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recoilless rifle in WWII ?

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by uksubs, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. uksubs

    uksubs Member

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    Till reading a book about German paratrooper this year I did not know that it was used by the German & American paratroopers in WW II:eek:

    The first recoilless rifle to enter service in Germany was the 7,5 cm Leicht Geschütz 40 ("light gun" '40), a simple 75 mm smoothbore recoilless gun developed to give German airborne troops some useful artillery and anti-tank support that could be parachuted into battle. The 75 was found to be so useful during the invasion of Crete that a larger 105 mm version was developed on the same basic pattern. Interestingly both of these weapons were loosely copied by the US Army, reversing the flow of technology that had occurred when the Germans copied the Bazooka. The US did have a development program and it is not clear to what extent the design was copied, as there were in fact differences. The Japanese had also developed a portable recoilless anti-tank rifle which they had reserved for the defense of anticipated invasion of the mainland. As it was, however, these weapons remained fairly rare during the war though the US versions of the 75 started becoming increasingly common in 1945.
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    U.S. 57mm Recoilless Rifle

    [​IMG] M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle
    Range = 4300yds
    Overall weapon length was approx. 60in.
    Weight = 45lbs Background & Operation
    The first recoilless gun was developed during WWI by Commander Davis of the US Navy. It consisted of two gun barrels pointing in opposite directions connected to a common chamber. One barrel was loaded with the projectile, the other with an equal mass of small lead shot encased in grease. The propellant cartridge was placed in the central chamber and when fired the projectile and the "countershot" shot out both ends at equal velocities, leaving the gun static with no imparted recoil. The lead shot and grease quickly dispersed and lost energy, while the service projectile proceeded on to the target. This concept was developed for use in aircraft armament for attacking submarines but never used in combat.

    The concept continued to be explored and soon it was realized the countershot could be eliminated, substituting the gas from the propellant as long as it was of sufficient speed and mass.

    The attraction of a recoilless weapon is that a much lighter light artillery piece of a given caliber can be created, as it eliminates the need for the massive recoil mechanisms required for conventional artillery. In the case of the 57mm anti-tank gun this was a huge difference. Recoilless weapons found a perfect application with airborne infantry.

    The major drawback is these weapons use a huge amount of propellant, four-fifths of the charge is exhausted from the jet. The back blast is also a significant hazard as well as a bright illuminating source, which gives away the position of the gun.

    The concept was developed in various forms by the Germans, British and Americans.


    [​IMG] 57mm Recoilless H.E. Round
    The M18 was provided with two types of ammunition, High Explosive (shown here), and a HEAT round.
    Both used an interesting pre-grooved rifling design. This allowed the projectile to accelerate faster as no extra force is required to engage a solid driving band. Proper head space for the cartridge is determined by three raised protrusions on the casing right in front of the perforations in the cartridge.
    [​IMG]
    The characteristic perforated cartridge, allowed the propellant gas to vent out a specially designed breech mechanism.

    The U.S. M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle saw service late in WWII and in to the Korean War. It was superseded by a 75mm gun.
    Larger recoilless weapons continue to be used today.


    U.S. 57mm Recoiless Rifle, WWII - Inert-Ord.net
     
  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

    Recoilless rifles are capable of firing artillery-type shells at velocities, and with an accuracy, comparable to those of standard guns, but almost entirely without recoil. This RCLR is a breech-loaded, singleshot, man-portable, crew-served weapon. It can be used in both antitank and antipersonnel roles. It can be fired it from the ground, using the bipod or the monopod, or from the shoulder. The most stable firing position is the prone position.
    The 57mm was used about like a bazooka. Although much heavier than the M9 2.36-inch bazooka, it could nonetheless be fired from the shoulder. Much more powerful than the M9, and with significantly greater range, it was particularly effective early in the Korean War when the 3.5-inch bazooka was unavailable. Had the 57mm teams been issued sufficient HEAT projectiles, they would have had the capability to stop a T-34 tank. Unfortunately, the first troops in the field had neither 3.5-inch bazookas, nor adequate supplies of HEAT projectiles for the 57mm recoilless rifles!

    M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle

    Operation Varsity, the Allied airborne crossing of the Rhine in March 1945, saw the first combat use of the 'recoilless rifle'; both the M18 57mm and M20 75mm by the 17th AB Division.
     
  4. uksubs

    uksubs Member

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    Great intell mate ;)
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]
    Soldier firing a 57mm M18A1 recoilless rifle from the shoulder. 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, 5 September 1951.
     
  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    The first recoilless gun was developed by Commander Cleland Davis of the US Navy, just prior to the First World War. His design connected two guns back to back, with the backwards-facing gun loaded with lead balls and grease of the same weight as the shell in the other gun. His idea was used experimentally by the British as an anti-Zeppelin and anti-submarine weapon mounted on an Handley Page O/100 bomber and intended to be installed on other aircraft. During the Second World War the Swedish company Bofors Carl Gustaf developed a small 20 mm device, the 20 mm m/42; the British expressed their interest in it, but by that point anti-tank rifles were already out of date.
    In the Soviet Union development of recoilless weapons ("Dinamo-Reaktivnaya Pushka" (DRP), roughly "dynamic reaction cannon") began in 1923. In the 1930s many different types of weapons were built and tested with calibers ranging from 37 mm to 305 mm. Some of the smaller examples were tested in aircraft and through some limited production and service, but development was abandoned around 1938, possibly as a side effect of Great Purge. The best-known of these early recoilless rifles was the Model 1935 76 mm DRP designed by L.V. Kurchevski. A small number of these mounted on trucks saw combat in the Winter War. Two were captured by the Finns and tested; one example was given to the Germans in 1940.
    The first recoilless rifle to enter service in Germany was the 7,5 cm Leicht Geschütz 40 ("light gun" '40), a simple 75 mm smoothbore recoilless gun developed to give German airborne troops some useful artillery and anti-tank support that could be parachuted into battle. The 75 was found to be so useful during the invasion of Crete that a larger 105 mm version was developed on the same basic pattern. Interestingly both of these weapons were loosely copied by the US Army, reversing the flow of technology that had occurred when the Germans copied the Bazooka. The US did have a development program and it is not clear to what extent the design was copied, as there were in fact differences. The Japanese had also developed a portable recoilless anti-tank rifle which they had reserved for the defense of anticipated invasion of the mainland. As it was, however, these weapons remained fairly rare during the war though the US versions of the 75 started becoming increasingly common in 1945.
    Recoilless_rifle
     
