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World War 2 In Review No. 45

World War 2 In Review No. 45

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World War 2 In Review No. 45

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May 12, 2018


Merriam Press World War 2 In Review Series. The following articles on World War II are in this issue: (1) Anti-tank Guns Part 3 (Germany) (2) U.S. Anti-Tank Doctrine in World War II (3) Tanks Can Be Destroyed (4) 37mm Gun Motor Carriage T2/T2E1 (5) Ford Gun Motor Carriage T8 (6) With Five Focke-Wulfs on Her Tail (7) American Submarine Bonefish SS-223 (8) British Armored Car Bedford OXA (9) Polish Fighter Pilots of No. 303 Squadron, Royal Air Force (10) First Canadian Parachute Battalion, 1942-1945 (11) American Curtiss SO3C Seamew Floatplane (12) Jungleers on Biak (13) Battle of Biak (14) Incident on Biak Island (15) British Fairey Fulmar Fighter. 671 B&W/color photos/illustrations.
May 12, 2018

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World War 2 In Review No. 45 - Merriam Press

World War 2 In Review No. 45

World War 2 In Review No. 45

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Hoosick Falls, New York


First eBook Edition

Copyright © 2018 by Merriam Press

Additional material copyright of named contributors.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

The views expressed are solely those of the author.

ISBN 9781387774449

This work was designed, produced, and published in the United States of America by the Merriam Press, 489 South Street, Hoosick Falls NY 12090.


The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Mission Statement

This series presents articles and pictorials on topics covering many aspects of World War 2. In addition to new articles and pictorials on topics not previously covered, future volumes may include additional material on the subjects covered in this volume. The volumes in this series will comprise a single source for innumerable articles and tens of thousands of images of interest to anyone interested in the history and study of World War 2. While no doubt some of these images and other materials could be found online, countless hours could be spent searching thousands of web sites to find at least some of this material.

The Images

These photos are seventy-plus years old, were taken under less than ideal conditions, and some were taken by individuals who were neither professional photographers nor using professional equipment. Thus, the quality of the original image may be less than perfect. While Merriam Press tries to obtain the best quality images possible, the quality of the images in this publication will no doubt vary greatly.

This series of publications utilizes the editor’s collection of tens of thousands of photographs and other illustrative material acquired since 1968. Hundreds of sources over the years have been searched for material on every subject.

Photographs Needed

Merriam Press welcomes any contributions of photographs

of this or any subject for future volumes in this series.

How to Use This Publication

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This publication was designed to allow for larger images than most eReaders will accommodate. When the publication was created, the images were inserted in a fixed size (6.2 inches wide and up to 8 inches high) and cannot be resized in the program. The text, of course, can be enlarged and reduced as desired.

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Welcome to No. 45 of the World War 2 In Review Series

The following articles are in this issue of World War 2 In Review:

(1) Anti-tank Guns Part 3

German Anti-tank Guns


2.8cm sPzB 41

3.7cm PaK 36

4.2cm PaK 41

5cm PaK 38

7.5cm PaK 39

7.5cm PaK 40

7.5cm PaK 41

7.5cm PaK 97/38

7.62cm PaK 36(r)

8cm PAW 600

8.8cm Flak 18/36/37/41

8.8cm PaK 43

12.8cm PaK 44

Panzerwurfkanone 10H64

German Designations of Foreign Anti-tank Guns in World War II

(2) U.S. Anti-Tank Doctrine in World War II

(3) Tanks Can Be Destroyed

(4) 37mm Gun Motor Carriage T2/T2E1

(5) Ford Gun Motor Carriage T8

(6) With Five Focke-Wulfs on Her Tail

(7) American Submarine Bonefish SS-223

(8) British Armored Car Bedford OXA

(9) Polish Fighter Pilots of No. 303 Squadron, Royal Air Force

(10) First Canadian Parachute Battalion, 1942-1945

(11) American Curtiss SO3C Seamew Floatplane

(12) Jungleers on Biak

(13) Battle of Biak

(14) Incident on Biak Island

This issue features XXX B&W and color photographs and illustrations.

Watch for future issues of this series with more images on the history of World War II.

