Thanks for the read! I learnt something new today.
The gun that saved the West.
In the early part of WW2 British tankers had a thankless job. The 2pdr cannon most had was simply to anemic to be an effective weapon. The result of which many brave men met thier doom at the hands of Rommel's Afrika Korps. Even the replacement 6pdr was barely adequate and it was not until the M4 Sherman arrived that British tankers had a gun that could challenge the Pz III and IV's on even terms. But by then the V and VI were entering production and the M3 75mm was no longer up to the task.
Unlike America, the British sought to fix this problem before D-Day by fitting the 17pdr anti-tank cannon into the sherman's turret. While this gun had the power to be at least marginally effective vs the new German tanks it was innaccurate and a replacement was needed. 2 guns emerged to fill the need. The Royal Ordnace Quick Firing 77mm and the 84mm Royal Ordance 20pdr. Both of these arrived to late see major combat. So the British tankers presse don as best they could.
However with the end of WW2 came the next threat to Western Civillisation. In 1945 the Soviet Red Army had a huge fleet of tanks and assualt guns and dominated half of Europe. Many of these tanks were Iosef Stalin models including the new IS-3 "Pike". It was clear that the threat these tanks represented needed to be counted. The intial allied responce was the American 90mm (in various forms) and the British 77 and 84mm guns. But all three of these shell sizes would face serious challenges in defeating the new Russian heavy tanks. As the cold war heated up, Liberty needed a new defender.
Enter the Centurion. while the first models arrived in 1945 armed with the 17pdr gun they were soon upgraded to the 20pdr. But given the expected shortfalls in gun power the Centurion was to show case a new weapon. By building off the 20pdr breech a new gun was created. Royal Ordnace produced the soon to be legendary L7 gun. It was a rifled 105mm weapon in L52 caliber. This gun was to compeletly dominate Soviet made armor for the next 20 years.
In 1957 when the US Army proceed to its next tank after the M48 Patton this gun was chosen as its armament. In 1966 the French chose the same size for thier new tank the AMX 30 and these would not be the only times the 105mm showed up. The Germans licenced produced the gun for the Leopard 1, Israel used it for its early Merkava tanks, South Korea, Austria, China and many others followed suit. Even the M1 Abrams first used this gun. The Most recent example is the new US Stryker Mobile Gun System which uses a modified version of the gun.
As far as I can tell the gun first proved its mettle agaisnt other tanks in the early 60's when Centurions used by the IDF shot up the Syrians who often had T-34/85 tanks. The first real test of the gun vs "modern" post WW2 designs occured in 1965 when Indian Centurions became the bane of American supplied M47 and M48 Patton tanks (both later re-armed with the 105mm gun). The gun continued to dominate all foes in the 67 and 73 Arab Israeli wars this time defeating Soviet, American and 20pdr armed Centurions. These successes led the Israelis, West Germans, Americans and both Chinas to re-arm older tanks with it.
It was not until the early 1970's that the gun began to show its age the British replaced it with the L11A5 rifled 120mm gun. Germany followed suit with its own famous 120mm smoothbore in its new Leopard 2. However as noted the new American tank the M1 Abrams stuck with the L7 (M68 in US service) thanks to new ammuntion that allowed the post-WW2 gun to remain combat effective going into the 1980's. It even had a breif resurgance in other countries later in the 80's with the Korean K1 tank, the rebuilt South African Centurions known as Oliphants, and the Taiwanese brave Tiger Hybrid tank. This gun is now over 50 years old and while no longer the principle tank armament of the West, it is via the Stryker MGS still in production. This is a record for tank armaments even suprassing the equally legendary D-10 series of 100mm guns used on Soviet tanks.
Thanks for the read! I learnt something new today.
i thought it was the colt 0.45 that saved the west
Great article! Never knew a tanker that didn't have faith in this gun- starting with my dad.
"This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs
i swear by the L7.this gun was fitted on the home made vijayanta tank and i spend my service on this tank. though the tank was plauged with numerous problems, the gun was a gem. nothing went wrong with it.you could drive miles in the desert and engage with minimal preparation. fire at will no problems. i remember the fire power demo for the staff college students would feature the mad minute where in the gunner will engage targets laid out over the range . i remember it was 16 tgts engaged and hit . it could be more .of course many practises held and a chosen crew. i never came across a bulge barrel or any other accident where in the gun could be faulted. the intial guns were british subsequently of kanpur. i was sorry to see the gun go with the vijayanta . the ia could have done something more useful with this wonderful gun. i wonder what happend to the grease packed wwr barrels lying in some depot. the vijayanta is now on display at cantonments and city circles. i some times stop and give that gun a pat much to the amusment of my sons though my wife understands. gunner! on tgt fire.tgt destroyed. real mushy but spare an old tanker.
