The 17-Pounder Anti-Tank Gun in Canadian Service
by Doug Knight.
Canada’s Weapons of War Series, WOW025
A5 size softback, 24 pages
Review by Peter Brown
As Germany fielded tanks with heavier armour, the British 2pdr and 6pdr anti-tank guns were outclassed in turn. Something more powerful was needed which appeared in the form of the 17pdr. This was introduced into production in the middle of 1942 and saw action from early 1943 until the end of WW2 where it proved able to take on all comers especially after receiving the new Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot round in August 1944.
During WW2 Canada used artillery including anti-tank guns of British design and many guns were built in Canada. However, unlike the 2pdr and 6pdr – already covered by the same author in earlier “In Canadian Service” books – the 17pdr was not built in Canada although large quantities of ammunition for them came from Canadian factories.
Use of these guns generally followed British practice, so the organisation of units as described here applies equally to British and other Commonwealth countries as well as those using the same system.
As well as the guns themselves, towing vehicles are covered. Various experiments were carried out before finalising on the Canadian Military Pattern Field Artillery Tractors which had been designed for the 25pdr for use with infantry divisions and American half-tracks in armoured divisions. One innovation was the use of turretless Ram tanks as tractors which increased mobility of this heavy gun off-road and in muddy conditions. Many 17pdrs were mounted on armoured vehicles, with the British Archer and American M10 re-armed with the 17pdr used from 1944 onwards. Tank units were also issued with Sherman Fireflies from mid-1944 onwards.
Post-war both towed and M10-mounted guns were retained for several years. Both went to Korea but the M10’s were not used in action and the towed guns proved to be too heavy for general use. By the end of the 1950s they were removed from service and most were scrapped.
All aspects of the 17pdr in Canadian use are covered here, including details of the various marks of gun, carriages, sights and organisation. Towed guns, tractors and mounted versions appear in a good selection of period black and white photos, those of guns in action will make good inspiration for modellers producing dioramas and set pieces.
First-hand accounts of the guns in action illustrate how effective they could be. There are a couple of small niggles with the text, such as only mentioning Sherman V-based Fireflies when many including the example used in the photo were on Sherman I’s and the use of “Achilles” for the 17pdr M10 but these apart this is a very useful source for the 17pdr both in Canadian hands and more generally given the lack of books on artillery. As such it is recommended.
Thanks to Clive Law at Service Publications for the review book.”