The Tank Museum at Bovington’s British Churchill Crocodile Flame Thrower Tank is unusual from other Museums Churchill Crocodile tanks as it still has its fuel trailer. You can see the trailer tyres on the right behind the tank.
The tank on display was the last Churchill Mark VII to be produced by Vauxhall, in October 1945. It was sent directly to the School of Tank Technology, which transferred it to the Tank Museum in 1949, with practically no mileage beyond its acceptance test. The Mark VII was the first of the factory-assembled marks with thicker armour in fulfilment of the “heavy Churchill” requirement of May 1943.
Three brigades of Churchills landed in Normandy in 1944, most with 75 mm guns, some with 6-pounders, a few with 95 mm howitzers.
The Churchill AVRE was one of the so-called ‘funnies’ designed by Percy Hobart specifically for use on the D-Day beaches to break through the German fortified defences. The AVRE was the most successful ‘funny’ type and AVRE vehicles remain in service with the British Army today.
This Churchill AVRE was on display at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. For many years it had been a target on Sailsbury Plain and then spent a fair few years as a monument on the Normandy beaches.
There was a 15mm resin and metal version of this tank available for Flames of War.
However it has now been replaced for the forthcoming (March 2020) plastic Churchill that can either be a later mark Churchill, the flamethrower Crocodile version or the AVRE version.
In gaming terms most specialist vehicles don’t really work, however this AVRE version with it’s Petard Mortar has a place if your opponent had troops skulking in bunkers.
The Tank Museum is a collection of armoured fighting vehicles at Bovington Camp in Dorset, South West England.
Outside the entrance to the car park at the museum is an A22 Churchill Mark I.
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) Churchill was a British heavy infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, its ability to climb steep slopes, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war.
The origins of the design lay in the expectation that war in Europe might be fought under similar conditions to those of the First World War, and emphasised the ability to cross difficult ground. The Churchill was rushed into production to build up British defences against a possible German invasion. The first vehicles had flaws that had to be overcome before the Churchill was accepted for wide use. After several Marks had been built, a better armoured version, the Mark VII, entered service.
The Churchill was used by British and Commonwealth forces in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe. In addition, a few hundred were supplied to the USSR and used on the Eastern Front.
This A22 Churchill at the Tank Museum appears to have been completed as a Mark II but has since been altered to resemble a Mark I.
One of the games at the wargames show at Bovington that I did a good look at was this 15mm 1946 game complete with a range of alternate German and Allied tanks that were designed, but either were too late for action, or never got further than the drawing board. I have to admit I never got round to checking what actual models were represented on the table, but there were E-100 and E-50 tanks as well as Panther IIs.
This photograph shows a Sarissa Precision Factory. I really do like this model (and the huge one for 28mm too). Around it are finished and partly finished tanks of a variety of types.
A large tank on a railway wagon. The table also had a lot of HO 1/87th scale buildings that did not seem out of place on the table. There are a range of HO buildings that would be ideal for 15mm games, especially those of the industrial variety.
Here is another Sarissa Precision factory with a couple of JagdTigers outside. As with the other, it looks like the RAF has been busy trying to stem the production of these new German tanks.
Here is a overview of the table. There were TT scale trains, wagons and track (which are just about an appropriate scale for 15mm).
In the box to the side of the tables were 15mm models of the Black Prince, the Tortoise and Centurion Mk1 tanks.
All of these could be found (for real) in the Tank Museum itself.
Here are some more photographs from the Warfare 2015 Show in Reading. These images are from a 28mm Demonstration Game set in the latter part of the second world war.
British Cromwell tank moves along a French road in the face of a German defensive line.
Overall the Cromwell was a welcome addition to the British, but as with many allied tanks, they were under armoured and under-gunned when faced with the German tanks of the same time period. Where the allies won out was in sheer numbers and probably more importantly logistics.
Slow and heavy, but with much better armour the Churchill was a different tank to the faster Cromwell. Probably remembered more for the variants and “funnies” that used the tank as a base vehicle.
Okay not a tank, but an M5 Half Track disembarking infantry to support the tanks in the bocage.
Overall a great looking game and some nice models.
Another new release from Flames of War is this boxed Churchill Platoon set.
Though designed for Cassino, it should also be suitable for the Normandy campaign, though I did think it might be handy for a game based on the Dieppe raid in 1942.
I awakened to a stab of early morning sunlight searing my eyelids. My batman, Corporal Mino, peered through the tent flap. “Sir wake up! Admiral Mountbatten has ordered you to attend a debriefing in London two hours from now.”
I sat up groggily. Christ, I was a mess. I was still wearing my battledress, filthy, streaked in grime and dried blood.
“They said you were the only officer of the whole brigade who came back from the beaches. You’re all that’s left.”
Captain Denis Whitaker, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
August 19th 1942 was a date that many Canadians would never forget. On that day, three thousand Canadian infantry troops (out of an initial total of five thousand) were killed, wounded or taken prisoner on the beaches of Dieppe on the French coast. The Royal Navy lost boats and personnel, the RAF and RCAF had one hundred and eight planes shot down with sixty pilots lost. The Allies had raided a heavily fortified port and had paid the price, a heavy price.
In 1942, Aldof Hitler and his armed forces held most of Europe and was probing deep into Russia. Stalin called on his allies to open a second front.
The allies knew that if they were to liberate France than they would need a port, logistics is what wins wars, not necessarily better weapons The Dieppe raid was conceived as a precursor to a larger landing in France at some later date.
Many lessons were learnt on that day, but just under two years later on the 6th June 1944, the allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, D-Day was the beginning of the end of the Nazi occupation of Europe. D-Day saw the use of “funnies”, tanks specially designed to overcome beach obstacles, mulberry harbours and a wide range of other new equipment.
The Churchill Platoon set is out on the 30th July.