Deacon (artillery)

The AEC Mk I Gun Carrier, known as Deacon, was a British armoured fighting vehicle of the Second World War. It was an attempt to make the QF 6 pounder anti-tank gun into a self-propelled artillery piece. It was employed only during the North African Campaign from 1942 to 1943.

AEC Mk I Gun Carrier
("Carrier, 6-Pdr Gun, A.E.C., Mk I Deacon")
AEC Deacon.jpg
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1942–43
Used byUnited Kingdom
Turkey
WarsSecond World War
Production history
ManufacturerAEC/Park Royal Vehicles
No. built175
Specifications
Mass12.2 tonne 26400 lb (11986 kg)
Length21 ft (6.39 m)
Width7 ft 9 in (2.36 m)
Height9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Crew5

Armour6 to 20 mm (0.24 to 0.79 in)
Main
armament
QF 6 pounder (57 mm)
24 rounds
EngineAEC A173 7.7L 6-cyl diesel
95 hp (71 kW)
Power/weight7.8 hp/tonne
Drivewheeled, 4x2, 4x4
Transmission4 + reverse gears, with two-speed transfer box
Suspensionleaf spring
Ground clearance13 in (330 mm)
Operational
range
174 miles (280 km)
Maximum speed 19 mph (30 km/h)

HistoryEdit

The Deacon was developed in 1942 to provide British Army units in North Africa with a mobile anti-tank weapon. It can be seen as a development of the practice of carrying smaller artillery pieces en portee (sitting on the back of trucks). This meant that the artillery could quickly move albeit with some loss of traverse. The basis of the Deacon Gun Carrier was an AEC Matador truck chassis. A 6-pounder gun with enclosed armoured shield was mounted on the flat bed at the rear of the chassis. The gunner and loader operated the gun from behind the shield. The conventional cab was replaced with a boxy armoured construction that covered the engine and the driver's position. Production started in December 1942 and 175 were built.

Combat serviceEdit

The Deacon was used against German armoured vehicles in North Africa, an environment in which wheeled vehicles were as manoeuvrable as tanks. They are credited with action at El Hamma, where the 76th (Royal Welch Fusiliers) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, was the victor in a battle against a German force that included Panzer III tanks.[citation needed] Deacons were withdrawn at the end of the campaign in North Africa, as they were not considered suitable for use in Europe. Some were converted to armoured ammunition carriers and others were sold to Turkey in 1943.[1]

Service nameEdit

Giving it the name Deacon was part of what became consistent naming of British self-propelled guns with ecclesiastical titles. A 1941 design with the Ordnance QF 25-pounder was nicknamed "the Bishop", as its appearance was said to resemble a bishop's mitre. A replacement, the US 105 Millimeter Howitzer Motor Carriage M7, was given the service name "Priest" by the British, as part of its superstructure was said to resemble a priest's pulpit. A related design in 1943 with the QF 25-pounder was "Sexton". In more recent post-war years, the Royal Artillery used a self-propelled gun known as the "Abbot".

 
A Deacon disguised as a lorry

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Haugh 2008, p. 1.

SourcesEdit

  • Moschanskiy, I. (1999). Бронетанковая техника Великобритании 1939–1945 часть 2 [Armored vehicles of the Great Britain 1939–1945]. Vol. 2. Modelist-Konstruktor, Bronekollektsiya 1999-02/Моделист-Конструктор, Бронеколлекция 1999-02.
  • Haugh, D. R. (25 February 2008). "AEC Deacon Datasheet" (pdf) (revised ed.). Warwheels.net. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2015.

External linksEdit