By 1938 tank armour thickness had increased significantly, British Infantry tanks mounted 60mm of armour at the time and so there was clearly a need for a more powerful gun than the 2 Pounder. Investigation into a 6 Pounder gun was initiated in 1938, initially the requirement was for anti-tank guns but from the start the possibility of mounting the weapon in future AFVs was allowed for. The General staff did not show interest in the project until 1939 when it was realised that tank armour was likely to progress past that of which the 2 Pounder could deal with and so the intention was the ultimate re-equipment of anti-tank regiments with a weapon superior to the 2 Pounder. In January 1940 the Staff accepted the performance of a 6 Pounder (perforation of 70mm) with the proviso that if possible, the range should be something over 500 yards and in April the guns were approved for both tank and anti-tank mounting.
The Ordnance Board was also asked to provide solutions for 80, 90 and 100mm, the board recommended a 20lb shot of 3.45″ calibre, the same as the 25pdr but a piece more like the 3.7″ AA gun, this requirement was dropped in March 1940.
The 1s as it jumped and glided in at Operation Market Garden had the following anti-tank artillery assets, which were limited to the two Airlanding Anti-tank Batteries RA contained within the 4th Airlanding Brigade.
The basic antitank gun team was embarked in two Airspeed AS.51 Horsa gliders. The first glider carried a jeep, 2 ammunition trailers, a 6 pdr Anti-Tank gun, a sergeant as gun commander, and three members of the gun detachment. A second glider also carried a jeep, two ammunition trailers, and an NCO and remaining member of the gun crew. The ammunition allowance carried in the three trailers was comprised of 15 armor piercing, and 27 Sabot, totaling 42 rounds per gun. This was less than half the normal Royal Artillery ammunition allowance of 96 rounds, due to airborne logistics limitations.
‘Gallipoli II’, a 6-pdr anti-tank gun of No. 26 Anti-Tank Platoon, 1st Border Regiment, 1st Airborne Division, in action in Oosterbeek, 20 September 1944. The gun was at this moment engaging a German PzKpfw B2 (f) Flammpanzer tank of Panzer-Kompanie 224 and successfully knocked it out.
In addition 30 panniers of 6 pdr Anti-Tank APCBC (Mk 9T) rounds were included in the bulk cargo loads planned for delivery in three Hamilcar gliders in the second lift. Based on the size of a pannier which contained two metal cases of 6 pdr ammunition (4 rounds/case), this would be 240 rounds. There were 500 rounds of 6 pdr Anti-Tank ammunition which were air dispatched by pannier, and recovered by the British during the course of the battle.
Each gun was an Ordnance, Quick Firing, 6 pdr, Anti-Tank Gun Mk IV (L/50 barrel with muzzle brake) on a Mk III (Airborne) Carriage. Significant major modifications were required to reduce weight and requisite to fit the gun into the 4 ft. 6 in. confines of a Horsa glider. These included:
• Incorporation of L/50 barrel with muzzle brake
• Reduction of the wheel track, restricting traverse to 37 deg. left or right
• Reducing the size and shape of the Main Shield
• Reducing the sides of the Lower Shield
• Reducing the width of the lower Splinter Shield
• Providing hinges in the middle of each trail leg
• Reduction of the weight of the trails
• Relocation of the Elevation Wheel
• Modification of the Transport Lock and Towing Eye
The effective range of the 6 pdr was 1650 yds, with the maximum firing range at 5500 yds. It is interesting to note that while elevation/depression of the gun was effected by the elevation wheel geared to the body of the breech, the weapon used “free traverse” (not geared) by the crew pushing and nudging the back of the breech block. Apparently this design reduced both complexity and weight.
Jager Hobby’s 1/16 Scale kit of the QF 6 punder anti
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