Google+ Panzerserra Bunker- Military Scale Models in 1/35 scale: M4 and M4A4 Sherman Crocodile flame tanks - American and British version - case report
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domingo, 23 de novembro de 2014

M4 and M4A4 Sherman Crocodile flame tanks - American and British version - case report

Tankers !!!
      Hot,very hot news! This time, my new (double) project will be two flamethrowers Shermans: The british prototype built for the Americans, the Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile and his yankee cousin, the M4 Sherman Crocodile.
History:
      A flame tank is a type of tank equipped with a flamethrower, most commonly used to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications, confined spaces, or other obstacles.
M4A1 Sherman flame tank from the 713th Tank Battalion, equipped with
POA-CWS-H1 flamethrower (Marine Corps design M4A3R5), firing
at the entrance of a cave on southern Okinawa, 25 June 1945.
      The type only reached significant use in the Second World War, during which the United States, Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom (including members of the British Commonwealth) all produced flamethrower-equipped tanks. 
      Some production methods were used. The flamethrowers used were either modified versions of existing infantry flame weapons or specially designed. They were mounted externally in the vehicles, replaced existing machine gun mounts, or replaced the tank's main armament. Fuel for the flame weapon was either carried inside the tank, in armoured external storage, or in some cases in a special trailer behind the tank , like the Churchill Crocodile.

    Flame tanks carried much more fuel than infantry handguns, and fired longer-ranged flame bursts. They were invaluable for rooting out heavy infantry fortifications. As no US tank cannon could possibly penetrate the thick bunkers created by the Japanese defenders on islands such as Tarawa or Iwo Jima, flame throwing tanks were utilized instead, while infantrymen provided the necessary security during their deployment.
M4A3R3 "Ronson" USMC tank firing its POA-CWS H1
flamethrower during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
    In an open battlefield, the flamethrower was virtually useless because of its short range. However, they proved a potent psychological weapon against fortified troops. In many instances, troops surrendered or fled upon seeing a flame tank fire ranging shots, rather than risk being burned alive.
    Experience of combat use of flamethrower tanks was mixed. German flamethrower variants of Panzer II and Panzer III were both discontinued due to unsatisfactory performance and converted into assault guns or tank destroyers. The Panzer IV was never converted into a flame variant, despite being used for just about every purpose imaginable on the battlefield.
    The mixed results were in part due to the development of infantry anti-tank weapons. At the start of the Second World War most infantry units had weapons with some effectiveness against armoured targets at ranges of thirty to fifty meters, like anti-tank rifles. Towards the end of the war, more powerful anti-tank weapons such as the bazooka, Panzerschreck, and PIAT were introduced which were fatal to tanks at ranges longer than the tank's flamethrower could reach.

Churchill Crocodile Design:
      The flamethrower equipment was produced as a kit that REME workshops could fit in the field, converting any available Churchill Mk VII. The conversion kit consisted of the trailer, an armoured pipe fitted along the underside of the tank, and the projector, which replaced the hull mounted Besa machine gun
 Close-up of the flame projector of a Churchill Crocodile
      The Crocodile was therefore still able to function as a gun tank with its turret mounted Ordnance QF 75 mm gun. Of the 800 kits produced, 250 were held in reserve for possible operations against the Japanese. The remainder was sufficient for producing three regiments of tanks as well as training and replacements for battlefield casualties. 400 imperial gallons (1,800 l) of fuel and the compressed nitrogen propellant, enough for eighty one-second bursts, were stored in a 6½ ton detachable armoured trailer towed by the Crocodile. 
Close-up of the armoured fuel trailer
     The trailer, connected to the tank by a three way armoured coupling (the Link), could be jettisoned from within the tank if necessary.
The Link: three way armoured coupling between tank and trailler
      The thrower had a range of up to 110 meters (some sources quote 138 meters). The pressure required had to be primed on the trailer by the crew as close to use as feasible, because pressure could not be maintained for very long.
Churchill Crocodile firing
      The fuel was used at 15 liters per second; refuelling took at least 90 minutes and pressurization around 15 minutes. The fuel burned on water and could be used to set fire to woods and houses. The flamethrower could project a "wet" burst of unlit fuel which would splash around corners in trenches or strongpoints and then ignite this with a second burst.

