Hi everyone, today I have another SPAA truck for the british lineup, this one mounting a more exotic 3 X Polsten 20mm arangement, mounted on the lengthened version of the CMP Ford F.15 chassis. This aragement saw limted service with the british L.A.A regiments for doodlebug defence, most notably the 93rd LAA, RA in the last year of the war in the rhine area. It is likely other LAA regiments also used them, for duties such as airfield defence and convoy escort, as british production of this mounting was in the several hundred, with other applications being on the Crusader SP triple polsten used in the initial weeks of operation overlord by several LAA units on the beach heads. After the war the units used by the 93rd LAA where given to the dutch armed forces, though the preserved example they possess was manufactured in 1946, at royal ordanance cheshire.
During the run up to operation overlord the british home office requested the manufacturing as many light SPAA as possible to equipt the British LAAa regiments, in order to provide as much anti aircraft fire power as possible on the beach heads, in an attempt to avoid serious damage from the inevitable Luftwaffe reprisals. One of the gun mountings that started manufacture during this time was the Triple Polsten gun mount, which could be mounted either on a truck, a tank chassis or its own trailer mounting. The first usage of the mount in action was on Crusader sp tanks, but later in the war they began to mount them on Ford F60L chassis, as these were more mobile than and relaible than the more cumbersome Crusader tank hull.
The most notable user of the Ford F60L with triple Polsten AA mount, was the 93rd LAA regiment, who begining in november 1944 began to be equipt with this type of vehicle starting with the 322 battery. By the end of the year, 322 Bty had been completely equipt with this type of vehicle and had been deployed to the Siege of Dunkirk. During this same period 320 battery was also completing its re-equipment, with a contingent of said unit joining the ‘Brussels X’ line defending that city against V-1 flying bombs . By early 1945, the V-1 threat to Brussels had diminished and 93rd LAA’s guns in the ‘Brussels X’ defences were switched to defending airfields.
Because of this, in January 1945, 320 Bty was deployed protecting airfields and then took over from 321 Bty at Nijmegen when that battery returned to Arras to re-equip. The 93rd like most LAA regiments regularly moved from one brigade HQ to another based on need, and as such they where redeployed to proctect several different airfields. By the end of the month, RHQ, 320 Bty and 93 LAA Workshop were at Rixensart under 103 AA Bde, 321 Bty was defending airfields near Arras with 74 AA Bde and 322 Bty was with 107 AA Bde.
H Troop of 322 Bty was experimentally deployed under US Army command NE of Antwerp to tackle V-1s aimed at that vital port. Between 4 February and 15 March, Serjeant Albert Richardson’s detachment destroyed nine V-1s, one of which exploded 50 yards from the gun position and caused damage. Serjeant Richardson was later awarded a US Bronze Star for his leadership and gallantry. In february the elements of the 93rd LAA prepared themselves for operation Plunder.
The regiment was given a special role this operation, because its truck mounts were the only LAA guns that could be ferried over the river on a Class 9 raft. In mid-March, the batteries were concentrated and reorganised on a light scale, similar to that adopted for the D-Day landings. The three batteries were divided among the three corps taking part in the operation on the 19/20th of march the 321 and 322 Batteries moved from their Belgian concentration areas and crossed the River Maas, but unfortunately due to the full moonlight that night 322 came under mortar and machine gun attack before the crossing even began.
Even so careful planning allowed half of the battery was rafted across during the first day and set up on the east bank to protect the bridgehead. During this troop movemnt the battery had suffered 3 other ranks killed and one officer and 3 ORs wounded and had lost two SP vehicles (but not their triple mountings) to direct hits. There where no initial attacks from the luftwaffe though, and it was only after dark on the first day did they emerge, only to be met with a copious amount of fire from the LAA regiments guns, which where effective at forcing the aircraft to a higher altitude where the HAA guns and their radar could have a field day with the flushed fowl.
After this the 93rd continued their role guarding the rhine crossings from air and waterborne attack, before being returned to antwerp as the war drew to a close. After the war the aa guns where returned to stores and the unit then took part in the mop up job that was operation clobber.
Well dug in example of the 93rd LAA protecting the rhine crossings in 1945. you can tell it is mounted on a truck as the back end of the vehicle partially protrudes from its dug in position.
The preserved example:
the vehicle’s specification is the same as the f.15, only with a longer chassis.
Calibre: 20 mm
Weight: 480 kg without ammunition
Traverse: -15° with + 90°
Practical maximum range: 2000 meters
Muzzle Velocity: 820 m/s
Rate of Fire: 450 rounds/minute
Ammunition is carried on the chassis in wooden boxes mounted on the sides and back.
- Appendix A: OP PLUNDER: Report of the action of 93 LAA Regt RA on the crossing of the Rhine Mar 45’, 93 LAA Rgt War Diary Mar 1945, TNA file WO 171/4950.
- 93 LAA Rgt War Diary 1944, TNA file WO 171/1124.
- 93 LAA Rgt War Diary 1945, TNA file WO 171/4950.
- Postan, M. M.; Hay, D.; Scott, J. D. (1964). Hancock, K. (ed.). Design and Development of Weapons: Studies in Government and Industrial Organisation. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Civil Series. London: HMSO & Longmans, Green & Co. ISBN 978-0-11630-089-8.
- Ford F60L with Triple (and Quad) Polsten AA guns - MLU FORUM