Purpose of this blog

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

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Anti-tank Kangaroo

During the Second World War a lot of the UK's odd weapons and equipment research came from one of two departments. The famous MD1, nicknamed 'Churchill's Toyshop' or the Admiralty's Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development. Of the two, MD1 seems to have been far more concerned with making stuff explode, and most of their inventions contained explosives. DWMD however tackled other fields.
One of DMWD's projects, a floating airfield that turned the surface of the sea into an airstrip.

Another DMWD idea. by spreading coal dust on the surface of a water feature it no longer looks like from the air. This would confuse German night time navigation. Here we see the Coventry Canal, some 4 hours after application. This scheme was also tried out on the Thames. Another scheme that is worthy of mention was the development of large umbrella's for coastal craft like MTB's. These would be erected when the craft were halted or tied up, and camouflage them from observation.
MD1 seemed to be far more eccentric than DWMD and embraced the aura of the wild inventor. I recently found a small number of notes, and pictures, from a demonstration they carried out featuring some of their weapons. From this we can sort of work out what the weapon was and possibly how it works. However, at this point I've got no confirmation of the speculation. But maybe one of you lot has some more data?

The results from one of MD1's explosive packages. This was a directional fragmentation mine. Or in modern terms, a Claymore mine. The cone of shrapnel has cut out the centre of the witness plate.
The demonstration was held on Monday 22nd November 1942, at a small town in Buckinghamshire called Princess Risborough. A number of devices were shown off including a forerunner to the PIAT, an explosive charge for clearing wire and a 3.7" HEAT shell for howitzers.
The results of a normal 3.7" HE round on armour plate.

And the 3.7" HEAT strike. The hole is 1.5" through 90mm plate.
Another weapon they demonstrated was introduced named as the 'Kangaroo Mine'. From the name alone it appears we can deduce that it is some form of bouncing mine, like the German S-Mine. However, later pictures indicate this may not have been entirely accurate. The thinking behind it seems to be a way of destroying a tank from a mine. The demonstration involved dragging a A.22 hulk over two Kangaroo mines. The first was filled with flash powder to show off how it fired, the second one was live. It drilled a very neat 6-inch hole in the underside of the tank.
The hole at the bottom of the Churchill, caused by the Kangaroo mine.
 Originally when writing this I suspected that it was a kind of upright tank gun, firing an APHE round, due in part to the neatness of the hole, and the after effects on the tank. However, when I mentioned this to some friends, Andrew Hills (the TOG expert) mentioned that he had seen a reference to the Kangaroo mine. He went and checked the reference, and found out it was more akin to a HESH round, and fired a wad of explosive onto the underside of the tank. The very neat hole can be explained by using plastic explosives, or as these substances were known back then 'cutting explosives'. Other tests I've seen have had remarkably regular circular holes in them as well.
Wooden crew were placed inside the tank, as you can see at least three of the crew have been disassembled, and it's likely the other two have significant shrapnel damage.

Most impressively the blast has buckled the roof plate upwards and started all the rivets.
What happened to the Kangaroo mine? Well that is another mystery. It seems that everything was working, and then it just sort of vanishes. One might argue that from that time on Britain was on the offensive and that mine warfare was just not of importance or of use. Maybe for a disposable weapon it was considered extremely costly to produce or transport.

My information is limited to what is contained above, and speculation. Do any of you have any more information to add?