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What WW2 cannon did the US design?

Discussion in 'Artillery' started by Pacifist, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    After the discussion on the sherman 75/76mm cannon it occurred to me that most WW2 US cannon were designed prior to the war or by another party entirely. US gun design seemed mainly interested in mounting changes. Just wondering if you can point out some I've missed.

    50 cal ww1 design
    20mm british design
    37mm based off the German 37mm though not a direct copy by any means.
    40mm bofors swedish license
    57mm british design
    75mm m2 based off a french cannon some mounting changes
    76mm new US design
    90mm ww1 design some mounting changes
    105mm 1930's design some mounting changes

    Perhaps the naval arm was more prolific but my knowledge there is lacking.
     
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Here are some of the US designed artillery pieces.

    75mm Pack Howitzer M1 - a 1920s design, but just right for airborne artillerymen
    The he M114 155 mm howitzer was a US wartime design first produced in 1942.
    155 mm Long Tom (1938)
    8 inch Howitzer M1 - US Design, but based on some elements of the British 8" BL
    90 mm Gun M1/M2/M3


    wikipedia can be your friend :)


    Although it is sometimes claimed that stimulate technical innovation, it is not wholly true. ,During a war the emphasis is on building a lot of something which is good enough for the job and and reliable.
     
  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Which cannon did you have in mind here? Most weapons are not dveloped as a completely new design, but are evolutions from previous designs.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    French Hispano-suiza wasn't it...for a while anyway...
     
  5. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    I was thinking the Hispano but the Oerlikon works as well.

    Thx for the list. I should have clarified the question as to what cannon were designed during or in direct anticipation of WW2. so 1936-1945. Unfortunately I don't appear to have the power to change the thread title.

    I simply found it interesting that America created so many new ship, aircraft, engine, car(jeep), landing craft, tank, radio, gun.... well everything designs but during the war cannon stayed much the same.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    This is not strictly true. The US were offered the bofors gun, but due to an administrative error the evaluation team miscalculated the convetion rate between dollars and Swedisah crowns as a factor of 100 too expensive and so the US did not buy a licence. Instead during the war they built an unlicensed version based on metric plans, I think taken from the Dutch East Indies. Again, mathematics let the Americans down and due to errors in converting from metirc to imperial units the components would not fit together. The Americans used different manufacturing methods to build what could best be described as a pirate version of the Bofors.

    The US did eventually settle the inevitable lawsuit , but not until the 1960s. .
     
  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Hmm I think there are a lot of national myths here. many weapons manufactured in the US were specifically for European customers and sometimes based on European designs or with a lot of input from the end customer.

    How .American is the packard merlin engine in the P51 - od the P51 itself designed to meet an RAF specification? .

    What about probably the most numerous and iconis Ameican ship, the Liberty ship - based on a British design?

    How much of the spectacular US developments in Radar were based on the cavity magnetron developed by the British?

    I am not writing this to wave a union f;lag, but to make the point that in the arms industries of the western allies there was a lot of collaboration and ready use of the best commercial solution regardless of nationality of the designer. For example the key infantry automatic weapons used by the British armed forces in WW1 were the Lewis and maxim guns, both American designs. T main aircraft engines in WW1 were French and both sides used 20mm cannons designed by Oerliken and trucks made by Ford.
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Well the Oerlikon was a Swedish gun based upon a German gun (German 20mm Becker). The British Hispano (which you listed as British designed) was a license built version of a gun developed by a Spanish firm, Hispano-Suiza, by Marc Birkigt, a Swiss engineer, from a Swiss gun, the Oerlikon FF, itself a derivitive of a German gun.
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The 155mm used before the M114 was a copy of the French Schneider, the M114 itself inherited some design elements from the Canon de 155 Mle 1917 . Artillery design is usually evolutionary rather than revolutionary and compatibility with existing ammo stocks is a very desirable characteristic.

    What is surprising are the repeated failures of the US industry to make reliable copies of existing weapons (Bofors 40mm, HS 20mm, MG 42), given the general level of US engineering one gets the suspicion some of the failures were "voluntary" in the hope to sell an indigenous design instead without licence fees.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    "Swiss" and "Swedish" gun designs between 1919 and 1939 are often really German designs developed there to evade the restrictions of Versailles, Krupp acquired a third of Bofors after WW1 and did a lot of the development that led to the 88mm Flakin Sweden though German contribution to the 40/56 is more doubtful, the Kriegsmarine could certainly have benefitted from the design instead of the single shot 37mm they used..
     
