War Machine, Volume 10

World War I I Modern armies can call upon a whole family of specialist armoured vehicles for combat engineering operations but in World War II special purpose vehicles were a novelty. Several nations developed tanks for roles such as armoured recovery but Britain led the way with a bewildering variety of tank conversions rejoicing in the title of‘ Funnies. The contents of this study show something of an imbalance in compari­son with those of others in this series for they deal mainly with the many types of special-purpose vehicles used by the British 79th Armoured Division. For once there is no preponderance of US designs because during World War II the Americans spent little of their considerable potential on the types of vehicle included here. They concentrated on combat vehicles pure and simple and from the factories of the United States poured streams of combat tanks and all manner of fighting vehi­cles. But it was a different matter once these reached Europe. There many of them were reworked for special purposes vehicles ranging from armoured engineer vehicles to mine-clearing tanks of several types. It was different as far as the British were concerned: they had a special task to perform namely the invasion of Europe in order to take on the German army on the continent. The only way they could do that was by using special vehicles of all kinds those which could clear battlefield obstacles recover precious disabled vehicles and perform special tasks such as burning out stubborn strongpoints The Germans and Americans did not bother to use specialist vehicles on such scale. Instead they decided to make do with what they had and they often suffered accordingly. For the simple fact is that many of the vehicles included here actually saved lives Combat engineers operating from inside the protection of an armoured vehicle were much safer inaction than hapless soldiers attempting to workout in the open and men using mine-clearing tanks of whatever type were safer than men using manual clearing methods. But not all special purpose vehicles fell into this category. Those described here include command vehicles ammunition or cargo car­riers and even such oddities as the Rammtiger that was supposed to knockdown buildings in urban warfare They are a motley bunch but full of interest and a subject of study in their own right AMatildaAMRA (Anti-Mine Roller Attachment) is seen in 1942. These anti­ mine rollers were meant to detonate mines by simply rolling over them and were originally developed for use with the early Cruiser tanks. The Matilda was not the only tank to use this device some were fitted to Valentines. Special Purpose Tanks of This Sherman Crab flail tank inaction clearly shows the amount of dust and dirt that these anti-tank mine flails could produce. Sherman Crabs were used by the 79 th Armoured Division on D-Day and after and a small number were passed to the US Army during 1944. T :
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