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Volume l0 Issue ll2

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Modernarnries cancallupon awhole family of specialist
armowed vehicles for combat engineefing operations, but in
World War II speciat purpose vehicles wete a novelty. This Sherman Crab flail tank in action clearly shows the
Several nations developed tanks for toles such as a rmoured amount of dust and dirt that these anti-tank mine flails
could produce. Sherman Crabs were used by the 79th
recovery, but Britain led the way with a bewildeing variety ArmouredDivision onD-Day and after, and asmallnumber
of tank conversions reioicing inthe title of 'Funnies'' were passed to the US Army during 1944.

The contents of this study show something of an imbalance in compari- Americans drd not bother to use specialist vehrcles on such s:'=
son wrth those oiothers in this series, for they deal mainly with the many lnstead they decided to make do with what they had, and the-,- 3 .=.,
types of special-purpose vehicles used by the Bntrsh 79th Armoured suffered accordingly, For the simple fact is that many of the l-e:--:-:-
Division. For once there is no preponderance of US designs because included here actually saved ltves. Combat enqtneers operati:-g:-:-
during World War II the Americans spent little of their considerable lnslde the protection of an armoured vehicle were much safer ri a:--:-,
potentral on the types ofvehicle included here They concentrated on than hapless soidiers attempting to work out in the open, and mel- *::,=:
combat vehicles pure and simple, and lrom the lactories of the Unlted mine-clearing tanks of whatever type were safer than men using :--,-=
States poured streams of combat tanks and all manner of fighting vehi- clearing methods,
cles, But not all special purpose vehicles fell into this category -:-,.-
But rt was a different matter once these reached Europe There many described here include command vehicles, ammunitlon or carJ: l--
of them were reworked for special purposes, vehicles ranglng from riers, and even such oddrties as the Rammtlger that was supp:s=: -
armoured englneer vehicles to mine-clearing tanks of severai types. It knock down buildrngs rn urban warfare, They are a motley buncl c:- - '
was different as far as the British were concernedl they had a special of interest and a subject of study in their own right,
task to perform, namely the invasion of Europe in order to take on the
German army on the continent. The only way they could do that was by A M atild a AMRA (Anti- M ine R oller Att achm en t) r's seen rn I I 4 2. T he s e an t:'
using special vehicles of all kinds, those which could clear battlefield mine rollersweremeantto detonatemines by simply rolling over them ana
obstacles, recover precious dlsabled vehicles and perform special were originally developed for use with the eaily Cruiser tanks. The Matilia
tasks such as burning out stubborn strongpoints The Germans and was notihe only tank touse this device; somewere fitted toValentines.


- -*t-
F'. -.
' - ::.;!, ,i,,:_ {'
.r':-,-,-3:#i=''' .- -'
rl =.-=:,r=ii:.i=:::
ffi bemolition charges
The demolition charges used by the
Bntrsh 'Funmes' were nearly all car-
ried by Churchill AVREs, for the em-
placrng of these special powerful
charges was one of the tasks for which
the AVRE was intended. The charges
themselves were special obstacle-
demolishrng packs of high explosive
that had to be placed agrainst the
targret, which might be anything from a
sea or anti-tank wall to a blockhouse or
an offendinq building, Sometrmes the
charges were large single chunks of
explosive, and in others they were
small charges setin a pallern and held
rn a steel frame, One thing all the va-
nous charges did have in common and
that was odd and even bizarre names.
One of the more straightforward of
these charge devices was the Banga-
lore Torpedo, These pipe chargres
were intended for mine- or barbed
wire-clearinq, but could be used for
other purposes and on the AVRE they
were held in front-mounted frames,
also used for the Jones Onion. The
Jones Onion first appeared rn 1942 and
was the codename given to a frame
onto which various charges could be of the AVRE on a simple steel arm. The plosive, and the whole ie'.-_::',';- :::-
attached, The frame was carried on
The Jones Onion, seen here carried
idea was that the AVRE simply moved ried on he AVaL a'.' :_:.: --: _:-= by a Churchill tank, was a demolition
two arms, one on each side of the up to the target and the charge was Goat was so lt-:J.l=: -.'.:- :- --. := device carried on a steel frame that
AVRE, and was held upright as the then ignrted, The charges involved pushed ag.:-:.::.=-::-::-:= .- :: -t l:. could be placed against an obstacle
targel was approached. Once rn posr- rangred in werght from 5.44 kg (12]b) molshed a:.: 'i.: :::i:.= -.'.':
tion the frame was released by pulling up to 11.34k9 (25 Ib), the smaller automa:_tl_;:._.=-= :. : ,:i:,-a -t : :.:n
such as an anti-tankwall. The frame
was then released to allow the tank tc
on a cable and two legrs on the bottom charge rejoicing in the name of Light -ron. T:-.- :. , :.a .', : ..l -l_=:.
:=.:erse retire and detonate the charge.
of the frame were so arranged that the Carrot. The Carrot was used exten- at"a,'.+,',--.: --.::--:l; .r -:::-:_.]on lo
frame always fell agarnst the tarqet sively for trrals but was abandoned be ::::l :,.:=: :-::::-:aiiy or by the wall to be demolished and th=:_
obstacle. The charges could then be during late 1943 and was not used rn l---+,:- -::: -;--:: _:-:l:se cous_n released from the AVRE, Once in oc.: .
fired electrically by a trailing cable action. :: :: l:=: -.';:. :i:: Elevatable Goat, tion another release cable allowed -:-=
after the AVRE had reversed away, However, the Goat was used tn ac- -:-= -,';:-. :- ::-i=i:::;e agairist high linked charges to fall away from ,:-=
The side-mounted arms could then be
jettisoned if required,
tion, This may be considered as a de, ::: ::-:S ---::, - .i:.-iank walls, and frame, The top section of the frame r.;'.
velopment ol the Onion bur ri ,., - r---i-:--: -* -:^ Ai/DF-..
v,\L vvas carried above the top of the wall, and i:_.
Another device that appeared in much larger and Lnvolved the uss .' , ::- -:-: :-::: :: ire ^hull rather like an allowed the charges to fall onto ea:'
1942 was the Cafiot. This was a much frame 3.2 m (10 i' 6 in) wrde arrc . :: -. :r<,1*.:t-:)l:e The 'bridge'was in fact side of the wall, which could then :=
simpler device than the large Onion (6 fl 6 in) Ionq. Onto th-s toame : _ -: : : = :=:---: ::-'r;Lch lmked charoes were destroyed once the AVRE had mo-;=:
and consisted of a charge held in front arranged up to 816 kg (1 BOi li' :- =,.- , -- =- . :.= lajne was placed aqainst away,

>K tar,galore Torpedo tanks

The Bangalore Torpedo is an ancient
combat engineerinq device that was
revived dunng World War I for clear-
ing barbed-wire entanglements. In its
simplest form the Bangalore Torpedo
is a metal tube fllled with explosive
and sealed at both ends, Most types
have attachment points at each end to
enable other torpedoes to be joined to
make up extra lengths, The charges
are set off either by a burmng fuse or
by some form of remote detonator.
These torpedoes were soon in use by
armoured combat engineers to clear
paths through minefields, and simple
delivery devices such as that fltted to
the front of a Churchtll AVRE were
soon devrsed,
However the normal Bangalore Tor-
pedo is only about I 5 m (5 ft) long, and
armoured engdneers were often caled
upon to brrdge minefields many
metres deep. It would obviously save
time and effort if longer torpedoes
could be joined up to clear paths
through deep minefields, and thrs
course of action was followed to pro-
duce the 76.2-mm (3-in) Snake. On the
Snake the lengths of explosive-filled

The Snake was a form of Bangalore

Torpedo used to clear large
mtnell'e/ds. Seen here carried on a
C hurchill, lle Snake r.rzas assemb/ed
onthe edge of aminefield, pushed
across it by the tank and then
detonated to clear a path.

Bangalore Torpedo tanks (continued) Special Purpose Tanks of World War II
tubrng or pipe were 6, I m (20 ft) lonq and was a conversion of the Churchill Churchill AVRE or a Sherman in an irom the 1.- -,: -:=:1-:-- -= ''-.. :=
and could be joined together into Gun Carrier, a Churchill variant wrth a engrneless Universal Carier that car- Ionaled ro :l=i :.. :-. -:i -' :- -- '-
lengths of up to 366 m (1,200 ft) to en- box superstructure that had been in- ried a rocket, a length of hose and a have been ro-:.: :, -: '. :::
able them to be pulled across a tended to mount a 76 2-mm qun for use tank of liquid explosive, The rocket 152m150ri;. ::.. :::.:L:--'. : . :
minefield and then detonated to clear as a tank destroyer. For a number of carried the hose across the minefield, ing tank r,r'as lJ-:'.'.-.-:. j.j.- -.: , . . -
a path up to 6,4 m (21 ft) wlde, It was reasons the Churchill Gun Carrier was and when in place the hose was filled purposes.
better if the Snake tubing could be
pushed across a mrnefield, but when
not accepted for service and the few
vehicles rnvolved carried Snake in-
with the liquid explosive and deton
ated. The Tapeworm was another hose
--:- -.=.---: :r -
Perhaps the ..r:.
lore- type de\,'tce -.'; -
--s I1_.::.; 3.=-:.;-
this happened the lengths involved stead, on both sides ofthe box super- device that was carrred tn a trailer to alore. This was r:r :- :-- ::,
were less. OnIy 122 m (400 ft) of Snake structure. The Gun Carrrer moved the lhe edge of a mrneheld where -t was fltled with CIRD tc--::-. ::-i .'-j j
tubing could be pushed in front of a tubing to a point close to the target, and deposited. A tank with a CIRD (Cana- tended for barb= i-,'. -: :-. -: : -
tank with any degnee of control, The here the crew assembled the Snake, dian Indestructible Roller Device) Each of rhe CIRD arr;-, r:--.: I i :::. '.
tanks involved with Snake were usual- whrch was then pushed into posrtron then moved across the minefield and alore Torpedo nrrei '.','.-'. = | . .:
Iy Shermans or Churchill AVREs, but across the minefield and detonated as it proceeded the tank pulled the moror. The rockers car:-=: ::-.- :,:. - ,
the Royal Engineers did also have Allhough Snake was used lor training explosive-filled hose across the lo res across rhe wre a-r-i . . r- . -- - -
small numbers of a special vehrcle and trials it was not used operationally. minefield, When the full length of hose ed smal] Qnapntrls nelo':=-. .-:.'::'::
This was known as the Snake Carrier The Conger was towed behrnd a (457 m/500 yards) had been pulled agarnst the wrre for expl: : ' :'

