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OnTarget
May 2009 \\ Next article \\ Back to current issue index

Side view of the prototype Yeramba

By

Mike Cecil
Head of Military Heraldry and Technology
Australian War Memorial

The immediate post war period saw Australian Army interest in self propelled (SP) artillery. Three armoured formations had recently been created, emphasising the need for artillery with a similar degree of mobility to the tanks.

Sufficient M3A5 Grant tanks and 25 pr field guns were available within Australia for conversion to an interim SP mounting suitable for training purposes. The local conversion would also maintain local standardisation, since the Grant tank was still used by the Victorian-based 2nd Armoured Brigade, and the 25 pr field gun was still the standard field artillery equipment. It was also the cheapest alternative.

Consequently, in July 1949, approval to convert one Grant to an SP 25 pr was given. Canadian Sexton SP drawings were obtained and provided the basis for the local design, which was a Grant M3A5 chassis with the turret and much of the frontal armour replaced by an open-topped fighting compartment. The driver’s position and controls were moved down and to the right within the vehicle.

The 25-pounder ordnance and a strengthened saddle were mounted on a bolster-and-beam assembly welded to the track sponsons. The gun was equipped with the same sighting gear as the towed field gun, which allowed for both direct and indirect laying.

The 25-pounder gun uses separate ammunition,so the normal loading was 102 standard cartridges and 16 super cartridges, along with 88 mixed High Explosive and smoke projectiles and 16 Armour Piercing Shot projectiles.

The prototype underwent user and firing trials at Puckapunyal in December 1949. It was then returned to Monegeeta for modifications and completion of the stowage arrangements. Following general acceptance authorisation was given in February 1950 to convert another 13 tanks to SP mountings. The first of these was completed in November 1950 and the last delivered in August 1952. Including the prototype, fourteen vehicles were converted.

While officially introduced into service as ‘Ordnance QF 25-pounder Mk2/1 on Mounting Self Propelled 25 Pounder (Aust) Mk1 on Carrier, Grant, SP 25 Pounder (Aust) Mk1’, the name ‘Warragal’ was proposed to replace this awkward nomenclature in general use. This was unacceptable, however, and in January 1951, the name ‘Yeramba’ - an instrument for throwing spears - was accepted as the official short name.

Only 22 Field Regiment was eventually equipped with the Yeramba. The Regiment was highly enthusiastic about its equipment and unique role of being self propelled. With a name change to 22 Field Regiment (Self Propelled), personnel also adopted the Armoured Corps black beret resplendent with RAA cap badge, and were issued with AFV crewman’s rubberised canvas soled boots.

Despite the gruelling labour associated with maintaining the tracked Yeramba, it was considered a very good weapon by its crews.

Their pride in being the only SP regiment in the Australian Army was short lived, however, as the Yeramba was declared obsolete in 1956. The unit was disbanded in 1957. It still remains the only SP field artillery weapon that Australia has officially introduced into service.
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