Ordnance QF 2 pounder
The Ordnance QF 2-pounder (or simply "2 pounder gun") was a 40 mm (1.575 in) British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 anti-tank and vehicle-mounted gun, employed in the Second World War. It was actively used in the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, and during the North Africa campaign. As tanks became sufficiently armoured to stand up to its shots, it was gradually replaced by the 6-pounder
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

, starting in 1942, though some remained in service until the end of the war. In its vehicle-mounted variant, the 2-pounder was also a common main gun on British tanks early in World War II, and was a typical main armament of armoured cars such as the Daimler
Daimler Armoured Car
The Daimler Armoured Car was a British armoured car of the Second World War.-History:The Daimler Armoured Car was a parallel development to the Daimler Dingo "Scout car", a small armoured vehicle for scouting and liaison roles. It was another Birmingham Small Arms design...

 throughout the war.


The gun was initially developed as a tank weapon, and made its debut as the main armament of the Vickers
Vickers was a famous name in British engineering that existed through many companies from 1828 until 1999.-Early history:Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor &...

-designed Cruiser Tank Mk I
Cruiser Mk I
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk I was a British cruiser tank of the interwar period. It was the first cruiser tank: a fast tank designed to bypass the main enemy lines and engage the enemy's lines of communication, along with enemy tanks...

. For reasons of economy and standardization, the Director of Artillery accepted it as a basis for an anti-tank gun in October 1934. Contracts to design a carriage were given to Vickers and the Woolwich Arsenal
Royal Arsenal
The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, originally known as the Woolwich Warren, carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces. It was sited on the south bank of the River Thames in Woolwich in south-east London, England.-Early history:The Warren...


Vickers was the first to submit a design, which was accepted as the Ordnance QF 2-pounder Mark IX on Carriage Mark I. A limited number of pieces were built in 1936. The carriage had an innovative three-legged construction. In the traveling position, one of the legs was used as a towing trail, and the other two were folded. When the gun was positioned for combat, the legs were emplaced on the ground and the wheels were lifted up. Woolwich Arsenal's carriage was found to be cheaper and easier to produce than the Vickers design, and with the gun was adopted as Ordnance QF 2-pounder Mark IX on Carriage Mark II. It was conceptually similar, although when the gun was emplaced for combat the wheels had to be removed. This carriage was also manufactured by Vickers.

The unusual construction gave the gun good stability and a traverse of 360 degrees, allowing it to quickly engage moving vehicles from any approach. With the Vickers carriage, the gun could also be fired from its wheels, at the expense of limited traverse. The 40 mm 2-pounder could outperform a typical 37 mm piece such as the German 3.7 cm PaK 36 or the Bofors 37 mm
Bofors 37 mm
The Bofors 37 mm gun was an anti-tank gun designed by Swedish manufacturer Bofors in the early 1930s. Licensed copies were produced in a number of countries. The gun was used by some European armies during World War II, mainly at the early stage of the war.-Development history:The gun was...

, and hugely outclassed smaller 25 mm and 20 mm weapons used by some forces. On the negative side, the 2-pounder was nearly twice as heavy as PaK 36, and had a higher profile.

One interesting late-war project was the David High Velocity, a Canadian development that allowed 2-pdr ammunition to be fired from the larger-calibre 6-pdr. This was intended to improve the muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 of the shot. The system was still being developed when the war ended, the program ending along with it.

One of the most serious shortcomings of the 2-pdr was the lack of a high explosive shell. Especially if the 2-pdr was the main gun of a tank, which was a very important item when a tank was being used in the infantry support role having only its machine gun to rely on. A high explosive shell was designed for the 2-pdr but was never placed in production.

An example of an Irish Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

 QF 2 pdr resides in the museum in Collins Barracks in Cork City.

Combat service

In the early western campaigns the 2-pdr was employed by two types of Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

 formations: anti-tank regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s of infantry divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 (four batteries
Artillery battery
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of guns, mortars, rockets or missiles so grouped in order to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems...

 with 12 pieces each), and light anti-aircraft/anti-tank regiments of armoured divisions (two 12-gun AT batteries). From October 1940, separate 48-gun anti-tank regiments were introduced in armoured divisions too. Infantry brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 structure initially included an anti-tank company
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

, though it was typically equipped with 25 mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun
25 mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun
The 25 mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun was a French anti-tank gun that saw service in the first years of the Second World War.-Development:...

s; these companies were disbanded later in the war. From 1942, infantry battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s received their own six-gun anti-tank platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

s. The organization was different in the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

 theatres. The exact internal structure of AT units was also subject to changes and variations.

The gun first saw combat during the German invasion of the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, with the Belgian Army
Belgian Army
The Land Component is organised using the concept of capacities, whereby units are gathered together according to their function and material. Within this framework, there are five capacities: the command capacity, the combat capacity, the support capacity, the services capacity and the training...

