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"Was the 17-pounder's barrel too short? " Topic


4 Posts

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933 hits since 3 Apr 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

4th Cuirassier03 Apr 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

…or was its propellant charge needlessly large?

One of the signature features of the 17-pounder was the huge muzzle flash when it fired. AIUI muzzle flash is propellant that is still burning when the round exits the barrel downrange, and which therefore exits the barrel with it.

Does this mean then that the 17-pounder's barrel wasn't long enough for all the propellant to burn? Or does it mean that the shell was larger than it needed to be and that a proportion of its power was wasted, in the form of muzzle flash?

At 55 calibres the barrel was pretty long and unwieldy to begin with so you'd think any excuse to shorten it would have been welcome. The fact that the "77mm" – in reality a shorter 76.2 with a shorter round and almost the same AP capability – suggests to me that the 17-pounder had a charge bigger than required.

Thoughts anyone?

Fred Cartwright03 Apr 2018 4:15 a.m. PST

I thought it was dust that was kicked up not muzzle flash, something shared by the Panther and that had the L70 barrel.

Thomas Thomas03 Apr 2018 9:22 a.m. PST

The 7.7L had lower penetration than the 7.6XL though about the same as a US 9.0L or German 8.8L – so still good (for we game designers who like to put guns into categories).

But the UK went for the most armor piercing POP possible given turret size etc. They just couldn't figure out how to get a 7.6XL into the turret of a Comet. Either gun OK aganist Panthers but Tiger IIs presented a problem 7.6XL with Discarding Sabot about the only real solution (in straight up tank v. tank combat – obviously to be avoided).

Dust kicked up the higher velocity guns seems to have been more of a problem during the summer months (Normandy) when the 17pder first saw large scale service. Proportions of Firefly s keep increasing so presumably crews either adjusted or the wetter Fall/Winter weather solved the problem.

TomT

Fingerspitzengefuhl03 Apr 2018 12:25 p.m. PST

Ken Tout summed up his impressions about the Firefly, then at the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry:
"The Firefly tank is an ordinary Sherman but, in order to accommodate the immense breach of the 17-pounder and to store its massive shells, the co-driver has been eliminated and his little den has been used as storage space. … The flash is so brilliant that both gunner and commander need to blink at the moment of firing. Otherwise they will be blinded for so long that they will not see the shot hit the target. The muzzle flash spurts out so much flame that, after a shot or two, the hedge or undergrowth in front of the tank is likely to start burning. When moving, the gun's overlap in front or, if traversed, to the side is so long that driver, gunner and commander have to be constantly alert to avoid wrapping the barrel around some apparently distant tree, defenceless lamp-post or inoffensive house"

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