Inside the tank

Our aim is to have each tank fully equipped with all of the smaller stowage items that the crew would have used. Here are a few examples.

Wallet for Besa machine gun tools

Wallet for Besa machine gun tools

The Churchill Tank had at least two different kinds of radio during the second World War. The main one was the Wireless Set No. 19 which provided both an intercom for the crew and a means of staying in touch with other tanks. These radios used different junction and distribution boxes to enable the crew to plug their microphones and headsets into the system.

Junction Distribution Number 1 for driver of Churchill Tank

This is the box for the driver, who could not use the radio for external communication but had intercom connection to the crew. The button is to attract the attention of the commander if he is needed.

Microphone and headset for turret crew of Churchill Tank

Microphone and headset for turret crew of Churchill Tank - different from those used by the driver and front gunner.

Microphone and Headset for driver and front gunner, as well as infantry telephone on Churchill Tank

Microphone and Headset for driver and front gunner, as well as infantry telephone on Churchill Tank

Emergency power  microphone for commander

Emergency power microphone for commander - for use if the Wireless Set No. 19 was not working

Control Unit No. 16 for use with both Wireless set No. 19 and Wireless Set No. 38

Control Unit No. 16 for use with both Wireless set No. 19 and Wireless Set No. 38

As the Wireless Sets were valve operated, spares were carried. This is the box for spare valves for the 19 Set

Case with spare valves for the Wireless Set No. 19

Case with spare valves for the Wireless Set No. 19

The driver of the Churchills up to Mark VII had a bullet proof glass window that he could use to look through if there was little chance of heavy firing being directed at the tank. Here is the inner glass portion, which as you can see is made up of layers of glass.

Glass from inside Triplex Vision Block for Churchill Tank driver

Glass from inside Triplex Vision Block for Churchill Tank driver

Here is the block in its steel case mounted in front of the driver’s position

Triplex Vision Block for Churchill Tank driver

Triplex Vision Block for Churchill Tank driver

Each tank carried ammunition for the main gun, examples of which are shown below

From the left: 2 Pounder AP; 6 Pounder APDS; 6 Pounder APCBC; 6 Pounder Shot; 6 Pounder HE; 95mm Howitzer Smoke round (fired with bent fuse); 75mm Shot; 75mm APCBC; 75mm HE; the last two are different types of 75mm Smoke round.

Selection of ammunition for Churchill Tank main gun

Selection of ammunition for Churchill Tank main gun

The base of each main gun round was protected by a primer protecting clip, an example of the one for the 6 Pounder is shown below

Base of 6 Pounder round showing primer protecting clip

Base of 6 Pounder round showing primer protecting clip

In order for the gunner to aim, he had an electric traverse system controlled by this handle

Traverse controller for main gun on Churchill Tank

Traverse controller for main gun on Churchill Tank

For the Besa, the ammunition was carried in belts, but the types of round in each belt varied according to need. Round were distinguished by the colour of the ring around the primer, which differed depending on which of Tracer, Ball, Armour Piercing or Incendiary was being fired

Rounds for the Besa Machine Gun showing coloured anulus for each type

Rounds for the Besa Machine Gun showing coloured anulus for each type

The tank also carried a flare gun and flare cartridges in different colours

1 inch flare gun carried on Churchill Tank

1 inch flare gun carried on Churchill Tank

As well as being able to fire smoke rounds from the 75mm and 95mm main guns, all Churchill Tanks had a 2 inch mortar fitted inside turret. This fired two types of ammunition, one (shown top and bottom in the next photograph) which burst immediately on impact and spread red phosphorous for immediate effect and the other, earlier version (shown in the middle) which emitted smoke from the base and took longer to have an effect. The small cartridge at the back of the third round is the propellant that goes inside the base of the round and bursts through the holes between the fins, causing the round to move swiftly up the barrel.

Smoke rounds for the 2 inch mortar or bomb thrower

Smoke rounds for the 2 inch mortar or bomb thrower

You can view further information on inside the tanks by following the links below:

3 Responses to “Inside the tank”

  1. james sidney duhig November 21, 2012 at 5:01 am Permalink

    Looking at your photos of the churchill turrets,I see there is no mention of the
    phosphorous grenades or the hand grenades which were sited on the side of the turret just above and behind the gunners head

  2. james sidney duhig March 7, 2013 at 4:07 am Permalink

    The turret had a hand traverse as well as an electric “shovel” handle.This was for fine alignment of the gun.
    The fast rotation of the turret could cause problems in wooded areas by
    hitting trees as happened to me in the Reichwald. This jammed the turret for
    a while.

  3. james sidney duhig March 14, 2013 at 4:23 am Permalink

    With reference to the Besa ammo,I believe that a mixture of rounds were in each belt. All belts would have to contain tracers or the gunner would not know where his shots were going.
    Only the 75 mm gun was alined with the telescope to meet at 800 yards in our regt.

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