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A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

Churchill Mk III AVRE and Mk IV AVRE with gutted carrier - case report

This is my new task: Build these two british AVRE beasts...from AFV Club:  Churchill Mk.III and Mk.IV AVRE. Let's go...
Churchill Mk IV AVRE - box art
Churchill Mk III AVRE - box art
     The Churchill AVRE (Assault Vehicle, Royal Engineers) was developed after the Dieppe raid in an attempt to make combat engineers less vulnerable while they were attempting to destroy enemy defences.
Churchill Mk IV AVRE
     The AVRE was developed from a suggestion made by Lieutenant J. J. Denovan of the Royal Canadian Engineers, but attached to the Special Devices Branch of the Department of Tank Design. His idea was for a tank with as much of the standard internal equipment as possible removed and replaced with storage space for the sapper's equipment, tools and explosives. The Churchill was chosen because of its combination of a large interior, thick armour and side access door, and a prototype was developed for the Department of Tank Design by the 1st Canadian M E Company.
     The crew of six were drawn from the Royal Engineers, except for the driver who came from the Royal Armoured Corps. One of the RE crew was a demolitions NCO sapper responsible for priming the "Flying dustbin" as well as leading or supervising when they dismounted from the tank (easily done through the side hatches) to place demolition charges ("Wade" charges).
"Flying dustbin" petard
     The AVRE had the main gun replaced by a Petard Mortar. This fired a forty pound (18 kg) HE-filled projectile (nicknamed the Flying Dustbin) 150 yards (137 m). The "Dustbin" could destroy concrete obstacles such as roadblocks and bunkers. This weapon was unusual in that it had to be reloaded externally - by opening a hatch and sliding a round into the mortar tube from the hull.
Petard mortar in the Churchill Mk IV turret
The mortar and the petard
     A demonstration on Hankley Common on 25 February 1943 showed what the engineers had in mind. A Churchill tank with the internal ammunition storage removed and a new side door that unfolded to become an armoured screen was driven up to a concrete wall. The sappers emerged from the tank, placed and lit General Wade explosive charges on the wall, and then retreated in the tank. The resulting hole was large enough to drive a tank through.
    The 290mm muzzle loading mortar was developed separately, by Colonel Blacker, the designer of the Blacker Bombard, a spigot mortar built for the Home Guard. He was asked to design a version of the mortar that could be mounted on a tank, and produced a mortar that could fire a 40lb high explosive shell known as the Flying Dustbin.
      A massive spring soaked up the 20 tons of recoil and used the energy to recock the mortar. At the Hankley Common demonstration this mortar was mounted to a Churchill tanks. After using shells fused for air burst to clear a 28ft wide gap through a minefield, the mortar then fired twelve shells directly at a 6ft thick concrete wall, creating a gap wide enough for a tank. 
     The two designed were merged to create the AVRE. Around 700 were produced by converting Churchill Mk IIIs and IVs, of which 180 had been completed by the D-Day landing, where they were used by the 1st Assault Brigade of the 79th Armoured Division.
79th Armoured Division badge
     The AVRE was given standard attachment points that could be used to carry a wide range of specialised equipment, including fascine carriers that could drop their brushwood bundles into ditches or at the base of barriers, a variety of mine sweeping devices, a Small Box Girder bridge, 'bobbin' carpet laying tanks and the 'Goat' explosive device.

AVREs were also used to carry and operate equipment such as:
  • Bridgelayer - The Bridgelayer conversion was based on a Churchill MK-III or MK-IV. The bridge could carry a 60ft tank or Class 40 wheeled vehicles, and the driver operated the laying mechanism; the only other crew member was the commander.
  • Bobbin - A reel of 10-foot (3.0 m) wide canvas cloth reinforced with steel poles carried in front of the tank and unrolled onto the ground to form a "path", so that following vehicles (and the deploying vehicle itself) would not sink into the soft ground of the beaches during the amphibious landing. 
  • Fascine - A bundle of wooden poles or rough brushwood lashed together with wires carried in front of the tank that could be released to fill a ditch or form a step. Metal pipes in the center of the fascine allowed water to flow through. 
  • Small Box Girder was an assault bridge that was carried in front of the tank and could be dropped to span a 30-foot (9.1 m) gap in 30 seconds. 
  • Bullshorn Plough. A mine plough intended to excavate the ground in front of the tank, to expose and make harmless any land mines. 
  • Double Onion. two large demolition charges on a metal frame that could be placed against a concrete wall and then detonated from a safe distance. It was the successor to the single charge device Carrot. 
  • CIRD. The Canadian Indestructible Roller Device (CIRD) consisted of two arms attached to the side of the tank, each supporting a heavy roller. The roller was suspended in such a way it could jump in the air and rotate in an arc round the arm when a mine was detonated, thus reducing the chance of the rollers being blown off.
       The AVRE played an important part in the success of the British and Canadian landings on D-Day, where their spigot mortar was especially valuable, destroying a number of German strong points, the most famous being the Sanatorium at Le Hamel. They continued to operate successfully during the campaign in north-western Europe, and later versions of the AVRE tank remained in use long after the Churchill had been retired.
Churchill AVRE Mk IV Bobbin
Churchill AVRE Mk III Bridgelayer (a very rare Mk III pic)
Churchill AVRE Mk IV Fascine
Churchill AVRE Mk IV Goat
Churchill AVRE Mk IV used by medics as protection in D-Day beach
Churchill AVRE Mk IV CIRD
Churchill AVRE Mk IV in action
(font: http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_churchill_AVRE.html
      One of the problems I encountered in researching this project was the lack of photos of the Mk III model in action in WWII. The model Mk IV features numerous photos. These are the pictures that I found of the Mk III (see the Mk III bridgelayer pic above):
Churchill AVRE Mk III  in Arnhein

