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Deacon (artillery)

AEC Mk I Gun Carrier
("Carrier, 6-Pdr Gun, A.E.C., Mk I Deacon")
Type Self-propelled artillery
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1942–43
Used by UK
Wars Second World War
Production history
Number built 175
Specifications
Weight 12.2 tonne
Length 21 ft (6.39 m)
Width 7 ft 9 in (2.36 m)
Height 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Crew 4

Armour up to 20 mm (0.78 in)
Main
armament
QF 6 pounder (57 mm)
24 rounds
Engine AEC A173 6-cyl diesel
95 hp (71 kW)
Power/weight 7.8 hp/tonne
Suspension wheeled, 4 x 4
Operational
range
174 miles (280 km)
Speed 19 mph (30 km/h)

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 1942–1943.

History

The Deacon, fitting in with the naming self-propelled artillery after ecclesiastical titles, 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 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 service

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 Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery were victors in a battle against a German force that included Panzer III tanks. Deacons were withdrawn at the end

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