Sunday, 28 July 2019

Quad and 25-pounder in Action

The 25-pounder gun-howitzer was a very effective weapon, seeing service not just in WWII, but for a long time after. A large number of guns were preserved in excellent condition because of this. This particular gun shows up at events at least three times per year, and it's always a joy to see in action.








9 comments:

  1. The 25 pounder had a bit more range than US or German 105mm howitzers but much less destructive power. Not really worth the tradeoff IMO.

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    1. The British decided that the increased range and rate of fire were very much worth the tradeoff.

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    2. Not sure about that "much less", quick look says the HE shells were only about 3½ kilos lighter (~11.5 kg to ~15 kg). And much of the mass saved in the gun and carriage themselves was then used on that neat folding circular platform which made the weapon very convenient to traverse (and probably emplace in general, what with the resultant low ground pressure).

      More to the point in light of their Great War experiences British artillery doctrine viewed this class of gun as primarily a weapon for the suppression of the enemy, not his destruction, hence the emphasis on range and rate of fire. They had bigger iron to call on when heavy bombardement was needed, ranging from 4.5" (114 mm) to 7.2" (180 mm) plus some US 240 mm M1 "Black Dragons" in the final years.

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    3. The 25 pounder doesn't fire any faster than comparable 105mm howitzers. But 25 pounder-equipped units need to fire more to achieve the same effect (destructive or suppressive, it doesn't matter) as a 105 unit. That extra HE shell weight in the 105 adds up to a lot more blast radius and a lot more ability to destroy field fortifications.

      It's correct to bring in other weapons here since infantry and armor units can call on multiple types of artillery. And this is where I think the additional range of the 25 pounder is essentially wasted, because other, longer-ranged pieces are available. Just as US units relied on a mix of 105 and 155mm artillery (plus larger guns but these are the most common types) the british had 25 pounders, 5.5. inch, 155mm, etc.

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    4. Haven't heard of German POWs asking their American hosts if they could see the fabled "automatic" or "belt-fed" 105 mm's that had been pummeling them, just sayin'. Could just have been differences in how the two armies employed their lighter artillery ofc but it ought to mean something the guys on the receiving end took specific note of the density of fire Britisher batteries could drop on them.

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    5. Also you seem to be forgetting that the US too had a very wide range of artillery pieces going all the way from dinky little 75 mm pack howitzers to the aforementioned 240 mm monsters, and also used a 155 mm derivative in British 4.5" to boot (though there were predictable complaints about the logistical issues caused by the atypical caliber).

      This was not a war where ANYONE was overly picky about what they used to make the other bastard die for his country.

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  2. The British learned a lot of lessons the hard way during WWI one of which was the importance of artillery being able to keep close to the front line. The gun was compact enough to take nearly anywhere, was a lethal last-ditch anti-tank gun, could throw a huge weight, and was pretty accurate. Generations of gunners swear by it which is enough for me. A huge effort went into the 105mm light gun as a replacement which many believe could have been achieved by improving the 25pdr. Longer barrel, new rounds etc.
    The US 105mm gun was, to all intents and purposes, almost identical. I doubt those down range would be able to tell the difference.

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    1. The US 105 had a MUCH heavier HE shell; a 25 pounder unit has to fire a lot more ammo to equal the destructive power of a 105 unit.

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    2. We're not talking about 75 versus 105 mm here, where the latter shell is quite literally about twice as heavy; as mentioned above the difference from the ~88 mm 25-pounder was only some three-four kilos which doesn't inherently make for a massive difference in actual payload. The US 105 mm did have a substantially larger one but that seems more due to the design and intended purpose than raw volume; eg. the 4.5" (114 mm) also had smaller explosive filler than the 105 mm as the goal there was to produce larger fragments to cover a wider radius (that gun was primarily designed for long-range counterbattery duty).

      Just to illustrate how shell properties are not a matter of mere bore size take the 5.5" (140 mm) gun; the Mk 1D shell was 100 lb with 10.5 lb filler while the later Mk 3D one was 80 lb with 12 lb filler - and about 2 km more range in the bargain to boot. I'd say this compares well with the 155 mm US M114 howitzer; roughly the same weight class of gun (in the 5-6 ton range), similar shell weight and payload capacity (M102 HE - 100 lb, 15 lb 9 oz filler; M107 HE - 90 lb, 15 lb 2 oz filler)... and over a kilometer less range than even the heavier Mk 1D 5.5" shell.

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