Anti-tank Guns Part 3

This continues the series on the anti-tank guns of World War 2. See World War 2 In Review Number 43 for American and British anti-tank guns; Number 44 for Belgian, Czech and French anti-tank guns; Number 46 for Italian, Japanese and Romanian anti-tank guns; Number 47 for Russian and Swedish anti-tank guns.

German Anti-tank Guns

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Panzerabwehrkanone, usually referred to with the acronym PaK, is the German language term for anti-tank gun. Before and during World War II, the German Army produced a series of 13 anti-tank guns which they designated Panzerabwehrkanone, i.e. PaK. In addition, they produced one weapon they designated an anti-tank rifle, which is generally considered to actually be an anti-tank gun; and one gun they designated Panzerabwehrwerfer, PAW, the anti-tank launcher.

In military terminology, a gun is a weapon too heavy to be hand held when fired. These weapons ranged from a weight of 229 kg (500 lb) to a weight of 10,160 kg (20,000 lb). The smallest caliber was 28 mm (1 in) and the largest was 128 mm (5 in).

Over the six-year course of World War II the armor of the tanks steadily improved, so in order to be effective the size of the projectile had to increase. A larger projectile required a heaver weapon.

All of these guns were meant to be towed. The earlier ones were light weight enough to be moved by hand, over short distances, into, and out of, their firing positions. Some variants were only used on tank destroyers, which are self-propelled, like the cannons on tanks.

2.8cm sPzB 41

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A British soldier examines a captured German 28mm sPzB 41 anti-tank gun, 21 July 1943.

2.8 cm schwere Panzerbüchse 41 (sPzB 41) or Panzerbüchse 41 was a German anti-tank weapon working on the squeeze bore principle. Officially classified as a heavy anti-tank rifle (German: schwere Panzerbüchse), it would be better described, and is widely referred to, as a light anti-tank gun.

Although the sPzB 41 was classified as a heavy anti-tank rifle, its construction was much more typical of an anti-tank gun. Like the latter, it had a recoil mechanism, carriage and shield. The only significant feature the weapon had in common with anti-tank rifles was a lack of elevation and traverse mechanisms—the light barrel could be easily manipulated manually.

The design was based on a tapering barrel, with the caliber reducing from 28 mm at the chamber end to only 20 mm at the muzzle. The projectile carried two external flanges; as it proceeded toward the muzzle, the flanges were squeezed down, decreasing the diameter with the result that pressure did not drop off as quickly and the projectile was propelled to a higher velocity. The barrel construction resulted in a very high muzzle velocity - up to 1,400 m/s. The bore was fitted with a muzzle brake. The horizontal sliding breech block was quarter-automatic: it closed automatically once a shell was loaded. The gun was equipped with an open sight for distances up to 500m; a telescopic sight, (ZF 1х11 from the 3.7 cm PaK 36 anti-tank gun), could also be fitted.

The recoil system consisted of a hydraulic recoil buffer and spring-driven recuperator. The carriage was of the split trail type, with suspension. Wheels with rubber tires could be removed, making the gun significantly lower and therefore easier to conceal; the process took 30–40 seconds. The guns’ construction allowed tool-less dismantling to five pieces, the heaviest of which weighed 62 kg.

The cone-bore principle was first patented in 1903 by a German designer, Karl Puff. In the 1920s and 1930s, another German engineer, Gerlich, conducted experiments with coned-bore barrels that resulted in an experimental 7 mm anti-tank rifle with a muzzle velocity of 1,800 m/s.

Based on these works, Mauser-Werke AG developed a 28/20 mm anti-tank weapon initially designated Gerät 231 or MK.8202 in 1939–1940. In June–July 1940, an experimental batch of 94 (other sources say 30) pieces was given to the army for trials. They resulted in some modifications and in 1941 mass production of what became 2.8 cm schwere Panzerbüchse 41 started. One piece cost 4,520 Reichsmarks (for the sake of comparison, one 5 cm PaK 38 gun cost 10,600 Reichsmarks). The last gun was built in 1943; the main reason for the discontinuance was the lack of tungsten for projectiles.

