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Chris
Editor
Chris
October 19, 2015 8:02 am

It always struck me there was a tendency to dismiss the Churchill tank as a bit of a joke; a throw-back to the rhomboid tanks of WW1. True their requirement was written by generals who *knew* that WW2 was going to rapidly degenerate into trench-bound stalemate with vast tracts of shell-pocked no-man’s land between the lines, which is why the vehicle ended up on a similar suspension system (many roadwheels of limited vertical movement) that suited the slop & slime of shell softened mud. It also explains other attributes: the heavy armour for approaching set lines in full view of the enemy, and the slow speed suited for leading infantry to opposition trenches, and the relatively small gun for punching at machine gun nests and dug-outs.

But it also meant the thing was very tough (once its reliability issues were sorted) and could cross soft unsupporting terrain better than most armour. Indeed in February 1945 due to a rapid thaw of a harsh winter it was claimed Churchill was probably the only tank on the Allies’ side that could make progress through the Reichswald (http://www.royaltankregiment.com/9_RTR/tech/reichswald/Reichswald%20Report.htm).

Not necessarily as glamorous as Challengers charging heroically over the desert, but skilfully deployed within their limits these were extremely useful machines.

Challenger
Challenger
October 19, 2015 9:28 am

The Churchill certainly had character. No wonder it proved so useful in Italy as well if it was designed for muddy, slimy, cratered landscapes reminiscent of Northern France in The First World War.

I believe it was also pretty good at climbing hills as well.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
October 19, 2015 10:00 am

I was interested to see the tank running over the Sommerfeld Trackway.

I once (Ex Amber Express late 70’s) had to send a Field Section to relay Sommerfeld Trackway at a Field Hospital, as a 432 had pulled it up. Don’t know if the trackway had been properly laid in the first place, but the mesh was picked up by the tracks.

Was interested to see how the tanks running on the scaffold pole tracks slewed significantly as they ran along.

Chris
Editor
Chris
October 19, 2015 10:27 am

DV – I was under the impression the drivers were commanded to steer violently on the various trackways to see if they could take the manoeuvring without being trashed? Not much point laying a track that fails the first time a tracked vehicle changes direction.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
October 19, 2015 10:35 am

Chris
Good point. I had thought the tracks might have lost traction on one side causing a slew that corrected itself but I was over thinking it.
DV

as
as
October 20, 2015 4:14 pm

AKM
AKM
October 20, 2015 7:23 pm

It’s interesting to see a Churchill tank being driven quite aggressively like that. Is the main tank shown in the video a mark IV? The turret looks more rounded than in most pictures, maybe an early version of the cast turret?

Chris
Editor
Chris
October 20, 2015 7:33 pm

AKM – yes I believe the turret does indicate an early mark Churchill, as does the square hatch through each sponson (late Churchill had round hatches on the flank). Not a very early version though, as there is no 3″ howitzer poking out of the hull, just the BESA MG.

AKM
AKM
October 21, 2015 3:31 am
Reply to  Chris

The gun looks fairly small compared to photo’s of the 6 pdr equipped Mark IIIs, making me suspect it’s a 2 pdr gun which were not used after the Mark II. On the other hand the air intakes on the side of the hull are square and it’s fitted with the covers over the top of the tracks, suggesting a Mark III at the earliest.

I’m guessing a development prototype of some sort with a Mark II turret on a Mark III hull.

AKM
AKM
October 21, 2015 3:51 am
Reply to  AKM

Did a little more googling, it turns out that some of the Churchill’s lost during the Dieppe raid had the same configuration. They’re usually referred to as Mark I or Mark II.

Just learnt something new, I’ll get my head around the Churchill variants one day!

Chris
Editor
Chris
October 21, 2015 7:22 am

AKM – ref Dieppe Churchills – there is just one left now (as far as I am aware). The Canadian forces were training for the Dieppe raid up on the Downs north of Worthing. One of the Churchills developed mechanical problems and was not taken to France. Its still sitting on the hill-top now. The turret and mechanical items were stripped from it (I think by the newly opened Tank Museum) but the hull was left as target practice. Its got more holes in it than a colander, but its still recognisable as a Churchill.

as
as
October 23, 2015 4:50 pm

Nice charity have restored a Churchill mk3
http://www.thechurchilltrust.co.uk/

as
as
October 23, 2015 4:52 pm

Sorry I mean a Churchill mkiv