Ordnance QF 75 mm

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Ordnance QF 75 mm
QF 75 mm gun on Cromwell tank.jpg
Gun on Cromwell tank at Overloon War Museum, Netherlands
Type tank gun
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
Used by  British Empire
Wars World War II

The Ordnance QF 75 mm, abbreviated to OQF 75 mm, was a British tank-gun of the Second World War. It was obtained by boring out the Ordnance QF 6 pounder ("6 pdr") 57-mm anti-tank gun to 75-mm, to give better performance against infantry targets in a similar fashion to the 75mm M3 gun fitted to the American Sherman tank. The QF came from "quick-firing", referring to the use of ammunition with the shell and propellant in a single cartridge. The gun was also sometimes known as ROQF from Royal Ordnance (the manufacturer) Quick-Firing.


Prior to the introduction of the ROQF 75 mm, British tanks had been equipped with guns such as the QF 2 pounder (40-mm), and then the larger 57mm 6 pounder. These guns were designed to fire armour-piercing shot, small high-velocity solid rounds that were effective against tanks, but did little damage to groups of infantry or soft targets like trucks. Some tanks operating in the infantry support role were given guns firing HE shells, such as early models of the Churchill and CS (Close Support) versions of the Matilda II. The decision to equip British tanks with an HE shell firing gun for soft targets was taken by the War Office.

An HE shell for the 6 pounder was in production by the time of the start of the Tunisia Campaign and available in large amounts in the Italian Campaign. However, the round lacked sufficient explosive power. The power of the US 75mm HE round used in the 75mm M3 was found to be markedly superior, and a number of Churchills in operation in Italy had guns scavenged from Sherman tanks and fitted to their turrets to give the Churchill NA75 (NA coming from "North Africa" where the conversions were carried out). Approximately 200 were converted in this way.

Vickers were working on a high velocity 75 mm gun to be fitted to British tanks. This took the cartridge case of the 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft gun mated to the US 75mm AP and HE shell. With a barrel length of 50 calibres, it would have about twice the muzzle energy of the US 75mm gun. However the final gun turned out to be too big to fit into the tank that it had been expected to fit.[1]

It was noticed that the US 75mm cartridge was almost the same diameter as the British 6 pounder case. Instead of having to take the American gun to be fitted en masse into modified British tanks, the Royal Ordnance factory modified the 6 pounder design by boring out the barrel and adapting the breech to fire the US round. The resulting gun could then be fitted without redesigned tank mountings. It gained British tanks a good HE shell, but came with an inferior anti-tank round, proving troublesome against a minority of heavily armoured German tanks. In the Battle of Villers-Bocage Cromwell tanks with the 75mm were outgunned by Tiger tanks of the 101st SS Heavy Tank Battalion.

Though the 75mm had a good HE shell, it was still thought that a more powerful close support weapon was needed and as such the 95mm howitzer was agreed for a limited number of tanks.[2]


Loading ammunition into a Churchill tank, Normandy July 1944

The QF 75mm used US ammunition. The shells were "fixed" ammunition, the shell cartridge and projectile being joined together as a single complete round.

  • Shell HE M46[nb 1] with either the M48 or M54 fuze
Bursting charge was 1.49 lb TNT or 1.36 lb 50/50 Amatol or 1.52 lb trimonite.[nb 2] The M48 fuze could be set for impact detonation ("Superquick") or delayed detonation; when in "Superquick" setting the delay would set the shell off if the impact didn't set off fuze. The M54 round had variable delay; the fuze starting burning at the instance of firing the round.
  • Shot APC M61, with tracer in the base
A armour-piercing capped projectile with a thin ballistic cap ("windshield") for better aerodynamics.
  • Shot AP M72, with tracer in the base
an entirely solid projectile


The ROQF 75 mm was chiefly used on the Churchill and Cromwell tanks. The weapon was used in Italy and the Normandy invasion (and possibly in Burma against the Japanese[citation needed]) until the end of the war. While the 75 mm was a conversion from the 6-pounder, some units retained a number of 6-pounder-gunned tanks, due to its superior anti-tank firepower over the 75 mm, especially as the 6-pounder could use the even more effective APCR and APDS rounds.

Externally the gun was nearly identical to the 6-pounder gun. The 14.9 lb (6.76 kg) HE shell fired at 2,050 ft/s (625 m/s) was found to be the best available, and superior to that of the 6-pounder, M7 3 in and 17-pounder, all chiefly anti-tank guns. However, against armour its AP shell was the worst, penetrating only 68 mm of RHA at 500 yards (460 m) and a 30-degree angle of attack, whereas the AP shells of the others penetrated between 57 mm and 76 mm in Normandy during 1944. The AP shell for the 75 mm gun was a 15 lb (6.8 kg) projectile with a couple of ounces (60 g) of HE filling propelled by a 2 lb (900 g) charge to 2,000 feet per second (610 m/s). In British service the AP shell was used without its explosive filling, and as such was referred to as "AP Shot M61".

British tank guns of the Second World War[citation needed]
Gun Shell weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy
(lb) (kg) (ft/s) (m/s) (kJ)
2 pdr 2 0.9 2,650 810 295
6 pdr
AP shot
6 2.8 3,000 910 1,100
75 mm 14.9 6.8 2,050 620 1,300
17 pdr 17 7.7 2,950 900 3,100

See also[edit]

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era[edit]


  1. ^ full name for the round was "Shell, fixed, HE M48, normal charge" followed by the fuze specification
  2. ^ 80% ammonium nitrate, 10% TNT, 10% aluminium
  1. ^ An Alternative 1930s British Tank Gun - And Its Successor Anthony G Williams
  2. ^ Cromwell Vehicle History and Specification 1983 HMSO p. xi

External links[edit]