American Crocodiles:
      While the British used a squadron of Churchill Crocodiles during the fighting at Brest in September 1944, the US Army received a smaller American designed Auxyliari Flamethrower E4-5 mounted upon the M4 Sherman tank during the same month.
Crocodiles of B Squadron,141 st RAC, which took part in the American
attack on Brest. Extra stowage soon got added to the trailers, as well as the tanks.
For a while some of these Churchills were fitted with Culin hedgerow cutters.
      Assigned to the US Army's 70th Tank Battalion, the flamethrowing tanks went into action on 18 September 1944, where it was found that the weapons had a very short range as compared to the British Crocodiles, and consequently were not very popular amongst US troops.
      Churchill Crocodile in action
      The Canadian and Dutch armies became one of the most active users of the Wasp flamethrowers while fighting in Europe, finding the weapons to be extremely effective in prying German soldiers from their defenses. Indeed, the mechanical flamethrowers, although not impressive by themselves, struck horror into the minds of German troops, who feared them more than any other conventional weapon. I.e., Canadian troops used flamerthrowers called 'Wasp' during the Battle of the Scheldt
Universal Carrier Wasp Mk I
Universal Carrier Wasp Mk II
      As we have seen before, although the auxiliary flame throwers were unpopular with the U.S. Army in Europe, the British Churchill Crocodile was widely admired. Troops which received support from these tanks wanted all they could get. On the Crocodile, the flame gun replaced the bow machine gun mount in the Churchill tank and its fuel and pressurization system was towed in a separate trailer.
Churchill Crocodile
      The Crocodiles were part of the British 79th Armoured Division and they were detached whenever required to support British and American units. The U.S. interest in the Crocodile began long before D-Day. After a demonstration of the prototype built by the British to the Americans in a Sherman V (M4A4) in March 1943, a study was conducted on U.S. requirements for such equipment.
      In parallel, the US Army was developing its own tank-mounted flame-thrower and an order for 100 E4-5 flame-throwers was placed in the US on 21st April 1944. 
M4 Sherman Tank equipped with flamethrower fitted to
the bow machine gun ball-mount, 1944.
      The following July, trials were held of the E4-5 flame-thrower mounted in an M4 tank in Normandy, and its performance was described as “positively pathetic” compared to the Churchill Crocodile.
Lt Gen George S. Patton snaps a photo during a demonstration of an E4-5
auxiliary flamethrower on October 25, 1944. Patton was not especially
enthusiastic about the American flamethrower,calling it just
a “piddle” and “not hot enough.”

Comparative characteristics of the CROCODILE and E4-5:
ITEM
         
CROCODILE
         
E4-5
Maximum Range (Thickened fuel)

