Hi everyone, today I am suggesting another 20mm equipt Polsten truck, with this one mounting an impressive quad mount. This vehicle saw limited service with the RAF (60 units) as part of Bomber command, during the last months of the second world war for doodlebug defense on home soil, unlike its less packing ilk that saw service on european soil during the NWE campaign. Unlike the triple gun which was mounted on a Ford F.60L, this one is mounted on the slightly more squat Ford f.30 chassis. The choice of chassis follows the theme of the other polsten trucks, in that they are mounted on Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) which where aquired in vast quantities during the course of the war by the British home office, with over 800,000 of all types being manufactured by the end of the war in basically every commonwealth country you can think off. Though the number aquired by the british in the self propelled truck form was limited to only 60 units, I still feel that it is a worthy suggestion for the British tech tree, as it is the last major variant of the 20mm Polsten truck that saw service with the british.
The history of this vehicle just like the other Polsten trucks stems from the british army’s pressing need for a SPAAG to protect form the relentless air attacks they experianced from the luftwaffe during the earlier years of WW2. This accute paranoia taken from experiance in Dunkirk, Deippe and the battle of France, resulted in a General Service (GS) specification to be drawn up on 19 December 1942, called for a vehicle, which offered a stable platform for the operation of quadruple or twin 20 mm guns. These were to be installed in a Canadian-designed or other suitable gun mount and that the vehicle should have sufficient speed and cross country performance to operate with armoured formations.
The initial plan was for the 20mm gun to forfill this role to be an Inglis 20mm cannon, which was a cannon designed to use the common Hispano Suzia 20mm ammunition. This plan took a sudden turn when the 21st army group refused to stock Hispano 20mm ammunition, instead favouring oerlikon 20mm guns for logistical reasons, such as not taking ammunition stocks away from the RAF. This forced the John Inglis Company to redesign the turret to hold 4 polsten guns instead of their intial plans to mount the Inglis guns of their own design. This redesign which also affected the Skink (Which required polsten guns instead of the planned HS 20mms) resulted in delays, and the quad 20mm was only demonstrated to the British army in may of 1944. The army was not impressed by the mounting, but the RAF saw potential in it for airfield defense and to deter the ever present threat of V-1 rockets.
Because of this the British home office did not sweep up a copious amount of Quad mountings like they did with other 20mm mountings in the run up for operation Overlord, even though they were anticipating massed air attacks in an attempt to pin the landing groups on the beachfront. it was just a case of being shown a little too late for a stockpile to be aquired for the operation, and by the time numbers were avalible in meaningful numbers the allied air superiority was all but secured in main land europe.
Of the 500 or so mountings made in Canada during the war, about 250 Quad Polsten guns where mounted on the Ford 132-inch wheelbase, 3-ton, 4×4 truck. Of these sixty were sold to the UK for use in the ADGB (The rump of bomber command used in defense of airfields and the prevention of doodlebug attacks). An additional 72 were shipped to the First Canadian Army, as part of the 21st army group, as part of the revised policy that replaced two 40 mm troops in each light anti-aircraft regiment with 20 mm SP mounts. This was the same policy that equipt the 93rd LAA regiment with its triple gun polsten trucks. Unfortunately the Candian trucks where delivered rather late in the war and saw no real action aside from demonstrations to allied troops.
Image showing a vehicle at The Hague 21 May 1945, where it was used to give a demonstration, along with a bofors SPAA.
Two images from 4 june 1945, during a demonstration of Canadian military equipment. To the left of the first image you can see a 20mm quad mount and a single 40mm mount:
This is easy to provide as the the Vehicle is listed in the Vehicle data book, canadian army overseas, december 1944, where it lists ADGB as a operator.
Second image showing ammunition stowage:
- Vehicle data book, canadian army overseas, december 1944 (lists the ADGB (RAF bomber command) as an operator)
- “CMP Softskin Trucks” Winnington-Ball, Geoff, 2002.
- Experimental 6X6 Artillery Tractor | MilArt (outlines the development of the turret system, as well as making reference to the 60 aquired by British forces near the end of the war)
- Lucy, R. V. (2006). Secret weapons of the Canadian army . Ottawa, Ontario: Service Publications. (Source the above blog uses)
- Additional photos can be found here :Canadian Department of National Defence. (n.d.). 110 Army Numerical 11850-31114 [PDF]. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada.
- Dildy, Douglas (2016). “Fighter Command: the Original IADS”. RAF Salute 2016. Stamford: Key Publishing: 57. ISBN 9781910415672.