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The Churchill Tank.

Discussion in 'The Tanks of World War 2' started by Martin Bull, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I've recently been reading about Operation Bluecoat in Normandy and not for the first time realised that I am very ignorant indeed about the Churchill tank.Just looking through the thread headings on this Forum shows that it's an overlooked AFV in many respects.

    OK, of course I know of it ( right from making the little Airfix kit as a schoolboy - all those little wheels ! ) but I really know little about it - so I've taken the plunge and got a copy of 'Mr Churchill's Tank' by the renowned David Fletcher which should bring me up to speed a little on the tech aspects.

    I'm off to Bovington next week, so with luck I'll be able to get a pic or two of their own to liven up this new thread.......
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Go for it Martin, to be honest most of my knowledge of the Churchill tank comes from playing Panzer General, so your input would be more than welcome.. It is true that the myth of Normandy being a bunh of duel between Shermanns and a Tiger here and there has occulted the other tanks, not only the Churchill.
    There is great Crocodile version at Bayeux.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Damned fine book, in the blessed Fletcher's usual engaging style. (The lack of an index was a mistake, though). Doubt you'll be disappointed.
    There is a lot of Churchill stuff on here, but it is somewhat scattered.

    A tortuous tale that eventually led to a pretty useful afv, carrying the thickest front armour of the war for a while, and really shining in the hills of Italy. What gets me most is how old characters are allowed to stumble into Churchill's development along the way, but they were at least chased out by the grown-ups in the end. (You start to see more clearly how TOG was used to distract these irritants.)

    Sadly Gerry Chester's website on the NIH has disappeared, as I'd usually recommend that for much Churchill goodness. Him and Tom Canning both fought in Churchills and rarely had a bad word to say about them. Think he had an errata list for Fletcher too.

    Much-maligned, but more complex a tale than is often told. And how many other tanks can claim a future archbishop off Canterbury gained an MC while commanding one?
    Runcie in the Bocage with 3 SG, rather dramatically painted:
    bocage.jpg
     
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  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Oh, ye of little faith...

    The Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" is your friend! Most of the site is still accessible.
    Start here:
    Primary Index
     
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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    The Way back machine is indeed mighty, but Gerry's site was so good it's a shame to lose any.
    Not seen Gerry around for a while, but there's a few who were in regular contact... wonder if it might be worth a chat with the Grofaz about an open-handed offer of site safe haven.
    The Grofaz likes Churchills...
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I was thinking the same thing as I was perusing around what the wayback machine has archived.

    There is a lot of good stuff there that needs to get back on the available net. While the Wayback Machine is mighty, IIRC, it is not searchable - unless you have a copy of an internet address, you are basically out of luck.

    I had googled...Gerry Chester's website, nih and found some links to run through the Wayback Machine.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I also was able to come across Gerry's (I presume original website) on the Wayback Machine
    Index
    Sadly, all the photos do not appear to have been archived and are missing.
     
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I promised to try to keep this thread rolling so here we go...

    On holiday in Normandy last week, I took Skipper's advice and visited the Bayeux Memorial Museum - here are a couple of shots of their Crocodile ( obviously, minus its' armoured trailer ). I was interested to be able to get the shot of the trunking running beneath the vehicle......

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    Remember Ron Goldstein spent a good bit of time in one in Italy. and some time in Naples in a hospital as a result when he was wounded.

    That looks suspiciously like a shot trap around the main gun. Is there an interior mantlet or sorts ? I presume the track configuration is left over from WW 1..

    I love Churchill's, ugly as sin but in the way frogs are ugly....which is really rather beautiful. I think Churchill's mug inspired the front !!!!

    Gaines
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Think you may be thinking of Tom Canning, Gaines. Hopefully Ron will pop up to confirm but I seem to recall he trained in M4s and served in M5s.

    That oft-mentioned 'WW1' track profile isn't really very WW1.
    The high-ish profile springs from it's original concept as an infantry tank, where it was expected to be above-average at crossing substantial defensive ditches. That arrangement along with the extra length is a bonus in those circumstances, but they're not especially high in relation to other period machines.
    Churchill-Cromwell-Comet-du.jpg

    The main reason Churchill makes people say 'WW1' is its pannier hull design, with the body sitting within the tracks. This gave space there allowing a lower profile for a substantial machine with a decent centre of gravity, but was largely about strength.Simple box-girder construction without the need for above-track space.
    It's arguable logic, naturally, but there was logic there.
    Churchill hull.JPG

    The real eventual disadvantage of the layout was in turret ring diameter. (Notwithstanding 'clogging' issues - plenty of shots out there of Churchills with their central track guards removed.)*
    With the tracks defining the width of anything mounted between them, Churchill had a few better pieces than its original 2pdr jammed in, but when the Tank Board
    etc. finally came to terms with the need for significant BFGs, Churchill's core design prevented it. So, enter Black Prince - essentially a widened Churchill with space for a 17pdr sized turret.
    I like Black Prince, the wide-skirted squat hang of the thing, but it's probably a good thing Centurion was to dominate the shape of things to come...

