Home Forums WWII Manhandling heavy weapons

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  • #73754
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    What do we think is the largest calibre gun that can be manhandled to move position rather than change tube direction? Obviously it’s a bit terrain dependant, easier on roads than ploughed fields but generally speaking 2pdr, 25mm, 57mm, 75mm infantry guns & mountain guns definitely OK but what about 75mm field guns, 15cm infantry guns, 18pdr & 25pdr? There’s often a manhandling speed for AT guns stated in rules but what’s the cut off point?

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Les Hammond.

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
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    #73760
    Gaz045
    Participant

    As said, it depends on the terrain and the wheels that are fitted. A full crew (bigger gun/more crew) should be used to man handling their piece, anything that relies on a single carriage axle should be manageable by hand………

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    #73783
    MartinR
    Participant

    25pdrs were “manhandled” in Burma by taking them to bits. You can shift anything by hand if you break it up small enough. Having said that, I’d go with around 75mm as the practical limit for manhandling in a sensible amount of game time.

    I’ve shifted a Pak 36, two types of LeIG (spoke and pneumatic wheels) and a Pak 40 over various types of terrain and the 40 is at the limit of practicability. Certainly if you are off road.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #73800
    Etranger
    Participant

    How big do you want to go? It was after all common practice for guncrews to do the final placement of their piece manually. How long that takes is a function of size of gun, size of crew and the nature of the terrain.

    37mm ATG?

    2 pounder?

    75mm LeIG.

    88mm?

    155mm?


    Nebelwerfer?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Etranger.
    #73808
    willz
    Participant

    Les I think it all depends on what you want to get out of a game, if for example you were playing a game where a US paratroop unit was attacking a German 105mm prepared position.  For the Germans to be able to manhandle their 105mm guns off the table or into better firing positions whilst under attack, would not be gamesmanship and an unlikely event to occur.

    How long that takes is a function of size of gun, size of crew and the nature of the terrain and what you are trying to achieve in your wargame.   75mm field guns, 15cm infantry guns, 18pdr & 25pdr? There’s often a manhandling speed for AT guns stated in rules, when I am gaming WW2 these heavy wheel base guns an normally static throughout the game.  If I require to move them, that’s why they have prime movers.  Sometimes these heavy weapons come onto the table at the start and are moved into a firing position, normally 2 – 3 moves by that time the FOO is in position.

    I want my heavy weapons firing, not moving.

     

    #73834
    Mike Headden
    Participant

    The Model 1931 (B-4) 203mm Self-Propelled Heavy Howitzer (aka Stalin’s Sledgehammer) could move without the aid of a tow, though I don’t think that it counts as “manhandled” exactly. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Mike Headden.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #73879
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Of course the calibre of the weapon is entirely irrelevant to the difficulty of manhandling, it’s the weight of the carriage that matters.

    With drag-ropes and enough gun-bunnies, you can haul 5.5s about the place, but it is not a tactical operation. On the wargames table, in or close to contact, I should for the sake of a hard and fast rule say it is not reasonable to manhandle pieces weighing more than a tonne. Having looked at a bunch of typical carriage weights, I’d say weapons under half a tonne can be manhandled pretty smartly, and heavier weapons up to a tonne more slowly. This pretty much precludes all field artillery of 75mm and over, and I think this is right; I have never heard of field guns being manhandled into new tactical positions in action in WW2. It also disqualifies anti-tank guns such as the 6-pdr and 57mm ZiS-2, which I think is also OK; the time I recall reading about 6-pdrs being manhandled forward they were dismantled to do so.
    In the “hefty but mobile” category come weapons such as the Soviet 76mm infantry gun (either model) or 45mm Anti-tank gun (either model), the 7.5cm GebG 36, the 5cm PaK 38, 4.2cm lePaK 41, 2-pdr, 3.7-in infantry howitzer, 75mm M3 pack howitzer (such as Roy Farran’s “Molto Stanco”), the Italian Canone da 65/13, and the Japanese Type 1 47mm ATk gun, and Type 41 or 94 75mm mountain gun.
    In the “mobile” category come tiny anti-tank guns, such as the 3.7cm PaK 36, 2.8cm sPzB41, Bofors 37mm, US 37mm M6, 25mm Hotchkiss, Canone da 47/32 or Type 94 37mm ATk gun; infantry guns such as the 7.5cm leIG 18, 37mm TRP, 37mm type 11, or 70mm type 92; and recoilless or rocket-firing weapons such as the 7.5cm or 10.5cm LG40, 8.8cm RaketenWerfer 43, and 57mm M18 or 75mm M20 Kromuskit.
    This categorisation seems to me to give point to the specialist infantry, mountain, or recoilless guns, designed for light weight and portability, which would be rather lost if common or garden 75mm field guns could bimble around freely.

