made something more of it and in our usual cobbled together fashion produced the best Sherman of WW2.

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    I must add that there was actually a british tank capable to mount the 17 pounder, it was the Cruser Challenger, it is nearly a forgotten vehicle.


  14. #14
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    No wonder, ugly as sin. You can say what you want, but if the question is style and looks germany won ww2
    Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drake View Post
    No wonder, ugly as sin. You can say what you want, but if the question is style and looks germany won ww2
    Nah the Italians did way better. Better singers too.

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