110 meters

65 meters
Fuel Capacity

1.515 liters

190 gals
Discharge Rate

15 liters per sec

4 liters per sec
Total firing time

100 seconds

50 seconds
Operating pressure

250-350 #psi

375 #psi
Gas bottle pressure

3000 #psi

2000 #psi
Elevation and Depression

+25° to -10°

+27° to -10°
Traverse

45° R and L

20° R and L
Total weight of equipment

 7 tons

450 Kgs
Principal armament ammunition
removed from tank.

15 rounds

15 rounds

     This resulted in the recommendation that 100 Shermans be fitted with the complete Crocodile apparatus and that an additional 25 trailers be procured as a reserve.
      Approved by the Theater Commander on 16 July, the request was submitted to the British War Office in August. The Petroleum Warfare Department completed a wooden mock-up on a Sherman V (M4A4) by October, 10  and work commenced on a prototype. 
Wooden mock-up of flame apparatus installed in a M4A4 Sherman V
     After successful tests in February 1944, the equipment was redesigned for production and a soft steel pilot was available in March and tested in M4A4 operational tank.
Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile - operational prototype
      For the 100 units, it was planned to obtain components common to both the Churchill and the Sherman equipment in Britain while the special items for the Sherman would be procured from the United States. However, a preliminary order was placed for six Sherman Crocodiles to be manufactured in Britain.
M4 Sherman Crocodile
      Unfortunately, the Churchill Crocodiles had the usual problems with a new weapon and their per- formance did not show up well during the first month of fighting in Normandy. As a result, interest waned and the U.S. Army cancelled its requirement on I3 August. 
      The E4-5 auxiliary flame thrower had been demonstrated to the troops and was believed to be available in quantity. Although its range and capacity were limited, it did not require a trailer. The latter feature of the Crocodile did not appeal to the U.S. tankers who feared that it would restrict their maneuverability. Four of the six Crocodiles in the preliminary order were completed and issued to the U.S. Ninth Army in late November. Here they equipped a platoon in the 739th Tank Battalion (Special). 
M4 Sherman Crocodile from 739th Tank Battalion, 9th Army, 1945.
      This was one of the former CDL outfits that had been converted to a mine exploder battalion. The 739th employed their four flame thrower tanks in action with great effect on only a single occasion, during the reduction of the old citadel in Jülich in support of the 175th Infantry, 29th Division, on February 24. The town had been reduced to rubble by air attacks and artillery strikes, and the assault companies secured the town by late afternoon except for the old citadel. The fortress was surrounded by a moat 25 meters wide and 6 meters deep, and the division did not want to waste troops directly attacking it.
Art of M4 Crocodile in action in the Battle for Jülich
      So the Sherman Crocodiles were called forward to deal with the fortifications. Two of the tanks broke down before reaching the citadel. The remaining two reached the edge of the moat, and began pumping flame into the citadel, which forced the defenders to retreat underground. The M4 Crocodile flamethrower tanks then fired about 20 rounds of 75mm high explosive ammunition at the main gate, and once this was blown open, began flaming the inner courtyard.
M4 Sherman crocodile - the metal rod projecting from
the left side of the flame gun was used to aim the device 
    The last four German survivors fled the burning fort through tunnels and could be seen running away on the nearby hill. Troops from the 175th Infantry waded across the moat, securing it by 1500hrs. The fortress continued to burn for two days.
Sherman Crocodiles of the 739th Tank Battalion (Special Mine Exploder)
during their combat debut on February 24, 1945.
These two tanks took part in the attack on the Jülich Citadel.
      The four M4 Crocodiles supported the 2nd Armored Division after the Rhine crossing in March 1945, but there were few other opportunities for the use of mechanized flamethrowers once the Siegfried line had been breached.
      The Ninth Army tried to get additional Sherman Crocodiles, first requesting the remaining two of the original order and later approximately 60 to equip a complete battalion. Both requests were rejected because of interference with British requirements and the belief that U.S. equipment would soon be available. With this, the American experience with Shermans Crocodile came down to only four tanks delivered and unfortunately none of them survived after the end of the war.
      Crews of 'flame' tanks were not necessarily more vulnerable than those crews in the regular, standard version of the tank (a Churchill 'Crocodile' flame tank being more or less just as vulnerable to anti-tank weapons as the standard Churchill), but the crews of flamethrowing tanks were often treated differently should they be captured alive by enemy troops. Due to the perceived inhumanity of the weapon itself, captured crews of such tanks were often treated much less humanely than crews of regular tanks. Instances of 'flametankers' being executed by the opposite troops upon capture were not uncommon. Flame tank also suffered from the fact, along with flame-throwing armed troops that all enemy within range would usually open up on them due to the fear of the weapon.
      Flame tanks were not necessarily more prone to catching fire. Tanks such as the Churchill 'Crocodile', which towed the liquid container behind the actual tank held no greater risk of fire than standard tanks.
     Actually, flame tanks are generally considered obsolete. Today, thermobaric weapons such as the Russian TOS-1 are considered to be the successor to flame tanks.

Specs:
Sherman V Crocodile (Prototype):


Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile (British)

TypeMedium tank
Place of originUnited Kingdon
Service history
In servicePrototype 
Used by England -  United States

Production history
Designed1944
ProducedMay 1942 – Sept. 1943 (standard tank)
Number built01
Specifications
Weight31.6 tonnes + 7 tonnes (fuel flame trailer)
Length6.05 m
Width2.62 m
Height2.74 m
Crew5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, flame gunner)

Armor76 mm maximum
Main
armament
75 mm M3 L/40 gun (75 rounds)
Flame projector (1.515 liters)
Secondary
armament
.50 cal Browning M2HB machine gun (300 rounds),
2 × .30 Browning M1919A4machine guns (4,750 rounds)
EngineChrysler A57 Multibank 30 cylinder 21-litre engine. 470 hp at 2,700 rpm.
Power/weight12.2  hp/tonne
TransmissionSpicer manual, Synchromesh, 4 forward (plus 1 overdrive)  and 1 reverse gear
SuspensionVertical Volute Spring Suspension (VVSS)
Operational
range
160 km at 605 L; 80 octane
Speed40 to 48 km/h



M4 Sherman Crocodile:




M4 Sherman Crocodile (American)
TypeMedium flame tank
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1944-45
Used byUnited States
WarsWorld War II
Production history
Designed1944
ManufacturerUSA
Produced1944
Number built6
Specifications
Weight30.3 tonnes + 7 tonnes (flame trailer)
Length5.84 m
Width2.62 m
Height2.74 m
Crew5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, flame gunner)

