Bishop (artillery)

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Ordnance QF 25-pdr on Carrier Valentine 25-pdr Mk 1 "Bishop"
IWM-E-17430-Bishop-SP-gun-19420925.jpg
Bishop in the Western Desert, September 1942
Type Self-propelled artillery
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1942
Used by British Commonwealth
Wars Second World War
Production history
Designed 1941
Manufacturer Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company
Produced 1942–1943
Number built 149
Specifications
Weight 17.5 t (38,580 lb)
Length 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m)
Width 9 ft 1 in (2.77 m)
Height 10 ft (3.0 m)
Crew 4 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver)

Elevation -5° to +15°
Traverse

Armour hull: 0.31–2.36 in
(8-60 mm)
superstructure: 0.51–2 in (13–51 mm)
Main
armament
QF 25 pounder gun-howitzer
with 32 rounds
Secondary
armament
0.303 inch Bren light machine gun
Engine AEC A190 diesel
131 hp (98 kW)
Power/weight 7.4 hp/tonne
Suspension coil sprung three-wheel bogies
Operational
range
90 mi (145 km)
Speed 15 mph (24 km/h)

The Bishop was a British self-propelled artillery vehicle based on the Valentine tank. A result of a rushed attempt to create a self-propelled gun armed with the 25 Pounder gun-howitzer, the vehicle had numerous problems, was produced in limited numbers and was soon replaced by better designs.

Design and development[edit]

The rapid manoeuvre warfare practiced in the North African Campaign led to a requirement for a self-propelled artillery vehicle armed with the 25-pounder gun-howitzer. In June 1941 the development was entrusted to the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. A prototype was ready for trials by August and 100 were ordered by November 1941.[1] The result was a vehicle with the formal title: "Ordnance QF 25-pdr on Carrier Valentine 25-pdr Mk 1" but universally known as "Bishop".

The Bishop was based on the Valentine II hull, with the turret replaced by a fixed boxy superstructure with large rear doors. Into this superstructure the 25-pounder gun-howitzer was fitted. As a consequence of the gun mounting the resulting vehicle had very high silhouette, which is a disadvantage in desert warfare.[1] The maximum elevation for the gun was limited to 15 degrees, lowering the range considerably to about 6,400 yards (5,900 m) (about half that of the gun on its wheeled carriage), the maximum depression was 5 degrees and traverse was 8 degrees and the vehicle could carry a Bren light machine gun. By July 1942 80 Bishops had been built, and as the last 20 were being built an order for a further 50 was placed, with an option for a further 200 but the tender was abandoned in favour of the American M7 105 mm SP gun.[1]

Combat history[edit]

The Bishop first saw action during the Second Battle of El Alamein in North Africa and remained in service during the early part of the Italian Campaign. Due to its limitations and the Valentine's characteristic slow speed, the Bishop was poorly received. To gain elevation, crews would build large ramps out of the earth and run the Bishop onto them, tilting the vehicle back to increase the range of the gun. The Bishop was replaced by the M7 Priest (105 mm) and Sexton (25-pounder) when those became available in sufficient numbers and surviving Bishops were diverted for training in self-propelled gun tactics.[2]

A Bishop deployed on an earth ramp at a former German airfield in Sicily, October 1943

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The complete guide to tanks and armoured fighting vehicles, p 312, ISBN 978-1-84681-110-4
  2. ^ Armored Fighting Vehicles 1999, p. 114.

References[edit]

  • Chris Henry, Mike Fuller - The 25-pounder Field Gun 1939-72, Osprey Publishing 2002, ISBN 1-84176-350-0.
  • Trewhitt, Philip (1999). Armored Fighting Vehicles. New York, NY: Amber Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-7607-1260-3. 

External links[edit]