ffi ffi ifiih"-"rearins nails

The notion of using chain flails to de-
tonate mines in the path of a tank came The ShermanCrabwas the mast
from a South African engineer Major widely-used mine flail tank of World
A S.J. du Toit. The idea was that a hori- War IL Although fitted to other types
zontally-mounted drum carried on of tank, the Shermanwas the
arms in front of a tank would be rotated preferred carrier. The odd- looking
under power. As it turned rt would beat device at the hull rcar is a station-
the ground rn front with chains that car- keeping marker to guide other flail
ried weights on their ends, and this tanks.
beating would provide enough press-
ure to set off any mines underneath.
Early trials proved the effectiveness of
the idea, and the first sets of mine flails
were fltted to Matrlda tanks rn North
Afrrca during 1942.
These first flails were known as
Scorpion, and on the Matilda Scorpion
the flail drum was powered by an arx
iliary engine mounted on the rigrht-
hand srde ofthe tank, These Scorpions
were used during the El Alamein bat-
tle in October 1942 and also duringr
some later North African actions, They
proved to be so effective that a more
specialized versron known as the
Matilda Baron was developed. On the
Baron the turret was removed and the
flail drum was powered by two auxili-
ary engines, one on eachside Howev-
er the Scorpion concept offered more
long-term promise as it could be fitted
to several types of tank to produce, for
example, the Grant Scorpion and the
Valentine Scorpion, But before that
could happen a great deal of further *!ft'
development work had to be carried iI
out, for the early flails had demons-
trated some unwelcome traits Among
these were uneven beating patterns
that left unbeaten patches, and flarl
charns that either became tanqled and
useless or simply beat themselves to
pieces. Another problem became
apparent on uneven ground, where
the flaiis were unable to beat into sud-
den drps,
The development work carried out
in the UK resulted rn a device known as
the Crab which was usually fltted to
Sherman tanks to produce the Sher-
man Crab. The Crab had 43 chains
mounted on a drum powered by a
take-off from the main engrne and had
such features as srde-mounted wrre-
cuttrngr discs to hack through barbed-
wire entanqlements, screens to shield effectrve rn rts own riqtht, and also per- ing from gears on the front sprockets of The Matilda Scorpion prototype
the front of the tank from flyinqr dust mitted the carrier to retain its turret the carrier tank. Again, it was passed shown here was an earIy atterrp:- :a
and debris and, later in the Crab's de- and main gmn, enabling it to be used as over in favour of the Crab, produce a mine flail tank. The
velopment, a device to follow ground a qun tank rf the occasion arose. The Americans drd not spend much =a::
flail drumwas driven by two 22.4-i\'
contours and enable the flail drum to Needless to say there were many development time on mine flails, In- G0- hp) Bedford engines. one ea :i
rise and fall accordingly, Crabs were other experimental models ol mine stead they concentrated on anti-mrne side of the hull, and the device z'-
used by the 79th Armoured Division flails, One was the Lobster, a device rollers and when they drd require Iaterfitted toValentine and Gta:.:
and iater a number were handed over that came chronologically before the flails, as they did when they encoun- tanks as well as the Matilda.
to the US Army for use in North West Crab but was not accepted for sewice, tered the large defensive mine belts
Europe. The main advantaqes of the The Pram Scorpion was an off-shoot of along the German borders rn the win- British Crabs which ,'+.. ::::-:. :- -.'
Crab system were that it was very the Scorpion wrth the drum drive com- ter of 1944-5, they used numbers of the Mine Exploder T4
The"Funnies'iR Acfion
I n oppased landing on the F renchcoaslpresen ted a host of engineering problems
{or the Allies, rlngingfromhow to land nnks on a beach, howt6 pass t"iityiiioiin
rninefields and how tobreach the huge seawalls. TheBritish deieloped tne;fiiiies,,
a unique series of armaured vehicles designed to overcome alt theie ab.sfac/es.

To the rest of the British armv the 79th in places the AVREs often used the Petard
Armoured Drvision were rhe funnies. a name spigot mortars to knock out delence emplace-
no doubt prompted by the odd appearance oi menis, but the Petard bombs, althouqh iarqe
some of their combat vehicles, and a name that and powerful, were not very accurate and it
stuck To -he men oi the 79th Armo-red Divr. usually 'ook a direcr hit on a gun barrel or
sion the name was at first seen as anything but embrasure to knock out the enemy gun, hence
humorous, for they were hard at work attemp the need for tle 6sn r6p;s.
ting io formulate tactics and workingr methods
in an area of warfare in which there was no Flalltanks
prevrous expene:lce. tverl-hrno they had ro On the beach the gun tanks usually took up a
do nad ro be worked out from Lne betinnLnqs posrtion to prov-de coverrng fire as the AVRts
ou' ihey conquered -he problems so well ha' and Crab flail tanks started their tasks, lt was
their successes made them proud of their nick- usually the Crabs that had to move forward first,
ranle. for every oeach and rts rmmediale htnLerland
The 79th Armoured Drvision was a very egd was iiberally covered by mineflelds iaid by the
litarian formation. In the early days, when 'the Cermans rn lhe monlhs and years before the
book was siill beinq written', everyone from invasion. The Crabs usually operated in trocps
:roopers upwards was allowed his say in how ol fo'rr or fivc tanks, and had he task of ctearLnq
lhings should be done, Ilanyone had a sugges- tralhs through the mineielos on every oattaljon
iion it was lisiened to, assessed and rf suitable lront, each battalion requrrinq at Ieast two clear
lmplemented, Thus bv the trme the 79th paths, The Crabs moved ibrward siowly to en-
.'rilnoured Division went rnto acrion for Ihe hrs, able therr flatls lo deiona'e ev^rv mtnc encoun-
:rme, its operating methods v,rere thoroughly iered: this meanl speeds as low as 2.4 km/h
-:derstood ar all levels and the srandard ol (l 5 mph) and, as the tanks n:oved their Jlails
:raining had reached the pilch where things krcked up debrrs and C::st :hat aiiracteci :he
;illowed carefi;lly rehearsed drills, enemy's attentlcns The-,' also picughed tne
ground up dreadiully, io ihe e:.tent that rhev
ShermanDDs oiren had ro oe tollor,rel by AVRLs rvrrh mai-
One of the flrst tenets of these drills was that laytng devrces to enable wheeled vehicles to
.-r:'rehicles with Lheir speciahzed tasks had Lo cross the churned terrarr.
rit the beaches in a sequence. In practice this The Crabs usually worked two or three
reant that the Duplex Drlve (DD) Shermans abreast rn dn eche lcrn lormat.on. fvery
raa to swim ashore from the landing craft and minefield lhey crossed and c eared was ol
lrrive at the same time as the combat en- course covered bv some form of defence work
r-:leers ir rheir AVREs, Once ashore rhe DD or obstacle such as anti-tank wa1ls, so coverinq
. rermans dropped their wadinq screens and fire had to be provided lrom the gun tanks at all
..,'ere then ready to use their marn 75-mm (2.95- times. On some beaches extra covering fire
-:) guns to provide flre support for the AVREs, was provideci by naval vessels offshore, fire
re DD tank gunners had been 'rained to hc orders and corrections being provided by
pcint where their gunnery was up to firing at Royal Artillery lorward observa' jon officers rn
.re gim embrasures of the German beach de- qun tanks landed i: the wave 1ust bchrnl ,ne
r re weapons and hrlring rhem wirhin rheir assault engLneers so rhe 79 h Armou:eci Divr
'-r..' 'ew shols This was no easy :ask espectally sion dld not always have to rely upon its own
as most ol the German beach delence em nre slrpport resources.
:lacements did not iace out to sea. Instead thev In a typical case the Crabs would ilai1 rjqht
:-rnred along the beaches'/vilh the gun muz-
---s pro'ected behind concrere watls on the
up to the anti-tank wall and one would then flail
a path to one side of the poini vrhere the obsta- tr*
sea-unrard srcie,Thus the gun tanks had to move cle was Lo be cieared. The Crabs then colout of
r.:rr,rrard and expose themselves to the enemy the wav for the AVR.Es to move rn. Usualty only
,Jrunners belore they could even fire a shot. In one AVRL would approach rhe cbslacle
claces this meant that the AVREs had to qo rnto equipped with one of the various forms of car- l:

^:-rc n as soon ds Lhey .l.nded lust to clear rying frame such as the Jones Onion on which a
icstacles on the path forward to where ihe heavy demolitron charge had been placed,
Shermans could make their firsi shot. Of course The irame would rhen be ser againsl Lhe obsla- H
Above: One way of crossing a wail, the Churchill
tank climbs a bridge laid by a second, brir)ge-
laying tank, and perches precariously on top. It
$ drops a bundle of fascines to the bottom, intending
to dr iv e ove r th e m. tr n the e ve nt. the fascines seem
to have rolled on, but the Churchill gets down
safelr anyway.

Le{t: The projeclile fired by the Petard spigot

mortar carried by the Churchill AVRE had a
diameter of 290 mm (l L4 in) and weighed IB.1 l<g
@A b). It was known to the tlaops as the'Flving
Dustbin', and it cauld he fired to a range af about
73 m(30yards).
SpecialPurpose Tanks of Worlo I-
cle and the AVRE retire to lhe cleared
area nearby. The charge r/ould be detonated
with a fearful ioar. and more Crabs anci A.VREs
rvould move iorward. If all was rve]l the charge ti
-n,ould have blown a hole rlqht thrcueth the
cbstacle but this was noi always possible, so
AVREs viith various forms of assault bridglng
.wouid be used to bridge the gap, ;.n some cases
cne or other of the various lorms of ARK wouid
be used
Sherman Crabs
The he.rch ir nor.r ol ine obs'ac e coulci g^1
rather crowded durtng this obstacle-b,usting
staqe, The Sherrnan Crabs, by the very nature ai:rr,_'L,'
cl ihelr task, were likely to irecome casualties it r .:l
at any stagre; so twc spare Crabs r,.rere usualiy fi ,i
held in reserve and they couid always be cal- rdl!,),lir.l;,
ied upon to use their guns for fire suppori or to
orovide iocal delence for the reserve AVREs
'hr' ,,err- also rnain.arneo. ro Lho 1-gr 6f 3n
, .:cn C:ce lhL obs'dclc JLcdLn l-. , ----
: acie lneiew:isaq. Lor il '. r'..:ery'-s - il- ?
Sappers trainwith a Churchill AVRE {:arrying aGaatMarklll demo}itian device.TheGoat carrieci
-:,r..vard but this had to be done ith care lor ii B I6.5 kg ( I B0A Ib) of explosive on a stee! frcme. which was positioned against an obstacle (here ar.
known, thanks to the careful aenal and anti-tankwaJJ) and f.hen reJeasert"The AVRE then backed aff and set af{ theGoatcharge by electrica:.:
::her reconnaissance, that the area behind the other means.
:each was the main German delence area co
.:ed rn -tl r rTSldrS Of ounrers. qun ernploce- In places the German bunkers were dlfficult most purposes 73 m iBO yards) w-as lr: :- - : ..
.nents and tank traps Thus ihe gun tariks once o l.;ro; kc-r' or gunhre .r Pe ald brnbs. Sone The flame couid be projected in one s:- -'
ncre provided the inrtial hre support as the were built very low on ihe ground and their oursls or -n I:nqer-oerrod burs.s o-.. ,
A,/REs and Crabs moved lorrrrard Bv ihis time weapon emtrrasures were cliffrcult even to cc.llC raproly persLdJe the occ:pan':
' ey wou J nave rnfen.ry suppor . ..oi a. spot, 1et aione to hit For ihese the 79rh bunker not to continue frghting,
:.cr1 as the beach was clear the Bulfaloes with Armoured Dr.risron had a nasty solution, lor the
:leir troop carqoes coulC drive rlght up the Crocoor.e Lolks "v^rtr brouqfrL -rp lo iea. .vi'n A ClLurchtll advances through the gap in an a:.:: .

