British improvised armour

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sitalkes
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British improvised armour

Post by sitalkes » 24 Jul 2014 01:32

Hi, I thought it might be interesting to start a thread about British improvised armour 1940-43. I know of only one book about it, Martin Mace's booklet Vehicles of the Home Guard. Can you recommend any others? I would like to know which book these pictures came from:
Home Guard 6 Armour small.jpg
Other vehicles to be discussed in this thread would be
• Humberette Light Armoured Car (LAC)
• Beaverette LAC
• Morris Light Reconnaissance Car
Morris CS9
• Guy Armoured Car (not improvised, but classed as a “Wheeled Tank” nevertheless and only used within the UK)
• Bison (Concrete Armoured Lorry)
• Armadillo (Armoured Lorry)
Lorry, Anti-tank (army version of Armadillo)
• Anti-Tank Lorry (mostly unarmoured but armed with 4" gun etc)
• Home Guard Improvisations, such as the “Tubby Tank Buster”
• Cockatrice/Lagonda flamethrower
• British Armoured trains
• Some mention may be made of the Dutchman (a Carden-Lloyd Tankette), the Vickers Medium Mark III, and other obsolete tanks that might have been used in Britain in 1940
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amcl
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by amcl » 24 Jul 2014 01:43

Fletcher's Great Tank Scandal at p. 53. There are similar pics on pp. 51-2 & 53-6.

I have Mace's booklet, so I'll have a stab at a comparison of contents.

Angus

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Re: British improvised armour

Post by sitalkes » 24 Jul 2014 02:06

Thanks, that's one hell of an expensive book! I've ordered a second hand copy. As far as the anti-tank lorries are concerned, I have only found the following information, is there any more available?

Anti-Tank Lorry. These included a fleet of 76 lorries established which mounted a selection of obsolete 3 pounder, 6 pounder, 12 pounder and 4 inch guns. The 4-inch (100mm) WW1 naval gun (mounted on a flat-bed truck) was the biggest anti-tank gun of its time and could easily knock out any German AFV. However, the size of the piece was offset by the instability of the mount, making it ineffective against swift armour.

From the Walberswick site:
•Together with those guns that the Royal Navy made available for the Emergency Coastal Defence Programme, a number of smaller, four-inch and 6 pounder Hotchkiss guns were placed on mobile and static mountings to be used as anti-tank weapons.
•A number of the four-inch guns were mounted on 10-ton lorries and organised into three batteries of which two were allotted to Eastern Command.
•These guns were manned by personnel from Field and Medium artillery regiments who were without equipment after the withdrawal from France.
•In early July 1940 115 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, armed with six of these new mobile anti-tank guns, was assigned to this part of Suffolk. One gun was located to the west of Sallow Wood Covert to defend the two roads leading inland from Walberswick.
•The task of all six guns was to engage and destroy enemy tanks and to fall back in turn on positions already reconnoitred.

From the Suffolk anti-invasion defences site:

The first four mobile 4” guns arrived in Suffolk in June 1940, manned by Naval personnel (P 5 Battery) from Portsmouth under the command of Lt. Wintle R.N and were initially quartered at Glevering Hall. The White Ensign was flown from a flag staff on the lawn, a portion of the front drive was railed off to act as the “quarter-deck” and should the CRA 55th Div ring up when Lt Wintle was off duty, he was informed that he was “ashore”! The guns were mounted on specially strengthened Forden Lorries, with armoured cabins for the drivers and a LAA gun tacked on the back. They carried 25 rounds of ammunition. The guns could fire fore and aft and had a traverse of almost 25˚. The Naval detachment was soon called back to Portsmouth but left the guns, which were taken over by 120 Field Bty. The next batch of eight mobile 4” guns arrived from the Woolwich Arsenal and had been manufactured by the Army. These were mounted high on enormous Lorries and could only fire astern. These were nicknamed “Susies”. The “Susies” were at first manned by 115 Field Bty, 32nd Field Regt, who had lost all their equipment at Dunkirk. The role of these mobile 4” guns was an anti-tank role on roads leading from the beaches. The four Naval guns under 120 Field Bty left Suffolk for London during August 1940. 11 Corps made some effort to standardize the roles of theses various “fancy equipments”. Field Regts were to be relieved of manning these guns. Two pounder anti-tank guns were to be withdrawn from Beach Defence to rear areas for training purposes and to act as a mobile reserve from which they could move to provide depth to the forward defences. The new general layout was to deploy the static pieces in a Beach Defence role. The mobile pieces would operate in a mobile zone in the rear.
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by Maxschnauzer » 24 Jul 2014 02:33

