Mark 8 Landing Craft Tank


Mark 8 Landing Craft Tank
HMAV Abbeville (L4041) - Village Bay 1 - July 1977.jpg
HMAV Abbeville beached in Village Bay, St Kilda, Scotland.
Class overview
Name: Mark 8 Landing Craft Tank
Operators: Royal Navy
British Army
Royal Malaysian Navy
French Navy
Republic of Singapore Navy
Planned: 186
Completed: 31
General characteristics
Type: Landing craft tank
Displacement: 657 tons (light)
895 to 1,017 tons loaded
Length: 225 ft (69 m) between perpendiculars
231.2 ft (70.5 m) overall
Beam: 38 ft (12 m)
Draught: 3.2 ft (0.98 m) forward
5 ft (1.5 m) aft
Propulsion: 4 x Davey Paxman 12TPM 600hp engines
2 shafts
Speed: 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) cruising
12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph) maximum
Range: 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Capacity: 8 x 13-ton tanks, 13 x 3-ton lorries, or 300 tons cargo
Troops: 48 (vehicle crews)
Complement: 25 (designed)
33 to 37 (as of 1968)
Armament: 4 x 20 mm Oerlikons

The Mark 8 Landing Craft Tank (also referred to as the LCT (8) or LCT Mark VIII) were landing craft tank ships operated by the British Armed Forces. The vessels were based on an American design, but improved into ocean-going vessels capable of transiting to and operating in the Far East.

Although 186 vessels were ordered, the end of the Second World War meant that only 31 were completed for service in the Royal Navy. 12 were later transferred to the British Army; these were initially operated by the Royal Army Service Corps, then by the Royal Corps of Transport. Between 1958 and 1966, the other 19 ships in the class were transferred out to foreign navies or civilian companies, converted for other uses, or otherwise disposed of.

During their service life, vessels of the class operated during the Suez Crisis and Indonesian Confrontation, and were involved in the setup and supply of guided weapons bases in the Hebrides as part of Operation Hardrock.

Contents

Design and production

The design of the LCT Mark 8 was derived from the 1943 American LCT Mark 7 (eventually re-categorised as Landing Ship Medium).[1] This was the United States' first large landing craft, and had the capacity to transport three to five tanks at a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h).[1] Although not ideal for Britain's needs, designers used the basic concept as a model for the Mark 8, which would be Britain's final LCT.[1] The LCT was intended for duties in the Far East theatres of the Second World War, and unlike previous vessels, was designed to be ocean-going—capable of transiting between Europe and Asia.[2]

The tank deck of HMAV Abbeville.

Each LCT had a displacement of 657 tons at light load, and between 895 and 1,017 tons when loaded.[3] The vessels were 225 feet (69 m) long between perpendiculars and 231.2 feet (70.5 m) long overall, with a beam of 38 feet (12 m), and with draughts of 3.2 feet (0.98 m) forward and 5 feet (1.5 m) aft.[3] Although retaining the open tank deck of previous LCT designs, the Mark 8 was protected by a taller bow section, which was fitted with powered doors and ramp.[2] The deck could hold up to four 50-ton tanks,[citation needed] eight 13-ton light tanks, thirteen 3-ton lorries,[4] or 300 tons of cargo.[5] The poop deck was lengthened, which allowed for an enlarged engine room, with two 12-cylinder Davey Paxman 12TPM diesel engines attached to each of the two propeller shafts; these provided a cruising speed of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph), and a maxiumum speed of 12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph).[3][4][6] The landing craft could travel 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at cruising speed, or 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[3][4] The expanded poop deck allowed for improved accommodation spaces, including accommodations for up to 48 of the vehicle's crews, and an enlarged superstructure.[2][4] The Mark 8s were initially designed with a ship's complement of 25, but by the late 1960s, this had expanded to between 33 and 37.[3][4] For defence, the vessels were fitted with four single 20 mm Oerlikon guns.[4]

186 Mark 8 LCTs were ordered, with the pennant numbers 4001 to 4187 allocated.[4] However, the war's end led to most of these vessels being cancelled and scrapped or sold directly into civilian service.[2] Only 31 entered service with the Royal Navy.

Service

Royal Navy

HMS Redoubt.

