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#1 Mark 1

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:50 PM

Well after two years of playing with MP and MP2 I finally went and bought the full WW2 data book.Great stuff. Wow. So much is covered!Now turning to the first of my armies that is listed in the books, I come to a question I faced in my last game (see my AAR #5) while using the Beta charts I received in 2007, which is: Where do I find the French 75mm M1897 gun on the artillery charts?You know the one ... the world-renowned "soixante-quinze" which had received no greater updating than new wheels, with actual rubber tires, since WW1. It provided the backbone of the French artillery, equipping about 2/3rd of all the batteries in l'Armee de Terre Francais? And from all I understand it equipped closer to 90% of the batteries in Juin's XIX Corps in Tunisia in 1942-43. 75mm guns are listed in the Artillery Battalion in the TOE in the book, but the gun itself is not listed in the artillery charts.Or have is it hiding in plain sight from these ever-so-dim-witted eyes?-Mark 1

#2 Bob Benge

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 04:46 AM

Hi Mark,Well, you know, I think this one slipped through the cracks, how I don't know. :) Here are the stats as taken from the WW1 Data Book.Field Gun, Canon de 75 M1897; YR: 97; Main Weapon: 75mm L36.6; Movement CC/R: Towed; Class V: 1; OM1: -4; OM2: no; OM3: no; ROF: 1; HE OV: 1; HE FP: 8; DM: -1; DR: 1; F DV: 1; S DV: 0; R DV: 0; T DV: 0; BPV: 14 I will make a note to add this in an update as I also have to add a couple of German Spigot Mortars I found.

#3 Mark 1

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 02:25 PM

Bob:I find it listed under the AT Guns section, but there is a * by the listing, which I think is an indication that the gun could not fire indirect.It might be as simple just to remove that *, and list it in both locations.Or is there some reason for differentiating the gun dependant on its role?-Mark 1

#4 Bob Benge

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 12:52 AM

Mark,I am not sure on this as Jon, the original writer, put the original equipment listing together and I just added to it. It could be an ATG variant of the gun or a seperate gun based on the old 1897. I will have to research it some more when i get a chance. For now I would use the stats I posted here until I can find an answer for you. :)

#5 Mark 1

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 08:18 AM

Bob:Hope I'm not swamping you with all of this ... just can't think of much that stirs my interest more than conversing on tanks and guns and wargaming ...bbenge wrote:

It could be an ATG variant of the gun or a seperate gun based on the old 1897.