Churchill AVRE Mk III  in England, trials to D-Day
Churchill AVRE Mk III in Bocage - Notice the extra-armour in the turret
Churchill AVRE Mk III in trial action
Churchill AVRE Mk IV leading a Churchill AVRE Mk III

Churchill Mk IV AVRE in Germany - Notice that  photo was the inspiration for the illustration of the kit box 

Churchill Infantry Tank  Mk IV - (A22)
Place of origin
United Kingdom
Service history
In service
1941–52 (British Empire)
Used by                                                                                                                       
  • United Kingdom, Soviet Union Canada, Ireland, Poland
Production history
1941 to 1945
Number built
5,640 approx.
  • 38.5 long tons (Mark I)
  • 40.1 long tons (Mark VII)
7.44 m
3.25 m
2.49 m
5 or 6 (commander, gunner, loader/radio operator, driver, co-driver/hull gunner + AVRE engineer)

  • For Churchill I-VI: 102 mm hull front, 89 mm hull side, 51 mm hull rear, 89 mm turret front, 76 mm turret side and rear
  • Mark VII-VIII - 152 mm hull and turret front, 95 mm hull sides and turret sides and rear, 51 mm hull rear
Bedford 12-cylinder, 4 stroke, water-cooled, horizontally opposed, L-head petrol engine
350 hp (261 kW) at 2,200 rpm
9.1 hp (6.7 kW) / tonne
Merritt-Brown 4-speed constant-mesh epicyclic gearbox
Coiled spring
Operational range
90 km
24 km/h
Steering system
Triple differential steering in gearbox

The kits:
      Many colleagues are surprised that I build my kits in pairs. But I save time and material  building two kits simultaneously... Sometimes, we have to wait a glue or a painting to dry, and with two kits on the workbench, I don´t waste time ...
       So, let´s go...The kits:
The boxes and the parts
     I started the kits by the booklet: Suspensions...The most boring step in the building...
The suspensions
The wheels in the place...
 The sponsons are ready...
     I focused on the Mk IV´s building...  
Churchil Mk IV AVRE hull under construction 
The two sisters...
          And the job continues...I sped up the build of Mk III´s hull...They must grow together ...
The two hulls are growing...
      I disliked  the  "raised" periscopes that I installed in the Mk IV. I did this step following the booklet, but in the actual photos I noticed that the lower periscopes were more common. I will replace these parts ... 
Raised periscopes...Surgery time...
       The current stage. There are just a few details to complement the hull now. I'll let the tracks exposed with the suppression of some parts of the fenders...Love the looks "rhomboid" of Churchill with the tracks exposed ...Notice the lowered periscopes in the Mk IV:
The two AVRES almost ready...
        Yesterday, I finished the two turrets: the welded from Mk III and the casted, from Mk IV. The mortars are very well detailed...
The welded turrt from Mk III
      The fenders are fitted only, not glued yet ...
The casted turret, from Mk IV

The two Churchills AVRE, side by side....
      Now, it´s time to build the link-blink tracks...The worst part.... Sunday was a day of smooth building. The challenge, now, are the  tracks. 
      The Churchills tanks used two types of track links:  The early model (Heavy cast steel) and late model (Light cast steel).
Heavy cast model (ealy) - font: http://www.armourinfocus.co.uk/a22/index.htm
Light cast model (late) - font: http://www.armourinfocus.co.uk/a22/index.htm 
   For my kits, I choose the early version...The AFV´s Churchill Mk IV presents, in the kit box, the two types of tracks: The early version is link-by-link and the late version is vinyl. But the Mk III version comes to AFV only with vinyl (late) tracks. To build this Mk III with early version tracks, I  acquired the excelent conversion kit from AFV with the early model of  LBL tracks.
AFV conversion kit- Heavy cast steel - Early model 
     The links of the Mk IV model, ready for build. The AFV kit provides 150 links for the tracks. Each track uses 71 links (142 in the total - there are only 8 for losses and damages).
Heavy steel links. 
     As I intend to use extra links for additional armour in the turret and hull, I decided to save a few links to do this. As in the model Mk IV I'll use the fenders nearly complete, I decided to build the tracks saving the links that will be hidden inside the fenders. For the left track, I used 53 links and for the right, I used 52, in test.  Look below:
Saving links in each track...

The tracks glued in position...

