Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

The Crab Flail Tank

Discussion in 'Allied Motorised Weapons' started by Jim, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    8
    via War44
    Valentine Scorpion III, 22nd Dragoons, 79th Armoured Division, Suffolk, January 1944

    Events moved so fast once the mine-clearing flail tank was accepted that by the time the Valentine Scorpion was entering regimental service it was already being replaced by the Sherman Crab. The 22nd Dragoons was one of six cavalry regiments revived early in the war and at this stage was senior regiment in 30th Armoured Brigade, which joined 79th Armoured Division as a flail brigade in November 1943. Inset: This is a typical set of markings painted on the rear of the counterweight box of a Scorpion III. The well-known device of 79th Armoured Division is balanced by the unit code 51 on a red square, indicating the senior regiment in the brigade, the red/white/red recognition mark that preceded the adoption of the Allied white star, and the War Department serial number T18072, which reveals that this tank began life as a Valentine I, built by Metro-Cammell in 1939.

    [​IMG]

    Grant Scorpion III, C Squadron, 1st Scorpion Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, Tunisia, April 1943

    The turret gun having proved useless on the Matilda Scorpion, the first Grant Scorpions were issued without turrets. At the same time the 75mm hull gun was removed because it interfered with the flail attachment and the resulting aperture appears to have been blanked off by a curved shield of armour plate. Naturally, without a turret the Grant hull was open at the top and somewhat vulnerable. The unit Light Aid Detachment fabricated a temporary overhead cover from old petrol cans and sandbags, for want of anything better, which gives the tank this rather untidy appearance. In a short time the turrets were replaced. The men, coming from the 41st RTR, still wore the RTR badge on their berets, but to display their special role they adopted the special scorpion shoulder flash in May, which was worn on the left sleeve.

    [​IMG]

    Grant Scorpion IV, No.1 Troop, 400 Independent Scorpion Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps, Burma, 1945

    Aurora was one of four Scorpions, accompanied by a Valentine Porcupine mine-roller pilot tank, which moved from India to the fighting front in Burma in November 1944. Some sources suggest that in Burma a pale blue was used, instead of white, for any symbols painted on vehicles in order to reduce visibility in regions where fighting ranges were short. This cannot be confirmed, but a hint of blue has been used here on the Allied star and the tank’s name and number. The Scorpions were attached to 254th Indian Tank Brigade, whose insignia is shown, but they never seem to have found any minefields to clear, and in any case, the close jungle environment was not always conducive to their use; Aurora seems to have been particularly accident prone. Notice that in this theatre the Grant Scorpions were fitted with T49 steel tracks with bar tread instead of the more common rubber block type.


    [​IMG]

    Sherman Scorpion V* (Twin) Flail, B Squadron 'A' Assault Regiment, Aquino Airfield, Italy, June 1944

    ‘A’ Assault Regiment was formed in May 1944 from the 1st Scorpion Regiment plus a detachment of Royal Engineers. It was to comprise A Squadron, with Churchill-based assault equipment operated by the RAC and the RE, plus Band C Squadrons with the new Sherman Scorpions, although it seems that the latter was never completed. Aquino airfield, west of Cassino, was the only location at which these flails were called upon to do any work. B Squadron supplied two troops with five Scorpions to assist an airfield construction unit, but it was soon found that the flail chains were not up to the work and when improved chains also failed, the crews resorted to clearing mines by hand. They spent ten days on this work, which included towing away wrecked German aircraft. After that there was nothing more for Scorpions to do in Italy. The insignia is that of 25th Armoured Engineer Brigade, but there is no evidence to show that it was ever actually painted on the tanks.

    [​IMG]

    Drawings By Tony Bryan
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    8
    via War44
    Exploding a wide path for the infantry waiting to advance (1) , and for guns, tanks and other vehicles about to go forward (4) through mine-fields in Normandy, the Crab flail-tank goes ahead and beats the ground with chain-ends, thus setting off buried anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, Close-up of chains (2) The Crab in action (3) Incorporating the best points of three previous types, it helped to clear the invasion beaches before commencing operations inland. The Sherman was the tank chiefly adapted to this purpose.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    8
    via War44
    Flail Tanks

    A flail tank coming a shore from an LCT with another one still aboard waiting for a clear path to join in with the clearance of mines from the flood water that covered four-fifths of Walcheren, a former island in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary. November 1944.

    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page