D-Day Landing Craft
Fact file: The Landing Craft Assault (LCA)
The Landing Craft Assault (LCA) in its various types is synonymous with the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944 and the work horse of the British Army during the Normandy Invasion. Also used by the Canadian and American forces.
Type: Landing craft
Crew 4: 1 x Sternsheetsman 1 x Bowmangunner 1 x Coxswain 1 x Stoker
Capacity: 36 troops 400 kilo cargo
Length: 41.5 ft (12.6 m)
Beam: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Draught: Unloaded 1 ft 1 in forward (0.335 m) 1 ft 9 in aft (0.579 m)
Loaded 1 ft 9 in forward (0.579 m) 2 ft 3 in aft (0.701 m)
Displacement: 9 long tons (9,144 kg)
Tons burthen: 4 long tons (4,064 kg)
Weight: 15,000 kg
Engines: 2 x 65 hp Ford V-8 petrol
Speed: 10 kt (18.52 km/h) unloaded 6 kt (11.11 km/h) loaded
Armour: 7.8 lb DIHT (¼ in) covering decks above troop well and engines
10 lb. DIHT (¾ in) covering sides and bulkheads
Armament: 2 x .303 Lewis machineguns 1 x Bren light machinegun 2 x 2 in mortar (aft-later versions)
Range: 50-80 miles
The landing craft’s main purpose is an amphibious assault vehicle to transport vehicles and infantry from the sea to shore. Some landing craft were capable of making the journey across the channel by their own power, but others had to be towed by larger ships or carried until the rendezvous point was reached.
The prototype was designed in 1939 by, John I. Thornycroft Ltd. Woolston, Hampshire, England to act as a troop transporter. The hull was made from Canadian Rock Elm because of the shortage of steel. This was over-laid with armoured steel plates to give strength and protection. The flat bottom allowed for the landing craft to get as close to the shore as possible, but this, combined with the flat bow, made the ride in rough seas difficult. Troops often suffered with seasickness.
The two Ford V8 engines were designed to be quiet and not to be heard at 25 yards or more and together with its low profile on the water, made it stealthy. This is why the LCA was also used as a commando craft.
Various landing craft were designed for specific tasks leading up to the Normandy landings.
Tank Landing Craft (TLC)
In 1940, Robert Baker of the British Royal Navy developed the Tank Landing Craft (TLC) the Americans called, ‘Landing Craft Tank’ (LCT) of which nine versions were produced – MKI – MK9. Although the MK9 never made it into production, it was the MK4 that was most widely used in the assault. The TLC was one of the largest landing craft and capable of carrying 136 tons of cargo or three to six medium sized tanks. (Something Winston Churchill insisted on). Overall Length 187 ft 3 in (57.07 m) and a beam of over 38 ft 9 in ft (11.81 m). Powered by three 675 hp diesel Grey-Marine engines giving 8 knots when loaded. It had a crew of 13, one officer and 12 crewmen. Two 20 mm Oerlikon guns provided cover.
The tanks on board were raised on a platform enabling them to fire at the beachhead as the landing craft approached over the ramp at the front of the TLC.
Landing Craft Rocket (LTC(R)
This is a refashioned TLC mounted with sets of British RP-3 65 lb rockets. The 1000 rockets gave the equivalent fire power of 200 destroyers. Having devastating effect on the defenses of the Germans. The wise crew took shelter below deck when the rockets were fired, only the commanding officer remained above deck to command operations. The LTC(R) anchored off the beach and launched its rockets by electronic means.
Landing Craft Flak (LCF)
Another adaptation of the TLC to provide anti-aircraft cover during the landings. Either 4 x QF 2 pdr ‘pom pom’ anti-aircraft guns or 8 x 20 mm Oerlikons were fitted on a deck above the tank deck. The crew were 60 Royal Marines.
Landing Craft Gun (LCG)
Designed to assist the disembarking troops from their various landing craft by sustaining covering fire. In addition to the normal Oerlikon guns, 2 x British Army 25 pounder howitzer guns were fitted. The LCG(L)3 and LCG(L)4 replaced the howitzers with 4.7 inch naval guns.
Landing Craft Support (LCS)
Two versions were in operation during the invasion. The Landing Craft Support medium (LCS(M)) and the Landing Craft Support large (LCS(L)). Armament for the medium support craft consisted of 2 x Vickers machine guns and 4 inch mortar firing smoke shells. The large support craft MKI had anti-tank guns plus a Daimler armoured tank turret fitted with QF 2-pdr (40 mm) gun mounted on the front of the vessel. The MK II had a QF 6-pdr (57 mm) anti-tank gun fitted.
Landing Craft Assault (Hedgehog) LCA(HR)
This modified LCA had the job of clearing the beaches from obstructions and mines. This was achieved by assembling a battery of 24 spigot mortars (the Hedgehog anti-submarine weapon) which fired onto the beaches hopefully clearing the way for the advancing infantry.
Landing Craft Control (LLC)
A large U.S. Vessel 56 ft (17 m) long made with a steel hull. It’s main purpose was to aide navigation for other ships/craft through safe routes previously cleared of mines and obstacles. Eight were used in Normandy. Once they had successfully guided the first wave they turned round to lead the second wave.
Landing Craft Vehicle/Personnel (LCVP)
Another US boat known as the Higgins Boat. Designed by Andrew Higgins of Louisiana US. Constructed from plywood it carried a platoon of 36 men. It had a speed of 9 knots (17 km/h).
Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) or large (LCI(L)
These large seagoing vessels were 158 ft (48.16 m) long and 23 ft (7.01 m) wide and carried 200 infantry. LCIs made the journey across the channel on their own power and participated in the Operation Torch landings.
In addition to the naval crews serving on the LCAs, supplied by the Royal Naval Patrol Service and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, the Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment manned the Centaur tanks being carried by the landing craft. Their duty – to fire the 95 mm howitzer guns mounted on the Centaur tanks as the landing craft approached the beaches and give artillery support thereafter. In 1944 12,000 Marines and 500 Royal Marine officers had joined the invasion fleet prior to the Normandy invasion in the capacity to crew the vast numbers of landing craft.
By Andrew copyright 2013
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