    All the best,

    John.

    #74040
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    How big do you want to go? It was after all common practice for guncrews to do the final placement of their piece manually. How long that takes is a function of size of gun, size of crew and the nature of the terrain. 37mm ATG? 2 pounder? 75mm LeIG. 88mm? 155mm? Nebelwerfer?

     

    Sorry for the delay in replying. All very interesting ideas, pretty what I weas thinking.

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
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    #74390
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Looking at Tim’s examples, I think I would be entirely happy to stretch “half a tonne” and “one tonne” to “600 Kg” and “one and a quarter tonnes”. This would get the ZiS-2 and ZiS-3 in, but still just exclude most WW1 field artillery pieces. Having said I had not read accounts of 6-pdrs being manhandled in action, I have just found an account of a 6-pdr being manhandled over nine miles of difficult country — but this, obviously, is an admin move, well out of contact. The wonderfully flexible time scale of “Crossfire” makes such a distinction perhaps less clear than it is in conventional games where one has perhaps a clearer idea of time and distance, and moves represent only a minute or two.

    I also started thinking about the weights of everyday objects people might be used to handling, partly sparked by the memory of a pal of mine (ex London Scottish) who was sacked from Tesco’s following the melting of a quarter of a tonne of ice-cream that fell off a pallet truck just as tea-break sounded. Looking at some on-line ads for pallet trucks, some of these things are listed as capable of moving 3 tonnes (which I’m certain we never did), which would be about a 17-pounder. Obviously, that’s only ever going to work with someone who knows what he’s doing, on a nice flat surface and with very good brakes.

    In discussion with my niece the other week, who has just got her first car, I learned that the kerb weight of my Honda Civic is 1.125 tonnes. That is easy enough to push that even a fat old clown like me will not bother starting the engine if it only needs moving a couple of metres — again, it’s on the flat, and the brakes work. I would certainly want a few more people pushing to move it uphill.

    Elsewhere, I found that the German IK8 infantry cart had a tare weight of 81.5 Kg, and a payload of 350 Kg. That seems more like something you might take cross-country.

    Finally, the madmen who do field gun racing (the reason the title “field gunner” excites admiration in the Navy, rather than inviting the comment “another bloody gunner” as in the Army) play their sport with the OQF 12-pdr 8 cwt. The RAN’s naval history site gives the following weights:

    Weight of gun 7cwt 3 qtr 21 lb
    Weight complete, 6 cwt 1 qtr
    Weight, gun and limber (packed), 27 cwt

    Translating these into human-understandable units, that’s
    889 lbs 403.6 Kg for the barrel
    700 lbs 317.8 Kg for the carriage
    1589 lbs 721.4 Kg for the pair
    3024 lbs 1372.9 Kg for gun and full limber

    While the sport is based on an actual operation in the relief of Ladysmith, it was, again, an admin move out of contact, and the guns were transported in bits.

    Note, too, the very substantial contribution to total load of limber and ammunition. While looking at glider loads recently, it struck me that you needed about twice as many gliders as you would think just from the weight of a support weapon to land it, because of the need to transport its ammunition supply as well. This is another reason I do not think field guns should be permitted to move tactically in this way — they need a substantial and heavy ammunition supply with them to be useful. There’s also the point that they should have been surveyed onto the grid, be sighted up on their reference stakes, and, in the case of the 25-pounder, have the firing platform down — you aren’t going to move that lot unless you are coming out of action. Infantry guns or anti-tank guns shooting in direct fire at close range can make do with many fewer rounds, and don’t do any of the field artilery’s hard maths, so can move a bit more freely. With all this in mind, I’d be tempted to make manhandling dependent on role as much as anything, and probably say that a ZiS-3 in an IPTAP can be manhandled in action, but the same gun in a field battery cannot.

    Looking at what other rules do, there seems to be little consensus. The WRG, perhaps relying on the common sense of the players, do not actually prohibit manhandling even the heaviest of heavy weapons. Boardgames of the Panzerblitz family, on the other hand, give even such tiny pieces as the PaK 36, leIG 18 or Soviet 45mm a movement allowance of zero.

