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.
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.
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.