Thread: Heads Up: Limber in UK...
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Old 20-02-13, 18:06
Mike Cecil Mike Cecil is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Colbert, Washington, USA
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What an interesting thread, and so full of interesting 'terminology', too. Got a bit 'snippy' at one stage, which is regrettable, but I see we are back on track.

Now the 'Trailers, Artillery, No.27 Mk.1' (to use the correct nomenclature, rather than just calling it an 'ammunition trailer') is what it is by the military's definition: a two wheel 'trailer'. It acts in the capacity of a LIMBER in the artillery 'train', being located between the field piece and the towing tractor, and with its primary purpose being the carriage of ammunition (as per the 'civvie' dictionary, it's a limber, but...). To quote from the manual: 'The No.27 trailer can be employed either as the carriage trailer or as the front or rear ammunition trailer'.

Of course, if we head back a little to the First World War, there were two 'types' of ammunition transporter for field artillery: the ammunition LIMBER and the ammunition WAGON - neither of which were officially called a 'trailer', by the way, until the 1930s (see below).

The difference (besides the minutia of the equipment onboard) was where it 'sat' in the train: the ammunition Limber had a demountable perch pole and was drawn by the horse team. The field piece (gun) was attached to the rear of the Limber by a tow hook engaging the eye on the trail of the artillery piece.

The WAGON had a fixed steel towing arm and was attached to the rear of a Limber in place of the field piece. It carried 'second line' ammunition.

For every field piece there was, in theory, two horse teams: one dragging a Limber and the field piece, the other dragging a second limber and a Wagon.

It was the wagons that were converted in Aust in WW2 to pneumatic wheels, not the limbers. Once converted, they were re-designated as 'Trailer, Ammunition, No.X Mk. X (P)' (X being the different configurations). The P indicated the conversion to pneumatic wheels.

In 1939 (August, to be precise for Salesman Bob's benefit), the 'Artillery Mechanization' Minute by the Secretary of the Military Board discussed the conversion of 'Carriages and Trailers' to pneumatic wheels, and the return of 'Trailers, Harness saddler etc to Ordnance'. I'm not sure exactly when the change from 'Wagon' and 'Limber' to 'Trailer' occurred, but certainly by the late 1930s, the nomenclature had altered to designating the Wagon for 18pr ammunition as 'Trailers, No.9. Mk.1' and the limbers as 'Trailers, No.4'. (There were other designations for 4.5 inch HOW, etc), ie they were all grouped under the one broad designation, being 'Trailers' and differentiated by the No. and Mk. So, limbers and wagons were horse-drawn trailers by the 1930s, but pneumatic-wheeled trailers were never limbers or wagons.....hmmm

Clear as mud, eh? I must admit I prefer accurate or pseudo-accurate descriptions for materiel, but that's just me. I still comprehend the use of words like 'Beep', peep, jeep (lower case, of course: don't want to infringe a Trademark!), Blitz, etc etc.

But there are times when I have to react to the 'common' to correct the record. When Mud & Dust was published, a book reviewer took me to task for using the nomenclature 'F1' to describe the 'Truck 5 ton 6x6 GS' built by International in Australia, as the reviewer stated that everyone knows it is a Mk.5. What rubbish! The truck may have been popularly known as a Mk.5, but it was officially introduced into service as the 'F1', and was never the Mk.5. Same with those that insist the Army's Land Rover 6x6 fleet is called 'Perentie' - you'll see it in magazines like Classic Military Vehicle. 'Perentie' was the PROJECT name, not the vehicle name, and the various configurations were never officially known as 'Perentie Land Rovers' or whatever other mix of words have been used.

But it can get a bit ridiculous to use the FULL designation when writing. Take the Centurion tank for example, the Australian nomenclature was 'Tank, Combat, Full Tracked, Medium Gun, Centurion Mark 5/1 fitted for Wireless C42/B47' - bit much to repeat several times a page in an article or discussion! So we all shorten it to 'Centurion Mk.5/1' or whatever.

As for 'Wicked-Pedia', the less said the better! Might be a starting point when looking for something, but always look for corroboration elsewhere.

Mike C

Last edited by Mike Cecil; 20-02-13 at 18:23.
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