Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rocket and Roll out

Within the 21st army group in Europe, no-one is quite sure where the idea of strapping rockets to tanks came from. Some sources suggest it was a Canadian idea, but they never followed through with it. Although there are pictures of Canadian armoured cars mounting both RP-3 rockets and Landmattress launchers.
What is certain is that the Guards Armoured Division got hold of the idea and ran with it.



The first test firing was from a Sherman tank of the Coldstream Guards 2nd Squadron, on March 17th 1945. The previous day the 2nd's commander had undertaken a social call to the local RAF airbase and came away with a set of RP-3 rockets and launching rails.
After spending the next morning welding the rails to his tank, they stood a safe distance away and connected the battery.
The rocket leapt off the rails, and dropped down to almost hit the ground in front of the tank, then recovered and zoomed off blasting a crater in a hill a good distance away. The drop of the rocket was caused by the difference in launching speeds. Normally when fired from an aircraft the rocket is doing 400 mph, while the Sherman is effectively doing 0 mph. This was solved by aiming the Launching rails slightly upwards.



The next few days were spent finding enough launching rails and rockets, and converting the tanks of the squadron.Almost daily there were demonstrations to visiting brass who had heard of the novel idea. Culminating on the 28th with a demonstration for the Guards Armoured Division commander, where an entire troop launched a full broadside. The division commander was so impressed he is reported to be rolling on the floor laughing at the idea of lobbing the equivalent of a cruisers broadside at the Germans.

Tanks fitted with the rocket rails were named "Tulips". As the project was unofficial and carried out by the battalion fitters its not entirely clear how many tanks were converted. Its almost certain that the entirety of the Coldstream guards were converted. There are some pictures of Cromwell tanks carrying Tulip's, and the Welsh Guards had those. The markings on the Cromwell tanks so photographed don't carry the divisional symbol, but what markings do exist do follow a patten used by the Welsh Guards. So its conceivable the other regiments within the Guards Armoured Division converted some tanks. Both Sherman's and Fireflies were converted to carry Tulip kits.



Tulips were first used in anger on Easter Sunday (April 1st) 1945. The 2nd squadron, Coldstream Guards were trying to find a bridge over the Twente Canal. They had reports that a bridge at Enschede was still standing. As they drove along the road beside the canal a frantic Dutch man ran up to the column of armorued vehicles. Unable to understand him they had to push on as their orders required.

(Note: The following all happened in a very short space of time, and is compiled from the eye witness accounts of most of the tank commanders involved. Remember they will only have seen their small part of the action. I've tried to lay it out in order, but it should be remembered that sometimes mere seconds separated the items bellow.)
Suddenly the tanks saw the bridge less than a quarter of a mile away, and it was swarming with Germans! As the tanks rushed forward they scattered the Germans on the bridge with machine gun fire.
The lead two Sherman tanks, two Daimler Armoured Cars and a Daimler Dingo rushed over the Bridge. As they drove over they saw 4 huge demolition charges on the bridge. The armoured cars halted on the other side of the bridge and the crews dismounted to try and disarm the demolitions.
On the other side of the bridge the next tank in line, a Firefly had spotted four German 105mm Artillery pieces dug in 150 yards away on the other side of the canal, and covering the road. Stopping the Firefly started to engage them, then after a few round roared off over the bridge.
The next tank in line halted behind the stationary Firefly hit one of the German guns with a 75mm Shell, then as his Browning was still empty, launched his Tulips, destroying one of the other guns. The Germans then fired hitting the halted Sherman just behind the turret. If the round had gone as little as 6 inches higher it would have missed completely. The Sherman burst into flames, the fireball engulfed the tank behind it as well.
At this point the Germans detonated the charges on the bridge, dropping the span.
The next Sherman in line was making as much smoke as possible while reversing. An AP shell smashed a tree to bits right next to the tank as the Sherman reversed through a barn. The next round knocked out the Sherman's tracks. At this point the column had disengaged successfully, later in the day they would return and capture the village.



On the German side of the bridge the Firefly which had gotten across was hit in the turret and knocked out and the armoured car's crews were killed by the bridge being detonated. The second Sherman across managed to avoid the Germans and followed the canal, managing to cross much further down and re-joined the regiment.
The first Sherman across had started pushing into German held lines, getting half a mile further on when they heard the bridge blow up. So they returned to see what had happened. The tank wash it by three Panzerfaust's and survived with no damage, then an AT gun round struck it, knocking its track off. The tank was moving when this happened and rolled down an embankment, and out of the line of fire for the gun. The crew bailed out and managed to rejoin the regiment by stripping naked and swimming across the canal.

