17 pounder Anti-Tank Gun

17 pounder Anti-Tank Gun

The 17 pounder Anti-Tank Gun was suggested as a replacement for the 6 pounder at a meeting in London in November 1940. As a result a design and wooden mock-up were authorised. This was done fairly quickly and despite some misgivings about the size of the gun, four pilot models were ordered in July 1941. With the pilot testing completed and final decision on production made, the 17 pounder was formally approved for service on the 1st May 1942.

Although the gun was a straightforward design with semi-automatic breech, the carriage design caused some delays in production. The two wheeled, split trail design had to be quite massive to withstand the gun’s powerful recoil. This was in the Autumn of 1942 and Army Intelligence had heard about the new German Tiger tank about to make an appearance in North Africa. The 17 pounder Gun was the only one likely to deal with the Tiger at reasonable ranges. It became urgent therefore to get the available guns on to some sort of carriage as soon as possible.

As a stop-gap a barrel was mounted on a standard 25 pounder carriage and test fired in September 1942. The performance was within acceptable limits and so a number of guns were mounted and sent to North Africa late in the year. They were used sucessfully and help back the enemy until the correct gun and carriage could be supplied.

Variants of the gun were used in tanks, on Royal Navy landing craft and as two Self Propelled guns for the Royal Artillery. These were the Archer, based on the chassis of the Valetine Tank and a conversion of the American 3 inch M10 to the 17 Pounder Anti-Tank Gun.


Mark 1Original service issue with muzzle brake
Mark 2As Mk 1 but with Muzzle Counterweigh instead of Brake. For use in
tanks. Counterweight replaced by Muzzle Brake from March 1944
Mark 3Mk 1 with automatic loader. For RN in turret mount on Landing Craft Gun (M)
Mark 4For tanks. As Mk 1 but new breech ring with horizontal breech
Mark 5For US M10. As Mk 1 but alterations to breech ring
Mark 6As for Mk 4 but difference in breech ring & semi-auto gear. Shorter
breech block. For tanks
Mark 7As for Mk 4 but difference in breech ring. Shorter breech block. For tanks


Weight of gun & breech mechanism1,822 lbs
Total Length180.35 inches
Length of Bore165.45 inches (55 calibres)
Rifling20 grooves, uniform Right Hand 1/30
Breech MechanismVertical sliding block, semi-automatic, percussion fired
Elevation-6° to +16½°
Traverse30° Left & Right
Recoil SystemHydro-pneumatic, constant, 40 inches
Weight in action4,624 lbs


Firing standard 15.4 lb HE Shell

Muzzle Velocity2,875 feet per second
Maximum Range10,000 yards

Firing 16 lb 15 oz AP Shot

Muzzle Velocity2,900 feet per second
Penetration109 mm at 1,000 yards, 30° angle

Firing 17 lb APC Shot

Muzzle Velocity2,900 feet per second
Penetration118 mm at 1,000 yards, 30° angle

Firing 17 lb 10 oz APDS Shot

Muzzle Velocity3,950 feet per second
Penetration231 mm at 1,000 yards, 30° angle


Shell, High Explosive, Mark 1TNose fuzed shell filled with TNT
Shot, Armour Piercing, Mark 3TPlain Steel Shot with base tracer
Shot, Armour Piercing Cap, Mark 4TSimilar to 3T but with penetrative cap.
Shot, Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot, Mark 1TTungsten Carbide core in a light steel sheaf with base tracer. This was enclosed in a light alloy sabot splitting into 4 sections on firing &discarded at the muzzle
The Royal Artillery 1939-45