The 3.7” Anti-aircraft Gun in Canadian Service
by Doug Knight.
Canada’s Weapons of War Series, WOW033
A5 size softback, 24 pages
Review by Peter Brown
Defending against a bomber aircraft flying at high speed and high altitude was not easy even in the 1940s. The main British weapon for this purpose used throughout WW2 was a 3.7” weapon. In its day this was as good as anything anyone else had and was steadily improved to keep pace with new technology. Canada adopted the 3.7” and built almost 3,500 of them along with over six million rounds of ammunition. Canadian guns were basically similar to British-built ones with various improvements introduced as these were developed such as “remote control” and automatic shell loading.
Some remained in Canada, initially to defend against a threat was seen as coming across the Atlantic – possibly even by airship! – but following Japan’s entry into the war guns were moved to protect areas on the Pacific coast. Despite building many guns only one Heavy Anti-aircraft Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery was sent overseas. This served in the United Kingdom as part of the British air defences, it had prepared its guns and vehicles to move overseas after D Day but while waiting to cross to France its men manned British guns with some success against the V-1 flying bombs. After moving to Europe they fired mostly against ground targets as there was little demand for them in their main role.
By the war’s end new jet-powered aircraft had left the 3.7” outclassed and they were replaced by more modern American designs, although they were not finally taken out of service until well into the 1950s with remaining guns transferred to European NATO countries.
The author gives us as detailed an account as possible for the size of the book with a readable account of the guns, their related equipment and an insight into the science of anti-aircraft gunnery in what was to be its heyday and swan-song. Anti-aircraft guns of this era required various sighting equipment, these are described with details of a typical fixed AA installation. Also included is the one-off self-propelled gun using a much-modified Ram tank chassis which was not a great success as the account of its trial tell. Guns, crews and installations are shown in contemporary black and white photos with 1:35th plans showing a typical mobile gun in “in action” mode in three views with a side view of it set up for travelling.
Thanks to Clive Law at Service Publications for the review book.