Military Review

The project of an engineering tank Churchill Ardeer Aggie (UK)

20
After an unsuccessful raid on Dieppe in August 1942, the Canadian military developed a new version of the heavy infantry-based engineering vehicle tank Churchill. The main feature of the Churchill AVRE engineering tank was the 290-mm Petard mortar, with which the crew could send subversive charges several tens of meters away and use them to destroy enemy barriers or fortifications without approaching them at a dangerous distance. The development of Canadian specialists interested British engineers, which resulted in the appearance of a similar combat vehicle called Churchill Ardeer Aggie.


The engineering tank Churchill AVRE carried a mortar of type Petard that allowed him to fire 290-mm ammunition with a charge of 12,7 kg. The firing range of such a weapon reached 72 m, and reloading was done manually, and the loader did not have to remain without the protection of the armor case. During the landing in Normandy in June 1944 of the year and in subsequent battles, a special vehicle based on the Churchill tank proved its potential and demonstrated the ability to perform various tasks of escorting troops and ensuring their combat work. However, back in 1943, the Churchill AVRE project was criticized. A number of features of this engineering tank did not receive the approval of the British military. To correct the shortcomings proposed in the new project of a similar purpose.

Potential operators in the first place did not accept the characteristics of the Petard mortar. When using ammunition of acceptable power, the gun did not have high firing rates and ease of operation. To carry out the shot, one had to approach the target on 70 m or closer, which was associated with risks. During the reloading of the gun, the loader remained under the protection of the hull and the wings of its hatch, but still there were high risks. Thus, in the new project, which received the designation Churchill Ardeer Aggie, it was necessary to increase the firing range of a subversive charge, as well as to increase the safety of the crew. These were the goals of the new project.

The project of an engineering tank Churchill Ardeer Aggie (UK)
The only prototype of the tank is the Churchill Ardeer Aggie. Photo Shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com


Preliminary studies of the new project have shown that when creating a new car for the Royal Engineers Corps, one can do without reworking the combat compartment. The hull, power plant, chassis and other elements of the chassis could be borrowed from serial technology without changes. In addition, it was possible to use the existing tower, the design of which should have made some minor changes.

The Churchill heavy infantry tank had great potential in terms of use as a vehicle for engineering troops because of the availability of powerful armor and acceptable mobility characteristics. In the construction of the hull and the tower, armor plates of various shapes and sizes with a maximum thickness of up to 102 mm were used - such sheets of detail were available in frontal projection protection. Boards were made of 76 mm thick parts. Protection of the tower with some changes repeated design of the hull.

The chassis of the Churchill tank had a classic layout with a front control compartment, a fighting compartment in the center of the hull and an engine compartment in the stern. A curious feature of the tank was the use of a large-width hull with developed onboard niches. These parts of the hull were covered by a caterpillar, which made it possible to increase the size of the internal volumes of the hull to the maximum possible values ​​without adversely affecting other features of the machine.

The tank was equipped with a Bedford Twin-Six petrol engine with horsepower 350. and a mechanical transmission that transmits torque to the rear drive wheels. To simplify the control of the machine, some elements of the transmission were equipped with servo drives, which reduce the effort on the levers. With a tank mass of about 38, the existing engine could provide acceptable, according to the customer, mobility characteristics. The maximum speed on the highway reached 25 km / h, on rough terrain the speed decreased.

The tank "Churchill" had a recognizable chassis, the design of which was connected with the original architecture of the hull, equipped with large side niches. On the sides of the hull, there were 11 dual support rollers on an individual spring suspension. In the front of the hull, on the remote systems, the guide wheels were mounted, in the stern - leading wheels. The caterpillar covered the side of the hull. Its upper branch was supposed to move along the guides on the roof of the hull side niche.