The reason for the German gun's poor showing was that earlier in the day the 105mm's had a visit from Typhoons of the RAF, and the gun crews had all fled, leaving infantry to try and man the guns.
Not the best of starts to the career of the Tulips, although it should be noted that 12 of the POW's whom had been captured later in the day were deaf from being too close to the Tulip shots.

Despite this lack of impact in its first action the Coldstream Guards continued to use Tulips until the end of the war. They proved their worth many times over, with one tank commander crediting the presence of Tulips as being the reason they took far less casualties than expected. One engagement demonstrates this perfectly.
German paratroopers from the 7th Fallschirmjager Division had turned a wood into a strong point, and was severely delaying the advance and causing heavy casualties to the allied infantry. Two troops of Tulips arrived and fired their rockets at the range of 400 yards. The Germans instantly surrendered, and were described in a report as "very shaken".
It was also found that Tulips were very good at removing roadblocks where AP and HE rounds had failed.



A post war report into mounting rockets on tanks stresses how safe the rockets are. Pointing to the fact that one rocket was hit directly in the warhead to no effect apart from shattering the round. Another account points out that despite a Sherman being set on fire, it was later found that both rockets were still in place.
The report also starts to talk about uses against AFV's, and how if the accuracy could be improved rockets would make a fine Anti-tank weapon. The report is largely supportive of the idea of future development of rockets as part of armour.
Then the report reaches the Ministry of Supply where the Director General writes off the idea as a silly one due to the lack of accuracy.

55 comments:

  1. Great stories Overlord, from where did you get all that info? What sources are you using? It is very interesting, you know.. :)

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    1. Not Overlord ;)

      The main source is Robert Boscawen's Armoured Gaurdsman:
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/0850527481

      There's also a report held at Bovington tank museum:

      "APPENDIX "B" TO 21 ARMY GROUP AFV TECHNICAL REPORT NO 26

      REPORT BY 1 ARMOURED COLDSTREAM GUARDS OF RESULT IN ACTION OF TYPHOON
      ROCKETS FITTED TO SHERMAN TANKS"

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    2. Well.. hah

      Anyway, it would be nice if there would be story about Siege of Bastogne and Arnhem :)

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  2. I'm pretty sure the Soviets where first to strap large rockets on their tanks.

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    1. I'm pretty sure that the Soviets weren't part of 21st army group either. ;)

      And knowing someone would be along to mention the RBT-5, I deliberately included the first line mentioning 21st Army group.

      :P

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    2. you are right,i saw picture of BT tank with rockets

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  3. Interesting story about the attack near the Twente Canal bridge (it's about 5 minutes away from where I live). I used to have some pics of it intact, and later destroyed. Funny fact maybe: there were 2 American soldiers present about that time (which is pretty strange), but those guys were 2 US soldiers visiting their parents, who lived in hmmm forgive me, Enschede or Hengelo. I could try to find those pics if you are interested, but it's gonna be a tough search :)

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    1. Thanks. You should still be able to see some of the land marks.

      Apparently there were some large cranes in the area, and were still there in 1985. A Sherman reversing to get out of the fire fight pushed a wrecked Sherman underneath them.

      Don't worry about the Pictures though. But thanks for the offer.

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  4. Interesting, and nicely written as always! Thanks for sharing!
    Now, that report on using Rockets on tanks... any way I could get my hands on that?

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    1. Its available on the internet, or at least a segment of it is. I don't know if this is the full report or not. I have no idea if this is all there is to the report.

      The original file as I found it many years ago on the internet can be found here:
      http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=56868&highlight=Tiptoe+tulips

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  5. When can we expect rocket pack upgrades? 8.8? 9.0?

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    1. Thats not in plans for now. Guess, we need to add multi-turret support first.

      Delete
  6. Well, I hope that we will see rocket artillery in WoT, Katyusha, Calliope and others..

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  7. Overlord, could you explain us reasons behind this decision?

    http://worldoftanks.ru/ru/news/1/symbols_of_victory/

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    Replies
    1. It seems to me that central WG wants to humiliate EU staff for making own decisions. We don't want to see name of butcher of Katyń on tanks (most of us).

      Also I thought that WG has some educational aspirations (which can be seen in many great articles on tanks history), but this piece of text is just pure propaganda. Are you also proud of Jughashvili Overloard?