The left fender in position. The links are visible through the hull´s gap (see arrow)

The links are visibles...
       It may seem heretical, but it´s logical. Why spend precious links in a region where they are not visible? The kit is not mobile, but static. So ....
       And heresy continues, now in the Mk III. As you guys remember, I had to use the conversion kit from AFV to make the tracks like the early model. The different lengths of tracks is justified because I build the fenders in asymmetric aspect
The tracks in the Mk III - saving a few more links

Churchill Mk III with assimetrical fenders...
         And the results of the work from yesterday:
The Mk IV with spare links as a additional armour

The two AVRE girls...Notice the Mk III´s assimetrical fenders...

Mk III in close...

Mk IV in close...
      Primer first, green after...
AVRES with primmer...
...and greenish
     While the girls are drying, I browsing an excellent book about the 79th Armored Division (Vanguard of Victory, by David Fletcher)  and I stumbled upon these pictures:

      They show Universal carriers "gutted" of its motorized parts to be used as tracked load trailers or specialized trailers.

Bingo !!!

          As said Baldrick  (in Black Adder), "I have a cunning plan, My Lord!":
Baldrick, the orderly  private of Captain Black Adder
         Build a carrier trailer using the Tamiya´s Universal Carrier. To help do this, I drew this profile:

Churchill Mk IV AVRE with tracked trailer - Based on a George Bradford drawing

Tamiya´s carrier kit
 I started to build the Tamiya kit, removing its internal mechanical parts, leaving only the the carcass of the vehicle ...
Universal carrier under surgery...rear shield removed

Carrier trailer - side view

Carrier trailer with tracks...

      I will attach this trailer in the Mk IV ... I think it will be very different ....
Building the tow bar, with Plastruct 2.5mm rod and plasticard.
The gutted carrier with tow bar - Notice the plasticard use for fill the gaps. The trailer wearing tracks

Notice the tool panel built with the brackets reversed to release the cargo area
       I cut several strips of plasticard to make the lining of the cargo space:
Lining the loading area
       Well, the cargo trailler is ready. Time to paint:  primmer, first...

The gutted carrier primed...
        And the green, with tonal variations:
The carrier with greens

...and the Girls getting the same treatment of shades of green
        After drying the green paint, I applied a thin  layer of Future and then, the decals. The best part...
All together with marks!!!!
Mk IV with marks
Mk IV - rear view - notice the exhauster
Mk III with marks
Mk III - notice the extra fuel tank (spare part from my spare parts box)
The gutted carrier...
The Mk IV towing the gutted carrier 
        Yesterday, I received a great tip from our friend George Moore, in Missing-Lynx: "The carriers used were MkI or MkI conversions to MkII, hence the front valance over the idler does not have the ribs and footstep as supplied with the Tamiya kit."
Carrier with simplified fender
     And I had not noticed that detail (thanks a lot, George...). But there's still time to fix ... Surgery time and ...

The carrier fixed...
        To calm me down after the scare with the fenders, I started painting the details ...Spare tracks and tracks in the girls...
The tracks - first colors... Notice the Churchill´s tools, in the rear decks
 ...And the weathering:
Gutted carrier
Churchill Mk IV AVRE
Churchill Mk III AVRE
Almost there....
      A very quick insertion: I built the bogies from carrier´s suspension wrong. I had not noticed this detail.
I build the bogie inverted. Notice the spring...
   Who saw was the Robert Lockie... Thanks, Robert hawk-eye...Again, surgery time:
The bogie removed ( two sides...)
Reinforcing the suspension with a plastic rod (Plastruct)
        And the gutted carrier is fixed, now:

Bogies in corrected position.
  Ok...Suspension corrected, full ahead flank !!!!!
Finally, I finished the two English girls (and the trailer). But let's see the final stages until to completion of the project ...How I built a trailer, I need a load for it: Some gasoline drums, wooden boards and a log for stuck
Making the load: To save weight, I used Styrofoam
Gutted trailer - rear view
          I covered the load with canvas made ​​with tracing paper soaked in PVA glue.
Starting the canvas
The tracing paper softened with a mixture of water and glue.
You conforms to the canvas with a wet brush 
The canvas done...After dry, you paint with acrylics and oils...
      And the three kits ready for action. First, the Churchill Mk IV AVRE with Universal gutted trailer:
Churchill Mk IV AVRE from 79th Armoured Division
Churchill Mk IV AVRE- side view -left

Churchill Mk IV AVRE - side view - right

The Universal gutted trailer - the ropes are polyamide sewing thread 
Notice the flying dustbins tied in canvas
Universal gutted carrier - side view

Churchill AVRE Mk IV with Universal gutted carrier trailer
Mother and daughter...
Kojak with the British girls...for comparison of size.

And the Churchill Mk III AVRE:
Churchill Mk III AVRE
Churchill Mk III AVRE - left side view

Churchill Mk III AVRE - right side view

Churchill Mk III AVRE with Kojak
The two Churchills AVRE

      Well, Gents...More two Churchills for my collection. The goal is build all main variants of the Churchills...
       See you soon !!!