  8. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [​IMG]

    Development of recoilless weapons by Rheinmetall began in 1937 in an effort to provide airborne troops with heavy support weapons that could be dropped by parachute. Both Krupp and Rheinmetall competed for production contracts in a competition that was won by the latter. Initially produced under the designation of LG 1, this was soon changed to LG 40 to match the current 'year of origin' naming system.

    Design Issues

    One characteristic common to all the German recoilless guns was that they used ordinary shells, albeit with different cartridge cases to cater to the unique issues involved in with the recoilless principles. This gun used the HE shells from the 7.5 cm Gebirgsgeschütz (Mountain Gun) 36 and the anti-tank shell of the 7.5 cm FK 16 nA (Field Cannon, New Model). This meant that its ammunition couldn't be optimized to benefit from the peculiar ballistic characteristics of recoilless weapons. On the other hand it saved considerable research time and effort and meant that existing production lines and stocks of shells could be utilized at a considerable savings in resources. Two problems became evident after the Leichtgeschütz (light gun) was fielded. The gas expelled through the venturi of the firing mechanism could cause fouling in the mechanism itself, but fixing this required a redesign of the entire breech and was deemed not worth disrupting the production line or rebuilding the existing guns. The second problem was more serious in that the mounting began to shake itself apart after about 300 rounds were fired. This was principally caused by the torque imparted to the mount when the shell engaged the rifling as well as by the erosion of the nozzles by the combustion gases. These could be countered by welding vanes inside the nozzles that were curved in a direction opposite to the rifling which would then counteract the torque exerted by the shell and minimizing the stress on the gun mount.

    Operational Use

    The LG 40 first saw use during the Battle of Crete where it apparently equipped 2. Batterie/Fallschirmjäger-Artillery-Abteilung (2nd Battery/Parachute Artillery Battalion)[1]. It saw widespread use by German parachute units, both Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS for the rest of the war. The 500th SS-Fallschirmjäger Batallion used 4 during its airdrop on Tito's headquarters at Drvar.

    The German Gebirgsjäger (mountain infantry) also appreciated its light weight and used a number of them during the battles in the Caucasus Mountains during the Summer and Fall of 1942.

    Leicht_Geschütz_40
     
  9. GPRegt

    GPRegt Member

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    Ten days before Varsity, Batteries B and C of the 17th Airborne's 155th Anti-Aircraft Bn each gave up one British six-pounder anti-tank gun to be replaced with a 75mm Recoilless Rifle. Corporal Eugene Howard, Battery C, and his crew were the recipients of the new weapon, which was to be jeep-mounted:

    The jeep was modified to carry the gun. The tripod mount was secured to the floor of the back section of the jeep. A cradle for the barrel was welded to the front bumper of the jeep. One of the advantages of the gun was that it could be fired from the jeep -- it could even be fired with the jeep moving.

    Eugene Howard supplied the above account for my book on Operation Varsity.

    Steve W.
     
  10. Ceraphix

    Ceraphix Member

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    So German recoilless rifles weren't used by regular Heer and Waffen-SS forces?
     
  11. uksubs

    uksubs Member

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  12. GPRegt

    GPRegt Member

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    Thank you for your kind words.

    Steve W.
     
  13. uksubs

    uksubs Member

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    Your welcome Steve
    After reading about British airborne using the US M22 Locust in your book I saw this today a Bovington [​IMG]& it small :eek:
     
  14. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I was thrown off by the mention of the 17th Airborne's 155th Anti-Aircraft Bn and the 6lb'er gun. I had forgotten it was a combination AA/AT Bn LOL.
     
  15. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    That appears to be so from what I have read so far. It was a lightwight weapon and in the German's thinking more appropriate for airborne and mountain forces.
     
  16. GPRegt

    GPRegt Member

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    Mods

    Can you move Post #13 to a separate thread (Locust Tank), please. I want to start a discussion on the unit markings of the pictured example.

    Thanks

    Steve W.
     
  17. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    For details and photos of the Carl Gustav 20mm rifle, see this article on my website: TRANSITIONAL ANTI-TANK RIFLE: THE CARL GUSTAV M/42

    The British inventor Dennis Burney produced several RCLs during WW2, but these were artillery pieces with calibres of up to 7.2 inches (183mm). These did not get into service, but the HESH shell he invented to go with them is still around.
     
  18. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Ah yes! The good 'ol Burney wall buster round!
     
  19. Tomahawk720

    Tomahawk720 Member

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    "Recoiless Rifles aren't"
    -Murphay's Laws of Combat
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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