,:leared paths and close the d-efended area, hen . i'he Ct:c.od,:-s we'c C". -'c1r-l t-r.l s tank'wall made by the detonation of aGoat !r!a:
: ,FEsr.rrrh lascines6e-rrd kc;sed'orir.s he demojjilon cla rge. Although the concrete ias ':.
with a flame projector mounteci in place oi the been aJmosf en lirelv blasted awav the steel
,ank ditcires and more assault bridging cculd hull machine-gr.rn and fuel icr ihe plcjeclor rn a reinforcing rads tet into the conirete have
ce used to cross the water obstacles that the trailer tolveci behrnri the lank The ilane prc- suryjyed, but as seefl lere tiey would soon be
Germans were fbnd olploviding alonq some oi jector cor:ld lire a let of flane r-ip lc L 1'.r n: ?120 crushed flat and would present no obstacle tc i
,he flatter beach hinterlands, yards) under favourable corLdi:rons but lcr tank.
The'Funnies'in-Acttan ', ' ," ""
-:. .:e iays lmrrrediaiely, after thelNormandy
. r-:,,js ri was the Crocodileslhat highlighted
,:: -: :ne 79th Armoured Divisionls. grdatesl
-.'::l:-,::iai problems; lhat of cOmmand and
:.:.'.2::, Althouqh t,he units of rthe 79th
-:,::---:;red Divisron were split up among all the
..=...'-r:-ln unrts ol the British and Canadian
:- ri--=-S. ihey were still under the command and
- -'-:::l cl ihe 79th's drvisionai staffs;;,The,prob:
.-::- -.', 1s ihat local Comrr.tandersdid,nol alwavs
.-: :..:.JS mal way and often looked upon the
: ..:-:-:es' as things that,they could use for their
- .'.-:- -::al purposes,'ln many cases this was no
: , : :-er:. ior the diyision was,there to orovide
. -: . ::.
=:rd the troopers were usually wii[ng
'- .,:--:, The problern was that-the-79th
-:-::,,: :red Drvision appreciated,the peCuliar
, ;'*:enents olits equipmentrwhile-othersdid
-:.',:REs were looked'upon as qun tanks
--:::-.= lhe hnitatrons oi theirPetard mortars
:, ,r. 3ttrr€ iccal commanders attempted to use
.=:. =ccordingly, The Crocodiles wgre
:: :'.:-.. s:urce of problems;,the ,flarne pfoied-
, :,. ,.:i a pressure system for their fuel; and
' .

::: i.. c:nstant maintenanceihjs was prone to


-...: -- :: .uvas kept in use folitoo long br at too

.-..1:. 1 cressure, The T9th Armoured Division
,-:,=',',' .:i.s and devised, drillsand orocedures to
:. .--: r- Crocodiles Io come up to sleam'
. - . l:lcre they were needed. Locai com-
:..-:'- j::s could not appreciale this and attemp-
'--: ' <eep Crocodiles on hand at all trmes

able on the battlefield, So well was this lesson This odd-looking device was known as the
'=.:.::..'::i.,;se at shorl notice, Theresult was lhat
.:ey were needed their systems had
learned that after 1945 the 79lh Armoured Divi-
sion,somehow-managed to suwive ail the post-
Bullshorn; itwas a mine plough device developed
by lhe 79 th Armoured Division to clear anti-tank
- =:-. :::ken down or{oolow.a war upheavals and reorganization so that its mines from the path of the carrier tank. Seen here
in the travelling pasition, theBullshornwas used
skills survrved. Today rhe Brirish drmy sii_l has
operationatly during the Norm andy landings and
-:'. .:.= 5a;,is rmmediately'affer the iandings armoured enqlneers, but therr strength is nor.o,'
' -= :.::,s ci lhe T9th Armoured Division did down to a srngle three-squacirc:_ regtmen.
after, but only in small numbeis.
-:-: ::s. t: round up their scattered men and These still carry out an operaiiona] role very This Sherman Crab has its fiail drum and chains in
the lowered positian teady to start. TheCrabwas
--r-:t:-=:: and bring them-back under dr similar ro lha' of rhe oli 79 h fumo;red Drvr lhe standard British nine clearing vehigle;not onli
-..,,'-- ::lirol. Thls was no easy task as many sion, but they are no ionger kno-,vn as the 'Fun- were its {Iails highly efficient, buttheywere so
:, -',:--=:iers had soon learned that vehicies nies'r today they are nicknamed the 'Armoured arranged thalthe carrier Sherman tank could
- . r:. :s .:e Crabs and the AVRES were invalu- Farmers'. retain its rnain75;mm (2.95-in) wn,
ffi bnurctrill AVRE Special Purpose Tanks of World War II
AChurchillAVRE rbseen rv:th deep
wadinggear over the side and rea:
engine airvents, and fittedwith a
Bullshorn anti-tankmine plough a;
the front and with a Porpoise skic
trailer at the rear. These tailers
could be used tocarry awide range
ofsupp/iessucfi as fuel and

One ofthe hard lessons learned duringi as a Petard was fltted. This was
a spigrot hook at the rear was used to tow a
the Dieppe raid of 1942 was that the mortar that fired a 290-mm (1 1,4-in) de- specral AVRE sledge for carryLng
Canadian enqineers were unable to molition charge known to the troops combat stores
proceed with their obstacle demoli- from its general shape as the 'Plyinq The AVREs were first used on a
trons and general beach-cleanng be- Dustbin'. The Petard projectile large scale durrng the Normandy land-
cause of a complete lack of cover from werghed 18, 14 ks (40 lb) and could be inqs ofJune 1944, where they excelled
enemy fire. In the period after the raid fired to a range of 73 m (80 yards) to themselves to such an extent that the
a Canadian engineer officer put for- demolish structures such as pillboxes, AVRE has been with the Royal En-
ward the idea of using a tank con- bunkers and buildlngs, The Petard gineers ever since, the current in-
verted to the combat engdneer role could be reloaded from within the service version being the Centurion
that could carry engineers to the point vehicle, Mk V AVRE. The Churchill AVRE re-
at which they had to operate, and be The Churchill version was known as mained in service until the mid-1950s
capable of carrying a healry demoli- the Churchill AVRE (Armoured Vehi- and even later with some units, They
tion weapon, This would enable the cle Royal Engdneers) and it quickly be- were used to 1ay fascines, lay mats
combat engineers to operate from came the standard equipment of the across soft grround, demolish strong-
under armoured cover and would also armoured engineers attached to points with their Petard mortars, brins
enable them to operate in close co- formatrons such as the 79th Armoured forward combat engineering stores, TheChurchill AVRE Markll featurec
operation with armoured formations. Division and the assault brigades, RE. place healry demolition charqes and afixed turretmounting a dummy
The idea was accepted, and after As well as providingr protection for qtenerally make themselves useful. gun.ltcould carry a front-mounted
some deliberatron the Churchill tank combat enqneers, the AVRE was soon dismountable jib crane or a rear jib
was selected as the basic vehicle for in demand to carry all manner of spe- Specification with a higher lift capacity. There was
conversion, The task consisted mainly cial equipment. ChurchillAVRE also a powertul front-mounted winch
of completely strippinq out the interlor The Churchill versions used for the Crew: 6 that could be used in conjunction
of the Churchill tank and removinq the AVRE were the Mk III and Mk IV, Weight:38 tons withthe jibs, and anearth anchor
main armament, The interior was com- Many of the conversions were carried Powerplant: one Bedford T\ryin-Srx was mounted at the rear.
pletely reafianQled to provide stowage out using specially-produced kits, petrol engine developing 261 kW
for the various ilems combal engineers some by industry and some by REME (3s0 hp) 24 9 km/h (15.5 mph); maxLrnum r: -,:
have to use, such as demolition explo- workshops. The conversions rncluded Dimensions: Ienglh 7,67 m (25 ft 2 in); range 193 lcn (120 miles)
sives, specral tools, mines etc, The brackets and other attachment points wldth 3,25 m ( 10 ft B in); heiqht 2.79 m Armament: one Perard morlal, a-.1
main turret was retained but in place of around the hull to which items of spe- (9 ft 2 in) one 7.92-mm 10.3 l2-in) Besa mac:--:-
the normal gun a special device known cialized equipment could be fixed. A Performance: maximum road speed gmn

>K banat Defence Lisht

The devrce known under the cover determine, and anyway the ltght was
name Canal Defence Light was one so powerful that it was dlfficult to look
weapon' of World War II that was des- into the beam even at quite long
trned never to be used. In essence it ranges,
was a simple idea, in which the normal Some 300 CDL turrets were ordered
gun turret of a tank was replaced with to convert Matildas to the CDL role,
another houslng an rntense light to illu- and one brigade of Matilda CDL vehi- i
minate battleflelds at niqht, All manner cles was based in the UK and another
of tactical ploys were advocated for rts in North Africa, The military planners :
use, ranging from srmply blinding an were determined to use the impact of
enemy to providrng general target illu- the CDL units to the full and constantly e:n Y
mlnation. awaited the chance to use them to The Grant CDL (Canal Defence
The idea of mountinq powerful maximum effect. That chance some- Light) was a special vehicle
searchlights on tanks was flrst mooted mounting a turret in which wx
dwing the mid-i930s by a group of located a powerful searchlight that
interested civilians who 'sold' the idea was supposed to dazzle an enemy
to the War Office in 1937, The War during night operations or illumin a re
Office carried out a serres of develop- targets atnight.
ment trials under conditions of Qrreat
secrecy, and by late ]939 a turret was
ready for production, The secrecy
continued with the project beinqr
known as the Canal Defence Light, or
CDL. The flrst turrets produced were
for the Matilda II infantry tank, and all
that the fltting of a CDL involved was
the removal of the normal turret and its
replacement by a new one, though
changes had to be made to the Matrl-
da's electrical systems as well. In the
turret the searchlight was posrtioned
behind a vertical slit in which was a
shutter, In use the searchlight was
switched on and the shutter was
opened and closed very rapidly to
provide a flickenng impression to an
observer in front, This flickering made
the rangie of the CDL light difficult to
Canal Defence Light (continued)

post-June 1944 campaigns. But once what it saw of the CDL at various de- rcans awaited the rrght moment to use Dimensions: lengrth 5.61 m (18 ft 5 in);
agrain the chance to use the Grant CDL monstrations and decided to adopt the theu hghts and the war ended before width 2,59 m (B ft 6 in); height 2.51 m
in combat never arriled, lnstead the CDL for rtseli and thus produced 355 that could happen, (B fr 3 ln)
CDLs were used for the relatively un- CDI: turrets for mounting on otherwise Performance: maximum road speed
excrting task of providing 'artiflcial obsolete M3 Lee tanks, These were Specification 24 kr/h (15 mph); maximumroad
moonlight' to illuminate the crossLngs used to equip six tank battalions for MatildaCDL range257 km (160 miles)
of the Rhine and Elbe in early 1945, special operatlons in Europe, The cov- Crew: 3 or 4 Armament: one 7, 92-mm (0. 3 I 2-in)
Thus the CDL was carried throuqh- er name Tl0 Shop Tractorwas used for Weight: 26 tons Besamachrne-gmn
out the war but never used, However, US CDL vehicles, but once again the Powerplant: two Leyland E14B/E149
the idea certainly attracted attention, CDL was destined not to be used in d.iesel engines each developmg
The US Army was most impressed by combat. As with the British the Amer- 70 8 kw (9s hp)

