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Since the advent of the Germans heavy armored British military immediately started thinking about creating a powerful tool to combat with it. In mid-1942 went into production 17-pound (76.2-mm) gun QF-17 with high armor penetration. At the same time there was an idea to create a tank destroyer crawler using this artillery system.

British “tachanka”

Of all the tanks, available at that time at the disposal of the British adequate carrying capacity had only infantry “Valentine.” And it was decided to use by setting the QF-17 in non-rotating cutting. The first versions of self-propelled guns had a traditional layout, but because of the long gun barrel rendered far forward, strongly shifted center of gravity of the car and were overwhelmed by the front rollers. Then the gun barrel ago launched, thereby evenly distribute the load on the chassis. Along the way, and decreased the length of the car, because now the barrel was placed over the engine compartment and only protrudes slightly beyond the edges of the body.

The downside of such a scheme was of inconvenience: the driver was looking in one direction, and the instrument – to another. This made it difficult to maneuver in battle. In addition, due to the small size of the tank fighting compartment got very close. The gun is for this reason could be rotated only by a small angle, which required frequent resetting the body when firing at moving targets.

The most critical flaw bolt guns during the rollback took over the seat of the driver, at the level of his shoulders. The driver should have been, if not want to lose his head, before shooting to leave his place, and often does, and get out of the car as well as a place in the cockpit was very small. It is easy to imagine how this is compounded by the difficulties described above.

The machine is called «Self Propelled 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I» («self-propelled 17-pounder gun on the chassis of” Valentine “model I»), but more known by the nickname «Archer» («Archer”).

To the delight of the gunners

Production of self-propelled guns began in mid-1943, but the troops she came much later – in October 1944, in the midst of the fighting on the Western Front. The machine came into service artillery units of the British Army. Apply the “Archer” in the Canadian Army.

It is unknown how the tankers would react to such an exotic car layout, but the gunners were “Archer” very satisfied. Which is not surprising: even with all the inconveniences “Archer” provides much better mobility and security-in tools to calculate than the towed version QF-17, which the British protivotankisty used before. It is known that they are often preferred to “Archer” machines even more progressive design – for example, ACS Achilles. Perhaps the reason for this was much less visible “Archer.”

Actually, it is the small size and low silhouette of the car identified the most common tactics of its use against tanks – fire from ambush, with pre-prepared positions. “Archer” takes place, leads to the most convenient location for the fire sector, possibly disguised and come near the German tanks at a distance of aimed fire. After that, the calculation of “Archer” did a few shots with a minimum interval, and the car was retreating, leaving the shelter or to a different position, also prepared in advance. This tactic allowed significantly offset the limited angles traverse gun, and the location of the driver on the opposite side of the barrel was even helpful: “Archer” could retreat to a new position with maximum speed and do not waste time reversal.

Universal Soldier
The commander of the “Archer”, having received information about the whereabouts of the enemy on the radio from reconnaissance aircraft over the battlefield, shot right through the building. The projectile struck the house right through and hit the “Tiger” in the side, killing him on the spot

High penetration gun QF-17 is not just rescued the crew of “Archers”. She could successfully hit the enemy almost any armor at all distances aimed fire. But it’s not only that. For example, a known case where the calculation of “Archer” opened fire on the tank “Tiger”, but the first shot went wide, and at the time when the British were ready to make a second, “Tiger” managed to hide behind the building. However, the commander of the “Archer”, having received information about the whereabouts of the enemy on the radio from the spy plane, shot right through the building. The projectile struck the house right through and hit the “Tiger” in the side, killing him on the spot.

In addition to fighting with tanks, used “Archers” and to support the infantry – the destruction of field fortifications, machine-gun nests and other such obstacles. This usually used high-explosive shells with reduced muzzle velocity, which allowed to shoot at the hinged trajectory from the closed position, not substituting for very little return fire armored body of the machine.

“Archers” were used in Western Europe and Italy, were in service until the end of the war. After winning some time continued to serve in the armed forces of Great Britain: it is known, for example, that in the British Army on the Rhine they were registered in the state until the mid fifties. A certain amount of “Archers” was referred to the armed forces of Egypt, where they participated in a number of local conflicts – particularly in the Suez crisis 1956-57.

The rapid development of armored vehicles after World War II made the once formidable gun QF -17 very mediocre, thus depriving the “Archer” its main trump card in the form of an exclusive armor penetration. This led to an interesting machine that quickly left the scene.

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Lyricist – Alexander Grebnev

Alexander Grebnev – editor, translator, essayist, author of articles for magazines and online resources . Participated in the localization of computer games, mostly military and historical themes. At the moment – a historical consultant, employee archival group Wargaming.

Sources:

  • Chris Henry, “British Anti-tank Artillery 1939-45” (New Vanguard, Osprey Publishing, 2004)
  • Peter Chamberlain, Chris Alice, “British and American tanks of the Second World War” (AST, Astrel, 2003)

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