The sPzB 41 was used by some motorized divisions and by some Jäger (light infantry), Gebirgsjäger (mountain) and Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) units. Some guns were supplied to anti-tank and sapper units. The weapon was employed on the Eastern Front from the beginning of hostilities (the Wehrmacht possessed 183 pieces on 1 June), until the end of the war and also saw combat in the North African Campaign and on the Western Front in 1944–45.

Type: Anti-tank gun

Place of origin: Nazi Germany

In service: 1941–1945

Used by: Nazi Germany

Wars: World War II

Designed: 1939–1940

Manufacturer: Mauser-Werke AG

Produced: 1940–1943

Number built: 2,797

Weight: 229 kg (505 lbs)

Length: 2.69 m (8 ft 10 in)

Barrel length overall: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in) (with muzzle brake)

Width: 96.5 cm (3 ft 2 in)

Height: 83.8 cm (2 ft 9 in)

Crew: 3

Caliber: 28/20 mm (1.10/.78 in)

Breech: horizontal block

Recoil: hydrospring

Carriage: split trail

Elevation: -5° to 30°

Traverse: 70°

Rate of fire: up to 30 rpm

Muzzle velocity: 4,500 feet per second (1,400 m/s)[1]

Effective firing range: 500 m (547 yds)


2.8 cm sPzB 41 leFl 41 (2.8 cm schwere Panzerbüchse 41 auf leichter Feldlafette 41): a variant developed for paratrooper units. It used a lightweight carriage without suspension; the wheels were replaced by small rollers; the shield was typically removed. The resulting weapon weighed only 139 kg (118 kg without rollers). The carriage supported a 360° field of fire, elevation ranged from -15° to 25°.

2.8 cm KwK 42: tank gun modification intended for the VK 903 turret. A Versuchs-Serie (developmental series) of twenty-four were produced, of which ten were reported as available for the VK 903 project on July 1, 1942. A total of 200 guns were ordered, though there is no evidence to show these were completed, nor is there evidence showing this weapon was ever actually mounted in a turret.

Self-propelled Mounts

The sPzb 41 was also mounted on several vehicles, such as cars, half-tracks and armored cars:

Sd.Kfz. 221 armored cars;

Sd.Kfz. 250/11 half-tracks;

Sd.Kfz. 251 half-tracks;

Horch 901 4x4 cross-country passenger cars;

Horch Typ 40 (Kfz. 15) 4x4 cross-country passenger cars.

Squeeze bore guns saw only limited use in World War II. Manufacturing such weapons was impossible without advanced technologies and high production standards. Besides Germany, the only country to bring such weapons to mass production was Britain, with the Littlejohn adaptor which, although not a gun in itself, used the same principle. An attempt by a Soviet design bureau headed by V. G. Grabin in 1940, failed because of technological problems. In the US, reports about the sPzB 41 inspired a series of experiments with 28/20 barrels and taper bore adaptors for the 37 mm Gun M3; the work started in September 1941 and continued throughout the war, with no practical success.

The sPzB 41 combined good anti-armor performance at short range (for example, at least once a shot penetrated the lower front plate of the heavy IS-1) and a high rate of fire with small, lightweight (for anti-tank gun), dismantleable construction. However, it also had several shortcomings, such as:

The barrel was hard to manufacture and had a short service life (about 500 rounds)

It had a very weak fragmentation shell

Its use of tungsten for armor-piercing shells

Its short effective range

Its relatively weak behind armor effect

Some authors that criticize the sPzB 41 concentrate mainly on the short service life of its barrel. However, its chance of survival after 500 short-range shots was slim anyway. It should also be noted that high-velocity guns with normal barrel construction also had a short service life, e.g. for the Soviet 57 mm ZiS-2 it was about 1,000 shots. In the end, the factor that brought production of the sPzB 41 to a halt was the shortage of tungsten.

There were two shell types for the sPzB 41: the armor-piercing 2.8 cm Pzgr.41 and the fragmentation 2.8 cm Sprg.41.

The Pzgr.41 had a tungsten carbide core, a softer steel casing and a magnesium alloy ballistic cap. The core was 40 mm long and 10.9 mm in diameter and contained about 9.1% of tungsten.

