Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

18pdr used for AA


akduerden

Recommended Posts

The 115th Brigade RFA war dairy mentions that an 18pdr gun was configured for AA use. I assume AA is anti-aircraft. I have not read of this being possible with an 18pdr. Was it common and how did they do it considering the 18pdr's elevation was limited (even for later models). Does anybody have any pictures?

14/12/1916

D Battery fired 2 salvos on O.P. on P5. A party of about 100 Bulgars were approaching this place at the time and F.O.O reported that the shells fell right amongst them. A Battery fired their anti-aircraft gun for test purposes. This is one of A Batteries own 18pdr guns converted for the purpose of anti-aircraft work

18/03 1917

A/115 fired 25 rounds on hostile aircraft

B/115 fired on P4½

D/115 fired on T.Mortar and O5½

Enemy’s artillery were much less active

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hiya Andrew.

The 18 lbers Ive heard of used as AA were fitted with a 'sheath(?)' down the barrel & fired 13 lber shells with a bottle neck 18 lb case.

Dave.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

British AA Sections certainly used guns mounted on lorries, the original idea being that they could fire on an aircraft (which were slow-moving at the start of the War) and then drive in front of it before setting up again and having another crack. As Dave says, the 13pdr 9cwt version was an 18pdr that had been sleeved-down to the bore of a 13pdr while retaining the original breech diameter, allowing the use of a greater weight of charge behind the same shell. The 13pdr 6cwt was the RHA field gun stripped down to basics but without significant modification and it was not regarded as any kind of success.

I would not have thought that it was possible to make the necessary changes to a field gun while in a front-line position so I don't think that it was one of their own field guns modified on site to AA spec. Assuming that a lorry could be driven to the area they might as well send one fully equipped from the Base Depot. If it was one of their own guns, I think that they probably modified the emplacement to raise the barrel nearer vertical but they would then have had problems keeping the shell in the breech while they closed it. AA guns had a modification to the breech to retain the shell. Bear in mind that the gun crews needed weeks of additional training to operate AA guns - even if they were long-time field-gunners like my Grandfather - and that there were 11 Numbers in a team - including two ASC drivers - it wouldn't have been a trivial exercise to convert a field-gun sub-Section to an AA one.

There was certainly a need for AA gunnery but there weren't many AA Sections in Salonika at the end of 1916 so some of the RA may have tried to take matters into their own hands. More Sections arrived steadily through 1917 and into 1918 and the crews appear to have been trained at Summerhill Camp before being posted to operational Sections for on-the-job training.

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As well as the specialised AA guns, in the early part of the war all sides used extemporised mounts allowing the entire field gun to be elevated, carriage and all. The photo I enclose is of one type of German mount of this nature - I have also seen British, Belgian and French guns mounted in a similar manner but don't have the photos of all of these on file.

post-9885-1234281339.jpg

post-9885-1234281449.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say this is the most likely scenario, Centurion, if the Brigade did set up one of its sub-Sections for AA purposes. Looking at your German example makes me hope they had it well strapped down. I can imagine the gun trying to do a back-flip if the elevation got over a certain point.

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

great pics Centurion. However it would seem that the traverse was either non existant or very limited

thus making the weapon somewhat useless. Could those shots have been for propaganda purposes query

David/canberra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PZ_25.JPGThey were fitted on high-angle mountings or, as the army would probably have called them, high angle "carriages", as shown by this example at Pendennis Castle (which, for some reason, I cannot load).
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all and especially Centurion for the great photos. I am thinking that something along the line of the Turkish or German 'mound' photos could be along the lines of what A battery did as it seemed fairly temporary and the area they were in at the time was hilly (Gokceli). I also would think that a AA section/ gun joining a battery would have been mentioned in the war diary.

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

great pics Centurion. However it would seem that the traverse was either non existant or very limited

thus making the weapon somewhat useless. Could those shots have been for propaganda purposes query

David/canberra

Hello, David - The mounts shown were genuine and not for propaganda photos. When set up in such mounts, the guns achieved a 360-degree traverse and were pretty effective in terms of being able to track aircraft. Several such variations of anti-aircraft mounts for field artillery pieces were used throughout the war. Regards, Torrey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also would think that a AA section/ gun joining a battery would have been mentioned in the war diary.

I'm certain that would be true, Andrew, if for no other reason it would be a very significant change in its establishment. The 99th AAS War Diary records when each of its guns was released from the Depot, when it came into service and whenever and for how long they were out of action for maintenance, for example.

Checking TNA, there were only three AA Sections in the Macedonian Front at the end of 1916 (24th, 32nd and 73rd) so it's highly doubtful if there were any spare guns available to be sent to a front line Battery. The next five AAS (74th, 90th, 91st, 94th and 95th) did not become operational until February 1917, followed by 97th in March, 98th in April and 99th in July. Three more Sections were set up in March and May 1918 so there was an on-going need for air defence but, to come back to your topic, I have to agree that the most likely scenario is that the Battery jury-rigged a structure to raise a field-gun's elevation.

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

See my post (#18 I believe) to see a 2.75 in Mountain Gun used for AA here: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=116601&hl=

They detailed one gun at a time and the action was detailed in the War Diary.