Improvised armored train on the Romney Hythe - Dymchurch Miniature Railway, intended for defense against the expected invasion in 1940. http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/s ... ?p=2784240
train7b194d2c.jpg
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amcl
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by amcl » 24 Jul 2014 02:34

sitalkes wrote:Thanks, that's one hell of an expensive book! I've ordered a second hand copy. As far as the anti-tank lorries are concerned, I have only found the following information, is there any more available?

Anti-Tank Lorry. These included a fleet of 76 lorries established which mounted a selection of obsolete 3 pounder, 6 pounder, 12 pounder and 4 inch guns. The 4-inch (100mm) WW1 naval gun (mounted on a flat-bed truck) was the biggest anti-tank gun of its time and could easily knock out any German AFV. However, the size of the piece was offset by the instability of the mount, making it ineffective against swift armour.
There isn't much more on gun-lorry combinations in Fletcher's book. There is a picture of a different 4in gun/lorry combination. Fletcher says these were all armoured, which is the case in the pic you posted, but the one he shows looks pretty much commercial bog-standard AEC Mammoth 6-wheeler to me, right down to the hard-top commercial cab. Hard to be 100% certain from the angle though. He's evidently unimpressed by these ("motorised madness") conversions, but he's a hard man to please.

Your pics are the first time I've seen a production Dodge/Briggs (aka "Malcolm Campbell") car. The prototype, shown by Fletcher & others, was based on a Ford chassis and looked quite different. Also the first time I've seen a quantity mentioned. A nice find, thank you!

Cheers,

Angus

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Re: British improvised armour

Post by sitalkes » 24 Jul 2014 03:22

that's a good one of the Dymchurch railway, haven't seen that before! This looks like motorised madness:
Susie.JPG
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by sitalkes » 25 Jul 2014 01:39

RHDR pictures are popular on this and other forums, is there any more information available about those pictures other than the following?

"The RHDR is a 15 inch miniature railway that runs for 13 miles along the South Coast of England. In 1940 the Somerset Light Infantry had locomotive number 5 Hercules armoured along with two wagons. Each wagon was armed with a Boys anti tank rifle and two Lewis machine guns, one for anti aircraft use. It is claimed that the train shot down a Dornier aircraft, if this claim is true it is the only British armoured train to see action in World War H and possibly the world’s smallest to do so."


Some well organised information on all versions of the Humber LRC here: http://www.warwheels.net/HumberLRC1INDEX.html
The Morris LRC is here: http://www.warwheels.net/MorrisRecce1INDEX.html

This is probably the weirdest of the Home Guard vehicles, made by Morris for protection of their factory. The gun is apparently a wooden mock-up.
wieredest of all.jpg
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 25 Jul 2014 07:14

Just to point out that according to the section on the Guy in Warwheels.net some Guy AC's were sent to France in 1940 where they were all lost.
Alan

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Re: British improvised armour

Post by Clive Mortimore » 25 Jul 2014 09:50

sitalkes wrote:RHDR pictures are popular on this and other forums, is there any more information available about those pictures other than the following?

"The RHDR is a 15 inch miniature railway that runs for 13 miles along the South Coast of England. In 1940 the Somerset Light Infantry had locomotive number 5 Hercules armoured along with two wagons. Each wagon was armed with a Boys anti tank rifle and two Lewis machine guns, one for anti aircraft use. It is claimed that the train shot down a Dornier aircraft, if this claim is true it is the only British armoured train to see action in World War H and possibly the world’s smallest to do so."


Some well organised information on all versions of the Humber LRC here: http://www.warwheels.net/HumberLRC1INDEX.html
The Morris LRC is here: http://www.warwheels.net/MorrisRecce1INDEX.html

This is probably the weirdest of the Home Guard vehicles, made by Morris for protection of their factory. The gun is apparently a wooden mock-up.
wieredest of all.jpg
Thanks Sitalkes for using my words about Hercules and its train. http://www.juniorgeneral.org/index.php/ ... moredTrain
Clive

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Re: British improvised armour

Post by Maxschnauzer » 02 Aug 2014 04:05

Arguably one of the ugliest wheeled vehicles ever built, the Thornycroft Bison, a concrete armoured vehicle used by the RAF and Home Guard in 40-41 (Source: http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/thefgmforu ... uck.13829/:
Thornycraft Bison.jpg
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David W
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by David W » 02 Aug 2014 07:37

The Tank Museum at Bovington (UK) has one of these monstrosities.

