Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The British disadvantages prior to Battleaxe

General Wavell reckoned that the British would start Battleaxe stronger than their enemies. Since early May, the British had recognized some shortcomings in their forces and equipment:
  1. British armoured cars (Rolls Royce 1924 pattern, Morris CS9, and Marmon-Herrington Mk. II) were weakly protected against air attack
  2. British armoured cars were out-gunned by their German opponents (the German 8-wheel SdKfz 231 had a 20mm gun, against the British 0.55in Boys Anti-Tank Rifle). Even the smaller, 4-wheel SdKfz 222 had a 20mm gun.
  3. The Inf. Mk.II Matilda, despite having heavy armour for the time, was too slow for mobile warfare, being designed more for trench warfare supporting infantry
  4. The Inf. Mk.II Matilda could be knocked out by the German 88mm FLAK 36 (and perhaps the FLAK 18) dual-purpose AA/AT gun. The 50mm PAK38, at close range, with a side shot, firing the "arrow shot" could penetrate the Matilda's armour, as well.
  5. The A13 Cru.Mk.IVA was faster than the German medium tanks (Pzkw III and IV), but was outgunned by the Pzkw III Ausf. F that had a 50mm L42 gun. The Pzkw IV only had a low velocity 75mm at this date, although it could fire a shaped charge. The A15 Crusader I (and here) was newly manufactured and was still unreliable. The British cruiser tanks all had the 40mm 2pdr gun, which had good penetration at close range (perhaps 84mm at a 100m), but at more normal battle ranges might often bounce off the German tanks, which had spaced, applique armour.
  1. Vol.II of the Official History
  2. George R. Bradford, Armour camouflage & markings North Africa 1940-1943, 1974.

No comments:

Amazon Ad