JUST ORDINARY MEN. HQ Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st British Airborne Division (WW2) - HQ Trp. 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Sqn
' Just Ordinary Men '
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6 Pounder & PIAT
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6 Pounder & PIAT


6 Pdr. Anti Tank Gun

Calibre : 2.24 inch

Muzzle Velocity : 2700 to 4045 ft per second

Maximum Range : 5500 Yards

Weight in Action : 3521 Pounds

Shell Types:

High Explosive, Armour Piercing, Capped Ballistic Capped Shot

Composite Rigid, Discarded Sabot Shot,

Following the fall of France and the BEF's hasty retreat at Dunkirk, the majority of 2 pdrs were left on the beaches.  This, combined with the 2 pdr's poor performance, prompted Woolwich to propose the 6 pdr as a suitable replacement.  Making this happen would have meant that all the resources currently used for 2 pdr production would have to be brought into play however; with war now raging, it was decided to only commence production on a small scale.  To mass produce would have meant troops being hastily re-trained and it was considered that " we should make do with what we have to hand ".

In June 1940 the first order of 400 6 pdr's was placed.  But it was not until the use of the 2pdr had been exhausted that the 6 pdr guns appeared in November 1941.  With the might of the German war machine being brought into play;  It was soon realised that the 2 pdr was now completely out gunned by the 50 and 75mm armourment of Germany.

The arrival of the 6 pdr on the field brought the balance back into check and now opened up the battle for tank engagements.  It also allowed the 25 pdr's, currently being used in an anti tank role, to be released and used for their correct purpose of infantry support.


Projector Infantry Anti Tank

Length : 39 inches

Unloaded Weight : 32 Pounds

Initial Velocity 250 ft per second

Range : 750 Yards

Bomb Weight : 3 Pounds

By 1941 it was realised that the Boys Anti Tank Rifle and the number 68 grenade were no match for the new design of Panzers and that some form of weapon was required that was easily manoeuvrable and light weight and capable of puncturing the armour plating of a tank at 330 ft.  It also had to be capable of hitting the tank whilst it was moving.  But what could be used?  Rocket technology in 1941 was still in it's infancy.

So it was that in early 1942;  the PIAT, based upon the Blacker Bombard spigot mortar design, came into service. 

The Spigot had to be cocked for the first shot but there after the recoil was sufficient to re-cock the weapon after each shot.  There were a few teething problems with the PIAT such as the cocking for the first shot due to the strength of the spring.  For firing,  the gunner held on to the trigger guard with his left hand and, due to the stiffness of the trigger, it required two fingers to operate it.  After pulling the trigger there was an un-nerving pause whilst the spigot shot forward.  This lead to some unwary troops loosening their grip; subsequently receiving a massive blow to the shoulder as the shot flew forward.  The gunner lay prone for firing and contrary to myth;  the PIAT was never fired from the hip or shoulder whilst standing.

Since it's initial production in 1942.  11,500 were manufactured and it saw service in most theatres of operation.  So effective was it that it remained in service until 1950.


In 1938 Woolwich Arsenal commenced the design of a 57mm 6 pounder replacement to the 2 pounder which was, by this time, becoming obsolete.  However; Woolwich did not regard  this development as high priority and took their time during the design phase. The first prototype was completed and test fired satisfactorily in 1939 but instead of starting production;  the project was shelved as it was not yet deemed necessary to change armament.
Recruiting OfficeAttached Units Photo TV Event InfoAirborne HistoryOperations 1941-1945Armoury & Transport