Notes on the Bohler 4.7cm A/T Gun

By Rob Morgan

This is a gun I’ve always liked, one of those weapons which turned up all over the place. Originally an Austrian gun, it served with several armies, the Dutch, Germans of course and the Romanians. The Russians evaluated a few, as did the Chinese, who used them as field guns, and particularly the Italians who manufactured the Bohler under licence. The Japanese captured some at Singapore and more in the East Indies, and used them in local defence.

Two 4.7cm Bohler guns in 25mm scale

Two 4.7cm Bohler guns in 25mm scale

It’s usually thought of as an Italian weapon because that’s where the bulk of them were made and served. It could fire a/t and h/e rounds and broke down for pack transport; it sometimes saw service as a mountain gun. My Bohlers are old 25mm Raventhorpe models, sturdy and attractive, as shown in the photograph.

Anyone fielding an Italian Army in the Western Desert campaign, or anywhere else for that matter, will have this gun as a key component beefing up his front-line, often as infantry support as Allied armour protection increased and the Bohler’s ability to penetrate enemy afv’s declined.

I came across a short account of the Bohler in an old issue of War Machine, (No.46 “Anti-Tank Guns of WWII”), a journal long out of print.

It said this…

“ In 1942, the Allied armies in North Africa were still short of many weapons, and the large numbers of captured Bohler guns were a useful windfall. About 100 were refurbished at a captured weapons depot in Alexandria and issued to various units for second-line service. … 96 were actually converted by the British for use by airborne forces: the fire-control systems of the gun was altered so that one man instead of two could lay the weapon, and the carriage was modified to allow dropping by parachute. …

These were, according to the records, issued for service, where they proved ‘very popular’.”

The entry for the Bohler says it has been impossible to trace the units involved, and there’s no possibility of identifying the writer of the piece at this distance. So, does anyone know more about this? Is it possible to field the 4.7cm gun as a British or Allied weapon? A lot better as a gun than the 2pdr, which was the standard infantry a/t gun in late 1942, and the idea of a unit of paratroopers with a Bohler gun seems interesting.

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1 Response to Notes on the Bohler 4.7cm A/T Gun

  1. JAird says:

    Well – the IWM lists some footage of the guns being converted as part of “WAR PICTORIAL NEWS NO 117″

    The description would suggest use in North Africa – and possibly into Italy :

    ” ‘MIDDLE EAST.’ An item introducing the theme of weapons and equipment reconditioning. Abandoned German equipment, including 5cm Pak 38 anti-tank guns are shown at an outside desert store prior to their removal to Allied reconditioning and storage depots. A close up of an artillery parts store shows mortar bipod stands, gun carriage wheels and gun elevation controller cranks. On arrival at a Royal Engineers reconditioning depot in Egypt, captured Axis artillery pieces are reconditioned by local craftsmen and metal workers. A member of the Royal Engineers uses an oxy-acetylene torch to weld a new armoured shield onto a Pak 38 anti-tank gun. A German 10.5 cm leichte Feldhaubitze 18 artillery piece has its barrel changed. British troops walk through a Royal Engineers storage depot viewing reconditioned armaments which include Pak 38 and 4.7cm Pak (Böhler) 177i anti-tank guns (possibly Italian issue Cannone anticarro 47/32 modello 35). ”

    Unfortunately this British film stock isn’t availabl;e to view online : http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060007090

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