LCT (8)s operated by the Navy were either named after features of castle architecture or remained unnamed during their naval service life.[citation needed]

Nine ships in the class (HM Ships Redoubt, Rampart, Citadel, Parapet, Bastion, Counterguard, Portcullis, Sallyport, and Buttress) served during the 1956 Suez Crisis under Royal Navy control,[7] while a tenth (L4086, later named HMAV Arromanches) operated with a civilian crew.[5]

Army

The Suez Crisis highlighted the Army's need to train landing craft crews to respond to similar emergencies.[8] Beginning in 1957, twelve LCT (8)s were transferred to the Army and stationed at Portsmouth: seven entered Army service between January and March of that year, while the other five followed later.[5] The vessels were given names of Second World War battles, and were crewed by men of 76 Company, Royal Army Service Corps (RASC).[5] The RASC Water Transport Training Unit, based at Fort Victoria on the Isle of Wight began running LCT training courses and supplied the vessels with crews (men on their National Service) until the unit closed in 1962.[8]

In 1957, several of the LCTs took part in Operation Hardrock, the establishment of a guided weapons range in the Hebrides.[9] The vessels made exploratory voyages and subsequently delivered men and equipment to islands like St Kilda, South Ford, and Lochboisdale.[10] In the following years, they made supply runs from their base at Cairnryan to the islands.[11] Landings were dangerous, due to weather and beach conditions, and on one occasion, Abbeville became grounded at Village Bay in St Kilda for three days.[11]

In 1960, three of the LCTs (Ardennes, Agedabia and Arromanches) were transferred to Singapore.[12] Whilst in service there they carried out routine transport and ammunition dumping activities, and were deployed in the Indonesian Confrontation in 1962. Two more LCTs (Antwerp and Arakan) were despatched to the region the following year.[13]

HMAV Abbeville. Note the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) marking under the pennant number.

When the LCTs first entered service with the British Army they were designated as Royal Army Service Corps Vessels (RASCV). In 1965, the RASC was amalgamated with the transportation arm of the Corps of Royal Engineers to form the Royal Corps of Transport.[14] The following year, a Royal Warrant dictated that all RCT vessels were to be titled Her Majesty's Army Vessels (HMAV).[15][n 1]

Other forces and civilian service

During the late 1950s, Jawada was loaned to the Qatar Petroleum Company.[16] The landing craft was briefly recommissioned during late 1956 and early 1957 to serve as a tender to the cruiser HMS Superb, which was visiting Bahrain for amphibious warfare exercises.[16]

Buttress was sold to the French Navy in July 1965; she was redesignated L 9061.[3] Counterguard was sold to the Royal Malaysian Navy in 1965 and renamed Sri Langkawi.[3] The vessel operated under this name until February 1968, when she was disposed of.[17]