Heavy infantry tank "Churchill" modification Mk.III, which became the basis for engineering vehicles. Photo of Wikimedia Commons


The Churchill Mk.III type armored vehicle was chosen as the basis for an engineering tank. This tank had a welded turret in which an 57-mm QF 6 pounder cannon was mounted. Also in the tower there was a twin machine gun rifle caliber, sighting equipment and other necessary devices. The new project envisaged the use of the existing tower, but the internal volumes of the fighting compartment were to be redone very seriously.

The short-barrel Mortar Petard, used on the Chirchill AVRE engineering tank, could have thrown 290-mm ammunition only on the 70-72. The new military machine of military engineers had to send a similar projectile for a long distance, for which it was necessary to create the required weapon. The development of such a system has proven to be very difficult. A large-caliber gun, proposed for installation on an existing tank without significant modernization, should have appropriate recoil parameters and some other features. In addition, it was necessary to provide loading without the need to go beyond the protected volume. As a result, it took to introduce some new ideas.

Preliminary studies have shown that acceptable returns can only be obtained through the use of a new original recoilless rifle. In this case, it was possible to reduce the load on the design of the base machine, as well as to provide the required firing characteristics. However, the development of a new recoilless weapons failed to complete immediately. After completion of the project, it was necessary to change the design of this tool in order to achieve the required characteristics.

A new gun was proposed to be installed in the existing turret, along its longitudinal axis. At the same time, there was an embrasure in the frontal parts of the tower for withdrawal of the trunk, and in the stern sheet there should have been a nozzle for ejection of powder gases compensating recoil. This design of the tower and guns allowed for circular guidance in a horizontal plane, as well as raising the barrel to small elevation angles.

In the new project, it was proposed to use the existing missile disruptive charge created earlier for the engineering tank Churchill AVRE. The product, which had the informal name of Flying Dustbin (“Flying garbage bin”), was a design of two cylindrical shells with a disruptive and propelling charge, connected by a longitudinal rod. The ammunition had a caliber 290 mm and weighed 40 pounds (18,15 kg). The mass of the warhead was 28 pounds (12,7 kg).


Engine tank, side view. Photo by Chamberlain P. Ellis C. Churchill and Sherman Specials // AFV Weapons Profile №20


For use with the new recoilless gun, the “Urn” was equipped with sealing belts, due to which the caliber was increased to 300 mm and the weight increased to 20 kg. The task of these additional details was the elimination of gas breakthrough when firing in order to increase the muzzle energy and increase the firing range. No other modifications of the munition were envisaged, since the characteristics of this product were initially considered sufficient to solve the assigned tasks.

The gun for the Churchill Ardeer Aggie tank received a smooth barrel caliber 300 mm long 10 caliber. Inside the tower was placed the breech of the barrel with systems that allow it to separate from the nozzle for recharging. It was proposed to place the ammunition with the standard and additional propelling charges in the barrel chamber, after which the barrel and nozzle could be connected to execute the shot. When firing the shot, the “Flying urn” was supposed to pass through the barrel and head towards the target, and some of the powder gases were discharged through the turret of the turret.

According to reports, during the development of a new gun, British designers faced serious problems. So, it turned out that throwing an 18-kg ammunition with a recoilless weapon requires an extremely large charge of gunpowder. When using the existing design, the separate loading shot was unacceptably large and heavy. As a result, it was impossible to place acceptable ammunition inside the fighting compartment, and working with such items inside the fighting compartment was extremely difficult.

A way out of this situation was found. It was proposed to use anti-mass when shooting. Together with the ammunition and propellant charge in the gun should load a bag of sand of appropriate size and weight. When fired, he had to lock the barrel for some time, allowing the propellant charge to create the required pressure and throw the projectile. Then the anti-mass flew out of the nozzle, ensuring the removal of powder gases and compensating for the recoil momentum.

The use of sandbags, according to calculations, significantly reduced the size of the propellant charge. Moreover, in this case, it was possible to bring the size of the ammunition to usable values. The updated version of the gun suit the developers, after which they completed the design, and also began preparations for the construction of an experienced engineering tank.