Armor76 mm maximum
Main
armament
75 mm M3 L/40 gun (75 rounds)
Flame projector (1.515 liters)
Secondary
armament
.50 cal Browning M2HB machine gun (300 rounds),
2 × .30-06 Browning M1919A4machine guns (4,750 rounds)
Engine
Continental R975 C1, air-cooled,radial, gasoline
400 hp (298 kW) at 2,400 rpm
Power/weight
13.5 hp/tonne 
TransmissionSpicer manual, synchromesh,4 forward (plus 1 overdrive) and 1 reverse gear
SuspensionVertical Volute Spring Suspension (VVSS)
Operational
range
193 km at 660 L; 80 octane
Speed40 to 48 km/h


The kits:
      For this project, I choose two jurassic kits found into the lowest depths of my closet: The Dragon M4A4 Sherman # 6035 and tthe Tamiya M4 Early #35190. For the trailers, Crocodile's scraps from my spare parts box...
Dragon M4A4 Sherman #6035
Tamiya M4Sherman (early) #35190
       The two kits, from the deep of my catacombs...I keep in plastic bags to save space ... I have hundreds of old ladies waiting for the opportunity to "born" to the bench...
Dragon and Tamiya, side by side...
       I choose, for my M4 Sherman Crocodile, the early version of M4, with M34 gun mantlet (without lips in the gun) and transmission cover with 3 parts, like this;

      As the tank was the early type, I changed the bogies by early bogies from Academy with the return roller arms flat and the spring in arch. Love my spare parts box !!!
Early heavy duty bogies: flat arms and springs in arch. Notice the
different types of wheels.
       Notice the diferent parts of my Frankenshermans...M4 Early and M4A4:
Kits with spare parts and RB Model metal guns
The M4A4: Notice the start of building of the flamm projector..
M4 early with Academy and Tasca parts
The flamm trailers....spare parts from Tamiya Churchill Crocodile
British prototype trailer...notice the absence of details...
      Starting the details of the M4A4: Notice, below, the front hull of the tank:

Starting the flamm projector: it will be elevation and derivation
Plastruct U Channel
The rotor shield of flamm gun: Plastruct and plasticard...
The rotor shield in position with cooper wire as axe...
The flamm gun in position: notice the
shape of gun: the long fang it's a limiting
Gun in full elevation
Turning to the left...
limiter acting as a stopper (red arrow)
Notice the absence of MG bow and headlights ( blue arrows)
Ready for toast !!!
      M4 under construction:
a trully Frankensherman...
       Noticee the "A" structure in th picture below: it's a limiter of derivation for main gun. The 75mm gun dont touch in the flamm projector when turns to the right. The limiter raises the gun to pass over the flamethrower.
Notice the "A" shape limiter
...and the limiter in my kit...
The gun clearing the limiter in your right rotation...
and the flamm gun is free !!!
M4 Crocodile almost ready for paint...
The two hot girls...
Close up of the girls...
and with Olive Drab  !!!
           To apply the decals, I always like to do a drawing as a template:
The British prototype: no markings, only the registration number
The American Crocodile: allied stars and numbers
       I made my own decals. Because laser printers do not print white, made a colorful sheet in a transparent film and a white background the same size as background. Allied stars from my spare box.
Panzerserra's decals: transparent and white decals...
Well, Tankers...the project was done !!!!  First, the prototype built by the british for the Americans, using a Sherman V (M4A4):
Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile prototype
somewhere in England, March - 1943.



Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile prototype - left side

Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile prototype - rear view




Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile prototype - right side



Sherman V (M4A4) Crocodile prototype with Kojak and rover, the dog.     
      And the American M4 Sherman Crocodile, Sherman of the 739th Tank Battalion (Special Mine Exploder) during their combat debut on February 24, 1945. This tank took part in the attack on the Jülich Citadel.
M4 Sherman Crocodile from 739th Tank Battalion, 9th Army, Germany - 1944




M4 Sherman Crocodile - left side
M4 Sherman Crocodile - rear view of the trailer

M4 Sherman Crocodile - rear view
M4 Sherman Crocodile - notice the aiming device in the flame projector

M4 Sherman Crocodile - right view




M4 Sherman Crocodile and Kojak and Rover, the dog.
The two Shermans Crocodile, side by side

Well Gents !!!  Done!! 
Stay in touch for the next project !!!

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