>K am
The ARK bridging tanks were only one ARK Mk IIs, but made them much sim- Another system, known as the Chur- A C hurchill ARK M k I is shown
type of armoured bridging vehicles pler by omittinq the trackways over chill Woodlark, was grenerally similar with its approach ramp
lsed by the Allies during World War the Churchill tank, the tank tracks and to the ARK Mk II but went rnto action raised. These vehicles were
IL The Brrtish army had for long had an the top of the body bernqr used as the with the ramps closed down: they supposed tobe drivenup
interest in producingr bridging tanks roadway instead. These versions were were meant to be opened up into posi- against anti-tankwalls as far
and actually produced rts flrst such known as the ARK Mk II (Italian Pat- tion by the use ofrockets on the end of as possi'bJe, to e nable o ther
equipment during the latter stages of tem). each ramp and more rockets were vehicles to be drivenup and
World War L In the years just before There were nurerous variations on used to soften the shock of the ramps over the roadway carried
Worid War 1l it carried out a great deal the basic ARK design, One was a hitting the ground. The type did not above their tracks.
cf experimental work and one of its raised ramp system carried on a Chur- pass the trials stage.
rnatn achievements was a sclssors- chill and known as the Churchill Great No data can be provided regarding
--lpe bridge carried on and laid by a Eastern, but that project was discon- these Churchill conversions but a
Covenanter tank. However, during the tinued, Some Shermans were con- Churchill ARK Mk II had a crew of four
early war years this work had to be put verted in ltaly to what was roughly the men and weiqhed 38,5 tons, Most con-
aside in favour of more pressing things equivalent of the ARK Mk II, but the versions were made using Churchill
the 1942 Dieppe landing empha- numbers involved were not large, Mk llls and Mk lVs.
szed the need for armowed bridging
-.'ehicles, not only to cross wet or dry
;raps, but to enable other vehicles to
cross obstacles such as sea walls,
It was the 79th Armoured Divisron
iat producedthe first ARK (Armoured
Ramp Carrier) in late 1943, Known as
re ARK Mk I, this was a conversion of
. Churchill tank with the turet re-
:rcved and a blanking plate (with an
access hatch in the centre) welded
:;er the turret apefiure, Over the
:racks were placed two timbered
:ackways carried on a new super-
srrcture and in front, in line with the
::ackways, were two ramps, each
- 3c m (3 ft 5,25 in) long, At the rear
'rieretwomoreramps, each 1.72 m(5 ft
: -n) long. In use the ARK I was driven
tr to an obstacle such as a sea wall and
p-hed up the obslacle as lar as possr-
:ie The front and rear ramps were
:::n lowered from.their travelling
:,:s.irons andothervehicles couldthen
the ARK to cross the obstacle, The
-<e could also be driven rnto a wet or
:-i; obstacle to act as a bridge,
lae ARK Mk I was soon sup-
p-:cented by the ARK Mk IL Again
-:,s i:sed a Churchrll tank as the basis,
--C re same superstructure/ramp lay-
::: ',';as used. But the Mk II used much
-::-ger ramps (3.8 m/12 ft 6 in) at both
::-:s. and the right-hand set of track-
;;4,,-s a-nd rarnps was half the width of
-:-: :3er (0.61 m/2 ft) as opposed to
- 2-:n (4ft), This enabled a much
:r-ier range of vehicles to use the
l-=fa Ln use the ramps were set up
:::-: aid rear and held in the travelling
::s-:.n by cables and chains con-
:-:-ed io front and rear kingposts,
,',::: i:e ARK came to a qap it drove
:-:: -: ald then released the cables to
:'-:-r, -ie ramps to drop, Other vehr
:-=; ::.:-ld then cross the ARK Bridge.
-:= 3-: Army rn Italy produced its own
Two AEK Mk I I s are used to allow
o*rcr vehicles to cross a deep ravine.
The fustARK was driven into the
ra'rine and the s econd ARK was then
i.r:-,"en onto it. after which its ramps
were joweredto form abridge. The
ra',-he',l;a.s formed by the River Senio
': I!ah'. ApriJ 1945.
ffi tascine and mat-laying devices
The fascine is an item of combat en- Right: This post-war Churchill AVRE
gineering equipment that dates back has an early Centurion-style turret
to ancient times, and for armoured equi p ped with s mo ke dis c h arger s.
warfare the type was resurrected dut- The cargo remains much as itwould
ing World War I to be dropped by have looked in I 944, or I 9 I 7 for that
tanks taking part in the Battle of Cam- matter, and the restrictions the
brai. At that trme they were used tradi- fascine places on the driver's field oI
tionally, being dropped into trenches vision are obvious.
to allow other tanks to cross, and they
were used for the same purpose dur-
ing World War IL The advantage of the
fascine for the combat enqrneer is that
he can make them on the spot when
they are required, The usual method
was 10 cut brushwood and tie it lnlo
large bundles 3.35 m (11 ft) long, Below: This Churchill AVRE is equipped with deep
These bundles were tied into rolls be- wading engine intakes at the side and rear and k
tween LB3 m (6 ft) and 2.44 m (B ft) in fitted with a Carpet-Layer Type C, which laid a
drameter and pulled onto wooden or hessian carpet to allow followingvehicles to cross
steel cradles on the front of the tank. areas ofsoff sand or other terrain.
They were then held rn place by
cables that could be released from
within the carder tank. The main drs-
advantaqe was that the fascines usually
restricted the driver's vision so that a
crew member had to position himself
to give drivrng instructions. Attempts
were made to use periscopes to over-
come this drawback but in the end the
solution was found by redesrgninq the
form of fascine cradle,
A type offascine could also be used
to make an assault roadway over soft or
rougrh ground. This was formed by roll
ing up lengths of chespaling joined
together by wire, rather like a ienqth of
fencing, A Churchill AVRE wouid car- \K-:
\ %.'
ry this roll into position, where one end
of the roll could be placed under the
front tracks. As the AVRE moved for-
ward it unrolled the mat and rolled
over it to allow other vehicles to use the
rough roadway so formed. Rolls of up width. Both were intended to cover were meant for short-term use oniy during amphrbious landinqs to cc', eI
to 30,5m (100ft) could be laid using wire obstacles to aliow foot soldiers or Prolonged use by heavy or tracked soft ground, lt was not unttl well ai::
this method, and more durable road- wheeled vehicles to cross and the first vehicles soon broke them up or simply World War II that flexible metal roa:-
ways could be produced by using a of them was used during the Dreppe tore them to pieces so they were usual- ways were developed to replace ::-:
similar arrangement involving logs raid of 1942. On all types the bobbin ly used for assault puposes only or earher devices,
tied together (Log Carpet) could be jettisoned once it was empty
These chespalinq or logt roadways oI m an emelgency,
were intended for heavy use, but for Most of these fascine- or mat-laying
assault purposes hessian mats were devices were carried on Churchill
also employed. These mats were car- AVREs, but Shermans were also used
rred in front of a Churchill AVRE on In fact a special fascine carrier, known
bobbins held by side arms or (on one as the Crib, was developed for the
model) above a Churchill AVRE Car- Sherman, Thrs was a special carrier
petlayer turret. There were two main frame that could be tilted forward to
types: the Bobbin Carpet unrolled a drop a fascine or a log mat. Some 'war
hessran mat reinforced by chespahng weary' Shermans even had their tur-
at intewals that was wide enouqh to rets removed to allow them to be used
cover the full width of a tank; the other as full-time fascine carrrers.
was only wide enough to cover a track It should be stressed that the mat-
laying devices, both hessian or timber,

A Churchill AVRE carries a

brushwood fascine at the front and
tows another fascine on an AVRE skid
trailer. The fascines were released
from their carrier frame by a quick
release device, and once in position
could enable most tanks or tracked
vehicles to cross with relative ease.

A Churchill AVRE operates a Carpet-Layer Type C, used to lay a continuous

hessian mat over rough or soft ground to enable other wheeled or tracked
vehicies to follow. These devices were used to cross the sand on some of the
Normandy beaches on 6 June I 944.
Churchill A/RE
wifhlog Carpet
Left: A Churchill AVRE leads another
carrying a large bundle of fascines
during pre - invas io n manoeuv res in
1944. Fascines tended toblockthe
driver's line of sight from the vehicle,
and herc the fascine-carrier has a
crewmanontop. Note the spare
track around the turret side of the
AVRE in theforeground.