The first prototype of the Churchill Ardeer Aggie was built in 1943 year. It was the chassis of the Churchill series version of the Mk.III with a modified turret, in which a new type of 300-mm recoilless gun was installed. In this form, the car went to the field tests, which were supposed to demonstrate the capabilities of technology.


Modern layout of the Churchill Ardeer Aggie, view of the stern. You can see the nozzle guns. Photo Militarymodelling.com


Due to the absence of changes in the chassis design, the mobility of the tank remained at the existing level. He was still able to move along highways and rough terrain, cross trenches and wade shallow water. However, the focus of the tests was not on mobility, but on firepower. Test firing showed that the new gun allows you to send upgraded Flying Dustbin ammunition to 450 yards (410 m). Thus, in comparison with the previous Churchill AVRE machine, the firing range was increased several times.

However, it was not without claims. During the tests, it turned out that the 300-mm recoilless gun was too large for the existing tower. There was not much space left for crew accommodation, which did not contribute to the convenience of his work. The loading of a weapon with sequential loading into the barrel of ammunition, propellant charge and anti-mass in the conditions of a close tower was difficult. In addition, there were significant risks associated with contact with the barrel and other implements of the gun. During firing, parts of the gun were heated, which could lead to burns, and accidental contact of the barrel during a shot threatened with a contusion or other injuries.

The situation was no better outside the tank. During the shot, the high-speed incandescent powder gases, as well as the anti-mass in the form of a bag with sand in general or in a torn state, were to emerge from the stern nozzle of the tower. Due to the large caliber of the gun, the plume of powder gases flew to a distance of several tens of meters, which was a great danger to everyone around. Under the conditions of joint work of sappers and infantry, this could lead to injuries or even the death of their own soldiers. Technique with such features could not be recommended for adoption.

According to some data, according to the test results, an attempt was made to improve the design of the gun and thereby secure the troops interacting with the Churchill Ardeer Aggie tanks. On the stern of the tower, next to the nozzle, a box-shaped unit was installed with a sloping back sheet, which was supposed to discharge powder gases back and up. Thanks to this equipment, a characteristic plume was to remain behind the tank during the shooting, but the risks to the troops were reduced. Also, apparently, during the modernization, an experienced tank received two sets of smoke grenade launchers mounted on the front of the turret.

There is information according to which the updated Churchill Ardeer Aggie with a gas exhaust system has been tested, but did not interest the military. The exact reasons for this decision, based on the results of new tests, are unknown. Probably, the proposed modernization has reduced the risks for infantry, but the working conditions of the own crew of an engineering tank still remained unacceptable.


The Churchill-based museum engineering tank is supposedly the prototype of Churchill Ardeer Aggie. Photo Network54.com


An attempt to create a new weapon for throwing explosive charges, intended for the destruction of enemy barriers and fortifications, was not crowned with success. An engineering tank with an 300-mm gun went to the ground and showed a significant increase in firing range. At the same time, the car had a number of characteristic flaws that prevented its operation outside the site. Moreover, some design problems made it difficult to use such equipment in any conditions.

The project of the engineering tank Churchill Ardeer Aggie did not interest the potential customer in the face of the Royal Engineers Corps. The first prototype, built and tested in the 1943 year, also became the last car of its type. The command of the Royal Engineers Corps decided that Churchill AVRE machines would be sufficient for solving the existing tasks. Until the end of the Second World War, the industries of Canada and Great Britain managed to produce several hundred of such machines that were actively used during the battles.

There is information according to which the only built engineering tank Churchill Ardeer Aggie is preserved and is still in one of the British museums. Allegedly, a unique machine is stored at one of the sites of the Museum of the Royal Engineers Corps in Chatham. There are several snapshots of this sample taken through a mesh fence. For some reason, the tank is not included in the main exhibition and is not available to visitors of the museum under normal circumstances, which is why fans of technology had to photograph it through the fence. Characteristic features of this tank are a large box at the stern of the turret, which can be a gas exhaust system, as well as smoke grenade launchers on the sides of the turret.

