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Duxford Building 8 - Land Warfare - WW2 - Page 1

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The Second World War in particular is illustrated with tableaux of the North African Campaign, the Eastern Front and the invasion of Normandy.

Significant vehicles in the collection include three command vehicles used by Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of 21st Army Group during the north-west Europe campaign. (See later pages in this section)



VICKERS LIGHT TANK MARK VI A


The Tank, Light, Mk VI was the sixth in the line of light tanks built by Vickers-Armstrong for the British Army during the interwar period.

Vickers also produced light scout tanks in limited numbers for Army starting with the Mk.I (1929) and the Mk.II and III (1931-34). Then came the Mk.IV, largely inspired by the former (1934) models and followed by the next (Mk.V) which marked a real step forward with a three-man crew and the larger hull required to operate an improved armament - the Vickers Cal.50 heavy machine gun.

The Mk.VI was logically based on this model, with a higher degree of standardization which allowed moderately low costs. The crew of three was somehow lodged in the cramped interior, the driver sitting on the front left while the commander (who was also the radio operator) and gunner stood on a platform that revolved with the turret.

Production of the Mk VI began in 1936 and ended in 1940 with 1,682 Mark VI tanks having been built.
Many of those produced were actually variants designed to solve problems found with the original design.
The Mk VIA, for instance, had a return roller removed from the top of the leading bogey and attached to the hull sides instead, and also possessed a faceted cupola.
The Mk VIB was mechanically identical to the Mk VIA but with a few minor differences to make production simpler.
The Mk VIC, which was the last in the MK VI series, had the commander's cupola removed and had wider bogies and three carburettors to improve engine performance. It was also more powerfully armed than the other models, replacing the .303 and .50 Vickers machine guns with 15-millimetre (0.59 in) and 7.92-millimetre (0.312 in) Besa machine guns.

When the Battle of France began in May 1940, the majority of the tanks possessed by the British Expeditionary Force were Mark VI variants. The Mk VIB was also used in the North African campaign against the Italians late in 1940. Late in 1940 the British had 200 light tanks (presumably the Mk VIB).

Being widely used by the British Army, the tank participated in several other important battles. The Mk VIB made up a significant amount of the tanks sent over to the Battle of Greece in 1941.  Ten Mk VIB tanks fought in the Battle of Crete.

GERMAN JAGDPANZER 38(t) 'HETZER' TANK DESTROYER 1944






























The Jagdpanzer 38(t) was one of the most common late-war German tank destroyers. It was available in relatively large numbers and was generally mechanically reliable. Also, its small size made it easier to conceal than larger vehicles. Like some other late-war German SPGs, the Jagdpanzer 38(t) mounted a remote-control machine gun mount which could be fired from within the vehicle. This proved popular with crews, though to reload the gun a crewmember needed to expose himself to enemy fire.

Being cheap to build the Jagdpanzer 38(t) was intended to be more cost-effective than the much more ambitious Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger designs of the same period. Using a proven chassis, it avoided the mechanical problems of the larger armoured vehicles. It was better armoured than the thinly armoured earlier Panzerjäger Marder and Nashorn with a sloped armour front plate of 60 mm thickness sloped back at 60 degrees from the vertical (which gave an equivalent in protection to about 120 mm), carried a reasonably powerful 75mm gun, was mechanically reliable, small and easily concealed.

The Jagdpanzer 38(t) succeeded the open-top Marder III (based on the same chassis) in production from April 1944 and about 2584 were built up to the end of the war. The older Marder III Panzerjäger series retained the same vertically sided chassis as Panzer 38(t).

In the Jagdpanzer 38(t), the lower hull sides slope 15 degrees outward to make roughly hexagonal shape when viewed from front or rear. This increased the available interior space and enabled a fully enclosed casemate-style fighting compartment. Because of the fully enclosed armour, it was 5 tonnes heavier than the Marder III. To compensate for the increased weight, track width was increased from 293 mm to 350 mm.

BRITISH AEC 'MATADOR' MEDIUM ARTILLERY TRACTOR


This display shows the typical army Matador towing a 4.5 inch Medium Field Gun. The vehicle has chassis number 0853 7307 and it was repatriated to Britain from Malta.

The AEC 'Matador' was an artillery tractor built by the Associated Equipment Company for British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War.

The 'Matador' was distinctive with its flat fronted cab with gently curved roof, wheels at the corners and a flat load carrying area covered by a canvas or tarpaulin tilt. The cab was made from ash wood and clad in steel. It was equipped with a winch (7-ton load in this case) like all artillery tractors.

AEC also produced a larger 'Marshall' 6x6 vehicle (model O854) based on the 4x4 'Matador' which were generally, if not officially, also called 'Matador'. The tractor was found to be a generally useful vehicle and was adapted for other roles including carrying a 25 pounder gun.

GERMAN PANZERKAMPFWAGEN IV (AUSF B)


"This Panzer IV was dug up in 1987 (along with a Hetzer tank destroyer) during a construction project at Rose Barracks near Vilseck in Germany. It is believed that they had lain there since they were buried at the end of the Second World War." (Information source : Geoff Walden)



The Panzer IV was the brainchild of German general and innovative armored warfare theorist General Heinz Guderian. In concept, it was intended to be a support tank for use against enemy anti-tank guns and fortifications. Ideally, each tank battalion in a panzer division was to have three medium companies of Panzer IIIs and one heavy company of Panzer IVs.