Vessels in class

Pennant number Name (if given) Notes
L4001 HMS Redoubt Was involved in the 1956 Suez Crisis.[7] Sold January 1966 as a train ferry and renamed Dimitris.[18]
L4002 RASCV/HMAV Agheila[n 2] Deployed to Aden in 1965.[19]
L4025 Struck from service in 1960.[3]
L4037 HMS Rampart
HMAV Akyab[n 3]
As HMS Rampart,[3] L4037 was involved in the Suez Crisis with the Royal Navy.[7] She was tranferred to the Army in 1965 and renamed Akyab.[20] Compared to other vessels in the class, L4037 had a higher forecastle (which allowed larger tanks to board) and elevated bridge to improve visibility.[20] The aft lattice mast was also larger.[3]
L4038 HMS Citadel Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] Converted into a fleet degaussing vessel prior to 1968.[3] Marked for disposal in 1968.[21] Sold to Pounds of Belfast and scrapped in 1970.[22]
L4039 HMS Parapet Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] Sold into civilian service at Sark in 1966.[3]
L4040 HMS Bastion Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] Sold to Zambia on 15 September 1966.[3]
L4041 RASCV/HMAV Abbeville Ran aground at Village Bay in St Kilda for three days in 1957, but subsequently re-floated.[11]
L4042 Struck from service in 1958.[3]
L4043 HMS Counterguard Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] Sold to Malaysia in 1965 and renamed Sri Langkawi.[3] Sold off for disposal in February 1968.[17]
L4044 HMS Portcullis Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] Converted into a fleet degaussing unit prior to 1968.[3] Marked for disposal in 1968.[21] Sold to Pounds of Belfast and scrapped in 1970.[23]
L4045 Struck from service in 1958.[3]
L4049 Struck from service in 1960.[3]
L4050 Struck from service in 1958.[3]
L4061 RASCV/HMAV Audemer[n 4] Superstructure enlarged to house extra staff when the vessel was converted to a Squadron HQ in 1961.[24]
L4062 RASCV/HMAV Aachen[n 5] Twin funnels.
L4063 HMS Jawada Loaned to a civilian company, later disposed of in Bahrain.[3]
L4063 Struck from service in 1960.[3]
L4064 HMS Sallyport Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] Sold in 1966 in Malta to a Greek shipping company and renamed Phaedra.[25]
L4073 RASCV/HMAV Ardennes After being deployed to Singapore in 1960, the vessel was sold to the government there in the mid 1960s. It remained in service as the Singapore naval vessel Cairn Hill until 1975.[26]
L4074 RASCV/HMAV Antwerp Deployed to the Far East during the Indonesian Confrontation.[13] Remained in service with the Army until 1976.[27]
L4085 RASCV/HMAV Agedabia[n 6]
L4086 RASCV/HMAV Arromanches[n 7] Distinguishable from other units in the class by a larger lattice mast.[3] Took part in the Suez Crisis with a civilian crew.[5]
L4097 RASCV/HMAV Andalsnes[n 8]
L4098 Struck from service in 1960.[3]
L4099 HMS Buttress Was involved in the Suez Crisis.[7] During this deployment, Buttress lost her mast while alongside the aircraft carrier HMS Theseus, when it collided with a sponson.[7] Sold to France in July 1965 and renamed L 9061.[3] Paid off by the French navy in 1975 and sold to the Military of Comoros in 1976. Sold on again in 1994.[28]
L4128 RASCV/HMAV Arezzo Deployed to Bahrain in 1965.[19]
L4148 Struck from service in 1958.[3]
L4156 Struck from service in 1958.[3]
L4164 RASCV/HMAV Arakan[n 9] Deployed to Singapore February 1964 from Portsmouth England, handed over to Singapore forces 1970 sold on to civilian market 6 months later.[29][verification needed]
L4165 Struck from service in 1958.[3]

Footnotes

  1. ^ For example, L4041 – formerly known as RASCV Abbeville – became HMAV Abbeville
  2. ^ El Agheila was the site of fighting during the North Africa Campaign
  3. ^ now known as Sittwe, Akyab is the capital of the former Arakan state in Burma
  4. ^ Pont-Audemer is on the Normandy coast
  5. ^ Aachen, historically known as Aix-la-Chapelle was taken by the Allies in 1944
  6. ^ Ajdabiya is a coastal location in Libya
  7. ^ Arromanches-les-Bains was one of the sites for a Mulberry Harbour
  8. ^ the Battle of Åndalsnes followed a landing by British forces in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940
  9. ^ Arakan was the site of much fighting during the Burma Campaign

Citations

  1. ^ a b c Bishop, The Encyclopaedia of Weapons of WWII, p. 536
  2. ^ a b c d Lenton, British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, p. 458
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Blackman (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships, 1968-69, p. 320
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Lenton, British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, p. 460
  5. ^ a b c d e Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 142
  6. ^ Carr, Paxman and the Royal Navy
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Paul & Sprint, British Units involved in the Suez crisis
  8. ^ a b Cantwell, Fort Victoria p. 44
  9. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 143
  10. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, pp. 143-144
  11. ^ a b c Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 144
  12. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 147
  13. ^ a b Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 149
  14. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 151
  15. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 154
  16. ^ a b Boniface, HMS Superb, p. 62
  17. ^ a b Blackman (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships, 1968-69, p. 187
  18. ^ Colledge & Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, p. 334.
  19. ^ a b Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 151
  20. ^ a b Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 153
  21. ^ a b Warships, Hansard
  22. ^ Colledge & Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, p. 80.
  23. ^ Colledge & Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, p. 314.
  24. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 148
  25. ^ Colledge & Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, p. 355.
  26. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, pp. 161-162
  27. ^ Habesch, The Army's Navy, p. 167
  28. ^ Colledge & Warlow, Ships of the Royal Navy, p. 60.
  29. ^ RASC/RCT Corps history

References

External links

  • Pathé Newsreels
    • Chieftains for Germany - A 1967 newsreel showing the loading of Chieftain tanks aboard HMAV Andalsnes for delivery to British units stationed in Germany.
    • Army Transport Display - A 1967 newsreel depicting the operations of several units, including the LCTs Akyab and Audermer, during an amphibious landing demonstration.

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