However, there is reason to doubt that this is Churchill Ardeer Aggie. Some features of the car’s appearance suggest that this is the Churchill AVRE engineering tank of a late (possibly post-war) modification with a new type of weapon. Which of the versions is true - is unknown. Unfortunately, the British Museum is in no hurry to clarify the details.

Regardless of what kind of armored vehicle is located in Chatham, the Churchill Ardeer Aggie project did not give noticeable results. The only sample of such an engineering tank showed a relatively high firing range with questionable operating features. As a result, the tank did not go into mass production and could not supplement or replace the Churchill AVRE that was in service. Despite the successful solution of the main tasks of the project and the superiority in the main characteristics, the new version of the engineering tank could not go beyond the landfill.


On the materials of the sites:
http://ftr.wot-news.com/
http://closecombatseries.net/
http://strangernn.livejournal.com/
Chamberlain P. Ellis C. Churchill and Sherman Specials // AFV Weapons Profile No. XXUMX. Profile Publications. 20.
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  1. 505506
    505506 1 July 2016 07: 41
    +3
    Of course, I’m not special, but it seems to me that they were too clever with something. Nevertheless, the year 43 was already, and the idea of ​​recoilless guns was not new, and the problems associated with them were also clear. It seems to me that the child was obviously dead.
    1. Malkor
      Malkor 1 July 2016 08: 22
      +2
      Something they decided to invent our KV-2 late, we already abandoned it at that time.
      1. Tsoy
        Tsoy 1 July 2016 15: 27
        +2
        Well, the 2 square of the 1939 sample of the year was still smaller ... 152 mm.
        1. DrVintorez
          DrVintorez 1 July 2016 17: 25
          +2
          it depends on what and what to divide, and how to multiply ... * sarcasm!
      2. Alexey RA
        Alexey RA 1 July 2016 18: 43
        +2
        Quote: Malkor
        Something they decided to invent our KV-2 late, we already abandoned it at that time.

        Against the background of other British developments of 1942-1943. Churchill Ardeer Aggie still looks nothing.

        Let me remind you that at about the same time, work continued on the notorious TOG II * and the AT-1 - AT-18 family of heavy assault guns with armaments starting with machine guns and 57-mm cannons.
        ... - It seems that it was then that the English design center was again covered with fog from the Grimpen bog, which clearly contained non-standard ingredients, - a familiar voice was heard from around the hangar. - PT with guns in sponsons, can you imagine? Almost like the "Brokeback Mountain" M3 Lee, only significantly, much larger! Factor of!
        - And after that, someone considered the French drug addicts tanks? - laughed in response. - Only World War I, only hardcore! In fact, a self-propelled bunker was designed on caterpillars, which would slowly crawl somewhere on the Somme or near Verdun, firing German lines from a lot of machine guns, going into a psychic attack under deployed banners and under a drum battle!
        “I don’t understand why there was no over-rational proposal to create a self-propelled shelter for a small platoon using reinforced concrete!”
        There was another roll of loud laughter. Sir Henry's mustache huddled in anger at exactly 45 degrees, the major put a stack under his arm and, minting a step, went out to the rude men who dared to slander the British school of tank building.
        It is, nothing unexpected. This impudent Hans Schmulke, who would just be a little bit humbly, and the Russian junior lieutenant - blond and snub-nosed. It seems his name is Vasiliy.
        “Gentlemen,” Sir Henry pouted like a turkey, raised his eyebrows and looked at the slightly embarrassed merry men from the height of his considerable height. “I demand an explanation!”
        - Sorry, Herr Major! - trumped Schmulke. - We discuss the problems of today's failed test! The fact is that Mr. Storm rejected a thirty-six-ton ​​British machine-gun tank as categorically unsuitable in all respects!
        “Thirty-six ...” Sir Henry repeated, but suddenly blushed, then turned white, then turned a pale green. He turned on his heel and wandered dejectedly.
        “You shouldn’t do it like that,” said Vasya, looking sympathetically after the major. - Offended a person.
        “And what side am I to blame?” - Hans Schmulke was amazed. - Let me remind you, in 1943, when they planned to create this machine-gun cuttlefish, the Royal Tiger was already practically developed by us, and you launched the IS-1 series. Oh hear Let's take a look at who Mr. Storm arranges for another spree ...
        © gunter-spb
  2. Gray brother
    Gray brother 1 July 2016 10: 01
    +5
    British tank building, you are so British ...
    Flamethrower "Churchill" back view:
    Hooray ! In the * opera hole! © http://shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com/
    1. mroy
      mroy 1 July 2016 10: 51
      +5
      This is for a truck with a flammable mixture. To him another armored car was 1800 liters of fire mixtures. Shot range 120m. Scary thing.
      1. DrVintorez
        DrVintorez 1 July 2016 13: 02
        +4
        a flamethrower tank is basically a scary thing. but in this cart, but armor-piercing incendiary ...
      2. Tsoy
        Tsoy 1 July 2016 15: 30
        +2
        Quote: mroy
        To him another armored car was on 1800 liters of fire mixture.