      Delete
    2. My history teacher once read to us some bits of the russian history book( yes an actual book used to teach history in russian schools),shit was totally disgusting. So no wonder they think of stalin as some sort of semi god.....if only they knew the truth about him!!!

      Delete
    3. Puchacz,

      by all means it's not an act of humiliation of any individual office. If any of them makes a mistake, it means that WG makes a mistake as a company.

      I'm proud of the history of the great country that unfortunately ceased to exist in the 90ies. Every part of it.

      The news text basically represents some of the remaining values that were not killed in the 90ies, when the entire collapse was happening. This can be difficult to understand if one hasn't been a part of it.

      Delete
    4. Joonas Kuul,

      and we also here of some "British" scientists carried out "yet another mega-important" research or some plainly "stupid" US laws (which are in essence court decisions). Is this how you form your opinion on the country and its people?

      Delete
    5. Even I am not proud of every part of Polish history, and Poland have much less on its conscience...

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    6. You might have reasons for that.

      With Belarus being a part of Poland for quite a while I'd probably argue on the conscience thing.

      Delete
    7. And I thought that intelligent people in Belarus don't believe every thing that propaganda of Лукашэнка would like them to.

      It is very sad to me that you are proud of Katyn massacre, or do you believe that Germans did that?

      Delete
    8. Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_crimes Warning! Very long article, I wonder why...

      Delete
    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    10. Puchacz,

      Don't pretend like you can see through me, mate.

      There is no simple answer to complex things. I feel for Polish losses the same way I do for ours. Belarus lost 1/4-1/3 of its population during WWII. Can you imagine that figure for a second?

      So, should we hate like half of the Europe now? I suppose, not.
      And that's not going deeper into the history, like 1654-1667.

      Delete
    11. Yes, I do feel for Belarus loses during WWII. I do not question it, as well as I do not question bravery of many Belarusian partisans. What I question however is the fact that one have to be proud for every aspect of his history. And I don't hate any nation, just some criminal individuals, like the mentioned Koba.

      I don't know much about 1654-1667 war. There were so many wars between Poland and Russia back then then it is a bit hard to differ them for someone not much interested in that period. Do you refer to this: http://be.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A2%D1%80%D1%83%D0%B1%D1%8F%D1%86%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%BD%D1%8F

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    12. There is a rule I tend to adhere to: you can criticise your home (family, motherland, etc) the way you want, but you have to be respectful towards the others, i.e. don't have the right to do the same.

      The aforementioned figure, quite disputable at the very least, hasn't been found guilty internationally.

      This event and the war in general - http://be.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%92%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BD%D0%B0_1654%E2%80%941667_%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%BE%D1%9E - where half of the Belarusian population died.

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    13. I wonder what they teach you in Russian schools...
      The problem is, that now you cannot see a single reason to criticise your motherland and are in denial when it comes to even the most obvious ones, that the whole world shouts about. That leaves no place for discussion.

      Laws, international and local, are not everything. There were both innocent people sentenced for death and murderers found not guilty by courts or nor even trialled. I am pretty sure that your company will happily ignore some local laws if the country is small enough and cannot legally reach you.

      Delete
    14. I do have little support to tolerance and vocal minorities.

      Never attended any Russian school by the way.

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    15. I am sorry but i do not understand your reference to "minorities". You put yourself in opposition to valid historical arguments, and i don't know how to understand it neiter. Is trial of sixteen not part of history of your country? Or it hasn't happend? Since you are proud of every bit? Katyn massacre? Ribbentrop-Molotov pact? WW2 started in 1939 with a great help of Soviets and up until Barbarossa SU was considered Axis state.

      You have to specify what you consider history of "your country" and what your country is. Judging by what Lukashenko is doing, half of Belarusians don'e even consider themselves a "nation", only an "ethnic group" and don't want to be a separate country, only a part of Russia. Sorry if this offends you, but that's how it looks like from outside. Maybe you should make a series on this blog, how history looks from INSIDE of your country (whichever it is), many people would be interested in reading this.

      Also, i thought that you are old enough to had attended to schools where they were still Russian.

      Delete
  8. Every part of it?

    Overlord?

    Really?

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    1. I respect the past. Unfortunately, very few here do.

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  9. Every part of it?

    Wtf dude? Are you commie?

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  10. what u call "respect for the past" is just a very naive attitude. Go travel to Poland and tell them how proud u are about your history. U will probably find out there were some things you should definatley not be proud of.

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    1. Have been to Poland 5-6 times. Love Warsaw and Krakow.