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    It's interesting how many good designs (no matter the origin) stay in inventory forever, just because they were good to begin with.

    The 155 is still around, though with a number of changes.

    The M2 "Ma Deuce" is a great example dating back to WWI - other than the various mounts there is very little change to the weapon itself.

    The 1911 pistol is still favored by those special operators who actually get to choose their sidearm.

    The 60 and 81mm mortars are still in use, though I'm not sure how close they are to the original design.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The Americans did eventually get the Bofors design right and manufactures some 60k+ guns. Mounted in double or quad mounts on battlefields as they were a good defence against a Kamikazi.
     
  13. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    More current information but illustrated how the original designs spread. The British developed their 105mm L 7 main tank gun to replace the 20 pounder. It was so successful that virtually all NATO countries used or adapted versions of it for their use. It was used in our M-60 and Abrams M1, the Leopard 1 and even the Israelis adapted it in early Merkavas. When Rheinmetall developed their 120mm Smoothbore L44 we made a version of it for the later Abrams as did NATO countries mostly using Leopard 2's and again Israel. The Germans went to an L55 to counter composite armor on the T80 Most others went the route of improving projectiles....The German's did both and The British stayed with a rifled 120 of their own design and the French use their own main gun.. Interestingly the Germans, Swedes and Swiss collaborate on their main guns. I am not sure what is on the latest Abrams.

    All this is to say many variations come from a few basic good designs The US should have paid Bofors up front !

    I wrote from memory, at my age a risky thing, hope I did not get too much wrong!!!
     
  14. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    Is that what had trouble tracking swordfish on the Bismark? A single shot weapon makes their difficulty due to the advanced sight much more understandable.
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Actually they did. The suit over royalties was due to the US providing weapons to other nations, which was outside of the original agreement.

    Excerpt from:

    194 F.2d 145
    AKTIEBOLAGET BOFORS

    v.

    UNITED STATES (two cases).

    AKTIEBOLAGET BOFORS

    v.

    ACHESON, Secretary of State, et al.
    Nos. 10870-10872.

    ...We summarize the allegations of the complaints. Bofors, a Swedish corporation engaged in manufacturing and selling munitions, was the owner of an unpatented secret process by the use of which it produced a 40mm anti-aircraft gun, apparently of superior excellence. The Navy Department of the United States desired to acquire the Bofors secret. Negotiations resulted in a contract dated June 21, 1941, by the terms of which Bofors granted to the Navy Department, in consideration of the sum of six hundred thousand dollars, an "Exclusive and irrevocable license to make, use and have made in the United States for the United States use" the Bofors 40mm water-cooled gun for naval use, the Bofors 40mm air-cooled gun for army use, all types of ammunition therefor, and the Bofors field carriage for 40mm guns. Bofors agreed to make full disclosure of its secret process and to furnish the services of two expert production engineers for a period of one year.
    3
    The money was paid, and Bofors delivered to the Naval Attache at the American Legation in Stockholm all plans, specifications, manufacturing drawings and engineering data necessary to enable our people to manufacture guns and ammunition under the Bofors secret process. The United States immediately began to use the trade secret so revealed to it and also began to transfer, under the Lend Lease Act* and similar legislation, Bofors guns and ammunition to other nations to be used by them in the common war against Germany and Japan.
    4

    Bofors regarded such transfers as beyond the scope of the license which it had granted, and protested vigorously. Beginning in 1941 and continuing throughout several succeeding years, it informally importuned the American authorities either to work out a royalty arrangement for the unlicensed use of the trade secret, or to submit its claim for extra compensation to arbitration as provided in the contract.....


    To further complicate the matter, it has always been my understanding, and I could be wrong (won't be the first time), but I understood that the calculation issues were in regards to converting the Bofors plans from metric measurements over to the United States customary system. To make matters worse the actual example weapons provided to the US varied in measurement from the plans provided to the US by Bofors.