    All the best,

    John.

    #74392
    Etranger
    Participant

    That naval 12 pounder was quite a small gun, probably not as big as the 13 pounder used by the Kings Troop.

    In Panzerblitz/Panzer Leader, the counter represented a troop, not individual guns, which may make a difference to tactical mobility.

     

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Etranger.
    #74394
    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    In Italy in 1944, I believe the Maori Battalion tried and failed to manhandle their 6-pounders into action at Orsogna. Mind you they did have to cross the Moro River and then haul them up a steep muddy hillside in December. They were dragged up next day by bulldozers.

    http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-20Ba-c14.html

    Don’t know how much one anecdote helps. I just mention it because John, you mentioned you hadn’t read of 6-pdrs being manhandled in action.

    Chris

    Bloody Big BATTLES!

    https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/info

     

    #74400
    Etranger
    Participant

    Here are a few more examples of manhandled guns. Posted more as they’re interesting photos than to prove any point! All c/o ‘internet’.


    18 pounder, France.


    18 pounder again, this time at Gallipoli.


    LeIG

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Etranger.
    #74403
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    Stacks more evidence! Seems like a commonsense ruling will work.

    Liking the unusual identifier on that Kubelwagen, by the way.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Les Hammond.

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/386297688467965/

    #74405
    Etranger
    Participant

    As for Etranger’s picture of the German light 75mm with the crew hooked up like horses on ropes, the combat weight of this gun was 400 kg. I don’t know if that’s with wooden or pneumatic wheels, but it’s not a huge leap from the Pak 36’s 360 kg….

    IIRC the harnesses were standard issue, at least in WWI, & used to give the storm troops accompanying light artillery ‘on call’.The first of the two pictures of the LeIG that you show has several crew members wearing the harness. (dare one mention bricoles?).

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Etranger.
    #74423
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Speaking as someone, who in their dim and distant past, had occasion to move heavy non-motorised wheeled plant around muddy sites, here’s an experiment for you desk jockeys (That includes me too now, thank gods).

    Hire a compressor**, round up a bunch of mates, tow the compressor to a local  field, preferably after a week of rain. Try dragging it around. Now pretend some bastard’s trying to kill you while you’re doing it. Get back to me 🙂

     

    **This little beauty weighs 445kg, even more fuelled up. Other weights are available. https://www.aplant.com/products/002100-single-tool-compressor

     

     

     

    "I'm not signing that"

    #74443
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Yeah but you’re an ex-tankie Tim, you’re used to dragging Leos with thrown tracks around muddy fields with your teeth.

    People who haven’t might be surprised at how easy it ain’t. 🙂

    Given the time/move distance scale in most rules, I reckon any manhandling of any wheeled guns is a bit optimistic. Might work in skirmish games, but you’d still need to break it down incrementally – as you know a gun’s fighting weight isn’t necessarily it’s traveling weight.

    As it goes my late father crewed a 25pdr. I’d love to have heard his take on this.

     

     

    "I'm not signing that"

    #74447
    Etranger
    Participant

    Ah yes they do have straps, I did not notice that, thanks for pointing it out. So that’s what bricoles were. I had no idea, I always thought the napoleonic sorts were arguing over some kind collar or sleeve flap or something. Cool beans.

    There may be a more exact definition but bricoles were basically drag ropes/harnesses for the gunners to manhandle their guns. Not sure why it’s such a controversial subject TBH (other than the personalities involved in discussing the subject! )

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Etranger.
    #74462
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Not Connard Sage might be being a bit hard on desk jockeys. I’m sure some of them ride point-to-points, and can easily get their desks over hurdles and water obstacles. Or, if not a desk, at least an office chair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqv_Sr7jfOI

    Of course we all understand the wisdom of the late, great Terry Pratchett in preferring indoor work with no heavy lifting, but Phil Barker wrote a very interesting piece for the Nugget not long ago about how recent generations of wargamers have very little experience of what life was like, within living memory, when travel was mostly on foot, and work was mostly outdoors, and mostly done by muscle power (human or animal). A pal of mine at Fort Hatstand some years ago managed to get some official time to set up an indoor scale range populated with 1/72nd scale vehicles, so that trainee analysts from “the generation that stopped going outdoors” could get an appreciation of just how tiny even a 70-tonne MBT looks at a (scale) range of a thousand metres or so.