Last edited by gunnut; 19 Aug 08, at 19:13.
"Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.
However, overall you can say "God made all men, Colt and Winchester made them all equal."
But the start of this thread was anti-tank guns. I always liked the 76mm on the M-41s I used to drive. They actually had a higher velocity, flatter trajectory and grouped better than the 90mm guns on our M-47s. Unfortunately they lacked a range finder. Most of us gunners had to use "Kentucky Windage" (Burst on Target) for a second or third shot that could have been done with one shot if we had a range finder and stabilizer.
Yet that gun took out it's fair share of T-34's in Korea as well as T-54's and PT-76's in Nam.
Many of M-41's still in use today have been extensively modified to include a range finder AND stabilizer as well as a Cummings Diesel engine. Some have even been fitted with a 90mm low pressure gun. With all its variations from the Korean War until today the M-41 has probably had the longest service life of any other tank (except the T-34 whose only major change was from a short 76mm gun to a long 85mm gun).
Able to leap tall tales in a single groan.
the L7 is a 105mm gun while the arjun main gun is based on the 5/6 inch naval gun i amtold. by the way the indian centurions were 90mm .i suppose after we sold them as scrap to sa that to during the apartheid they converted to 105mm.in fact we converted our t55 into 105mm from 100mm. i wonder if they are are still around. the vijayanta in its last years were firing apfsds rounds.i suppose the kings of innovation the israelis are still got the 105mm m60 a2 though they have started converting their older afvs into troop carriers.
Indian Centurion tank 1965- Suite101.com Images compare to a 20 pounder http://www.armyvehicles.dk/images/centurionmkiii.jpg or a 17pounder http://www.mark.clubaustin.co.uk/centmk1.jpg
This article about the exploits of an Indian tank sqaudron uses a picture of Lt Col Singh standing on what is clearly a 105mm armed Centurion.
News Article in Depth
On a side note, Israel never got the M60A2. All existing M60A2's were converted to M60A3 or other Patton platforms none were exported. Perhaps you meant the M60A1 which Israel got directly from US war stocks after the M60's they had proved to be very vulnerable to atgm fire and T-55 fire thanks to a lack of turret armor and highly flammable hydraulic fluid.
The book "Brazen Chariots" gives a very good account of how successful the Stuarts (Honey's as the British called them) were in speed and mobility.
But I hate to call my M-41 as a "Light" tank in comparison to true light tanks of WW II (such as the Stuarts). If it were built in WW II, both it and the M-24 Chaffee probably would have been classified as light "Mediums" with the M-4 Sherman being only 5 to 10 tons heavier than a Walker Bulldog. The M-26 Pershing was classified as a "Heavy" tank when it first came out near the end of WW II. But almost immediately after it was downgraded to a medium tank along with the M-46, M-47 and M-48 Pattons. Therefore, any tank less than 35 tons was downgraded to "Light tank".
Therefore, thanks to your correction, I will modify my opinion to that the M-41 tank had the longest service life of any "Heavy Light" or "Light Medium" tank being surpassed only by the M-2 "Light Light" or "Featherweight" tank.
Oh, here's a question. Going by photographs alone, how can you tell the difference between an M-26 Pershing and an M-46 Patton? At first glance they all look alike.
Able to leap tall tales in a single groan.
You tell em Rusty, The guns that saved the west were 5",8",14" 16" all in various calibers.:P
Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.
As for the M2, no sir I meant the M3/M5 light tank. the M2 light tank served as the basis for the 3 and 5 but was IIRC never sent over seas. This did lead to some confusion with the M3 medium which is why when the Staurt/Honey was upgraded they went M5 instead of M4 to avoid the same problem with the new Sherman.
As light as the M3/M5 was it had thicker frontal armor (51mm) than the Bulldog (38mm) although the Bulldog did have ballistic sloping. This heavy armor was medium tank levels when the tank first saw combat.
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