    TOS wrote:

    From NavWeapons, pertinant passages highlighted by me:

    "The US Navy had a good deal of pre-war interest in this weapon and BuOrd purchased a sample of an air-cooled twin version from Bofors in early 1940. This arrived in New York from Sweden on 28 August 1940. During the same month, the Dutch escort vessel van Kinsbergen demonstrated these weapons to US observers in a test off Trinidad. BuOrd formally obtained Swedish licenses in June 1941, although some manufacturing actually started prior to that time.
    It should be noted that the USN considered the original Bofors Model 1936 design to be completely unsuitable for the mass production techniques required for the vast number of guns needed to equip the ships of the US Navy. First, the Swedish guns were designed using metric measurement units, a system all but unknown in the USA at that time. Worse still, the dimensioning on the Swedish drawings often did not match the actual measurements taken of the weapons. Secondly, the Swedish guns required a great deal of hand work in order to make the finished weapon. For example, Swedish blueprints had many notes on them such as "file to fit at assembly" and "drill to fit at assembly," all of which took much production time in order to implement. Third, the Swedish mountings were manually worked, while the USN required power-worked mountings in order to attain the fast elevation and training speeds necessary to engage modern aircraft. Fourth, the Swedish guns were air-cooled, limiting their ability to fire long bursts, a necessity for most naval AA engagements. Finally, the USN rejected the Swedish ammunition design, as it was not boresafe, the fuze was found to be too sensitive for normal shipboard use and its overall design was determined to be unsuitable for mass production.
    US manufacturers made radical changes to the Swedish design in order to minimize these problems and as a result the guns and mountings produced in the USA bore little resemblance their Swedish ancestors. For example, all but the earliest US guns were built to English measurement units rather than to metric units. To give one additional example of the design differences made for US produced weapons; the Chrysler Corporation redesigned ten components to suit mass production techniques and this was claimed to have saved some 7,500,000 pounds (3,402,000 kg) of material and 1,896,750 man hours during a year's production, as well as freeing up 30 machine tools for the production of other components.

    For ammunition, the fuze designed and produced in Britain was adopted as an interim measure by the USA, but this was considered to be of an unsafe design and unsuitable for mass production techniques. Fortunately, this fuze was almost immediately replaced by one designed by R.L. Graumann of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. This fuze was simple in design and "ideally suited to mass production." The new fuze, designated as the Mark 27, was found to be 99.9 percent efficient in ballistic acceptance tests, a record not equaled by any other fuze of the time. Both the US Army and the British adopted this fuze for their own production lines. The USN estimated that the adoption of the Mark 27 saved some $250,000,000 during the war.
    One firm rule adopted early in the redesign process was that any new Allied munition for these weapons needed to be completely interchangeable with existing designs. This allowed ammunition produced by any American or British ordnance manufacturer to be used with any weapon produced by either country, thus greatly simplifying the logistics problems of a world-wide war."

    So you see it wasn't just engineering the gun, but adapting it to mass production, building mounts that met US requirements (powered), convert from air cooled to water-cooled, modify for mass production techniques, re-design the ammunition, and I've probably forgotten a thing or two. The Navy began accepting twin mounts in January '42 and quad mounts in April '42. The US had acquired plans from the Dutch and British around January 1941, so a year from converting plans to delivering a mass production capable, working twin, water-cooled, powered mount to the US Navy ain't to shabby.
     
  16. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I believe the 90mm gun that went on the M36 and the Pershing were designed and upgraded by the US. Also, the 105mm and the 155mm US artillery pieces were some of the best in the field.
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Actually, I would argue that it was the "system" of American artillery that made it the most deadly of WWII. We were blessed by the happy accident that as a late entrant of the war and the rapid build up, we had the opportunity to build our artillery around a smaller number of pieces. But really, it was the redundant comms network that made it so effective, that and the tape solution taught in American artillery schools.

    http://etloh.8m.com/strategy/artil.html
     
  18. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Kodiak beer old chap, ....

    I agree that "redundant communications" is what enabled the US Army Artillery to deliver flexible responsive firepower.

    But did you need to mention that simplistic and highly inaccurate war-game website?

    I have never heard of a tape system, which does not mean that it did not exist. However, common sense or a thought experiment with some elementary mathematics will lead to the thought that it would have to be a bloody big filing cabinet. There are fourteen different variables which affect the trajectory of a round and even if tapes were prepared for every possible combination, it would take far longer ot retreive the one you needed than calcutate the firing data from scratch!

