Ordnance QF25 / QF17 pdr Gun
Howitzer & AT-Gun with Limber & Crew
The Ordnance QF 25-pounder, or more simply 25-pounder or 25-pdr, was the major British field gun and howitzer during the Second World War, possessing a 3.45-inch (87.6 mm) calibre. It was introduced into service just before the war started, combining both high-angle and direct-fire abilities, a relatively high rate of fire, and a reasonably lethal shell in a highly mobile piece. It remained the British Army’s primary artillery field piece well into the 1960s, with smaller numbers serving in training units until the 1980s. Many Commonwealth countries used theirs in active or reserve service until about the 1970s and ammunition for the weapon is currently being produced by Pakistan Ordnance Factories. Initial production was slow, but by 1945 over 13,000 units had been manufactured. The 25-pounder was probably the most outstanding field artillery piece used by British and Commonwealth forces in the Second World War, being durable, easy to operate and versatile.
The 25-pounder fired “separate” or two-part ammunition – the projectile was loaded separately from the propelling charge in its (usually brass) cartridge case with its integral primer. Typically for a quick-firing gun, the cartridge case provided obturation.
There were many marks of cartridge, mostly differentiated by propellant type. Double-base propellant (nitrocellulose/nitroglycerine) was the UK standard but one mark used US single-base (nitrocellulose only). However, triple-base nitrocellulose/nitroglycerine/picrite was used throughout the war and eventually replaced all others.
The 25-pounder main ammunition was the high-explosive (HE) streamlined shell with a 5/10 CRH ogive and boat tail. The explosive filling varied between 450-900g of TNT (854-1708 kilojoules of explosive energy). It was also provided with base ejection smoke (white and coloured), star shells, and chemical shells. Incendiary and coloured flare shells were developed but not introduced into service, and smoke shells were sometimes reloaded with propaganda leaflets or metal foil “window”. The UK did not develop a WP smoke shell for the 25-pounder.
For anti-tank use, the 25-pounder was also supplied with a limited amount of 20 pounds (9.1 kg) solid armour-piercing (AP) shot, later replaced with a more potent version with a ballistic cap (APBC). The AP shot was fired with maximum charge, charge No. 3, super, or super with Super increment depending on the ordnance mark, as muzzle velocity was critical in direct fire for penetration and a flat trajectory.
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 17-pounder (or just 17-pdr) was a 76.2 mm (3 inch) gun developed by the British during World War II. It was used as an anti-tank gun on its own carriage, as well as equipping a number of British tanks.
Before the QF 6-pounder had entered service, the British predicted that it would soon be inadequate given the increasing armour of German tanks. In late 1940 the design of a replacement began, and was largely completed by the end of 1941. A prototype production line was set up in spring 1942, and with the appearance of Tiger I tanks in early 1943 in the North African Campaign, the first 100 prototype 17-pounder anti-tank guns were quickly sent to help counter this new threat. So great was the rush that they were sent before proper carriages had been developed, and the guns had to be mounted in the carriages of 25-pounder gun-howitzers. These early weapons were known as 17/25-pounders and given the codename “Pheasant”. They first saw action in February 1943.