Below and right: The Churchill AWE (Armoured

Vehicle Royal Engineers) was one of the mostversatile
British armoured fighting vehicles. It carried a Petard
mortar that fired a demolition proj ectile known as the
'FlyingDustbin', but, moreimportantly, could carry a
wide range of special combat engineering
equipment. The AVRE shown here is carrying a Log
Carpet device, used to lay a rough roadway over soft
ground so that other vehicles could follow. The
roadwaywas laidunder the front tracks andwas
pulledfrom its carrying frameas theAVRE moved
forward. The AVRE could carry many other similar
deyjces sucft as assa u/f bndgreq demolition and mat
layingequipment, bundles of fascines tolay in ditches
or trenches, and various anti-mrne sysfems.
Special Purpose Tanks of World War II
>K ffi= ARV
To the frontline soldier every tank is a ican product was the Tank Recovery
';a-luable asset and any damaged or Vehicle M32, On this the tuffet was
itabled tank that can be grot back into fixed and a smoke-firrnq Bl-mm (3,2-
acuon is a viable weapon. Therefore in) mortar was fitted, In the space nor-
-:e recovery of damaged or broken- mally taken up by the fighting com-
ic,l-n tanks from a battlefield is an im- partment was placed a powerful
!3nant aspect of armoured warfare, 27216-kg (60,000-1b) capacity winch,
:-r. very often these recovery opera- and an A-frame jib was mounted on the
.-:is have to be undertaken under forward hull, Extra stowage points for
::emy fire. It therefore makes sense to special equipment were added all
;:or''rde the recovery crews with their over the hull, Several sub-variants of
:-,';n armoured vehicles and even the M32 were produced. The M3
:-:re sense to provide these vehicles medium tank series was also used to
';,-h mechanical handling devices, produce the Tank Recovery Vehicle
-:ches and other special recovery M3l wlth a jib crane over the rear of
::ls. Thus World War 1l saw the first the hull. The British also made their
-=:;e-scale use of recovery vehicles, own conversion of the M3 Grant by
.:i on the Allled side there were removing all the amament and install-
::-::,y drfferent types. ing a winch in the main compartment,
\early all Allied Armoured Recov- The American ARVs were pro-
ery Vehicle (ARV) types were conver- duced in larqe numbers, so large in
.-::.s of existlng tanks, usually models fact that some of the M32s could be
:,a:'.vere past their best and could be converted as artillery tractors. But one
:;ared for the role. Nearly every type factor that both Britrsh and American
:- Allied tank was used for the ARV ARVs had in common and that was that
:,-i: at some tlme or another but the none of them matched the powerof the
:,il tlpes involved on the British side
-.';:le Crusader, Covenanter, Centaur
German Bergepanther. The Berge-
panther remained the most powerful
l:-.-aiier, Cromwell, Ram and inevit- ARV of World War II as far as oper-
..-. the Churchill. Most of these ARV ational models were concerned, but
-^::-';ersions rnvolved the removal of the Allied ARVs could still tackle most
'.-.= -*net (along wrth the main arma- recovery tasks without drlficulty, for
:-::,) and rts replacement by either a they did not have to cope with the Ti-
'_':i superstructure or an open com- qers and Panthers of the German
::r:nent for the crew, Winches were army.
:-s::rled and various forms ofjib crane AChurchillARV (ArmouredRecoveryVehicle) Mkl has its front jib erected
-: ::eerlegs were added. Many types and twin 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Bren machine-guns mounted in the hull. This
--.-: had the assistance of an earth Specification vehiclehad acrew of three and carried specialtools andwelding equiment
.;:ie to provide the winch with better Churchill ARV Mk II for the recovery role. Thevehiclewas basically a turretless ChurchillMklV.
-rriase and thus extra pull. The Brit-
:'=::Go Crew: 5 or 6
made extensive use of turret- Weight: 40 tons
,:ss Srermans for the ARV role. Powerplant: one Bedford Twin-Six
:-e American ARVs were general- petrol engine developing 26 I kW
-:- :-:re rnvolved vehicles, They too (350 hp)
,r-:: based on existrng tank chassis, Dimensions: Ienqth B,2B m (27 ft 2 in);
: -. .:-e conversions were often carried wrdth 3.35 m ( 1 I ft); heisht 3,02 m (9 ft
- -: :: iactories rather than the base 11 in)
.'.'-:<snops of the other Allied armies Performance: maximum road speed
:-:,.ding the British) and thus more 24.9 km/h (15 5 mph); maximumroad
:=..' desren care could be lavished range 193 km (120 miles)
-;::- .le filal product. A typical Amer- Armament: one or two machine-gmns

A Cromwell ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle) is used to tow a captured

German PzKPfw IV tank out of the way of other vehicles. The Cromwell ARV
was a turretless conversion of an early mark of Cromwell tank that could be
fittedwith a jib crane and other gear.

A Sherman ARV Mkl tows a Sherman gun tank during the campaign in
Normandy, June/July I 944. This ARV was a British conversion of a Sherman
tank that involved removing the turret and fitting a front-mounted jib crane
and other equipment.
1943 plans
llnit**n BARV
for the amphibious TheShermanBARV featured a high
Special Purpose Tanks of World War II

,andings in northern France had box - type super structur e th at
:eached the stage where it was de- allowed theBARV to be driveninto
:rCed to have deep-wading recovery deep water to recover stranded
','ehicles on hand at the beaches to vehicles. At the front it mounted a
:ssist any vehicles that got bogged or nudging nose to push vehicles out of
::oken down while still in the water, It trouble, but failing that it could be
',"as decided to convert Churchill and used as a sfrar'grh tforward recovery
Snerman tanks for the role but the tractor. I t did not have a winch.
}urchill conversion did not qet past
-:e prototype staqe and all work con-
:=ntrated on the Sherman.
The result was known as the Sher-
nan Beach Armoured Recovery Vehi-
cle (Sherman BARV), It was ltttle more
:-:-r an ordinary Sherman with the tur-
::: replaced by a tall superstructure.
-:-s superstructure was open at the
:; and had plates that sloped to a boat
::-; profile at the front. The turret
:;emng was closed off and all air in-
-:s and cowls were extended up-
=:rs. Waterprooflng was exlenslve
=:-i a bilgre pump was added to the
lhe first BARV was ready for trials in
lecember 1943 and these trials
:::ved to be so successful that a re-
::est for 50 conversions (later in-
::3ased to 66) was made tmmediately,
:.'.-rire time the D-Day landings were
::-rje in Normandy there were 52
:,r-P,Vs ready to hand, and one of them
':.'- actually the flrst armoured vehicle
- .cuch down on the beaches. They
:-:i plenty to do for the weather on
--)ay was rough, to the extent that
-:-1ny armoured and other vehicles
tr::re swamped as they made their
from the landrnq craft to the safety
:.,-:_, were frequently worn The BARVs
,: :ie beaches, The BARV was thus were a REME responsibiltty as theY
-.,-C as a towinq vehicle to were primarily recovery vehicles, The
QIet them
==:-cre. It could tow only, for in the REME even had a hand in their pro-
,=e to produce the BARVs it was de- duction, for this corps supervrsed
: red to omit the usual winches, In BARV production in two small Ministry
:---=: place some measure of assist- of Supply workshops.
-,:. to stranded vehicles could be The BARVs went on to a lonq Post-
:::',rded by nudging them with baulks war service career dwing which they
-- --rnber secured to the BARV nose. acqurred the name Sea Lion, TheY
-,:-:se nudeters could be used not only were eventually replaced bY the
,-:-,'ehicles but with small landing craft Centurion BARV which closely fol-
---=- got themselves stuck on the lowed the general outlines ofthe Sher-
- ,, ^L^^ man BARV, Over the years the Sher-
-:e BARVs could operate in up to man BARVs were qradually updated
: -: :l (10 ft) of water, dependinq on with better radios and such refine-
:'=:rer conditions, and often took on a ments as ropes to soften the impact of
--=-.:cal air enhanced by the use of th€ir 'nudgers', but they never ac- The Sherman BARV (Beach Arnoured RecoveryVehicle) was developed
fixed around the upper super- quired wlnches or any form of earth during 1943 to tow bogged-downvehicles from deep water during
:--.:iure, Many BARV crews included spade to enable increased-capacity amphibious operations.ltwas a tractor device only, andthe crew usually
- - ;er rn their number and life jackets pulls to be made, included a trained diver to secure towing cables to strandedvehicles fortott'g

>K % EEl ffiililbearinsrollers

...= ::-ne-clearing roller was one of to be pushed over soft or rough
-,':ry flrst anti-land mtne dences qrround.
.=: -,vith tanks and in theory rollers The British were probably the first to
:j- :llonq the simplest to use. They develop anti-mine rollers, and ex-
- -:-sr of a set of heavy rollers pushed perimented with them in the years be-
-::j of the tank, their weight and fore World War II fltted to vehicles
;r-:s-rrie alone belnq sufficient to des- such as the Covenanter, They knew
r--,- .ne mines by setting them off in their first models as the Fowler Roller
: : -=,. :i the tank, Translating this theory or the Anti-Mine Roiier Attachment
--,.: lractice should also have been (AMRA) From these were develoPed
l::-:-e but was not. The main Problem the Anti-Mine Reconnaissance Castor
- -. -.::e weight and bulk of the rollers Roller (AMRCR) system that was fitted
--. :ad to be used: rn order to make to Churchills and British Shermans,
:= r:-1ers hearry enough they had also These rollers used leafsprings to keep
, := iargre, and this made them verY
- -::.
loads to handle using the aver- The Lulu roller device did not
.;= :.:k of the period. ln fact some of detonate mines hy pressure, as the
--=r:- -,','ere so iarge and awkward to front rollers were only light wooden
: .:- rat lt sometimes took two tanks containers carrying electrical sensor
' = :mer tank plus another behind it devices to denote the presence of
:::-lde extra 'push') to move them buried metal objects suci as mines.
'r-::.--i This two{ank arangement Although itworked, the Luluwas too
;''- :-el necessary when rollers had fragile for operational use.
Mine-clearing rollers (continued)

but again this was devised for use by

one vehicle only, in this case the M32
Tank Recovery Vehicle, For use wrth
the M4 Shermans came the Mine Ex-
ploder TlE3 (later the Mine Exploder
MI) which was generally known as the
Aunt Jemima, This used two very largre
sets of roller discs mounted on side
arms in front of the carrier, and the
system was used in action desptte its
grreat bulk and awkwardness. It
proved to be successful enouqh, and
was even developed into an MIAI
version whrch was even heavter.
The Americans developed a whole
stdng of other types of mine roller, few
of which got past the experimental
stage, Perhaps the oddest of them was
the Mine Exploder Tl0 on which the
rollers became the road wheels for an Vehicle Tl5. Thrs was an M4 tank fltted Rollers were an app ar ently ohviou s
M4 tank body, complete with gun tur- with extra body and belly armour and solution to a minefield, but it proved
ret. T\ro rollers were mounted forward intended to set off mines by simply exceedingly difficult to detonate
and another set of roller discs was at driving over them, relying on its extra enough mines by the rollers' weight
the rear with the tank body slung be- protection for survlal, None of these alone. Solutions included rollers so
tween them, Thls device got no further vehicles was ready for use by the time heavy that it took several vehicles to
than trials, and neither did the series of the war ended, and work on the type move them, andplough androller
vehicles known as the Mine Resistant then ceased. comhinations.

