British 6 pdr medium anti-tank gun


The Ordnance Quick Fire (OQF) 6 pdr was the most common British anti-tank gun of WWII. Originally designed in the late 1930s as a replacement to the 2 pdr, as it was realised when it entered service that the 40mm 2 pdr was already lacking against more heavily armoured vehicles.

Design started in 1938, and a calibre of 57mm was decided on. This was partly due to the presence of existing equipment used for Royal navy weaponry of this calibre. The gun design was ready in 1940, and the carriage in 1941, but the loss of equipment following Dunkirk led to the production of more 2 pdr guns rather than the new untried 6 pdr. This meant production didn’t start until November 1941 and it finally appeared on the front line in April/May 1942 during the North Africa campaign. .

The 6 pdr was generally well liked as it showed a marked improvement in penetration over the 2 pdr and was relatively light and easy to handle. Later introduction of the APDS round effectively doubled the armour penetration of the earlier versions (it was capable of penetrating 146mm at 1000yds) and dramatically increased the longevity of the 6 pdr. The first confirmed Tiger I kills were all achieved by 6 pdrs – 2 towed and one on a Churchill (knocking out Tiger 131, now the last drivable Tiger I in existence). The US also used the same designs to create the 57mm M1 which was used by the US, British and Soviet armies.

In addition to being a towed gun, the 6 pdr was also the main armament in the many tanks, including Crusaders, Valentines and Churchills. It was also redesigned to create the OQF 75mm gun mounted in the Cromwell.

The versatility of the 6 pdr kept in service during the war and for a couple of decades afterwards with various armies around the world.

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