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FM Lord Alan Brooke's WWII diary shows that after Dunkirk, the ministry gave him the choice for the year's production between 600 2pdr and 200 6pdr; he chose the former.

One might wonder why, or if, it was an either or proposition. For instance, might Brooke's have opted for a mix of 300 x 2pdrs and 100 x 6pdrs if offered?

Edited by DKTanker
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FM Lord Alan Brooke's WWII diary shows that after Dunkirk, the ministry gave him the choice for the year's production between 600 2pdr and 200 6pdr; he chose the former.

One might wonder why, or if, it was an either or proposition. For instance, might Brooke's have opted for a mix of 300 x 2pdrs and 100 x 6pdrs if offered?

 

 

It may have come down to simple maths. The number of anti-tank units requiring guns at the time may have resulted in 600 guns being needed. It is better to have those 600 guns with those units rather than only one third of the units having guns at all.

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FM Lord Alan Brooke's WWII diary shows that after Dunkirk, the ministry gave him the choice for the year's production between 600 2pdr and 200 6pdr; he chose the former.

One might wonder why, or if, it was an either or proposition. For instance, might Brooke's have opted for a mix of 300 x 2pdrs and 100 x 6pdrs if offered?

 

 

I did too, Dave, but there was nothing further, just an entry of note. So much for primary sources! There must be a detailed official history of the UK WWII Munitions industry but I don't go there.

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FM Lord Alan Brooke's WWII diary shows that after Dunkirk, the ministry gave him the choice for the year's production between 600 2pdr and 200 6pdr; he chose the former.

One might wonder why, or if, it was an either or proposition. For instance, might Brooke's have opted for a mix of 300 x 2pdrs and 100 x 6pdrs if offered?

 

 

I did too, Dave, but there was nothing further, just an entry of note. So much for primary sources! There must be a detailed official history of the UK WWII Munitions industry but I don't go there.

 

 

The single-volume British "official" history British War Production by Michael Postan in 1952 barely touches on the subject and like much British "official" commentary it contains limited references so it is a near impossible task to track down the background on the decision making without a deep dive into Kew. However, some tentative inferences can be made.

 

One thing that becomes immediately obvious is that the British decision to produce tank and antitank guns was made quite late. In December 1938, the War Department requirement for 2-pd tank and antitank guns was 0 (zero, nil, nada, zilch), since production of the 489 to that date exceeded peacetime scales for what was effectively a 8 or 9-division army, but by April 1940 the wartime scales for the 36-division army planned for 31 August 1941 were 13,561, but only 1,786 had been produced. :unsure: In fact, although the gun design began in 1934, the first orders were placed in December 1935, and the first deliveries were made in April 1937, there was no real urgency felt for them, as priority continued to be for the RAF and Antiaircraft Command - aircraft production and the 3.7" AA gun. By the second quarter of 1940 (April-June) production of the 2-pdr was averaging just under 100 guns per month...when hundreds [edit]509[/edit] were lost in the French debacle. Post Dunkirk, the requirements were expanded to equip 55 divisions by 30 November 1941 and the requirements for 2-pdr tank and AT guns expanded to 20,670...when production in the second half of 1940 was just 1,081, averaging just over 180 per month. At that rate, assuming no losses were incurred it would have taken about 100 months, until about November 1948, before the requirement could be met. While it was realized that production would increase (it did, to an average of 712 per month in 1941, with peak production in November of 1,393), the requirements could only be met if priority was given to quantity of production rather than the quality of the design produced and the 6-pdr simply had to wait (the same bad bargain occurred with tanks).

 

The result was the first 6-pdr production was accepted in June 1941, when all of 2 were completed, followed by 1 more in July, 4 in August, and 1 in September. Production finally expanded, to 13 in October, 32 in November, and 146 in December, giving a total of 199 in the same year 8,547 2-pdr guns were completed.

 

The key decisions occurred in 1940 and early 1941. According to Postan (p. 194):

 

"In August the War Office notified the Ministry of Supply that the number of 6-pounder guns was to be governed by the effect on 2-pounder production, which was poor. This turned out to be the crucial issue in the evolution of the problem. An earlier order for a few pilot models was now increased to fifty in order to get production under way, and in December 1940 the Ministry of Supply, on its own initiative, though in agreement with the War Office, increased the order from fifty to 500. The War Office, however, was still anxious not to prejudice the prospective output of 2-pounders through increased orders for the 6-pounder. It had been informed that the production of 100 complete 6-pounders in the year would entail a loss of 600 2-pounders. The alternative was presented to the Defence Committee (Supply) which discussed it in February 1941 and decided that a diversion of capacity from 2-pounders to 6-pounders could not be afforded and that the urgently necessary acceleration of 6-pounder production must at the outset be solely from new capacity. This was in fact the decision which the Ministry of Supply had itself taken in August 1940 in response to the War Office view that the number of 6-pounder guns was to be governed by the effect on 2-pounder production. The subsequent production of the gun was thus entirely dependent upon new capacity coming into production."