>K €= 6u" tractors

was the High-Speed Tractor M4 and M4 was used to tow artillery up to (235 hp)
the other the High-Speed Tractor M5, 155 m (6. 1 in) in calibre, and the M5 Dimensions:length4,B5 m(i5 ft 11 in);
The M4 used components of the M2Al was used for artillery up to 203 mm wrdth 2,54 m (B ft 4 in); heiqht 2,64 m
Lee tank allied to a new boxtype body (B in) in calibre. Both types were pro- (B ft B in)
that could house the crew and a quantt- duced in consrderable numbers and Performance: maximum towing speed
ty of ammunition. Compared to other many of both are in use to this day 56,3 krr/h(35 mph); maximumroad
types of tractor the gnrn crew could Largre numbers were handed out by range24). km (150 miles)
travel in comfort as the cab was weath- the Americans to the Allied armed Armament: none
erproof and fltted with such luxuries as forces, and a few were used by the
heaters, and yet there was still plenty British before the war ended. The M35 FullTrack Prime Moverwas
of room for stowage, The M5 tractor a turretless conversion of the M1041
was smaller and used components Specification tank destroyer for use as a tractor for
from the M3 light tank series, The crew Hiqh-Speed Tractor M5 heavy artillery.This example is
accommodation was more open than Crew:9 towing the barrel of a 203-mm (8-in)
that of the M4 but the tractor strll had weisht: 12837 kq(28,300 lb) Gun M I towards Germany in
plenty of space and was equipped Powerplant: one Continental R-6572 February I 945 ; the C arriage M 2
with such handy items as winches, The petrol engine developinq 175.2 kW would havebeen towed separately.
Overthe lvlinefield
Perhaps the toughest combat engineer task of all is clearance
of aminefie\d. During World W ar I I all manner of devices were
tried out, from explosive projectors to brutally simple
machines like flails and rollers. Despite their inability to
guarantee safe passage through the mines, no better solutions
have been found in the four decades since 1945.
-re land mine in lts modern form was first used during World War l, and almost
:s soon as the first tanks appeared on the battlefield the Germans were
::signing the first anti-tank mines. Between the wars the land mine was
.':dually developed to the point where it could be handled and used by.almost
-. ery sdldier in anv army but in most armies the engineers were given the task
-' aying large-scale mrnefieids.
r brrioured warfare the main type of mine encountered is the anti-tank mine;
-: much smaller and lighter anti-personnel mine can cause linle damage to
=.:r the lightest tanks. The main obiective when laying antitank. minef ields is
-:: primarrly to damage enemy tanks (although that is always a bonus) but to
-' ct delay6 on advaniing armoured forces. By inflicting delay the all-important TheJeffries (or MDI) plough was one type of mine plough used for trials by the
': -.',,ard momentum of an armoured advance is lost and with it the shock ettect T9thArmoured Division. The plough shares were carried on the ends of arms
'- makes the tank such a potent weapon. Of course, an advancing force can that couldbefolded upwardswhen not inuse, butthe type did notget past he
- - cly travel around a minefield, but if the minefield has been properly laid and experimental stage as the Bullshorn ploughwas preferred.
: '^nedthisisnotpossible,fortheminefield'sflanksshouldbebasedeitheron
. -:rgly-held posiiions or on natural obstacles such as water barriers Under supposed to lift out any mines they came across and push them to one s i: :-
,-,: iiicumsiances the enemy has to try to clear a path through the minefield of the way. They had the advantage of clearly rndicating to following tro.c: :'
,- :
again, if the minef ield has been correctly positioned clearance is not easy lt vehicles exactly what path had been cleared, bul once again there were r'3 , . -
. : re-of the basic rules of warfare that an obstacle not covered by f ire ls useless backs. One was that the plough was not a 100 per cent clearance method C -:=
. r ihat goes for minefields as well, so the enemy normally has the prospect of
- again variations in qround contours often meant that mines could be n ss::
-.. ro to-clear the offendino minefield while under fire from the defenders. The other drawback was encountered in rocky ground. At the best of trn-es .-:
I eiring land mines takes"time, and it is the task of the combat engineer to under perfect soft soil conditions the early mine ploughs were difficult:c :,.-
'-:,ce that time to a minimum. He has several clearance methods available to and usually involved the pusher tank having to crawl forward at high revo:-: : -.
- -'- His problem is that the safest and most certain clearance method is also the and in bottom gear. On rocky ground it became almost impossible to c-s- .
-:sr time-consuming. a fact just as certain during World War ll as it is today: plough, and if it struck a rock or tree root something usually had to give, nc.-.
-- s s the lengthy and rather hazardous process of searching for the mrnes by the ploughshare or a fixing bracket.
- - :, using prods and shovels. in a well-laid out minef ield this can be made even It was left to a South African engineer officer to invent what becar::-=
-:-etme--consumingbyscatteringant-personnel minesatvarrable ntervals. lt almost universaily accepted method of clearance in use during Word \',;'
. :"e method least suitable for use during armoured warfare so the combat This was the mine flail, which rn theory should have been simple. lt was a s.- =:
-- l neer has recourse to other methods that can clear mines but are much less of chains around a drum rotated by some power source carned on the c:=:'-:
.=i: n of complete clearance. tank, usually the tank's main engine via a power take off or an auxrl;ary e'; -=
After early experience in North Africa the flall became w dely acceptec :. --
R.ollers andploughs British army, and was even taken over by the US Army. But early exper;e::: -:
-: the beginning of World War ll the combat englneer had only two non- usual highlighted the drawbacks as well. One of these involved the c-: -.
-- . - ral metiiods open to him : the roller and the plough. The rollers were pushed which had a tendency to tangle up with one another or to break up nto p
- '':nt of a tank by means of a frame, but the early forms of roller had several The chains also showed a propensity to beat the ground in uneven patte'-:=:-- .-:
..- .s that were only appreciated once they were actually used to clear mines sometimes left patches of ground unbeaten, and when they did nol bea::-:
-: was that the rollers had to follow the contours of the ground surface very ground there was always a chance that a mlne might have been missed. --:-=
: if they rolled above small dips or gullies they might miss rnines that the and other problems involved the Bntish army in a great deal of trials wor< ,', - : -
'. -..1y:
-.:racks would f ind to their cost. The other fault was that the rollers were not evolved a method of using flail chains that not only detonated mines bv s -: .

'.:,.'s heavy enough. Most anti-tank mines only detonated when a pressure of hitting them with the end of the chain but also dug up the ground and ex: -:: -::
'. about 120 kg 1265 lb) was applied, and infantry could cross an anti-tank the mines to be broken up byfurther beating. ln time the Crab flail beca-: -.
-' ='
-.'ield in relative safety unless the usual practice of 'sowing'anti-personnel standard model.
-' -=s had been followed. Thus the rollers had to be really heavy, and lf they At the same time as the flail tanks were being evolved, the use oi exc : s . =.
--: neavy they became a prodigious load to push in front of a tank, to say was also being developed. Bangalore Torpedoes were a time honou rec r --.' -:
- -- not until well after World
"g of ihe dlfficulties of steering control. lt was were
of clearing mines and they reached a high point of eff iciency with mass .: .-:
ihat the problems associated with mine rollers f inally eradlcated by awkward devices such as the Snake. More sophisticated were the va'o,s -:::
.':',i design and the use of articulated arms. devrces that were somehow emplaced across a mrnefield. These noses :: - :
-- s gavelise to the mine plough. The British were quite early in developing- either be fired across the minefield by a rocket or dragged across bv a'. :' '
, --^ :evices and carried out a whole series of trials with varrous torms oi f lailtank. Once in position theywere filled with liquid explosive (as n Cc^!:- - -
.,- -- iural plough to determine exactly what form a mine plough should take had their explosive payloads already in place (as in Tapeworm). ln e the'::.: .-.
t:- ^- lhese resultant explosion was virtually certarn to detonate any m nes in the r: - ::'
ear-ly trials came several forms of special plough mounted on
-r--:s, some being designed to fit onto mine roller frames ln the interests of vicinrty by blast alone. However, it was str lonly about 97 per cenl .--: - ---
. - --cnality. All oithese ploughs were intended to be pushed in front of the produce a clear path and rn combat the remaining three per ceni r:: :-
:. --'lank tracks and dig down into the ground. As they did so they were accepted.

-: : )laiJda Scorpion rotary mine flai| was developed in North Africa during The Bullshorn ploughwas amine plough device developed $/ithr:-:e l-::r
i- - seen-here oper ating east of the Mareth Line in I 94 3' T he flail drum
a-: d js Armoured Division.ltwas more usually fitted to the Churchill A|/F.l a:.= :::
z- : ::.ains were rotated by two engines, one each side of the huLL' and were the Shermantank shown here, althoughitwas developed to be use: :;' :::-
^ : : : ective at detonating mines, but the chains often gave trouble- the Churchill and the Sherman.
Storming fhe Aflanfic Wall
The Germans extensively fortified the coast of Europe, with the intention of making
an amphibious invasion impossible. Beaches were choked with underwater
obstacles, sowed with mines and overlooked by a network of concrete
emplacements. The vital task assigned to the 79th Armoured Division was to
spearhead the British assaultand punch ahole in theAtlanticWall.

the first waves of the special vehicles of AChurchill carrying the device
ire 79th Armoured Drvisron swept ashore on known as J ones O nion cr ashes
ie Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944, it was through a breached seawall to place
its explosive charge against the next
Jre hrghpoint of a long process of trarning and
waLL.It then reverses and defonales
preparation that had in some cases been going
the ex plosive e lectric ally.
:n for years, In the event it was in most cases a
practical demonstration of the old military max-
-n 'train hard, fight easy', for the men and
:nachines of the 79th Armoured Division had
been working up to the invasion througth a long
series of exercises, tactical analysis and indi-
-.rdual trarning sessions,
The 79th Armoured Division was formed in
September 1942, and at that time it was ex-
!ected that it would be a conventional
armoured formation. But by early I943 its role
rad been altered, This was a direct result of the
:ealzation that the only way Germany was to
be beaten in Europe was by means of land
:perations preceded by a iarge amphrbious
:peration to get armres ashore. By early 1943
re shape and form of Hitler's Atlantic Wall was
:ecoming known, and it was realized that the
:rr1y way to get through the mass of obstacles,
l3ncrete defences and weapon emplace-
nents was by means of speciai armoured vehi'
:les and the use of specialized tactics. Exactly calm waters, moved by twrn propellers at the assault regiments of the lst Assault Brigade.
;,-hat form these vehicles and tactics might take rear, Then there was the need for an armoured The 27th Armoured Brigade took over the DD
-i,-asthen unknown, The 79th Armoured Drvi- vehicle type to provide combat engineers with tanks and the 3lst Tank Brrgade assumed re-
s-cn was given the job of discovering them, some form oiprotection while they carrred out sponsibility for a miscellany of vehicles includ,
preparing to use them, and actually carrying their myriad tasks, and in time the Armoured ing the flamethrowers.
r'ni the role on the day of the rnvasion, Vehrcle Royal Engineers (AVRE) was born, The flamethrowers are not mentioned else-
Minefields would be an obvious obstacle, and where in this study, but were an important
Hobart mine-clearing tanks with their various forms of component of the 79th Armoured Division,
So the 79th Armoured Division had to start attachment or flarl systems had to be de- Most of the equrpments involved were known
:cmpletely from scratch, but it had a major veloped. All manner of special equlpment had as Crocodiles based on the Churchill tank ahd
aivaniage rn that it was commanded by Major- to be devrsed, from assault bridging to obstacle using flame prolectors fed from armoured trail-
Seneral Sir Percy Hobart, one of the most re- demolition charges, ers towed behind each tank, They were in-
rarkable officers in a remarkable generation Then men had to be found from a manpower tended to be used against bunkers and similar
:: army offlcers. His drive, organization and pool that was even by 1943 beginning to run strongpoints, but therr use in actton proved one
:;erall direction enabled the untrained and dry. Men were needed everywhere and the of the more specralized skrlls that the 79th
;:rprepared 79th Armoured Drvision to be- 79th Armoured Division, despite its import- Armoured Division had to learn. Another useful
same one of the most successful armoured ance, had to take what was available, Fortu
:crmations of World War II, but it was to be a nately they got some of the best and the divr
On 6 August 1944 a Churchill AVRE moves up
-:ng and arduous slog, sion began to take shape, The 35th Tank Brr
gade was given the task of looking after the through the village of Oudenfontein in Normandy.
On the equipment side there was virtually Once the AVREs had shownwhatthey could do
loihing to hand. World War I had seen the use CDLs, and when the mineclearing equipment during the Normandy campaign they became an
:: some specialized armour, but the end of the had been decided upon the 30th Armoured estab/rshedpa rt of the British armoured
ar and years of treasury cost-cutting had en- Brrgade were qiven Sherman Crabs, The formations, andwere constantly in demand for all
sured that little had survlved the inter-war AVREs became the responsibilrty of the three manner of combat engineer tasks.
_,'ears, Some experimental work had been car-
ried out in the UK in the years just before 1939,
cut the results were few and were not rea1ly
-ntended for the sort of warfare the 79th
Armoured Division was contemplating. Special
equipment had to be developed from the
Crawrng board onwards, but ready to hand
','rere the Canal Defence Lights (CDLs) which
became an early component of the 79th
Armoured Divisron's inventory. Since they
played littIe part in the invasion plot they can
be left out of the rest of this account.
One piece of equipment was the swimming
:ank. It was appreciated that tanks would have
:o move ashore in the early assault waves, and
as rt might not be possible to land them directly
:n a beach they would have to swim ashore
scmehow, From thls came the Duplex Drive
.DD) tanks, usually Shermans, with their high
:ollars that enabled them to float in relatively
Special Purpose Tanks of World War II