        That's her?
        1. mroy
          mroy 1 July 2016 16: 03
          +3
          She is the most. Roomy thing, only when it gets into it, the truck is blown off along with the carrier tank. A flamethrower stood instead of a machine gun and hoses to it came from the stern through the whole machine.
          1. Tsoy
            Tsoy 1 July 2016 16: 11
            +1
            Quote: mroy
            A flamethrower stood instead of a machine gun
          2. Tsoy
            Tsoy 1 July 2016 16: 13
            +1
            Quote: mroy
            A flamethrower stood instead of a machine gun
          3. Tsoy
            Tsoy 1 July 2016 16: 13
            +1
            Quote: mroy
            A flamethrower stood instead of a machine gun
  3. Leeder
    Leeder 1 July 2016 14: 39
    +2
    I can imagine what a disgusting view the driver had because of the rollers protruding forward.
    The Britons, although the founders of tank building, were disgusting and ugly tanks before Centurion.
    1. mroy
      mroy 1 July 2016 17: 16
      0
      This is still a howitzer between the tracks removed in a serial tank, otherwise the driver would be very happy.
    2. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 1 July 2016 18: 34
      +2
      Quote: LeeDer
      I can imagine what a disgusting view the driver had because of the rollers protruding forward.

      The Britons tried to compensate for this by installing 2 periscopic viewing devices Mk IV for the driver on the turret sheet.
      It helped. But not very:
      The armored body is somewhat unusually elongated and, accordingly, reduced in width and height. The nose of the hull turned out to be low-lying between the high-lifting tracks, which are covered by large mud sumps. This creates poor visibility for the driver and the shooter. Periscopic observation devices installed near the driver and the shooter increase visibility a little. When the gun is in the course of the tank, the edge of the barrel channel does not go beyond the dimensions of the mud collectors and is located between them. This leads to the fact that when firing from a cannon in this position, the gas wave breaks and breaks the front mud tanks of the tank.
  4. Tsoy
    Tsoy 1 July 2016 15: 32
    +1
    290 mm ... you can climb there ...

    By the way, the question is why is the mortar much smaller in the photo than in the author's photo?
    1. mroy
      mroy 1 July 2016 16: 05
      +2
      And because in your photo Churchill AVRE with the "Petard" mortar, there was an article yesterday.
      https://topwar.ru/97316-inzhenernyy-tank-churchill-avre-kanada-velikobritaniya.h
      tml # comment-id-6026145
      1. Tsoy
        Tsoy 1 July 2016 16: 08
        +1
        oh clear Thanks for the tip.
  5. Tsoy
    Tsoy 1 July 2016 15: 34
    +1
    I like this option too. With fascines.