Duxford Building 8 - Land Warfare - WW2 - Page 2

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The designation of DUKW is not a military acronym.
Rather, the name comes from the model naming terminology used by General Motors :

"D" indicated a vehicle designed in 1942,
"U" meant "utility",
"K" indicated driven front wheels,
"W" indicated two powered rear axles.

The DUKW was designed in the USA and developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development.

Although it was initially rejected by the armed services, when a United States Coast Guard patrol craft ran aground on a sand bar near Provincetown, Massachusetts, an experimental DUKW happened to be in the area for a demonstration. Winds up to 60 knots (110 km/h), rain, and heavy surf prevented conventional craft from rescuing the seven stranded Coast Guardsmen, but the DUKW had no trouble, and the military opposition melted. The DUKW would later prove its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.

The vehicle was built by the General Motors Corporation. It was powered by a 270 cu in (4,425 cc) GMC straight-six engine. The DUKW weighed 6.5 tons empty and operated at 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) on road and 5.5 knots (10.2 km/h; 6.3 mph) on water. 21,137 units were manufactured. A high capacity bilge pump system kept the DUKW afloat if the thin hull was breached by holes up to 2 inches (51 mm) in diameter.

The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tyre pressure from inside the cab. The tyres could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surfaces, especially beach sand. This added to the DUKW's great versatility as an amphibious vehicle. This feature is now standard on many military vehicles.

The DUKW was supplied to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Allied forces. 2,000 were supplied to Britain under the Lend-Lease program and 535 were acquired by Australian forces. 586 were supplied to the Soviet Union which would build its own version post war: the BAV 485

DUKWs were initially sent to the Pacific theatre's Guadalcanal, and were used by an invasion force for the first time during the Sicilian Operation Husky in the Mediterranean. They would again be used on the D-Day beaches of Normandy. Its principal use was to ferry supplies from ship to shore, but it was used for other tasks, such as transporting wounded combatants to hospital ships or operations in flooded areas.

After World War II, reduced numbers of DUKWs were kept in service by the United States, Britain, France and Australia with many more stored pending disposal. Australia transferred many to Citizens Military Force units. The U.S. Army reactivated and deployed several hundred DUKWs at the outbreak of the Korean War.

Ex-U.S. Army DUKWs were transferred to the French military after World War II and were used by the Troupes de Marine and naval commandos. Many were used for general utility duties in overseas territories. France deployed DUKWs to French Indochina during the First Indochina War. Some French DUKWs were given new hulls in the 1970s with the last being retired in 1982.

Britain deployed DUKWs to Malaya during the Malayan Emergency of 1948-60. Many were redeployed to Borneo during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation of 1962-66.

ON D DAY 6 MAY 1944 (right)

These were small craft weighing 13 tons, transported by larger vessels and lowered into the water off the target beach.
Typically, they carried 36 fully armed soldiers


'Pipe Line Under The Ocean' was specially devised in preparation for the invasion of North-West Europe. Allied commanders knew that when the German army retreated they would destroy their fuel storage compounds as they went. The vehicles of the allied invasion force would require an enormous amount of fuel. Shipping it across the English Channel on oil tankers was too risky because of the danger of torpedoes from German submarines.

The 'PLUTO' project was developed by Arthur Hartley, chief engineer with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Geoffrey William Lloyd, the Minister for Petroleum, met Admiral Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations in 1942 and then the Chairman of Anglo-Iranian. Hartley's idea of using adapted submarine telephone cable was adopted.

On 6th June 1944, Allied troops began to invade France in an operation that would culminate in the end of the Second World War. Cross-channel pipelines had been developed and these eventually carried 173 million gallons of fuel from Britain to the Armies on the continent.

Before the invasion a full-scale testing of a 83 km (45 nautical mile) HAIS pipe with a 3 inch (75 mm) diameter lead core across the Bristol Channel between Swansea in Wales and Watermouth in North Devon. The HAIS pipe was a good start but it was soon apparent that the amount of lead required to produce enough pipe was going to be prohibitively expensive and would involve stripping the lead off every church roof for a start. As a result, it was decided that an alternative would be needed that made use of cheaper and more readily available materials such as mild-steel.

The second type was a less flexible steel pipe of similar diameter, developed by engineers from the Iraq Petroleum Company and the Burmah Oil Company, known as HAMEL from the contraction of the names of the two chief engineers, HA Hammick and BJ Ellis. It was discovered in testing that the HAMEL pipe was better used with sections of HAIS pipe each end.

The first pipeline to France was laid on 12 August 1944 over the 130 km (70 nautical miles) from Shanklin Chine on the Isle of Wight across the English Channel to Cherbourg. Sixteen of the enormous pumps that supplied the PLUTO pipeline were located in Sandown. Fourteen of these were housed in what was then a derelict fort - now the location of the Isle of Wight Zoo. The remaining 2 pumps were housed in Browns, next door to the fort. One was in the present glassroofed tea room. A further HAIS pipe and two HAMELs followed. As the fighting moved closer to Germany, 17 other lines (11 HAIS and 6 HAMEL) were laid from Dungeness to Ambleteuse in the Pas-de-Calais.

Along with the Mulberry Harbours that were constructed immediately after D-Day, 'Operation Pluto' is considered one of history's greatest feats of military engineering. The pipelines were also the forerunners of all flexible pipes used in the development of offshore oil fields.


Russia introduced the T-34 medium tank into service in December of 1940. This breakthrough vehicle was designed to be "shell proof" with heavy, sloped, welded armour plate. It was also designed to be easy to mass-produce, maintain and repair. The Red Army's T-34 had it all, good speed, armament, armor, local defence, range (with external tanks), terrain crossing ability and reliability. The T-34 was tough, maneuverable, relatively reliable and the wide tracks enabled it to cross every type of terrain, including soft mud and snow, giving to the tank the capacity to operate where Germans couldn't even travel. The T-34 was also small and comparably light, while the tank's water-cooled diesel engine minimized the danger of fire and increased the tank's the radius of action.