    Spending any time outdoors, in the UK at least, also builds familiarity with two more inconvenient aspects of physical reality that are usually omitted from wargames rules, weather, and mud. In the good old days of the cold war, when we still had a Military Engineering Experimental Establishment (MEXE), I recall seeing — I think in the university library at Exeter — a copy of the MEXE soil survey for NW Europe. Essentially, this was an extensive survey aimed at providing the equivalent of Jane’s Book of All the World’s Fighting Mud. This mattered when the Army still contained lots of people who remembered the strange gruel-like consistency of the Normandy mud, which dried to a fine powdery dust. More recently they would also have recalled the embarrassment of Saladin-equipped medium recce regiments in BAOR having to ask the Centurion regiments of their armoured division to do route recce for them, as the properties of soggy Soltau mud meant that wheeled vehicles had an alarming tendency to tear the top layer of soil off a wet slope and fall off it, whereas a tracked vehicle could dig in and get on. The trials that decided CVRT(T) should be (T) and not (W) were called Operation Mudlark, quite appropriately.

    So, a reasonably complete ruling on how fast guns can be manhandled should include not only the weight of the beast, and whether it is designed for human traction, but the ground conditions, the slope, and perhaps the extent to which the gunners are recruited from a rural population retaining their traditional fondness for root vegetables.

    Some design features make manhandling very awkward. Like Not Connard Sage, I am a son of a Gunner, and my father also played with 25-pounders in his training battery before going on to be a surveyor. He reckoned his detachment could get the gun onto the platform and ready to fire in 30 seconds from the Quad’s wheels stopping, which I’m sure is substantially less than the offical time to emplace. The idea of the firing platform — apart from acting as a spade — was to give 360 degrees of traverse for anti-tank work, rather than having to rely on the top traverse alone. However it must have made it a bugger to move the thing a short distance, as you’d have to get the gun off the platform and stow the platform (I can’t find a weight for the firing platform anywhere, but it doesn’t look light). Similarly, the 2-pdr — a fine example of the gun-founder’s art, but a pretty hefty gun for its calibre — was taken off its wheels and its legs splayed to give a 360-degree traverse. I cannot find again a video from the Australian War Memorial that shows this process being conducted, but it looks a royal PITA (as the Aussies called the PIAT, incidentally). No wonder British anti-tank gunners went for portees.

    A film I found instead shows a bunch of Aussie gunners in Singapore in the 60s having a “gun gymkhana” with their Pack Howitzers. Bear in mind that the Oto-Melara 105mm is about 300 Kg lighter than the 25-pdr:

    I should perhaps have mentioned that the categorisations I offered earlier were partly motivated by a desire to have the (post-war) members of the BAT family in different categories. The original BAT was bitterly complained about for its weight, and so the Mobat was designed to make it more mobile. More mobile yet was the Wombat. I cannot find a weight for the original BAT, but Mobat seems to be 770 Kg, and Wombat 308 Kg, putting the latter into the “handy” class. But these things are relative; a pal of mine who is a retired Colonel in the Fusiliers spent some time early in his career commanding a Wombat platoon. During one of our (frequent, protracted) discussions over coffee, he told me that the manual said that the Wombat could easily be manhandled cross-country by its detachment. This, he considered, was a lie to rank with “the cheque is in the post”.

    I also understand that the PaK 40 — otherwise a very fine anti-tank gun — was harshly criticised when so many had to be abandoned in retreat once the Russian “General Mud” had made an appearance.

    Which wargames rules have the best mud rules, I wonder?

    As Donald Swan used to sing:

    Грязь, грязь, чудная грязь,
    Лучшее средство как кожная мазь!
    Так возьми ж свою даму
    И поведи её в яму
    И там мы окунёмся в чудную грязь!

    All the best,

    John.

    #74468
    Etranger
    Participant

    For you John, hauling a ‘jungle’ 25 pounder in New Guinea. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C10449

    The firing platform for the 25 pounder was actually hinged to the carraige, so it wasn’t that ‘hard’ to get the gun on and off it, although I’m sure it was still a task in the mud. Earlier carriages didn’t have that facility, so you’ll see pictures with the platform placed on top of the limber.

     

    18 pounder

    18/5 pounder (Mk V with split trail)


    Standard 25 pounder.

    25 pounder training video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDXEhquhcaw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfwwEdR7eLo

    A demonstration of unlimbering & limbering, including deploying the platform https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSR13cgpnY8

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Etranger.
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