, and then with the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 during the subsequent rear-guard actions at Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

. Most of the British Army's 2-pdrs were left behind in France during the retreat, stripping most of the army's infantry anti-tank capability. Those guns captured at Dunkirk entered German service under the designation 4.0 cm Pak 192 (e) or 4.0 cm Pak 154 (b), the "e" and "b" referring to England and Belgium respectively.

Although the Woolwich Arsenal had already designed a successor to the 2-pdr, the 6 pounder gun
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

, it was decided in the face of a likely German invasion to re-equip the army with the 2-pdr, avoiding the period of adaptation to production, and also of re-training and acclimatization with the new weapon. This had the effect of delaying production of the 6 pounder until November 1941, and it was only in spring 1942 when the new gun reached frontline units. As such, for most of the North African campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, the army still had to rely on the 2-pdr, aided by the 25 pounder
Ordnance QF 25 pounder
The Ordnance QF 25 pounder, or more simply, 25-pounder or 25-pdr, was introduced into service just before World War II, during which it served as the major British field gun/howitzer. It was considered by many to be the best field artillery piece of the war, combining high rates of fire with a...

 gun-howitzer functioning as an anti-tank gun - a role for which it was capable though at the expense of taking it away from its main artillery role. The evolution of German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 tank design meant anti-armour performance of the 2-pdr gradually became insufficient, however the gun owes large part of the bad reputation it gained during the campaign to the open terrain (which made the high-silhouette piece hard to conceal) and to less than perfect tactics.

Further, in North Africa it was found that towing the 2 pounder long distances across rough, stony deserts damaged the weapon. Starting in 1941, the British developed the "en portee
A portee is a truck that carries a gun on its bed, such that the gun is not affixed permanently to the vehicle, can be quickly unloaded, and can be fired from the truck....

" method of mounting the 2 pounder (and later its successor, the 6 pounder) on a truck. Though only intended as a carrying method, with the gun being unloaded for firing, crews tended to fire their weapons from their vehicles for more mobility, with consequent casualties. Hence the vehicles tended to reverse into action so that the gunshield of the 2-pdr would provide a measure of protection against enemy fire.

From mid-1942, the 2-pdr was increasingly displaced to infantry anti-tank platoons, to the Home Guard
British Home Guard
The Home Guard was a defence organisation of the British Army during the Second World War...

 units in Great Britain and to the Far East, where it was still effective against the smaller and more lightly armored Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese tanks. It was finally removed from service entirely in December 1945. As a vehicle weapon it remained in use throughout the war. Although most tanks models equipped with it were withdrawn or upgraded to the 6-pdr, it remained in use with armoured cars.

Its performance as an anti-armour weapon was improved later in the war with the development of more sophisticated ammunition and got an additional boost with the introduction of the Littlejohn adaptor
Littlejohn adaptor
The Littlejohn adaptor was a device that could be added to the British QF 2 pounder anti-tank gun. It was used to extend the service life of the 2-pounder during the Second World War by converting it to squeeze bore operation...

, which converted it to squeeze-bore design firing specially-designed shells at much higher velocities. (However, the Littlejohn adaptor
Littlejohn adaptor
The Littlejohn adaptor was a device that could be added to the British QF 2 pounder anti-tank gun. It was used to extend the service life of the 2-pounder during the Second World War by converting it to squeeze bore operation...

 also prevented the use of High Explosive rounds.) These improvements, however, were constantly outpaced by improvements in tank design.

The guns were never equipped with High Explosive rounds which would have given the gun some capability against un-armoured targets, although the rounds had been produced. The shells were not introduced, however, because it was felt that the tiny amount of explosive contained in such a relatively small shell would be ineffective. This proved to be a problem in combat when duels would break out between opposing anti-tank gun units. It also presented a major problem for armoured vehicles equipped with the gun, which were equally limited in dealing with opposing anti-tank guns (and their crews) at distances beyond the range of their machine gun.


Available ammunition
Type Model Weight, kg
Filler Muzzle velocity, m/s
Armour Piercing-Tracer Shot, AP/T Mk I 2.04 / 1.08 - 792
AP-T (with increased charge) Shot, APHV/T 2.04 / 1.08 - 853
Armour Piercing Capped Ballistic Cap-T Shot, APCBC/T Mk I 2.22 / 1.22 - 792
APCNR (used with the Littlejohn adaptor) Shot, AP/CNR (APSV) Mk I ? / 0.57 - 1,280
APCNR (used with the Littlejohn adaptor) Shot, AP/CNR (APSV) Mk II ? / 0.45 - 1,189
HE-T (never placed in production) Shell, HE/T Mk II 1.86 / 0.86 Lyddite 792

Armour penetration table (in millimeters)
Distance 91 m (99.5 yd) 457 m (499.8 yd) 914 m (999.6 yd) 1371 m (1,499.3 yd)
AP (meet angle 60°) 49 37 27 17
APHV (meet angle 60°) 54 41
APCBC (meet angle 60°) 53.5
Different methods of armor penetration measurement were used in different countries / periods. Therefore, direct comparison is often impossible.