    Note how that larger turret on Black Prince makes the arrangement somehow less 'WW1', even though the chassis on both were very similar in layout.
    12464344124_c55ae88611_b.jpg




    *Track guard gap:
    432750.jpg
     
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  13. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    von Poop, thanks for the clarification. about Ron, I thought he was in a 6 pounder Churchill. . That B&W picture of the Black Prince has TANK writ all over it , one of those ugly beautiful things that warfare produces. To me sheer beauty. The too late Black Prince has long been a favorite of mine. Oh, the somewhat anachronistic sounding "writ" was intentional.

    Gaines
     
  14. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    I see a copyright tag on this but not sure if it is okay for forums , a non commercial use. It is on the internet. If out of order please delete.

    Beautiful color rendition of a camouflaged Mark IV

    Gmail

    Gaines
     
  15. Mark3

    Mark3 New Member

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    Really overlooked vehicle........but with a fascinating history.Old fashioned design,slow,flat armour,some say undergunned,but.............amazing cross country ability,unmatched hill climbing ability,great surviveability,unrivalled adaptability and in my opinion the allies best tank.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    My knowledge of British tanks is mostly "that's not a Panzer."
     
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    It was an outlier on the WW2 design trend for tanks to converge on the T34 /M4/Panther design of a medium "universal" tank capable of use against other tanks and for infantry support.

    The Churchill was designed to serve as an infantry support tank optimised towards protection at the expense of long range mobility. In its original design it was equipped with a light cannon 2pdr anti tank gun and a 3" gun for infantry support work. Varients were considered as a carriage for an 3" 20cwt gun (A British SU85 or StiuG) and a 6" howitzer (A British Hummel or SU152) If initially deployed in the desert it could have had the same impact of the M3 Grant.Instead they littered the beach at Dieppe.

    It evolved into probably the best assault support AFV of WW2. Rge AVRE and Crocodile variants provided some serious close range fire support for attacking enemy defensive positions. No other country had quite the same heavily armoured flamethrower, also deployed to support the US Army in NW Europe The flying dust bin HESH charge gave it a really serious short range bunker busting and obstacle clearance capability. A British Brumbaer or sturm tiger.

    The big heavily armoured space allowed this AFV to be used as the basis for an entire new class of AFV-the Armoured Engineer Tank. It could accommodatea half section of engineers with their kit. The high return track position enabled the side access doors to be used for more than simply emergency exit. The vehicle itself could shield engineering work and serve as a platform for bridges and fascines. Post WW2 most countries copied the concept - but the Churchill was the original.

    The Churchill was also blessed with a reputation for reliability. Unlike many British AFVs it was manufactured by a motor manufacturer - Vauxhall of Luton, which could draw on their experience to ensure design and manufacturing quality.

    It weas in service until the 1960s
     
  18. Mark3

    Mark3 New Member

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    Some criticize its 6pdr gun.However,the 6pdr was a good weapon against armour particularly when matched with the later ap rounds.The sabot was considered innacurate over longer distances but the ballistic capped ammo was'nt and this improved the armour piercing qualities considerably.The 6pdr served into the 60's which proves it's pedigree against armour.The churchill was in no way a failure at taking on other tanks.
    The other point is the flat armour plate.Flat v sloped is a slightly more complicated subject than most think.Flat armour plate only has to be at a slight angle to an incoming shell and it then starts to act like sloped armour...albeit in a horizontal plane.The times a shell hits flat armour plate dead square on was probably quite a small percentage of total hits.Sloped armour,especially at longer combat ranges can also start to be slighty more flat when you take into consideration the looping trajectory of shells.
    Yes,the churchill had flat armour plates,but it did'nt stop it being a vehicle that could absorb more punishment than most.
     
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Nice page from a pleasant little 1946 Vauxhall Book I just bought:
    'An Account of our Stewardship':

    Churchill-web.jpg

    IMG_20181211_180433634.jpg
     
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  20. Otto

    Otto Spambot Nemesis Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    For obvious reasons, I'm pinning this thread.
     

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