LCM-3 transports the lungs Tanks M24 Chaffee across the Rhine, March 1945
For the United States, the fleet has always been of great importance, since the country was successfully fenced off from the rest of the world by two oceans. During the Second World War, the United States created a series of good landing craft, which were widely used in various theaters of war: in Europe and the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the easily recognizable LCVP landing craft, also known as Higgins boats, in the USA, large-scale LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized) landing craft were built in a large series. Such boats could bring ashore not only infantry, military equipment and various weapons, but also tanks.
LCM Landing Boats Have British Roots
The LCM landing craft appeared thanks to the British, who were considering creating a relatively large landing craft immediately after the end of the First World War. In many ways, work on the creation of a new landing ship was directly related to the appearance of tanks on the battlefield, which were very difficult to deliver to the landing site. If the fleet could still cope with the task of landing infantry on the coast, then for transporting heavy equipment and tanks it was necessary to have a landing craft of a special design with a ramp that would facilitate the loading / unloading of military equipment. During the Second World War, the need to support the landing by armored vehicles became even more obvious, so the work on creating tank landing equipment was accelerated.
The first landing boat with a ramp was ready in the UK in the early 1920s and since 1924 took part in various exercises, becoming the first built landing ship capable of delivering a tank to the landing zone. Subsequently, with minor changes that did not affect the concept itself, this boat turned into LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized). Their serial production in the UK was able to deploy after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939. The name is deciphered as follows: Landing Craft - landing vehicle, Mechanized - for transportation of equipment. The design of such vessels in the UK was carried out by Tornicroft. The debut of the LCM landing craft was in the Norwegian campaign; they were used to land the allies in Narvik.
British infantry prepare to land from LCM, photo: Imperial War Museum, iwm.org.uk
The LCM-1 capabilities were enough to transport French Hotchkiss H-39 light tanks with a combat weight of 12 tons, which were delivered to Norway. With a length of just less than 15 meters, these landing boats had a carrying capacity of up to 16 tons. They were driven by a power plant consisting of two gasoline engines, the maximum speed did not exceed 6 knots (11 km / h). At the same time, in some places, the design of the landing craft was reinforced with armor plates, also on the LCM-1 there was armament - two light 7,7-mm Lewis machine guns.
The LCM-1 boats had a typical layout for all subsequent vessels of the series. Outwardly, they were boat-boats with a length of a little less than 15 meters. The entire bow and middle part of the landing craft was occupied by a cargo hold open from above, where the landing, equipment, cargo and other military equipment was located. In the stern was the engine compartment, above which a wheelhouse was installed, which could be protected by armor. Over time, the size of these ships only grew, but the first British models had a displacement of up to 36 tons and could deliver ashore 60 people or a tank if its combat weight did not exceed 16 tons.
Landing boats for the Sherman tank: LCM-3 and LCM-6
The British LCM was no longer suitable for transporting medium tanks during World War II. At the same time, such landing boats were paid attention in the United States, where they were able to build “muscles” for them, as well as to establish full-fledged large-scale production, releasing landing boats in thousands. Initially, the Americans produced an almost exact copy of the British LCM-1, but with their own power plant. Such boats, designated LCM-2, made their debut in August 1942 during the battle for Guadalcanal. They were well suited for landing infantry and artillery, but could not transport modern medium tanks.
Combined landing craft model LCM-3
Therefore, quickly enough, the American industry mastered the production of the LCM-3 landing craft. The boat was distinguished by increased dimensions, its total displacement was already 52 tons (in a loaded state), and its carrying capacity increased to 30 tons, which allowed transporting one medium tank, up to 60 soldiers or 27 tons of various cargoes. A distinctive feature of these boats was a mechanized ramp. At the same time, the LCM-3 received two diesel engines rated at 225 hp. each Gray Marine company operating two propellers. The speed of the landing craft also increased - up to about 8,5 knots (16 km / h) when loaded. At the same time, a fuel supply of 400 gallons was enough to cover 125 miles, but naturally, the ship was not designed for such transitions, including due to a lack of seaworthiness. It was impossible to use such amphibious assaults in case of strong sea waves. Only from 1942 to 1945 in the United States, more than 8 thousand such landing ships were built.
The next milestone in the development of the LCM project was the American model LCM-6, which was also quite massive. The volume of output amounted to more than 2,5 thousand units. It was the LCM-6 that became the most advanced tank landing boat in the USA during the Second World War. It again differed from its predecessor in increased dimensions and a slightly modified case. The main difference was in the insert two meters long, which brought the length of the hull to 17 meters, the width of the hull was 4,3 meters. At the same time, the carrying capacity increased to 34 tons, which made it possible to take on board all models of medium tanks “Sherman”, or up to 80 infantrymen.
On the new landing boat, two powerful Detroit 8V-71 diesel engines were installed, developing a maximum power of up to 304 hp. each. The speed of the boats with full load was 9 knots (16,6 km / h). One of the main differences was an increase in the height of the side, which made it possible to increase the seaworthiness of the boat. The full displacement of the boat in a loaded state increased to 64 tons. At the same time, the range of use remained almost the same - 130 miles.
American Landing Boat LCM-6 in testing, 1943
The American industry launched mass construction of such amphibious assault devices in 1943, while LCM-6s were widely used on all theater of operations: both in Europe and in the Pacific Ocean. They took part in all landing operations of the final period of World War II. After the end of World War II, the LCM-6 was again used. A large number of landing rams were converted into armored boats and the likeness of floating armored personnel carriers that were used by the US military on the rivers of Vietnam, including the Mekong River and its numerous tributaries.
Landing boat for main battle tanks LCM-8
The situation with amphibious assaults has changed again after the Second World War. At the same time, the vector of the development of the ships was the same - the creation of ever larger landing equipment suitable for new military equipment. Thus, the LCM-6 landing craft, designed and built to replace the LCM-8, exceeded their predecessors in most basic parameters. First of all, they had a large displacement, better carrying capacity and increased speed. At the same time, the LCM-8 could take on board the main battle tanks, for example, the M60 tank, various varieties of which are still in service with some armies of the world.
The size of the landing craft grew even stronger. Length - up to 22,26 meters, width - up to 6,4 meters, total displacement (when loaded) - up to 111 tons. At the same time, the maximum carrying capacity increased to 54,5 tons, which allowed the transportation of post-war tanks on board the LCM-8 - the medium tank M48 Patton III and the main battle tank M60. Also, in one flight, such a landing boat could deliver ashore up to 200 military personnel with all weapons and uniforms.
Landing boats LCM-8 with M60 tanks on board
Usually the crew consisted of 4 people, but during daily missions it increased to 6 people: two drivers, two helmsmen and two sailors. Like the LCM-6, these boats were used on Vietnamese rivers with a crew of 6 people and the placement of various small arms on board. Weapons from two heavy 12,7 mm M2 machine guns, which could be supplemented, were considered standard. By installing two powerful 12-cylinder Detroit Diesel 12V71 diesel engines, the total power of the power plant grew to 912 hp. Due to this, the speed increased. Without cargo on board, the LCM-8 reached a speed of 12 knots (22 km / h), with cargo - 9 knots (17 km / h).
LCM-8 was adopted in 1959, at navy the model replaced the landing boats LCM-3 and LCM-6. For the first time, LCM-8 landing craft were massively used during the Vietnam War and continue to be in service today. In addition to the armies of many countries, they are used by public and private companies around the world, including in humanitarian operations. In the near future, the US military plans to replace the LCM-8 boats with more advanced MSL (V), capable of delivering the Abrams main battle tank or up to two Striker wheeled armored personnel carriers to the shore.