I have finished another Divisional Support Platoon for my British 8th Army forces. This time I have gone for two sections of 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns. This gun has a single L/60 barrel (ie the length is 60x the calibre of the projectile it fires) and could be quickly deployed to defend against air attack or, in exceptional circumstances, be used in a ground attack role. These auto cannons are actually a Swedish design from the 1930's and were so good they are are still in use today as the main armament in the CV 90 infantry fighting vehicle and in the US AC-130 gunship in an air-to-ground role.
This unit consists of two sections of three guns plus the Bedford tractors to tow them, carry the crew, ammunition and other supplies required. These are formidable AA weapons with a 360° fire arc and, with a rate of fire of 4, these guns can spit out a lethal hail of shells that will keep even the most daring pilot at arms length. They have an Anti-Tank rating of 6 and a Firepower of 4+ so these are not to be taken lightly by armoured vehicles either. All in all a very handy weapon to have in a tight spot. Their only downside is the rather short 24" range, but suitable sited these can be devastatingly effective.
These model are from Heroics and Ros and come in two parts with the wheeled base separate from the gun mounting. Three crewmen are part of this latter section although in reality these guns typically had a crew of between seven and ten. The gun actually had electric motors that could be engaged instead of the hand cranks to control elevation and lateral movement. Early on the guns were combined with an aiming device called a Kerrison Predictor to mechanically work out the ‘future position’ of a moving target. The Predictor relied on manual input from the crew of the predicted position of a target based on its altitude and speed, and it would then control the hydraulic motors to make the gun turn and elevate so that the barrel could track the ‘future position’ of the target. Pretty advanced stuff!
|Two Sections of 40mm Bofors and Bedford AA Tractors|
|(A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun being dug in near a|
squadron of Crusader tanks, 29 October 1942 Source)
Another, less conventional, use for the 40mm Bofors was seen at the Battle of El Alamein. Here they fired tracer horizontally to mark safe paths for units through the German minefields. This concept was developed further in the fighting in NW Europe with bursts of colour-coded tracer being used to define the line of advance of the different formations in large-scale night attacks.
|These models are from Heroics and Ros|
|All the bases use my new label format|
|The Bedford AA Tractor could carry all the ammunition, supplies and crew as well as tow the guns|
|The Bofors models come in two parts and have three crewmen included.|
|Another view of the platoon|