After the disaster at Dieppe, the British had learned that infantry assault troops must be preceded and supported by armour specially adapted to meet the expected obstacles and defences on the Atlantic Wall. In March 1943, Major-General Percy Hobart was brought out of retirement. His command was to be over the specially formed 79th. Armoured Division
This was no ordinary armoured division, the task for Hobart and his men was to produce and be able to operate some of the most unusual pieces of military equipment ever seen. These became affectionately known as…… HOBART'S FUNNIES
Churchill and Sherman tanks were used as the platforms for the "Funnies" most still maintained their firepower even after conversion. The picture left shows the "CRAB" or flail tank. As can be seen a rotating drum with lengths of chain is fitted to the front of the tank, this cleared any mines that lay in it's path and greatly assisted the infantry especially on the beach head landings.
D.D tank, a Sherman fitted with a canvas buoyancy screen and driven in the water by twin screw propellers. This was based on an American design, these were not only used by the 79th. Division but also the American tank brigades. Unfortunately the Americans launched them too far from land in heavy seas, most perished along with their crew within minutes of entering the water.
The Churchill Crocodile was a Mark V11 which was converted to a flame thrower. The flame gun had a range of 100 metres and was mounted in the place of the hull machine gun. The trailer carried 400 gallons of fuel which was pressurised to force it from the trailer to the flame gun.
The Churchill AVRE was a Churchill tank adapted to carry a bridge which could be dropped in 30 seconds over a 30 ft. gap. Also could be used for surmounting a 15 ft. wall.
The bridge had a capacity of 40 tons.
The two funnies pictured at the top of the page are an "Armoured Bulldozer" which is self explanatory and the "Bobbin" which was again a Churchill with a bobbin of canvas designed to lay a 10ft. wide carpet over soft sand.
The funnies were offered to General Bradley to support the landings on Omaha and Utah, the offer was declined!