47 mm AT gun [PAG]
In 1936 the Dutch army concluded that modern warfare would require accurate counter-measures against enemy armour. Up to that point the obsolete 5,7 cm infantry guns [6-veld Krupp] - assigned to every infantry regiment - were the basic means of armour fighting. Also the standard 7,5 cm Krupp field artillery gun was provided with armour penetrating rounds. But the latter wouldn't be a first line weapon. Therefore dedicated AT guns had to be acquired.
Purchase and description
A number of types were tested, amongst which the German PAK 35/36 and the Austrian Böhler. The latter was chosen for its better price and the fact that it slightly outperformed the PAK 35. The first guns arrived in 1937 and up to May 1940 about 380 would follow, partially from license fabrication.
The Böhler was a very effective anti-tank gun with quite a punch. It could be deployed in a very expeditious manner. It was able to be applied on its wheel mounting or without. The wheel mounting could be taken off in a matter of seconds and the legs of the gun-carriage could be spread in such an angle that the gun was able to traverse in an angle of 36° to both sides without the necessity of displacement. The gun profile was extremely low, thus creating the minimum exposure to opposing forces.
The ammunition used was either a HE shell [against soft targets] or a solid AP shell. The AP grenade was able to penetrate 45-50 mm of armoured steel at 200 m, and 35 mm armoured steel at 500 m. In those days it was enough penetrating power to destroy any German tank or armoured car. The AP shell would penetrate the armour and the fragments would disperse in the interior of the object. The HE shell was fitted with a highly sensitive percussion-fuse that detonated on first contact. The ammo ration for each gun was 80 AP and 20 HE shells.
The weapon had a simple and quick operation and was able to fire up to 15 rounds a minute. The weapon platform on fixed mounting [without its wheel carriage] was so stable that the depth straddle [at 2,000 m] was less than 20 meter after three shots, and the latitude straddle was even neglectable.
The AT units were all equipped with modern traction. Since the gun was quite easy to handle [395 kg with armoured shield, 345 kg without], it was very easy to deploy it in the field. The armoured shield that had been designed for the gun was not very practical though. It had an extremely steep angle [45°], which - combined with the low profile of the gun - made the gun operation quite unpleasant. The guns would therefore hardly ever be seen with the armoured shield in place.
During the winter of 1940 the Dutch realised that they had too few AT weapons available. As such the new Commander-in-Chief Winkelman gave orders to concentrate all modern AT guns within the Fortress Holland. The outer defences would be equipped with the old and obsolete infantry guns of 5,7 cm [6-veld] or the even more obsolete 8,4 cm [8-staal] and a few of the already available Solothurn 2 cm AT rifles. These guns were only able to fire HE shells and outdated [ordinary steel] AP rounds that lacked true penetration power. As such both weapons were unfit to fight tanks of the types Pz.III en Pz.IV or any armoured vehicle at longer distance. Furthermore the slow operation, high profile and fixed mounting made these guns totally unsuitable for any dynamic warfare. Since the exchange of the Böhler AT guns was still in progress in May 1940, some were still dislocated at several points along the outer defences where German troops would appear. They would proof welcome devices!
The Böhler guns would proof most effective during the intensive fights at the Islands of Dordrecht and Rotterdam. The 9th Panzer Division lost about 25 tanks at Rotterdam and Dordrecht as well as an unknown number of armoured cars due to Dutch anti-tank guns. Amongst those German losses quite some Pz.III and Pz.IV medium tanks.
The experience with the Böhler guns was generally good to excellent. They proved very accurate and hard to hit by countering fire. Nevertheless the shortage of HE shells was felt at many locations where armour wouldn't appear and infantry had to be fought. Also the lacking explosive AP ammo was missed. Several actions against German tanks proved that sometimes three or four hits were necessary to kill a tank. The impact of the AP rounds on none-vital tank parts (or crew members) proved little. That was not a matter of lacking gun qualities but of poor ammo qualities.
The Böhler AT gun was also used by the Russian and Italian armies. The Germans would capture quite a number of these guns and distribute them amongst their own forces and their allies. These guns were designated 4.7 cm PAK 177 [ex-Italian], PAK 188 [ex-Dutch] and PAK 196 [ex-Russian].
|Weight without wheel carriage:||310 kg|
|Weight on wheel carriage:||345 kg|
|Weight with armoured shield:||395 kg|
|Gun length:||3210 mm|
|Barrel length:||1850 mm [39 calibres]|
|Barrel height from ground:||603 mm|
|Ammo:||AP round [1,45 net]
HE round [2,45 net]
|Fire rate:||15 rounds a minute max|
|V0 AP:||660 m/sec|
|V0 HE:||350 m/sec|
|Max effective range HE:||6,000 m|
|Ammo ration gun:||80 AP; 20 HE|
|Armour penetration:||42-45 mm at 200 m
30 mm at 500 m