-,-ehicle was the Buffalo, a large tracked amphr- pended on the other for combat success, and
lian that could carry anythrng from men to from thrs realization came yet more lessons that
supphes, whose main atiraction for the 79th had to be worked into the division's operating
-\rmoured Drvision was that it couid drive methods and dnlls, After Linney Head the divt-
straight out of landing craft and swim its way sion once more separated for yet more train-
=shore to cross over the beach.
ing some of it carried out in Stokes Bay tn the
Solent. By the end of 1943 the first Crabs were
Tanktraining issued to the divisron, and training with these
Out of all these various units, each with a took up more time,
:riferent type of equipment and with dtffering Timingthe landing
.=ctical purposes the 79th Armoured Divislon to produce a cohesive fighting formation. It By then it was apparent that the actual inva-
:roved no easy task, for everything had to be sion day was not far dlstant, and information
:arried out with virtually no background on regarding the invasion beaches was pouring
.', rlch to work. It was decided to form instruc- into the division's planning staffs. The Royal Air
-' nal wingis within the division and use these to Force provtded a constant stream of iow-level
,rnulate workinq methods, drills and all the photographs, and daring rards by commando
- .ier operational requirements. The flrst of teams produced actual dimensions of the types
:,:se wings was formed at the delightfully- of beach and other obstacles that the division
:--red Fritton Decoy near Lowestoft, where would have to face. Replicas of these obstacles AChurchill AVRE carries a brushwood f asc:r'e ::
were built on a training range at Orford be dumped into a trench or ditch to allow the i.',?.j
: drvision learned how to operaie DD tanks 1n
and other vehicies lo cross. When these fasc.:.e:
landlng craft and worked out safety drills Suffoik and were used to determine exactly
-,rj the general handhng of DD tanks in water, how they could be tackled. In this way the were being carried neither the driver nar lhe
-. commander could see very much, so the
. .:: only specialized training was carried out, division began to lay out exactly what equip- commander usually had to travel on top ol rte
: nany ol the men allocated to the 79th ment such as bridging would be required, and fascine and give the driver intercom commards
::::,oured Divrsion were hardly out of the re- even qot down to the task of determtntng whtch
- - ': training stage and had to be taught all the vehicles would be rn any particular landtng
--.'.-l military skilis rn addition to their iask craft at each stage ol the landings. The actual
., -s One form of training that was greatly timings of the landrngs was evolved for the first
-,-=-;nasized was tank gunnery, for it was real- time it being appreciated that not everything
j .hat in the rnitial stages of the assauit on the could be landed all at the same time. For va-
-.:hes the tanks themselves would have to rious reasons the DD tanks had io be launched
iheir ownfire support and that they some \ /ay out to sea while the division assault
:-: -'.-rde
, 'C
have to knock out the many beach de teams were landed much farther in yet the two
::,re weapons that rt was known the Germans had to reach the beach at about the same time +
-.: emplaced along the Atlantic Wall, The lor mutual support,
All thrs plannrnq work was carried out during
.'.'-jard of gmnnery was such that gunners ::li i
the early months of i944, At the same time the
=:.: expected to be able to hit German gun :.E* l':
.- ::1s with their opening shots, training had reached a stagte where rehearsals
could be carried out again at places like Siokes '-i
:-.- :he summer of 1943 the 79th Armoured 1. 6
Bay, or across beaches in Norfolk, The rehear-
- , -s-:n carried out its first large-scale training
sals in Norfolk were of particular importance,
= at Linney Head in Wales, and for the for it was there that a particuiar type of clay was
--,: -ne the dlvlsion worked together as a
. ..--::-\re whole, It was at thrs time that the to be found This was the same as that suddenly t.
' :. iual unrts realized that each of rhem de- discovered on some of the Normandy beaches

:-r ost spect acu lar of the' F unnies' : a S herm an

3 ri?
::z-c pouids its way up the beach, detonating
l::=ar mines with ils flail. The Crabs were also l*..
.t:"a n provide fire support against
3e':ran emplicements with their 75-mm (2.95'in)
:-"-:s. atmament,


. .*:_'.€
.',]- F:: :

Storming the Atlantic Wall
--;::la:flalssance teams from ihe commando A Churchill ARK lays its ramp over a ditch to
-.:-s -j,= clay was of a particularly soft con- enahle its accompanying Churchill to cross over.
:-s.3:-t a:.rd it was feared that it would not take The ARKs were also used to place their ramps
:-= r, ji:
cf a tank, a fact shown to be correct against vertical obstacles such as sea walls.
:,':-=:- =:a
:a:x promptly sank rnto it while attemp-
-j-l: :: cross the similar clay on the Norfolk
i::::es. It was time for a rapid improvisation,
-,: Clirchrll AVREs were hurriedly f,tted
."--: :arpet-laying devices that would enabie
-,':: :-es io cross the clay belts, The hessian
:-.- rrd their dispenser bobbins were pro-
: '.:ed n the division's REME workshops, but in
:-= e'.-ent they were not really needed, On
--la-,- ihe clay belts had been covered by
s,--i churned up by the rough weather,
Across the Channel
l--nng early June 1944 the 79th Armoured
l--;sron took its turn in the long lines of traffic
:-a:::roved to the invasion ports along the south
:::si of England, The 79th Armoured Division
:-:l :o disperse ltself quite wldely, ior by the
-,':r"- nature of its operational task lt had to land
:: e1'ery beach on which British and A]lied
:::ps would be usrng, The 79th Armoured
l:-,-sron was thus divided among three drvi-
:-::s. On the west the British 50th Divlsion
;;:';ld be landing on Jig'and'King' beaches, in
i:e centre the 3rd Canadian Division would be
-=irng on 'Mike'and 'Nan' beaches, while in
-:-e east the British 3rd Drvision would be land-
':j cn a brrgade front on 'Queen' beach, The
: lC thrrg was that the highly specialized 79th
i::noured Division was the only formation of its
-<:-d lo be landing on the invaslon day, The US Tactics were rapidly evolved to overcome the
-::ny had decided not to employ specialzed defences at the same trme as the obstacles
.-encles other than DD tanks, and relied entire- were cleared, and the Crab Shermans proved
-,, :rpon their ordinary divisional resources, In invaluable with thelr 75-mm guns, in the cen-
pari this was due to the fact that many of the tre, some of the minefields proved to be parti-
:eaches they were to use were backed by cularly difficult to clear and the mine-clearing
:',frs or other terrain where armour of any sort teams suffered heavy casualties in men and
be dlfflcuit to use, but in places special- equipment before they won through with the
'-ed armour would have proved invaluable, close support provlded by accompanying
Canadian rnfantry,
Roughsea By niqhtfall some Allied troops were nearly
In due course the vehrcles of the 79th I0 km (6 miles) inland and much of this adv-
l-rmoured Division made their way onto their ance was due to the success of the 79th
-a:drng craft and the men then had to simply Armoured Divisron in clearing paths across
se:le down and wait. They had to wait longer and from the beaches, In contrast the Amer-
-:an expected, for on 4 June the weather turned icans to the west were at best only 5 km (3
::-:.i and the Channel was too rough for the miles) rnland and they had suffered prop-
-a:drng craft involved, and certarnly too rough ortionally far greater casualties, Thrs alone pro- A Churchill tanknegrofiafes a sea wall built at
-:r 'rhe DD tanks which could not operate in vides a yardstick of the success of the 79th Orford in Suffolk to simulate the types of wall likely
Armoured Divisron, but it should not be forgot- to be encountered by the 79th Armoured Division
=rl-hmg more than sea state 5, Thus the inva- in northern France. The Churchill is climbing over
srln was postponed for one whole day until, ten that much of therr success was due to the
aChurchill ARK Mk I that has been driven against
lradually, the weather abated and the fleet set fact that therr preparation had been so thor- thewall.
s,:rr. ough that the rnvasion came easy,
On the morning of 6 June all the traintng
lame to fruition. On almost every beach the
:arefully rehearsed drills were used and
lrcved entirely successful, Of course things
-i go n rong in places, especially on the west-
beaches where the sea was so rough that it
prcved impossible to launch the DD tanks and
iie assault teams had to provide their own fire
sxpport, Not surprisingiy, the carefully-laid
pi.a:rs were set aside and improvisation and
. sense had to be used. It was here that
. ']re trainrnq was shown to be fu1ly justlfied,

Soft sandwas always one of the specialisttanks'

most-feared terrain, and what could happen when
crossrrg sucft terrain is clearly shown in this
photogiraph of a bogged-down Sherman Crab.
Note the deepwadinggear fitted to the engine
mtakes at fierear and theflails inthe raised