It was the best Allied tank of the war. Even the German General von Runstedt called the T-34 the "best tank in the world". By the end of the war some 40,000 T-34's had been produced. It was the single weapon that turned the war in favour of the Soviet Union and thus contributed decisively to the victory of the Allied forces. The T-34 medium tank was of a classical layout with rear transmission. The hull was divided in the driver's compartment, fighting compartment, engine bay, and transmission housing. The turret could be traversed with the aid of an electric traversing motor or by hand wheel operated by the commander. With the aid of an electric motor the turret could be traversed on 360 degrees in 14 seconds.

It remained in service far longer than any other WW II vintage tank. T34's served in Korea, where U.S. soldiers found that their heavy armour made them almost impervious to light anti-tank weapons. As of 1996, T-34, mainly in it its 85mm variant was still in service with many nations including: Afghanistan, Albania , Angola, Cuba, Romania (approx. 1000), Hungary and Vietnam - a 60 year record of service approached by no other tank.

The first T-34, the T-34 /76 was designed in 1938 when the Red Army found that the BT-7 would no longer be effective on a modern battlefield. On December 19, 1939 the new vehicle was designated T-34 and ordered into full production. It would take until July of 1940 for production to begin, and by the end of that year only 117 examples would be completed. An order for 600 tanks was placed for the following year. These tanks were to be built at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory and the Kharkov Locomotive Factory. All of this would take place under extreme secrecy because of the deteriorating international situation. A newer version in 1943 came to be known as T-34/85. All work on T-34/76 ended the following year with a total production run of 35,099 tanks in just five years.

T-34/85 Soviet red army tank, considered by many as "possibly the best tank of World War 2", was fast, manoeuvrable and hard-hitting. Appearing in huge numbers from early 1944, it led the assault on Germany until the end of the war, when it was widely exported to many communist nations. The T-34/85 was rolling off the production lines in January 1944, only five months after the design was initiated. That year over 11,000 were produced and these played the major role in pushing the Germans back into Germany in late 1944. The T-34/85 remained the principal Soviet tank until the late 1940s and was produced well into the 1960s.

It was a brilliant tank. In the early stages of the war it was technically superior to anything the Germans had. The T-34 soon out numbered as well as out performed the German Mk. IV Panzer tank that was its main adversary early in the "Great Patriotic War," as it is known in Russia. The T-34 was exceptional because it allowed Russia's insane policy of quantity over quality, not only to work, but to work well.

(Information above with acknowledgement to www.bigscalemodels.com)


The 3.7-Inch QF AA Gun was Britain's primary heavy anti-aircraft gun during World War II. It was roughly the equivalent of the German 88 mm FlaK and American 90mm, but with a slightly larger calibre of 94 mm. It was used throughout World War II in all theatres except the Eastern Front.

The gun was produced in six major variants, two versions (mobile and fixed). One used a travelling carriage, for use by batteries in the field army. This consisted of a wheeled carriage (Carriage Mk I or Mk III) with four foldable outrigger trails and levelling jacks. The wheels were lifted off the ground or removed when the gun was brought into action. The other used a travelling platform (Mounting Mk II) with detachable wheels for guns to be used in static positions, but which could be re-positioned. The mounting had a pedestal that was fixed to a solidly constructed, preferably concrete, platform on the ground.The Mk VI ordnance used only wit

The gun remained in use after the war until AA guns were replaced by guided missiles, notably the English Electric Thunderbird, in the late 1950s.

During World War I anti-aircraft guns and anti-aircraft gunnery developed rapidly. The British Army eventually adopted the QF 3 inch AA gun as the most commonly used type. Shortly before the end of the war a new QF 3.6 inch gun was accepted for service but the end of the war meant it did not enter production. After the war, all anti-aircraft guns except the 3 inch gun were scrapped.

However, the War had shown the possibilities and potential for air attack and lessons had been learned. The British had used AA guns in most theatres in daylight, as well as against night attacks at home. After an immediate post war hiatus, the Army re-established peacetime anti-aircraft units in 1922. In 1925 the RAF established a new command, Air Defence of Great Britain, and the Royal Artillery's anti-aircraft units were placed under its command.

In 1928 the general characteristics for a new HAA gun were agreed on; a bore of 3.7 inches (94 mm) firing 25 pounds (11 kg) shells with a ceiling of 28,000 feet (8,500 m). However, finance was very tight and no action was taken until 1930s, when the specification was enhanced to a 28 pounds (13 kg) shell, 3,000 feet per second (910 m/s) muzzle velocity, a 35,000 feet (11,000 m) ceiling, a towed road speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), maximum weight of 8 tons and an into action time of 15 minutes.

In 1934 Vickers Armstrong produced a mock-up and proceeded to develop prototypes of the weapon, which was selected and passed acceptance tests in 1936. Gun production started the following year. On 1 January 1938 the British air defences had only 180 anti-aircraft guns larger than 50 mm, and most of these were the older 3 inch guns. With the new gun this number increased to 341 by the September 1938 (Munich Crisis), to 540 in September 1939 (declaration of war), and to 1,140 during the Battle of Britain. Production continued until 1945, averaging 228 guns per month throughout the period. Guns were also manufactured in Australia.

Being a high velocity gun, with a single charge and firing substantial quantities of ammunition, meant that barrel life could be short. By the end of 1940 the barrel situation was becoming critical. Some of the substantial numbers of spare barrels required were produced in Canada.

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