Gun variants:
  • Mk IX - main pre-war production version, with barrel of autofrettage construction.
  • Mk IX-A - Mk IX simplified for mass production.
  • Mk X - later production version, with forged barrel.
  • Mk X-A - Mk X with dimension tolerances reduced.
  • Mk X-B - main late-war vehicle version, fitted with the Littlejohn adaptor.

Carriage variants:
  • Mk I - Carriage designed by Vickers.
  • Mk II - Carriage designed by the Royal Arsenal.

Self-propelled mounts

  • Light Tank Mk VII Tetrarch
    Tetrarch tank
    The Light Tank Mk VII , also known as the Tetrarch, was a British light tank produced by Vickers-Armstrong in the late 1930s and deployed during World War II. The Tetrarch was originally designed as the latest in the line of light tanks built by the company for the British Army...

    , Light Tank Mk VIII Harry Hopkins
    Light Tank Mk VIII
    The Tank, Light, Mk VIII , also known as the Harry Hopkins, after President Roosevelt's chief diplomatic advisor, was a British light tank produced by Vickers-Armstrong during World War II...

  • Cruiser Tank Mk I
    Cruiser Mk I
    The Tank, Cruiser, Mk I was a British cruiser tank of the interwar period. It was the first cruiser tank: a fast tank designed to bypass the main enemy lines and engage the enemy's lines of communication, along with enemy tanks...

     to Cruiser Tank Mk VI Crusader
    Crusader tank
    The Tank, Cruiser, Mk VI or A15 Crusader was one of the primary British cruiser tanks of the early part Second World War and perhaps the most important British tank of the North African Campaign...

  • Infantry Tank Mk II Matilda
    Matilda tank
    The Infantry Tank Mark II known as the Matilda II was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It was also identified from its General Staff Specification A12....

    , Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine
    Valentine tank
    The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production...

    , Infantry Tank Mk IV Churchill
    Churchill tank
    The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV was a heavy British infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war...

  • Ram I
    Ram tank
    The Tank Cruiser, Ram was a cruiser tank designed and built by Canada in the Second World War, based on the U.S. M3 Medium tank. Due to the entrance of the United States into the war and the superior design of the American Sherman, it was used exclusively for training purposes and was never used in...

  • AC1 Sentinel
    Sentinel tank
    The Sentinel tank was a cruiser tank designed in Australia in World War II in response to the war in Europe, and to the threat of Japan expanding the war to the Pacific or even a feared Japanese invasion of Australia. It was the first tank to be built with a hull cast as a single piece, and the...


Armoured cars:
  • AEC Armoured Car
    AEC Armoured Car
    AEC Armoured Car is a series of heavy armoured cars built by the Associated Equipment Company during the Second World War.-History:AEC of Southall, Middlesex was a manufacturer of truck and bus chassis and its Matador artillery tractor was used for towing medium field and heavy anti-aircraft guns...

  • Coventry Armoured Car
    Coventry armoured car
    The Coventry armoured car was a British four wheel drive armoured fighting vehicle developed at the end of World War II as a potential replacement for the lighter Humber and Daimler armoured cars.-Development:...

  • Daimler Armoured Car
    Daimler Armoured Car
    The Daimler Armoured Car was a British armoured car of the Second World War.-History:The Daimler Armoured Car was a parallel development to the Daimler Dingo "Scout car", a small armoured vehicle for scouting and liaison roles. It was another Birmingham Small Arms design...

  • Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car
    Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car
    South African Reconnaissance Car, better known under as Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car, was a series of armoured vehicles produced in South Africa and adopted by the British Army during the World War II.-History:...

     (South Africa)
  • Rhino Heavy Armoured Car
    Rhino Heavy Armoured Car
    Car, Armoured, Heavy , also known as Rhino, was an armoured car designed in Australia during the Second World War. Due to enemy action and design problems the project never got beyond a prototype stage.-History and description:...


Other vehicles:
  • 2 Pounder Anti-tank Gun Carrier
    Universal Carrier
    The Universal Carrier, also known as the Bren Gun Carrier is a common name describing a family of light armoured tracked vehicles built by Vickers-Armstrong. Produced between 1934 and 1960, the vehicle was used widely by British Commonwealth forces during the Second World War...

  • Loyd Carrier
    Loyd Carrier
    The Loyd Carrier was one of a number of small tracked vehicles used by the British and Commonwealth forces in the Second World War to transport equipment and men about the battlefield...


See also

  • QF 2 pounder naval gun
    QF 2 pounder naval gun
    The 2-pounder gun, officially designated the QF 2-pounder and universally known as the pom-pom, was a 1.575 inch British autocannon, used famously as an anti-aircraft gun by the Royal Navy. The name came from the sound that the original models make when firing...

     "pom-pom" AA gun, of the same bore but with a pre-World War I heritage.
  • Vickers Type 40 mm AT/AA Gun in Japanese service.
  • British standard ordnance weights and measurements
    British standard ordnance weights and measurements
    The British standard ordnance weights and measurements for the artillery were established by the Master General of Ordnance in 1764, and these were not altered until 1919 when the metric system was additionally introduced....

External links

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