The French had the 75mm gun available in great numbers after WW1, and continued producing and using it during the inter-war period.When they first decided to provide anti-tank guns to their infantry formations, they chose the 75mm gun. The 75mm M1897 m1933 (Modele 1897 modifie 1933), was the same gun on a new carriage with split-trails, for use as an AT gun. A limited number were built.The artillery branch also developed an updated carriage, the M1897 m1938, which was used as an upgrade to existing guns. The carriage was both strengthened and lightened a bit, and the spoked wooden wheels were replaced by concave metal disc wheels with pneumatic tires. This allowed the gun to be towed at motor transport speeds, not just horse speeds, and also allowed better man-handling (as was required by the infantry).In the late 1920s / early 1930s the French Army determined that it would really prefer a smaller, lighter high velocity gun for its infantry anti-tank gun, and so the 25mm ATG was developed, the first model being accepted for service in 1932. This was on the leading edge of military thinking at the time, and took place amidst a wave of developments in both AT guns and tank armor in major armies around the world.So the 75mm M1897 was moved back to the artillery as purpose-designed AT guns became available. There is little indication of M1897m1933 in service in any numbers by 1940.French colonial forces never got the same level of kit, nor upgraded as quickly, as the continental forces. So the 75mm formed a larger portion of their artillery to begin with, and more often also doubled-up as their AT defense.However the French clearly did not anticipate the scale of ATGs needed to defend against a concentrated armored attack. By 1940 the 25mm gun was only a marginal performer. The later 47mm ATG was outstanding. But neither was available in the numbers needed to make an effective defense against the German's Panzer Divisions, due both to the rather paultry issue under TO&Es, and due to slow production. And so, in the midst of the May/June 1940 Battle of France the French Army started pulling some of its 75mm guns forward again to serve as AT guns. It was an effective AT gun for the time. Actually a better tank killer than the 25mm or the 47mm guns, and easily capable of penetrating any German armor at that time at battlefield ranges. Just not as easily concealed nor as easily man-handled as the dedicated AT guns of the time.The US Army used the same gun in large numbers, having acquired them and a license to produce them during WW1, and retained them in production through the inter-war period. It equipped the bulk of US Army artillery batteries until the emergence of the 105mm M101 howitzer. It is often said that this gun equipped US M3 Lee/Grant and M4 Sherman tanks. That is not true. The US 75mm guns in those tanks (75mm tank gun M2 and M3) were not the same gun. But they fired the same ammunition. The US Army also developed a towed 75mm AT gun based on the 75mm tank gun M3 for the emerging Tank Destroyer command, but it was replaced in service quickly by the towed 3-inch gun, and never saw combat. However, the first widely used US tank destroyer, the Gun, Motor Carriage 75mm M3 (half-track with 75mm gun) did in fact use the actual M1897 75mm gun. These were guns originally produced for artillery re-mounted with extended gun shields onto M3 half-tracks, to make the tank destroyers.The Germans captured large numbers of French 75mm M1897 guns. They used them as artillery in several of their garrison units along the Atlantic and North Sea coasts. It was one of their more common weapons types in fixed installations. Many were sold/given to Germany's allies -- the Romanians in particular, having equipped much of their army with French-built kit pre-war, were a ready market for any captured French gear. The Germans even went so far as to make a hybrid ATG by mounting the French 75mm gun on the carriage of their Pak38 gun (the Pak97/38), which they then issued on an interim basis on the Eastern Front to counter the threat of T-34s until the Pak40 became widely available, and then again sold to their allies.But in all of that, I don't think I've ever come across a French-made, dedicated AT gun version actually equipping French forces by the time WW2 erupted. I would not deny that some might have still been around, as upgrade or re-assignment programs seldom captured all of the pieces in inventory, and armies in the inter-war period did not tend to discard usable kit. Still any actual instances of use of the 75mm gun in AT action I've read of describe (or imply) the same standard gun M1897 or M1897m1938 artillery pieces, sometimes being used to equip purpose-formed AT gun batteries within infantry formations, but often still manned by artillery crews pushed forward for the more urgent requirement of AT defense. The use of the 75mm artillery pieces in the AT role seems to have been particularly prevalent in the "hedge-hog" defense scheme adopted after Dunkirk.At least that is the impression I have built up over the years.-Mark 1

#6 Bob Benge

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 12:59 AM

Great info Mark. Were both the m1933 and m1938 guns provided with specific AT ammo?

#7 Mark 1

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 08:20 AM

bbenge wrote:

Were both the m1933 and m1938 guns provided with specific AT ammo?

Good question. I don't know. There was a wide variety of ammunition available for the gun by WW2, including HE, shrapnel (yes, not just fragmentation rounds but actual shrapnel rounds, with fuzes timed to detonate while plunging downwards, and a directed explosive charge to rain hundreds of round shrapnel balls down on any infantry in the open, in trenches, or behind walls -- nastey business!), smoke, and APHE. But what the scale and plan of issue was, I can't say.But I can enquire. And I will. Let's see if I can come up with some source documentation from among my French (or military historian) contacts.-Mark 1

#8 Bob Benge

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 02:30 AM

Great! Thanks. :) In either case I will need to enter the M1933 into the artilery section. The question will be whether I give it an AP capability. :)