Special Purpose Tanks of World Wa-r I
During the early war years the Ger- act as a stable anchor when the winch proved to be invaluable and not surpri-
man army used the l8{onne SdKfz 9/1 was in use with lhe cable running out singly they were concentrated tn
and 9/2 for recoverrng broken-down or over the vehicle rear. The combination Panther, Tiger and Konigstrger forma-
damaged tanks, but mth the arrival of of spade and wrnch enabled the tions. In sewice they had a crew of five,
the healry tanks such as the Tiger and Bergepanther to recover even the and most retained their front hull 7.92-
Panther these vehicles were no longer heaviest vehicles, and it also carried mm (0,312-in) machtne-gun, Many
able to recover the weights involved. all manner of orher recovery equip- were also armed with a 2-cm cannon
The only way they could be used ment, including a light crane jib on the carried just forward of the open super-
effectively was in complicated tandem Ieft hand sjde for use when carrying structure on a mount that allowed it to
or other afianQlements with one vehr out running repairs, bb used either in the anti-aircraft or
c1e's crane acting in combination with It was spring 1944 before the first qround target role.
rhe olher and rl was not always possi- Bergepanthers reached the troops, the When they were first introduced the
ble to get two of these larqe halftracks conversions beingr carried out by DE- Bergepanthers were well in advance
io some locations, even supposing two MAG in Berlin, By the time the war of other contemporary recovery vehl-
ivere on hand. The only solutron to the ended 297 had been produced, but not cles, Although it was a conversion ofan
problem oflarqe vehicle recovery was all of them were fully equipped, For extsting tank, its combrnation of wrnch,
-he development of a new heauy re- supply reasons some vehicles were earth spade and overall layout meant
:overy vehicle. Some of the early Ti- issued without the rear-mounted that it was quite smply the best recov-
;er units converted their machines to spade which reduced them to little ery vehicle produced during World
-ake winches in the turret in place of more than towingt vehicles; they were War IL
re main gun for recovery purposes, of such limitedutility that many of these
aut thrs was a waste of a valuable gmn incomplete vehicles had their winches Specification
.ank and Tigers were always in short removed to enable them to be em- Bergeparther
-.rpply, In the end it was decided to ployed as supply and ammunition car- Crew: 5
-:e the Panther tank as the basis for the riers, The full standard Bergtepanthers Weight:42 tons
:-:w vehicle.
The new vehicle became known as The Bergepanther was the best-
:-e SdKfz I79 Bergepanther, or Berge- armoured recovery vehicle proo'ucec
panzer Panther, The first of these inWorldWar II. Only 297 were
=ppeared dwinq 1943, and they were completed by the end of the wat. a:::
:::rversions of early models of Panther they were generally concentraiec ::
ljn tanks, On the conversion the turet the heavy tank battalions.
fighting compartments were com-
-:-etely removed and replaced by an
-!en superstructure housinq a Iarge
rC powerful winch, To increase the
::-1i' of this winch the vehrcle had at
-,: rear a larqe earth spade. In use this
was lowered to the ground and
:-: vehicle was reversed, the spade
,:,:s being dug down into the grround to

lhe German Bergepanthet was

;ased on the Panther tank hull and
:uspensrbn, and could be used for
:e recovery of even the heaviest
Serman tanks. Shown here in its

tatth anchor at the rear to improve



Karl ammunition carriers

the design teams that produced
-,-,: ::-asslve Karl sieqe howitzer were
::r'.',:ng up their plans they at flrst
' =:--oked one item: lhe masslve
.:--::-barrelled howrtzers they were
---r:r-.3rng were mounted on largte
:=:<: chassis to provide some mea-
--:= :i mobility (even thougth this
: :---:y was strictly limited by the
.---. =d weights involved), but they
: - :=:' 'le matter of ammunrrion supp-
- -:-s oversrght was soon realized
--,::.ans were made to provide spe-
- -,',':anmunrtion carriers that couid
. .. - :c wherever the Karls might be
= -:-::ed, and these carriers had to
:= :::ked as well They also had to be
-:;:= ior the Karls fired a huge con-
,:= :-bustinEr projectile that weiqhed
- .=ss than 2170 kq (4 784 lb) and with
. - =Jre of 60 cm (23,62 in); later ver-
: :-: :ad a calibre of 54 cm (21,26 in)
:-- r i:e projectile weighed 1250 kg suspensron and other components Above left: theMunitionpanzer IV Above: AMunitionpanzer IV Ausf F ts
- -:a rb) thouqh in place ofthe usual turret there Ausf F was used to carry the heavy shown in its travelling confiWrattor.
-:-: vehicle selected to be the was a platform that covered the entire projectiles for the 60-cm (23.62-in) with the jibfolded andwith thesieJ
::':,-:rtioncarrter for the Karls was top of the hull At the front of the plat- Karl self-propelled mortar, and is lifting grab stowed on the front oi *,e
' - i:(pfw IV Ausf F. These vehicles form was a crane with a capacity of seen herewith its lifting jibraised huLL. Eachof these ammunitson
; :-ot conversions, but were built 3000 kg (6,614 1b), offset to the left and ready for use. The jib could traverse carriers could carry three 60-czn
r =:=
r- :-e,v- usingr the basic tank hull, with the swlvelling jib normally stowed through 360 degrees. (2 3. 6 2 - in ) pr oj ec tile s.
Karl ammunition cariers (continued)

:atr-nq to the rear. The marn platform

-,'.-- used as the carryingr area for the
p::;ectiles, with space for two or three
s::11s. Small metal side walls were
=:-=ci. but these were often removed in
:e field.
Much of the movement of the Karl
:q.rpments had to be caried out on
:J-ways, and the train that carried the
::mponents of Karl also had a couple
:- lat-cars to cafiy Munitionpanzer or
Munitionschlepper ammunition car-
::ers. Once close to the flrinq posrtlon
Karls were assembled and they
:::o-red off to the exact firing position.
?r:lectiles for the weapons were
:a<en from the train box-cars either by
:-. erhead gantry or by usrnq the crane
:-runted on the carriers. The carriers
:::en moved to the firing position and
':loaded their projectiles by parking
:-ext to the Karl breech and Iftrng the towed on special wheeled trailers during the sieqe of Sevastopol, and rn T he M unitionp an zer IV Au sf F
anmunition directly to the breech towed by large halftracks, The usual 1944 sawmore action dudng the Battle carried shells for the Karl self-
-oadinq tray with ihe crane. Special allotment of carriers to a sinqle Karl of Warsaw against the unfortunate Pol- propelled mortar on a platform over
ammunltion handling grabs were used was two. Also rncluded in each Karl ish home army the hull.Theywere lifted onto the
:: the crane itsell Once their load had lrain' were two trucks, two light staff Karl loading tray by a front-mounted
been fired the carriers trundled off for cars and at least one l2{on halftrack to Specification jib crane, seen here folded over the
::lore. carry the Karl crew, Munitionpanzer shellplatform.
Not all Karl moves were made by The Karl howitzers were amonq the Crew:4
raLl. There was an arrangement most specialized of all German artil- Weight: 25 tonnes
.,';hereby a Karl could be broken down lery weapons. They were designed as Powerplant: one Maybach HL 120 recorded
-::to relatively small loads for road trac- fortification smashers, and durinqt TRM petrol engnne developing Performance: maximum road speed
:on, but it was a long and arduous pro- World War II were not much in de- 223,7 kW (300 hp) 39.9 km/h (24 B mph); maxrmum road
:e*s to assemble the weapon on site. mand, But they and their PzKpfim IV- Dimensions: length 5,41 m (17 ft 9 in); rangre 209 km ( 130 miles)
iVhen this occurred rhe carriers were based ammunition carriers did see use width 2,883 m (9 ft 5.5 in); height not Armament:none

EI ilr"i""r Panzerbefehlswagen
T he kleiner P anz er befeh lsw agen
was a command version of the
PzKpfw I light tank. I t had a crew of
]rce the German army had accepted three and the fixed superstructure
-:e concept of the Panzer diviston with containedtwo radios, a map table
.:s large tank component rl was and extra electrical equipment. The
appreciated that the larqe mass of vehicles were widely used, as they
:arks wou.ld carry with it considerable allowed commanders to keep up
:cmmand and control problems Tank with arm oured form ations.
-:mation commanders would have to
:::cve forward with the tanks and maln- Below:Just how cramped the PzKpfw
:an contact with them at ail times, and I command tank was can be gauged
1: first lt seemed that the best way of from this photograph ofthe basic
i:ing this was to have the comman- model PzKpfw I. About 200
:ers travelling rn tanks. But it was also conversions were made but they
:ppreclated that commanders would proved too small for the task, and
:-are to carry with them all manner of they were replaced by moditied
siecial equipment and extra person- versions of later tanks.
:el to transmit orders and generally
:ssst the commandet in his task, Thus mounted in the front plate.
s:ne form of dedicated command tank There were three variations of this
-r::ld be needed. command vehicle, one with a small
h typrcally thorough style the Ger- rotatinq tufiet set onto the superstruc-
::-a:: designers came up with an ture, This latter feature was soon dis-
=:-sr;er as early as 1938. They decided continued as it took up too much of the
-: :3nvert the little PzKpfw I training limited rnternal space and was soon
:-:k for the command role, and the found to be unnecessary. The other
::sli was the SdKfz 265 kleiner Pan- two vanants drffered only in detail, In
zerbefehlswagen (small armoured all of them the small size of the vehicle
:::::nand vehicle), The command inflicted space lmitations, and with
;=:-cle was a relatively straightfor- two men attemptinq to work within the
conversionof the basic tank in close confines ofthe body things could
ihe rotating tank turret was re- qet very cramped. But the concept
;-::eC by a box-like superstructure to worked very well and about 200 con-
extra rnternal space. The versions from the PzKpfiru I tank were
lr:-J, lncreased from the two of the
as made. The first of them saw action dur-
::-< ::-Juee, in the form of the driver, ing ihe Polish campaign of 1939 and
:-: ::r:"malder and a siQlnaller/gener- more were used in France during May
.- .q<*{ant. The extra internal space and June 1940, Later they equipped
-:akenup with items such as a small the Afrika Korps, One of these North
.::-e ::r Lne commander to work on, African campaign examples was cap-
:-=; j,splay boards, stowage for more tured by the British army and taken
::::ps other paperwork and two back to the United Kingdom. There tt they were replaced by conversions of (100 hp)
:rj-:s -d
:re for communicatinq with the was closely examined by tank experts larger tank models, Dimensions:lenglh4.445 m (14 ft 7 in);
:.:'c li the other to provide a link to who produced a larete report on the width2,0B m(6 ft9,9 in); heiqht 1,72 m
:-;:-e: ccmmand ievels. These radtos vehicle, whrch can now be seen in the Specification (5 ft 7.7 in)
::l_--l3d the provisron of extra dyna- Bovington Tank Musem, kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen I Performance: maxrmum road speed
::: :alaciry to power them and keep Despite their relative success in the Crew:3 40 krn/h (25 mph); maximum road
.:=-r associated batteries fully command role the little PzKpfw I tank Weight:5.Btons ranqe 290 kn (lB0 miles)
::--;=i For armament a 7.92-mm conversions were really too small and Powerplant: one Maybach NL 38 TR Armament: one 7,92-mm (0,31Z-in)
- :-2--:) MG34 machine-gun was cramped for efficrency and in time petrol engine developing 74,6 kW machrne-gun