Mike Morrison

Link to comment
Share on other sites

British AA Sections certainly used guns mounted on lorries, the original idea being that they could fire on an aircraft (which were slow-moving at the start of the War) and then drive in front of it before setting up again and having another crack.

Reading this again I don't think its correct. Typical aircraft speed of early military heavier than air aircraft was about 60 - 70 mph so the lorry would have to travel considerably in excess of this. Some early AA guns were mounted as balloon chasers. Originally the German Army in 1871 had guns on horse drawn carriages to try to deal with the French balloons escaping from Paris during the siege. I think the earliest motorised balloon chaser (actually designated as such) was American at about the turn of the 20th century - the targets then would be dirigibles. I suspect lorry mounting the British AA guns was simply for mobility.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see where you're coming from, Centurion, but there is a sequence on a DVD I got as a freebie from the Daily Telegraph that makes me think that was the original idea and I'm sure I've read it but I can't for the life of me remember where.

There were seven DVDs in a series called World War 1 in Colour and in the third, Blood in the Air, there is a sequence at about 37 min 30 sec showing a Thorneycroft lorry being driven at high speed, coming to a halt and being set up. I'm certain it's staged because the front jacks are seen flapping about instead of being pinned in place while they're driving and none of the four jacks is properly screwed down when they're shown firing, but it does show that they tried to chase the planes (in theory at any rate). Like you, I doubt if there was much chasing after the first few months of the War and I can't really see what the advantage was in always having the guns on lorries. The French had mobile guns, on lorries so much like ours, fixed gun and semi-fixed ones. The last seems to have been movable but not easily. In the case of 99th AAS, they don't seem to have driven the guns any further than the distance from the garage to the open ground where they set up! I wonder what they thought the advantage of the mobility late in the War?

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That looks rather poorly! I wonder what happened to it - and the blokes firing it? Is that the recuperator or part of the barrel on the floor?

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if it was deliberately destroyed by a retreating crew? Or perhaps a destructive permature. Either way it would seem to be self-induced rather than from an enemy hit.

Looking at the thickness of the broken barrel I would suggest it is part of the breech (looks like the opening lever at the undamaged end)?

Anyone recognise the type of gun? Looks to be German to my uneducated eyes...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen this photo elsewhere with a caption that it was destroyed by its own (German) crew before retreating. However there is no further provenance but it seems a reasonable explanation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is the breesch end of the barrel lying on the ground and it looks quite clear to me that the gun was destroyed by an explosion in the barrel. Note where the barrel has fractured and also the other parts lying beside it which have been blown outwards. Similarly, the shield on the right looks like it has been bent by an blast from the centre of the carriage.

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if it was deliberately destroyed by a retreating crew? Or perhaps a destructive permature. Either way it would seem to be self-induced rather than from an enemy hit.

Looking at the thickness of the broken barrel I would suggest it is part of the breech (looks like the opening lever at the undamaged end)?

Anyone recognise the type of gun? Looks to be German to my uneducated eyes...

Hello, Ian - It is (or was) a French 75mm M-1897 field gun that was captured by the Germans and used as an antiaircraft gun. This was one of the three most common German flak guns. [The other two were captured Russian 76.2mm M-1902 field guns and German 77mm FK-96 n/A field guns, all three of which were used on special antiaircraft mounts.] The captured French 75mm guns used captured stocks of French 75mm ammunition until the original rifled 75mm barrels wore out. The barrels then were replaced with 77mm barrels and subsequently used standard German 77mm ammunition fused for antiaircraft use. I hope that this information helps. Regards, Torrey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Keith,

I've just been reading the posts about the Anti Aircraft sections and wonder if you could help me clarify my grandfather's movements. According to his pension papers he served with the 149th Bge RFA until he was wounded in june 1917. Once he recovered he appears to have been posted on 20/02/18 to AA Depot Sandhurst 35 Res Bty RF?A From where he was posted on 4/05/18 to 150 AA section RGA in France where he remained until 21/01/19. Have you any idea where this may have been?

Brian Clift

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, Ian - It is (or was) a French 75mm M-1897 field gun that was captured by the Germans and used as an antiaircraft gun. This was one of the three most common German flak guns. [The other two were captured Russian 76.2mm M-1902 field guns and German 77mm FK-96 n/A field guns, all three of which were used on special antiaircraft mounts.] The captured French 75mm guns used captured stocks of French 75mm ammunition until the original rifled 75mm barrels wore out. The barrels then were replaced with 77mm barrels and subsequently used standard German 77mm ammunition fused for antiaircraft use. I hope that this information helps. Regards, Torrey

That carriage looks much more like the standard 105mm mk 4 IFH Skoda ( a KuK manufactured gun used in some numbers by the German Army) on a typical German improvised AA mounting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brian,

Sorry for the delayed response but I've been away. I replied to your other thread on the topic but, I'm afraid, only to say that 150th AAS's War Diary hasn't survived. That's where I got a lot of my information from for my Grandfather's service with 99th AAS. I'm not sure where to suggest you look further as I'm still a rank novice at this.

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...