Purpose of this blog

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

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Confession Time

Last week's article about the Steam Tank, well yes, as some of you guessed, it was an April Fools joke. I hope it caught a few of you out though. Despite me never having done one before, I won't do one every year either as it'll get predictable and boring. Next year is going to be interesting as 1st of April falls on a Sunday, my normal day of posting. That should leave you guessing all right!
The first piece of evidence, the letter...
Now last week's article did have some supporting evidence but where had I got it? Well the letter assigning armour plate to the tank was actually very easy. It was a typo created by a civil servant in 1941. Not the "Steam Committee", but the "Stern Committee". We are of course talking about Sir Albert Stern, leader of The Old Gang, and the tank is one of the TOGs. You'll note that I cropped off the bottom of the document that showed the receiving address, of Fosters of Lincoln.
I found this document when dispatched by a friend to find documents on the TOG (quick someone tell Jingles!). My friends name is Andrew Hills (he also gets referenced in the "Hills and Smyth Maritime"), and he has recently completed a book on the subject of the TOG, and gotten a book publisher. The book is called "The Tanks of TOG; the work of the special vehicle development committee in World War Two", and will be available from Fonthill Publishing. It should be out towards the end of the year, and hopefully as I write these a week in advance, Fonthills will have put up the book on their website by the time I post this article and I can give you a link (They didn't, watch my facebook for an announcement).
It's a TOG... If I dare to say any more than that Andrew will be yelling at me over Skype that I got it wrong...
Andrew has spent the last seven years (which has lead to some of us taking the mickey out of his tank choice on more than one occasion) on this work. His obsession with the TOG has had the net result that every time any of the group of researchers on our tank research Skype channel have found any mention of anything of anything relating to the TOG, we've passed it on so you have documents from all over the globe feeding into this book. In addition he's been combing the UK for every scrap of documentation on the TOG, or even remotely related to it. On occasion when he's found some stuff in an archive I've been scheduled to visit he's given me a list of stuff to copy (to give you an idea one of the Zip files was 4Gb in size), in one of those documents I found the page with the typo which I used. His book will be, without doubt, the most comprehensive and detailed study of those massive tanks the British nearly sent into service.
You might ask, how close to service were they? Well one of the documents I was asked to got get for Andrew was the draft of the user manual, which would indicate that it was getting close to service. But in truth I don't know, and I'll have to await the book.
The Mystery turret
The photo of the turret was actually easier. A little while ago I viewed a document about heavy bolted armour under attack. In January 1943 a study was undertaken by the Department of Tank Design to see if the methods of construction used by the Royal Navy for small gun turrets could be adapted to tank design. Two Churchill turrets were constructed, one of normal Medium Quality I.T.80 armour plate. The other was made, quite curiously, of cemented armour plate. Both had roofs about twice as thick as normal tanks, and the armour plate was bolted onto a frame instead of being the usual cast or welded armour. The two turrets were then shot at several times by two and six pounder guns.
The conclusions of the trial were that the method of construction was utterly unsuited to tank turret manufacture. Not only did the bolts create a massive amount of shrapnel flying about inside the turret, but some of the plates could shift under attack which allowed splash from the impact in. It also cracked the plates and mounting frame and dismounted the gun trunnions. Another point was that some of the bolts flew off the outside of the tank causing shrapnel risk to nearby infantry.

What follows are some excerpts from the report.

Image credits: