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Re: The one that could have!

October 14 2015 at 5:24 PM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to The one that could have!


> Never had a bubble to burst about the pompom - I've read enough to know of its limitations, but I still think that another forty years of development could have resulted in a very useful infantry support weapon. But, let's leave it at that, it didn't happen. >

Not so fast. I still want to know how this could have happened. In a nutshell, the larger the bore of the gun, the heavier the barrel, the heavier the breech and chamber, the heavier the carriage, the heavier the limber laden with projectiles. A unit of infantry in a dense forest or in the mountains dragging an artillery piece along crude twisting trails was going to be limited in what size gun could accompany it. And that meant what size rounds. In the tropical forest or jungle during the Philippine Insurrection, the bush and timber did much to neutralize the effect of such small projectiles.

[linked image]

Send us guns that will fire larger rounds than the Hotchkiss 1.65-inch (42mm or 2-pounder) mountain gun [shown above], the soldiers exorted. Given the unsat nature of its Hotchkiss 3-inch bigger brother [a second glance at the photo above tells me those rounds are larger than 1.65-inch ones, so that piece may be the bigger bro], the U.S. Army purchased the Vickers-Maxim 2.95-inch mountain gun, a piece that the British Army wanted no part of. Similar cries for a gun that would shoot farther or faster simply would have led to a substantial weight gain: the adoption of a heftier recoil apparatus or split trails or automatic firing had its cost in weight, not to mention all the extra ammo one needed to bring along when the automatic gun was pumping out rounds, pom-pom-pom-pom.

Okay, so you’re no longer in the jungle or mountains (or both). It’s now 1916 and your lads are going over the top and across no-man’s land. The ground is busted up plenty, with mud and craters and other nasty obstacles. What wheeled crew-served gun is going to negotiate that morass? And even 16 months earlier, before such ruination occurred, a crew-served pompom supporting an infantry attack would have been tres conspicuous and quickly annihilated. Yeah, 1-pounders (37mm) did serve in an infantry support role, but they were not automatic guns. See how this French Mle 1916 hugs the ground on its tripod.

[linked image]

[linked image]

A wheeled carriage was also available, but deployed mostly in defense, where it was too small to be much good. The irony is that such a small gun was only useful when used offensively, i.e., where it was size-limited as much as possible to provide a smaller target and its role equally finite. After the conclusion of the war, in the American army the M1916 37mm gun died a slow death. In WWII, the M3 37mm “antitank” gun did see useful service in the Pacific, mostly firing canister against the insane mass charges to which the Japanese all too often resorted. I’ll stop here, but do note the limited postwar roles these guns had, leading inevitably to their desuetude, not to mention the non-automatic nature of such pieces. History does not support your contention, but I’m willing to consider your always interesting argument. But you in turn have to be willing to write at greater length to support that argument.

> A 150mm mortar in use by Boer forces at the siege of Ladysmith, listed as being in the hands of the Transvaal at the outbreak of the war. >

As regards the photo, clearly taken from a movie—look, there’s bearded Brad Pitt under that very broad-brimmed hat—the mortar shown is quite old and certainly a deal larger than 150mm (6 inches), when you compare the bore with the physical features of the men grouped around it. The report you quote mentions rounds 8 or 9 inches—203 or 230 mm—in diameter when their shattered fragments were reassembled. The trunnions on the piece are clearly located just behind the breech, as on the 8-inch mortar used in the American Civil War about 40 years before (note the wooden quoin used to elevate the latter piece at the muzzle).

[linked image]

I like the photo of your granddad. A shotgun toter, eh? He must have been a close-in fighter and in action a ferocious, no, I meant to write guerrilla!



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