    It is true that gun firing data was pre calculated for fireplans and circulated down to each gun.. Each gun No 1 would have the firing data (ammunition type, fuse setting, charge, bearing and elevation number of rounds and rate) et for each of the targets ion a fire plan. This was inded all calculated by hand and when you consider that a creeping barrage might have 20 lines and each gun would have a different point on each line in the barrage, that is a lot of calculations. Have a look at the fireplan schedule for 49 Divisions part of Op Astonia (I BR Corps attack on Le Havre Sep 1944) on the blog piece I wrote on the South Notts Hussars final exercise http://www.theobservationpost.com/blog/?p=945 Each line in table is a tewm minuter block of time. Each column is a firing unit ( a 24 gun Field Regiment or 16 gun Medium Regiment, and the right end 6 guns from two batteries of a heavy regiment. Gun daat would have been calculated for each gun in this fireplan.

    Contrary to the simplistic quoted website, the American system was not based on the British system used in the second half of WW2. The Americans and British used different organisations and tactical methods to deliver flexible artillery support to fit their own doctrine. (Or possibly,national military doctrine evolved to take advantage of the characteristics of their artillery command and control.)

    There is a very good description of the British artillery system in WW2 on this website. http://nigelef.tripod.com/maindoc.htm

    The British artillery methods used from 1942 onwards was the result of artillery officers developing techniques to hardness radio communications to concentrate artillery, while decentralising control of it to the lowest tactical level. This was in the face of a movement in the British Army after Dunkirk to decentralise everything to Brigade level in the erroneous belief that the Division was too big and clumsy an organisation to use in a mechanised battle. .

    The key was not merely to have a redundant artillery communications channel, but to deploy the most senior officers as far forwards as possible, so that the officers with the tactical knowledge and experience were in a position to read the battle and apply fire. This is the big difference between the British and American fiore control systems. In the British System the commanders are all sited forwards next to the supported arm, thus the FOOs were generally Captains and deployed alongside the infantry or armoured sub unit commanders, and the battery commanders deployed at Battalion level. The US system deployed junior officers and sergeants forward as FOOs while the commanders remained on the gun position or some other HQ. In the British system the observer ORDERS fire. In the US system the observer REQUESTS fire. An observer might be authorised ot fire theior own troop or battery, or be authorised by the artillery chain of command to control,the fire of the whole regiment (24 guns) or even more.

    The British system had a duplicate command and control system with each infantry or armour com,mander shadowed by a Gunner one rank junior, duplicating a command structure one level higher. Thus the infantry company commanders might have been on a battalion net and fighting at a battalion level, but their gunners on their battalion (regimental) net would be on the same net as the other FOos in their regiment - acrss the Brigade.

    In theory the US system works just as well and can respond ijn three minutes. However, as an Australian gunner who served in Vietnam once told me that in practice the FDC can spend half an hour second guessing whether you really need five rounds FFE from three batteries firign proximity and whether two batteries with HE point detonating. .
     
  19. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I believe most of that quote is drawn from a much more extensive Army War College thesis that details the same practices, including the tape system, but the version posted from the gamer site is much shortened and simplified. I have that original thesis (in PDF I think) somewhere on my storage drive... At any rate, the US did come in with a workable system, but they further refined it in 42 and 43, borrowing much learned from the British in the Med campaigns.

    I have a 30th Division artillery unit history which speaks of the extensive doctrinal changes and re-training they did in England prior to the D Day invasion. Even the towed 3" Tank Destroyer units went through extensive courses so they could contribute indirect artillery fire if called on. And of course, each regiment was assigned it's own "cannon company" battery. That's a lot of artillery available even from within one division, but of course it was quite common for an entire Corps to direct artillery on one mission and at times you'd have neighboring Corps also contributing fire on one area. It was that elaborate and redundant comms network that made all of that possible. Note that the tape system is just a quick correction for wind speed and direction, temps, etc. The batteries would probably already have these laid out for the day for various possible targets along the front of the Division. Having these drawn up in advance just means each battery doesn't have to pencil-whip those corrections before shooting. It just minimizes delay, and of course errors.

    The US artillery was an extremely flexible organization and by the time they hit Normandy they, in my opinion, were the best of any nation in that conflict. My main interest is collecting info and anecdotes from the GI's in the 30th Division rifle companies, and in all of those anecdotes they (almost without exception) speak glowingly of the artillery. I have a smaller number of reports and anecdotes from German troops engaged against the 30th, and among those you get an impression that their artillery is late, delivered in the wrong place or slow to make corrections onto the target, etc. When they speak of American artillery it is with horror...
     

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