 

Production of the 6-pdr increased in 1942, reaching 1,517 in May and totaled 17,842...but 2-pdr production increased as well, to 16,830, this after it was long realized the gun had only marginal utility. In the same year, 17-pdr production was 1,203. A comparison of the production for the three types is illuminating:

 

(prewar/Sep-Dec 1939/1940/1941/1942/1943/1944/January-May 1945)

 

2-pdr: 1077/412/1773/8547/16830/5141/370/0

6-pdr: 0/0/199/17842/16586/1964/0

17-pdr/77mm: 0/0/0/0/1203/3817/5790/1139

Edited by Rich
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"but 2-pdr production increased as well, to 16,830, this after it was long realized the gun had only marginal utility."

 

That's certainly correct with regard to German tanks but what about the Italian ones? And then there was the war with Japan. Did the British use the 2pdr as a mini field gun like the Americans used the 37mm with canister?

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"but 2-pdr production increased as well, to 16,830, this after it was long realized the gun had only marginal utility."

 

That's certainly correct with regard to German tanks but what about the Italian ones? And then there was the war with Japan. Did the British use the 2pdr as a mini field gun like the Americans used the 37mm with canister?

 

no

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In British service the 2pdr was always crewed by the Royal Artillery, none officially passing to the infantry. the 6pdr was different, it started as a Royal Artillery weapon but later was passed to Infantry battalions. There was a 2pdr HE shell, but it was not on widespread issue, but it was available to 2pdr anti-tank units. There was no 2pdr canister round.

 

But: A British platoon had an integral 2" mortar, whereas the US 50mm mortar was a company asset.

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I don't doubt the US 37mm canister and HE could have been adapted for the 2pdr, pure bloody minded stupidity.

 

I do not recall any other combatant armed force using canister in WW2. It was particularly useful in jungle combat, but I am also aware that Australian armoured forces had 2pdr HE used by Matildas, for much the same purpose as canister.

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...

But: A British platoon had an integral 2" mortar, whereas the US 50mm mortar was a company asset.

US used 60mm, which was order of magnitude more effective than various 45-50mm mortars. Also US Rifle Company had so much more support weapons over the British one that was not even funny.

 

British Infantry Company was for the majority of the war comparable to Romanian, Hungarian and Soviet since all had very little support weapons included.

Edited by bojan
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I do not recall any other combatant armed force using canister in WW2...

Soviets had it available in all calibers - 37, 45, 57, 76, 85, 100mm and used it relatively often (about 1/10th as much as HE for 45mm). 76mm after 1941. switched to 10m fused shrapnel instead since canister did not agree with a muzzle break on ZiS-3.

Even post war they developed canister for 115 and 125mm tank guns.

Edited by bojan
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I do not recall any other combatant armed force using canister in WW2...

Soviets had it available in all calibers - 37, 45, 57, 76, 85, 100mm and used it relatively often (about 1/10th as much as HE for 45mm). 76mm after 1941. switched to 10m fused shrapnel instead since canister did not agree with a muzzle break on ZiS-3.

Even post war they developed canister for 115 and 125mm tank guns.

 

 

Thank you for that

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"but 2-pdr production increased as well, to 16,830, this after it was long realized the gun had only marginal utility."

 

That's certainly correct with regard to German tanks but what about the Italian ones? And then there was the war with Japan. Did the British use the 2pdr as a mini field gun like the Americans used the 37mm with canister?

 

And the Japanese and the various training establishments including the Indian Army.

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Thank you for that

 

IIRC, Japanese also had it for some of their guns, but that might be a confusion for a shrapnel.

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I don't doubt the US 37mm canister and HE could have been adapted for the 2pdr, pure bloody minded stupidity.

 

It was, you take a US 37mm M2 canister mate it to a 2 pounder cartridge case loaded with 6oz. cordite and get a 2 pdr canister round, good out to 150 yards. Stocks of ammunition were converted early 1943 and supposed to be a temporary solution until a purpose made 2pdr case shot could be manufactured.

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Thank you for that

 

IIRC, Japanese also had it for some of their guns, but that might be a confusion for a shrapnel.

 

 

There doesn't seem to be a canister type listed for any of the Japanese guns. Most of the field guns, cavalry guns, and heavy artillery had shrapnel types in the 75mm, 105mm, and 150mm sizes while smaller infantry guns like 37mm, 47mm, and very short barrel 75mm don't have shrapnel listed.

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