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Re: British improvised armour

Post by sitalkes » 04 Aug 2014 02:56

That's a Type 2 Bison, which had an armoured cab roofed with canvas and a separate fully enclosed fighting compartment resembling a small pillbox on the back –" communication between driver and crew must have been difficult." the only way to get into the driver's compartment was to climb in over the top. To get into the back section, there was a hatch underneath the vehicle.

These were emphatically not "armoured cars", but merely a pillbox that could be moved from place to place. It was claimed to travel "at normal lorry speed" but in practice it was primarily allocated to the flatness of airfields. Most had difficulty moving at all owing to their excess weight, poor visibility and reduced radiator cooling. Some broke down completely and were either towed, or abandoned in place. Those built on steam wagon chassis coped well with the extra weight once boilers were removed, but were no longer powered.

The RAF stated “In considering the most suitable type of vehicle it is necessary to visualise the form of attack to which an RAF Station is most likely to be subjected. Experience to date indicates that the first phase will probably be the dropping of large numbers of parachute troops outside the aerodrome boundaries under cover of an intensive low-flying attack on the station buildings and perimeter defence posts. In this way the enemy will hope to surround the aerodrome and the second phase, probably following almost immediately, would be a concerted attack by the parachutists with the object of finally overpowering the defence posts thus clearing the way for the immediate landing of large numbers of troop-carrying aircraft upon the aerodrome itself.”

Type 3 was the heaviest and largest, with a contiguous cabin and fighting compartment completely enclosed in concrete armour:
Bison_Fully_enclosed__small.jpg
This is a colour picture of the Tank Museum Bison, which is a restoration from a few vehicles:
Bison colour tank museum.jpg
In the following picture, different types of Bisons can be seen on their annual migration :D :
Bisons migrating.jpg
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by sitalkes » 08 Aug 2014 05:02

The Tubby Tank Buster - from page 10 of "Vehicles of the Home Guard"
Home Guard Tubby Tank Buster.png
Tubby Tank Buster top.jpg
"As well as using the Fordson Major as a basis for their designs, they also developed armoured bodies for a number of Dodge vehicles.it was Campbell who developed the Dodges...
Malcolm Campbell had the top part of the armoured shell cut off. Inside was then mounted a complete short six-pounder, including
pedestal stand and shield. This gun and mounting would have originally been fitted to a First World War Male Tank ... Now strictly a self-propelled gun as opposed to an armoured car, this vehicle was christened 'Tubby the Tank Buster'. It was operated by the Somerford section of the Christchurch (then Hampshire but now Dorset) Home Guard."
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by phylo_roadking » 09 Aug 2014 22:37

I can't help thinking there's a major issue with this...
From the Walberswick site:
•Together with those guns that the Royal Navy made available for the Emergency Coastal Defence Programme, a number of smaller, four-inch and 6 pounder Hotchkiss guns were placed on mobile and static mountings to be used as anti-tank weapons.
•A number of the four-inch guns were mounted on 10-ton lorries and organised into three batteries of which two were allotted to Eastern Command.•These guns were manned by personnel from Field and Medium artillery regiments who were without equipment after the withdrawal from France.
•In early July 1940 115 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, armed with six of these new mobile anti-tank guns, was assigned to this part of Suffolk. One gun was located to the west of Sallow Wood Covert to defend the two roads leading inland from Walberswick.
•The task of all six guns was to engage and destroy enemy tanks and to fall back in turn on positions already reconnoitred.
Reads great, looks great - but it tends to ignore the fact that tanks aren't limited to travelling by road...whereas those behemoths certainly are! So they're only going to be of use as anti-tank weapons where tanks happen to be encountered on roads - or in locations where a road provided access to a suitable firing location to engage them.

Interesting that they were alloted to Eastern Command with its much flatter terrain...
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Re: British improvised armour

Post by Maxschnauzer » 11 Aug 2014 06:29

The caption on this pic from British AFVs'1940-46, vol 3 is self explanatory.
Source: http://www.network54.com/Forum/330333/t ... aign+1941!
aecegyptac.jpg
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