The QF 1-pounder, nicknamed the "pom-pom gun" due to its unique report, was a 37mm caliber autocannon of British origin. It was the very first autocannon ever developed.
Essentially, the 1-pounder was a scaled-up version of the Maxim machine gun, and was even designed by the same man, Hiram Maxim. Its longer firing range necessitated the use of exploding projectiles to judge range. This, in turn, dictated a shell weight of at least 400 grams (0.88 lb), as that was the lightest exploding shell allowed under the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868.
The British government initially rejected the weapon, though other nations had bought it, including the South African Republic (Transvaal) government. In the Second Boer War, the British found themselves being fired on with success by the Boers using Maxim-Nordenfelt 1-pounders with ammunition that was manufactured in Germany.
In response, Vickers-Maxim shipped 50 to 57 guns to South Africa out to the British Army, with the first three arriving just in time for the Battle of Paardeberg. The early Mk 1 weapons were usually mounted on field carriages.
In World War I, it was used as an early anti-aircraft weapon in the home defense of Britain. Adapted as the Mk I*** and Mk II on high-angle pedestal mountings and deployed along London docks and on key buildings in London. Others were mounted on mobile motor lorries at key towns in the East and Southeast of England.
25 guns were employed in August 1914, with 50 additional units in February 1916. A Mk II gun (which is now at the Imperial War Museum, London) on a Naval pedestal mounting was the first to open fire in defense of London during the war. However, the small shell has proven insufficient for damaging the German Zeppelin airships sufficiently to bring them down. The Ministry of Munitions noted in 1922 that: "The pom-poms were of very little value. There was no shrapnel available for them, and the shell provided for them would not burst on aeroplane fabric but fell back to earth as solid projectiles...were of no use except at a much lower elevation than a Zeppelin attacking London was likely to keep".
Nevertheless, Lieutenant O.F.J. Hogg of No. 2 AA Section in III Corps was the first anti-aircraft gunner to shoot down an aircraft, with 75 rounds on September 23rd, 1914 in France. The British Army never employed it as an infantry weapon in World War I, as its shell was considered too small for use against any objects or fortifications. Added to that, British doctrine at the time relied on shrapnel fired by QF 13 pounder and 18-pounder field guns as its primary medium range anti-personnel weapons.
The gun was experimentally mounted on aircraft as the lighter 1-pounder Mk III, with the cancelled Vickers E.F.B.7 having been specifically designed to carry it in its nose. As a light anti-aircraft gun, it was soon replaced by the larger QF 1½ pounder and QF 2 pounder naval guns.
It was manufactured in Germany for both the German Army and Navy. In World War I, the Germans used it as an early anti-aircraft gun under the name of the Maxim Flak M14. Four guns were used mounted on field carriages in the German campaign of South West Africa in 1915 against South African forces.
The Belgian Army used the gun on a high-angle field carriage mounting.
United States of AmericaEdit
The Maxim-Nordenfelt version of the weapon was adopted by the U.S. Navy as the 1-pounder Mark 6 sometime before the 1898 Spanish-American War. The Mark 7, 9, 14, and 15 weapons were similar. It was the first dedicated anti-aircraft gun adopted by the U.S. Navy, specified as such on the Sampson-class destroyers that were first launched in 1916-1917.
Deployed on various types of ships in the U.S. participation of World War I, it was replaced by the 3"/23 caliber gun as the standard AA gun on new destroyers.
After the Battle of Blair Mountain, the U.S. Army deployed artillery, including two pom-pom guns.
Rapid-firing 1-pounders were also used, including the Sponsell gun and eight other marks; the Mark 10 that was slated to be mounted on aircraft. Designs included Hotchkiss and Driggs-Schroeder. Semi-automatic and line-throwing variations were also adopted. In the case of the semi-automatic version, it refers to a weapon in which a breech was opened and the cartridge ejected automatically after firing, ready for manual loading of the next round.
- The QF stands for "quick-firing." This is an obsolete category of naval weapon designed for engaging fast gunboats and particularly torpedo boats. It was defined by the British Royal Navy as a gun that could fire not less than 12 rounds per minute, and the classification did not actually require the weapon to be self-loading.