On 11 January 1934, the German army wrote the specifications for a "medium tractor", and issued them to a number of defence companies. To support the Panzer III, which would be armed with a 37-millimetre (1.46 in) anti-tank gun, the new vehicle would have a short-barrelled 75-millimetre (2.95 in) howitzer as its main gun.

Development was carried out under the name 'Begleitwagen' ('accompanying vehicle'), or 'BW', to disguise its actual purpose, given that Germany was still theoretically bound by the Treaty of Versailles. Krupp was selected for further development and production.

The Panzer IV chassis had originally been designed with a six-wheeled interleaved suspension but due to the urgent requirement for the new tank, neither this or other proposals were adopted. Instead, Krupp equipped it with a simple leaf spring double-bogie suspension.

The prototype required a crew of five men; the hull contained the engine bay to the rear, with the driver and radio operator, who doubled as the hull machine gunner, seated at the front-left and front-right, respectively. In the turret, the tank commander sat beneath his roof hatch, while the gunner was situated to the left of the gun breech and the loader to the right.

Due to an asymmetric layout, the right side of the tank contained the bulk of its stowage volume, which was taken up by ready-use ammunition lockers.

After manufacturing 35 tanks of the A version, in 1937 production moved to the Ausf. B.   Improvements included the replacement of the original engine with the more powerful 300 PS.

Forty-two Panzer IV Ausf. Bs were manufactured before the introduction of the Ausf. C in 1938. This saw the turret protective armour increased to 30 mm (1.18 in).



ANTI-TANK GUN IN THE DESERT (right)

MINE DETECTING (below)






THE 'GOLIATH' TRACKED MINE

George Clode writes : "Standing at a mere 1ft tall and 4ft long, it must be assumed that the Goliath Tracked Mine was named with the same light-hearted irony as Robin Hood's trusty, burly companion 'Little' John. The idea behind the miniature motor was inspired by the French vehicle designer Adolphe Kégresse after the Wehrmacht recovered his prototype from the River Seine in 1940.

"Impressed with the destructive potential of the device, the Wehrmacht's ordnance office ordered the Carl F W Borgwand automaker to begin work developing a similar vehicle with the intention of using it as a delivery system for explosives.

It did not take long for Borgwand to deliver the goods and that same year the SdKfz 302 - or Sonderkrafahzeug (special-purpose vehicle) - was born, at first going by the name of Leichter Ladungsträger (light charge carrier), then later more simply as Goliath.

"The tracked vehicle could carry 60kg of explosives and was steered remotely using a joystick control box attached to the rear of the Goliath by 650m of triple-strand cable. Two of the strands accelerated and manoeuvred the Goliath, while the third was used to trigger the detonation. (A radio controlled version was also manufactured - Ed)

"Each Goliath had to be disposable, as each was built specifically to be blown up along with an enemy target. The first models were powered by an electric motor, but these proved difficult to repair on the battlefield, and at 3,000 Reichsmarks were not exactly cost effective. As a result, later models (the SdKfz 303) used a simpler, more reliable gasoline engine."

The Goliath Tank or Tracked Mine, was a remote controlled demolition vehicle, small in size and intended to be used for a variety of purposes, such as destroying tanks, disrupting dense infantry formations, demolition of bridges and buildings, and there was even a rare version that could be equipped with a camera for reconnaissance.

A total of 7,564 Goliaths were produced. But even though it only had a single use, could travel no faster than 6mph, was expensive to make, had thin armour, was vulnerable to anti-tank weapons and cable-cutters, and had a poor ground clearance of just 11.4cm, the Goliath was considered a success. For while this particular model proved to be something of a disaster, it paved the way for the surge in development of post-war remote-controlled vehicle technologies, its failures helping to guide engineers to come.

Either controlled by radio or wire, there were several at Utah Beach for D-Day. The Germans had planned to drive them right up the ramps of the landing craft but the radio control system went down so the Goliath didnt end up seeing action that day.

(Information above with acknowledgement to George Clode and 'Military History Monthly' and 'Wikipaedia')

FRENCH HOTCHKISS 25 mm ANTI-TANK GUN anti-tank gun

The 25 mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun was a French anti-tank gun that saw service in the first years of the Second World War.

By the early 1920s the French Army had come to the realization that the armour-piercing capability of the 37 mm TRP infantry gun would be insufficient against modern tanks. In 1926 Hotchkiss proposed a 25 mm in-house design that was eventually accepted for service in 1934, under the designation 'canon de 25 mm semi-automatique modèle 1934 (generally shortened to 'canon de 25'). At the outbreak of World War II it was the main anti-tank weapon of the French infantry.

When the British Expeditionary Force landed in France in 1939 it had insufficient numbers of anti-tank weapons such as the Ordnance QF 2 pounder. They were issued 'canons de 25' which became known as Anti-Tank Gun, 25 mm. Hotchkiss, Mark I on 25 mm. Carriage, Mark I in British service.

Examples captured by the German forces were operationally used under the designation 2.5 cm Pak 113(f). Some captured guns also made it into Italian service in North Africa as alternatives to the Solothurn S-18/1000 under the designation 'cannone da 25/72'. Finland purchased 50 French 25 mm M/37 antitank guns during the Winter War, but only 40 of them were delivered in February 1940 through Norway. The remaining ten guns were captured by the Germans when they invaded Norway in spring of 1940. About half of the guns, which had arrived during the Winter War saw frontline service during it and three of them were lost in battle.

They were withdrawn from front-line use by 1943.

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