      So, what? You can the same attitude in many neighbouring countries recollecting prominent events from the past. Respect and cry loud about are different things.

      Delete
    2. Omfg I cant believe it ur a socialist, stalinist and marxist and u are proud of every mass murder, genocide, tortouring and raping done by the soviets, ignoring them makes you an ignorant!

      Yeah the germans were bad too but they came to their insight and feeld ashamed by their actions and behaviour you dont.
      Even Gorbatshov, Putin and Medwedev confirmed Katyn and Holodomor and remember the victims.

      I have lost every respect for u Overlord and WG failed a lot in the past and a company mustnt be political and should stay out of these topics.

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    3. You think the right way is the class conflict to eliminate the poor and lazy ethnices invented by marx/engels and done by lenin/trotsky/stalin/mao, Iam disgusted!

      Very peacefull way of life dude, your a latently radical nothing more...

      Here for u learn some about your history and the several zivil and war crimes of your glorious motherland!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m2X0j7VM6Y

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    4. SirGalvani,

      did you just climb down from the palm tree or just came hire to exercise your twisting skills? Anyway you are doing pretty good.

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    5. No Im just accepting the truth not like u who is denying youre history... :)

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    6. It must feel bloody awesome to be the one who knows THE truth.

      Delete
  11. Being "proud of every single bit" of your history shows, that you lack respect for the past.







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    1. Yeah and making not one single statement to the horrendous things in ur past shows that ur a denier and blind as hell!

      Delete
  12. pointless? Man you are mixing up "past" and "history".

    "respecting the past" contradicts to "being proud of" the history of that "great country".

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    1. Anymore twisting and taking things out of the context?

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  13. Overlord: just don't answer/block the thread. It is going to be just more shitstorm. There is enough in forum and in other sites.

    Just my 0,02 cr

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    Replies
    1. Not going to. After I have restarted the blog I allow folks to express freely. No moderation.

      Delete
  14. What's so big deal with that communism and Stalinism? So what? They are proud with Russian history, but that doesn't mean that they are proud with massacres and crimes, I don't know, but Everybody is proud of his/her country. So if your country had some bad parts in history, does it mean that you should dislike it? No. You should like and respect your nation and try to make it better, not worse. If this world will be full of hate, I don't think that anything will change.. Keep it up, and we humans will kill ourselves...

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  15. As a Historian I know no one has a clean slate. Humans aint nice people.

    What bothers me more about this is the way it was handled. First SerB publicly derides the people at the EU office.
    Then despite knowing that the subject is a sensitive one in the EU puts up that press release, with what is a rather bullish tone.

    Its like WG is leaping into a middle of a crowd its arms flailing.

    What really strikes me as odd is there's at least two ways of dealing with the issue that would have avoided this PR train wreck (at least in the EU).

    Option one:
    For historical accuracy. Slap that inscription up, but also include German tank markings from the period.
    Popular to contrary belief Western forces didn't really stick slogans on their tanks. Names yes, not slogans, so that means no references to Hitler in text. Equally the Swastika wasn't commonly used as a device painted on tanks.
    Here we have a selection of SS Panzer markings for the Division:
    http://www.patchesofpride.com/poppics/decalsets/waffensspanzerdivisionchart.gif

    Ok, some of those might be an issue with the German laws (Don't think they will be though, modellers have been using them for years, where's a lawyer when you need one).
    However, here's some Heer panzer markings:
    http://oi39.tinypic.com/2zegr3t.jpg

    Option two:
    Make the Stalin slogan only available to the RU server. You know its going to upset people and cause a PR train wreck in some countries, why do it?

    For example, I'm pretty proud of the UK's achievements, however I acknowledge other people have differing views, especially about the Empire. Therefore I wouldn't go steaming into a country where that might be an issue yelling words that are going to get people in country annoyed.
    Yes I know there are Brits who have that mentality, but they're yobbo's.

    Just some thoughts.

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  16. I agree the "Overlord is Stalinist" comments are just plain bullshit.. but frankly, that announcement is just glorified "Might (or victory) makes Right, and we don't give a fuck about anyone's feelings".
    I don't mind national pride, no matter the country. Me being German tho, I can't help but feel I'd be in a hell of a shitstorm if I ever wanted to, say, express pride in the performance of the 7th Panzer Division in France, let alone express political messages like that.

    And you guys wonder why people are afraid you're biased towards the USSR. Not saying it is so, just that I can understand them now.

    Also, +1 David Lister. I'd prefer the first option, but either would be better than this.

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  17. I've just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.

    ReplyDelete