I encountered a unit war diary recently that referred to using some 2-Pdr APHE in June 1941 so some was still available but that the majority of rounds being fired by British tank crews and British and Commonwealth anti-tank units was apparently the fully solid and inert 2-Pdr A.P. Shot. The APHE was no longer issued to frontline units in order that the slight penetration advantage of a solid AP-Shot was available.
I was under the impression that the AP had a significant penetration advantage over the APHE, but I have seen no comparative figures. It appears that many of the APHE rounds were filled with sand to be used as practice ammunition, and a number of these were discovered by 7th Armoured Brigade prior to Crusader. I also suspect that some of these practice rounds (referred to as "plugged shell") were issued to 1st Armoured Division prior to their move to France AND SUBSEQUENTLY USED IN ACTION, hence contributing to the poor reputation of APHE. The reason that these rounds would have been sent to France is that 1st Armoured Division thought they were being sent there to continue their training, and not directly into action.
However some discussion was taking place about using it against anti-tank guns (Blagden's report IIRC) where the small HE element might detonate after penetrating the gun shield to eliminate the crew. So far I have not seen any evidence that it happened in action and have not seen any deliberate choice between 2-Pdr APHE and 2-Pdr A.P. Shot because of a type of target.
This was first mentioned in a report by Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. Barlow of GSD 5, GHQ Cairo, following Crusader, although William Blagden may have mentioned it in one of his subsequent reports. Barlow was inspired by the clean holes made in an 88mm gun shield from a Matilda mounted 2 pdr.
The data is of Complete Rounds that had past inspection and all were "Home" deliveries which I imagine is to UK depots for issue onwards to units. None of the numbers below were quoted in the Overseas Delivery column. The dates and types (if there were no other sources) seem to be the base line to include or exclude specific types from specific actions and time would have been taken in shipping to overseas theatres, if at all. Thousands of rounds were produced after these dates but I wanted to give you at least the first quantities in the first quarters they were issued in the UK.
Gun............Amn.........1st Prod Qnty...First Qtr Issued
2-Pdr...........HE..........20,000 .........July-Sept 42
2-Pdr.......... APCBC......4,000...........Jan - Mar 43
2-Pdr.......... SV...........5,000...........Jan - Mar 43
No 2 pdr HE or APCBC made its way to the Middle East before the end of hostilities. The HE shell had existed for some time (i.e. since before the war) but had only been suited to the cartridge for the naval 2 pounder. The cartridge case for the tank/anti-tank gun was therefore modified in order to accept this shell. These were only supposed to be supplied to India, Australia and South Africa, although they were later issued to 21 Army Group. I've no idea why they didn't go to the Middle East, although the production figures I've seen indicate a later production start than indicated here.
Dili asked about 2-Pdr HV (the extra propellant charge in the cartridge case) being present - I'll check my notes later this week. Not sure I have a definite answer in respect of in the field rather than sitting in a UK depot. I hope it got into the field.
The 2 pounder HV, in which the MV was increased from 2600-2650 fps to 2800-2850 fps was available in the Middle East from June 1942 onwards. I believe the 50 fps variation in the MV figures is dependent on whether it was measured from a new barrel or quarter-worn one.