One of the apex predators of WW2, the British 17pdr gun is a beastie that I’ve been missing from my late war Brit/Empire/Polish troops. While browsing the 3D printing sites recently I noticed that this model was available on one of them as a free download. I’m a wargaming cheapskate and that’s the right price for me! So I downloaded it and printed one off:
The Ordnance QF 17pdr
The QF stands for “quick firing” and seems to have been a term applied to anything so modern that it didn’t need a cannonball rammed down from the muzzle end, because this wasn’t really a very automated gun. The assumption seems to have been that despite being manually operated if you had enough bodies you could sustain a high rate of fire. I suppose that was true enough.
Famously rushed into action by mounting it on a 25pdr carriage (the “Pheasant” guns used in North Africa) the 17pdr eventually got a proper low-profile mount as shown here. It proved capable from the outset of stopping anything the Germans had on tracks. Early gun shields had a distinctive set of hoops along the top for securing camouflage; this is a later model which omitted those. The 17pdr proved to be a very capable gun with long range and good striking power, serving well from their introduction in North Africa (Pheasant) and Italy (proper 17pdr carriage) right through to the end of the war. In Italy they were often used as big sniper rifles for plinking at casas full of troublesome Germans, as German armour wasn’t always available to shoot at. Ammunition continued to be developed, including an early sabot round, but this was only spin stabilised (APDS) and proved to be somewhat inaccurate. Normally APC or APCBC was fired.
It served alongside the 6pdr with the smaller gun equipping infantry battalions, and the bigger one equipping divisional anti-tank regiments. So the 6pdr was gun the troops always had to hand locally to defend themselves, with the 17pdr being deployed into areas that divisional HQ felt needed stiffening. The prime mover was a Morris Quad, M5 Half Track or some of the old Crusader tanks. The 6pdr could be moved by the much smaller Loyd Carrier.
Being a massively heavy lump of metal the towed 17pdr wasn’t especially mobile, but found great success when it was self-propelled. Both the M10C tank destroyer and the Valentine-based Archer tank destroyer were used to make the 17pdr more mobile, and it was famously mounted in some tanks (Sherman IC and VC, Challenger, Comet in modified form) and was even the original armament of the new Centurion tank when it first entered service.
Building the 17pdr
The gun STL file is available for free here. It’s an upscaled version of a model which was originally 1/200 so the detail isn’t stunning, but overall I think it’s made the transition to 28mm pretty well. The main criticism I have of it is that the gun shield is a bit thick. It would have been nice if it was slimmed down a bit during the upscale. That and the lack of detail on the front of the shield is one of the reasons I’ve put a cam net on the front. I did see pictures of guns with those when I was doing my research so I thought it would be ideal.
The gun comes in relatively few parts: gun, gun shield, a single piece split trail, and two wheels. I printed most of it in standard resin but I did the gun barrel in tough resin to make it a bit more durable. I did also have to snip the ends off the axles, they’re way to long as printed and your wheels will stick out too far either side. I also tweaked the angle the gun is at, the default had the muzzle pointing up, and that always bugs me when I see it on AT gun models. In reality they fired very close to horizontal as they were generally engaging at under 1000m and you don’t need a lot of elevation for that with a powerful high-velocity gun.
This has been printed out at 0.05mm layers, which I think is a nice sweet spot between detail and speed for simple shapes like this. There were a few light layer lines in places which sanded right off.
I like to put my guns on fairly small bases; big enough for the gun and a couple of crew and that’s it. On the table they sometimes need to tuck in behind terrain or into gun pits, so a small base helps. The gun model comes with no crew, so I delved into the bits box and pulled out some old Warlord British plastics. Alas there were only two torsos left on the sprues, but I can scrape by with that. One is holding a shell made from a piece of styrene rod tapered down by sanding it a bit, and the other has got some binocular arms from a German sprue (don’t tell anyone he has a German arm, it might get interned for the duration of the war!). The rest of the crew (as shown above) can be the same guys I built to man my 6pdr.
So a nice quick and cheap little wargames model, with the crew coming from the bits box and the gun costing me a couple of quid in resin. I already had a 6pdr and that’s seen a bit of action, but on at least one occasion it has had to proxy itself as it’s bigger 17pdr brother so it’s nice to have the proper model available now.