#9 Mark 1

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 09:59 AM

OK, here is some more data on AP for the French 75mm:The AP round was the OR (Obus de Rupture - penetrating shell) Mle 1910. This was an APHE round that was rated to penetrate 40mm of armor at 30 degrees at 500m.It was issued in small numbers as a battery-defense round to the divisional artillery batteries, and was the primary round for the m1933 ATG version of the 75mm. A 57mm sub-caliber round was also developed, which was rated at 80mm at 30 degrees at 1,000m, but this was not available in sufficient numbers to be issued prior to the armistice. I don't know if the Vichy forces, or any German allies, ever issued this round.As to the later use of the 75mm artillery guns in AT roles, my source says:

According to Weygand's prescriptions, 75 mm guns had to be kept in hedgehogs for direct fire and heavier guns (105, 155, 220 mm) in the rear for barrages. Although I've read a story about a 105 mm gun shooting directly at panzers. ... AP ammunitions were issued to the batteries, but AP ammunitions were relatively rare. Anyway, there had records of 75 mm HE shells hitting directly panzers and dislocating them. It was enough to disable a panzer.

My source is the fellow in Paris who does research in the archives of the French Army for the WW2 OnLine game team.You are welcome to look in on the TankNet discussion on the topic here:http://208.84.116.223/forums/index.php?showtopic=27185&st=0#entry636666Hope that helps.-Mark 1

#10 Bob Benge

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 03:11 AM

Thanks Mark. :)