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3.7cm PaK 36

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3.7cm PaK 36, northern France, 1944.

The PaK 36 (Panzerabwehrkanone 36) is a 3.7 cm caliber German anti-tank gun used during the Second World War. It was the main anti-tank weapon of Wehrmacht Panzerjäger units until 1942. Developed by Rheinmetall in 1933, it was first issued to the German Army in 1936, with 9,120 being available by the beginning of the war in September 1939 and a further 5,339 produced during the war. As the predominant anti-tank gun design in the world during the late 1930s, demand was high for the PaK 36, with another 6,000 examples produced for export and the design being copied by the Soviet Union as the 45 mm anti-tank gun M1932 (19-K) and by other nations such as Japan.

It first saw service during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, where it performed well against the light tanks of the conflict. It was first used during the Second World War against Poland in 1939 and had little difficulty with any of the Polish tanks. The Battle of France in 1940 revealed its inadequate penetration capability against French and British heavy tanks, receiving the derisive door-knocker nickname from its crews, but it sufficed to defeat the bulk of the Allied armor in the campaign. The invasion of the Soviet Union brought the PaK 36 face to face with large numbers of T-34 and KV-1 tanks, which were invulnerable to its fire. However, 91% of the Soviet tank park in 1941 consisted of obsolete types that lacked sufficient armor to deal with the gun, and the PaK 36 knocked out thousands of such designs.

The PaK 36 was replaced from late 1940 onward by the 5 cm PaK 38 anti-tank gun and from November 1941 by the 7.5 cm PaK 40. This process was accelerated by the engagements with the modern Soviet tanks, and PaK 36 production ceased entirely in early 1942. The introduction in 1943 of the Stielgranate 41 shaped charge gave it the ability to punch through the armor of any Allied tank, but the ammunition’s short range made the PaK 36 crews vulnerable to enemy fire and could not solve the gun’s basic obsolescence. German paratroopers employed the gun due to its low weight and consequent high maneuverability. The PaK 36 was also used by Axis allied, second-line, garrison and training units until the end of the war.

Design of a horse-drawn, 3.7 cm anti-tank gun (designated 3.7 cm PaK L/45) by Rheinmetall commenced in 1924 and the first guns were issued in 1928. By the early 1930s, it was apparent that horse-drawn artillery was obsolescent, and the gun was modified for motorized transport by substituting magnesium-alloy wheels and pneumatic tires for the original spoked wooden wheels, allowing it to be towed at highway speeds. Re-designated the 3.7 cm PaK 35/36, it began to replace the 3.7 cm PaK L/45 in 1934 and first appeared in combat in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. It formed the basis for many other nations’ anti-tank guns during the first years of World War II. The KwK 36 L/45 was the same gun, but used as the main armament on several tanks, most notably the early models of the Panzer III. The Soviets copied the PaK 36 carriage design for their 45 mm M1937 AT gun.

During the May 1940 Western Campaign, the PaK 36, being a relatively small-caliber weapon, was found to be inadequate against heavy Allied tanks like the British Mk II Matilda and the French Char B1 and Somua S35. Still, the gun was effective against the most common light tanks of the era, such as the French R35, whereas the Char Bs and Matildas represented but a small fraction of the total number of armored vehicles during the Battle of France.

In June 1941, Soviet tank forces consisted of 10,661 T-26, 2,987 T-37/T-38/T-40/T-50s, 59 T-35, 442 T-28, 7,659 BT, 957 T-34, and 530 KVs for a combined total of approximately 23,295 tanks. Thus, during the initial phases of Operation Barbarossa, the PaK 36 could still penetrate the armor of the majority of Soviet AFVs at ranges up to 1000 m from the front, with the notable exception of the T-28s and T-35s, which it could penetrate only at under 100 m; the PaK 36 could not penetrate the relatively thick armor of the T-34s and KV-1s. By late 1941, the widespread introduction of the T-34 on the Eastern Front made the PaK 36 obsolete, considering its poor performance against it. This led to the PaK 36 being nicknamed Heeresanklopfgerät (literally army door-knocking device) by German anti-tank crews for its inability to affect the T-34

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