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"Antiaircraft Defense of Tobruk" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on the antiaircraft defense of Tobruk during WWII was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 11, Nov. 5, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The following brief comments were made at Tobruk during the period when it was undergoing intense bombardment by Axis airplanes. The antiaircraft defense of Tobruk was outstanding up to the time of its surrender.

a. Rate of Fire

The rate of fire with the 37-mm antiaircraft gun of 15 rounds per minute was consistently mantained, each round being set with the appropriate fuze setting. This rate of fire was continued for periods of well over a minute, and does not represent the maximum result of any single instance. This performance was due to the considerable practice obtained, and was substantially the same whether the loading tray was used or not.

b. Cover

The gun emplacements had often been the object of attack, and many of them were surrounded by numerous bomb craters. Close attention was therefore given to the parapets which, whenever possible, were themselves countersunk.

Stone parapets were as much as 6 to 8 feet thick at the base and about 5 feet at the top. Heavy construction such as this represented considerable labor but after several attacks there was no question of skimping the work.

Stone parapets did not splinter and were found to be highly satisfactory against blast.

The size of the emplacements was reduced to a minimum compatible with freedom of action for the gun crew. This proved to be a diameter of 21 feet.

c. Camouflage

Close attention was paid to camouflage which, because of the broken terrain, presented very little difficulty. A number of alternate and supplemental gun sites were prepared, partly for decoy purposes and partly to enable guns to be shifted on short notice.

d. Offensive Spirit

The offensive spirit shown by the gun crews at Tobruk was particularly noticeable, and it is not too much to say that during the siege the AA defense dominated the morale of the enemy flyers. This was reflected in the relatively little damage done in the harbor despite the heavy scale of the attacks, and the amount of air effort directed against the gun positions themselves.


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