#11 Mark 1

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 12:03 PM

At the risk of being accused of flagellating deceased equines ....I've been hunting through the WW2 Data Book for all likely locations for the 75mm M1897, and its derivatives.Here are the armies that do not have the M1897 listed, that should:France:Already discussed.Free France: Oh fer Pete’s sake -- this gun was the basis of the defense of the “box” at Bir Hakim! They had a version that was customized in workshops in Syria (or Cairo?), giving it pneumatic tires and cutting it down in height to make it more ATG-like, but without the proper split-trail of the m1933. The Free French in the Western Desert also mounted it (portee’d) on British trucks. Vichy France: Again, this was the most numerous gun in Vichy’s artillery units, by a WIDE margin. Oddly the Pak 38 is listed as an ATG for Vichy. I’d love to hear the story behind that.Germany: I don't know the German designation, but they did use this gun in some numbers, particularly in garrison units. I do find the Pak 97 / 38 listed for the Germans. Following are the penetration stats. More on this issue below.AP OV = 9HT OV = 9Italy: I find no reference to the M1897. But there is a reference to Infantry Gun, 75mm, which shows a 75mm L36. Could this be the French gun in Italian service? I don't know the Italian designation, but they did use captured French 75s in some numbers. It lists no AP OV and no HT OV.Poland: The Polish designation for this gun is Armata Polowa wz. 1897. This was the bog-standard French M1897 (not the m1938 upgrade). It was the primary light field piece of the Polish army in 1939. There is a 75mm Polish gun listed as the 02/26, an L30 gun. I don't believe this is related to the M1897. This gun lists no AP OV or HT OV.The Poles produced their own AP ammunition for the French 75, and it was reputedly better than the French AP round. At least the Germans thought so.Romania: I don't know the Romanian designation for this gun. It was the mainstay of Romanian field artillery units, having been purchased from France in large numbers in the inter-war period, and supplied from captured war-stock by the Germans during the war. Might even have been some bought from Vichy France after 1940, as it was the largest artillery piece they were permitted to possess (and produce) by their armistice with Germany.I do find the Pak 97 / 38 listed. That's good, because this became the standard divisional AT gun in Romanian infantry units in late 1942 (supplied by the Germans). I think that the HEAT round listed is a typo, as it differs from the listing for the gun in German service. The Germans provided BOTH Polish AP and their own HEAT ammunition to the Romanians. Romanian HEAT rounds should not be better, nor at all different, from German HEAT rounds. AP OV = 9HT OV = 11All of that said, it seems the gun is not absent from the lists. The M1897 75mm gun IS in the lists in many places, correctly associated with armies that used the gun or its derivatives. The following armies list the gun:Australia: Listed as Howitzer M1897, and shown as an L34 (should be L36).BelgiumBulgaria: Only listed in the Pak97/38 version. Again listed with the following anti-armor values:AP OV = 9HT OV = 9Canada: Again listed as an L34. Should be L36. Listed with the following anti-armor value:AP OV = 9GreeceHollandSlovakiaSouth Africa: Oddly, the South African forces also list the US-made GMC M3 (tank destroyer with a 75mm on an M3 halftrack), but list this vehicle as mounting the US M3 75mm gun. It did not. It mounted the M1897 (specifically the US-produced M1897A4 version of the French 75mm).United States: Again the M1897 is listed as an L34. Should be L36. Also, the US list provides the following anti-armor value:AP OV = 9Now, as to the actual anti-armor performance:We can see from the lists that the AP OV = 9 does not refer specifically to Polish AP, which Canada, South Africa and the US did not have access to. The HEAT round was a German development, and it is correct to see that round not listed in service for these same armies. But still, the AP OV of 9 looks high. The US M2 75mm tank gun was slightly shorter at L31, and rates AP OV = 7, while the US M3 75mm tank gun was slightly longer at L40, and only rates 8. All fired the same ammunition in US service, and there is no reason to expect the M1897 to outperform those guns. The HEAT round should perform slightly better than the AP round. But the 11 shown for the PAK 97/38 in Romanian service is too high. After all, a German KwK 75mmL24 HEAT round is only rated at HT OV = 8. If they knew how to make a 75mm HEAT round that was so much better (an 11), why was it not used in all their 75mm guns?The Germans reputedly used Polish AP ammunition in their French 75s, and supplied them to the Romanians, as the Polish rounds performed better than the French. But even with the Polish AP rounds, the Germans were not too impressed, and preferred their own HEAT round for the Pak 97 / 38 and Pak 97 / 40 over either French or Polish AP.Following is some data I have found on the Pak 97/28 AP performance:Round: KGr Pz (P) (I believe this is the Polish round)Penetration: 61mm at 100m; 58mm at 1000mRound: KGr 38/97 HL/C(f) (I believe this is the German HEAT round)Penetration: 90mm(No further data on conditions, armor type, slope, etc.)Source: Haupt, German AT Guns 37 – 50 – 75 – 88mm 1935-1945, Schiffer Military Histories, Vol. 24.This may be compared with US Army test results for the M3 75mm gun AP performance:Round: M61 APCBCPenetration at 0 degrees slope: 90mm at 0yds; 76mm at 1000yds Penetration at 30 degrees slope: 71.1mm at 0 yds, 66.5mm at 400yds, 60.2mm at 1000ydsSource: US Army TM9-1907Having reviewed this, and given that the M3 is rated AP OV = 8, I believe the M1897 should have the following anti-armor values:AP OV = 7 HT OV = 8 (German and German Allies service)Or something like that….-Mark 1

#12 Bob Benge

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 01:00 PM

Hey Mark,I am going to review everything here and I'll get back to you with the results. As it happens, I am in the middle of converting the WW2 Data Book files over from Word Perfect, as Jon Coulter had originally formatted them, to Word our coompany's standard now. As we are getting low in stock on our WW2 Data Books, this is a good time for this update/errata to be included.Thanks for the info! :)

#13 Mark 1

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 02:05 PM

bbenge wrote:

Hey Mark,... this is a good time for this update/errata to be included.Thanks for the info! :)

Bob:Glad if I can be of any help. Again, I can hardly think of anything I'd rather do than discuss military history and wargaming. So please excuse me if I come off a bit long-winded.Being a bit of a bookworm, I have been looking through the data book in sime detail. I do have a couple of scattered questions or inputs, so I might make a "miscellaneous" comments thread.But I have also been looking in some detail at a particular army. A pet interest of mine. Here there may be enough comments or questions to warrant a seperate thread. So please look for a seperate thread on the Romanians soon.-Mark 1

#14 Bob Benge

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 02:33 PM

Great, I'll be looking for them. ;)




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