As for the Australians, who also participated in World War II and fought with the Japanese, they had a very hard time from the very beginning. The threat of the landing seemed very serious, but how could it be repelled? The Australians did not have their own tanks, well, they simply did not, because the "scrap" that they received from the British at one time was only suitable for training tankers. Therefore, they urgently requested reinforcement from the metropolis with tanks and … received it. In addition, they ordered a number of tanks for testing in their specific Australian conditions. So, for example, the Cromwell tank got to Australia. But his excellent speed data in the jungle was useless.
"Matilda" CS - "fire support" tank. Museum of the Australian Royal Armored Forces in Pacapunyal.
British tanks "Matilda", delivered from England under the Lend-Lease program, at the very beginning of their use were also not very effective. For example, a serious drawback of the 40-mm cannon of an English tank was the lack of high-explosive shells for it, and the Australians independently developed and began to produce such shells. But even having received them, they did not win very much, there were very few explosives in them. Therefore, the main type of tank of this type for them was the Matilda CS - "fire support".
Tank "Cromwell" - a museum piece. Museum of the Australian Royal Armored Forces in Pacapunyal.
On the other hand, in the jungle, infantry flamethrowers showed themselves very well, but since the flamethrowers were not protected by anything, they suffered very large losses. So the Australians considered that since guns with a caliber of more than 40-mm were not required in the jungle, let the flamethrower be the main weapon for their tanks, capable of effectively smoking the Japanese out of their well-camouflaged "fox holes", bunkers and trenches, which usually do not respond well to traditional types of tank weapons.
The first Matilda tanks (140 vehicles) arrived in Australia in July 1942. Then they received 238 tanks in August 1943. In addition to them, they sent 33 CS tanks, armed with 76-mm lightweight cannons instead of 40-mm guns. These vehicles went ahead of the tank column and fired at targets with high-explosive and incendiary shells. Their task was simple: to destroy the camouflage of the Japanese bunkers so that a tank with a 40-mm cannon could come close to them and shoot their armored caps.
"Matilda-Frog". Museum of the Australian Royal Armored Forces in Pacapunyal.
In the meantime, 25 vehicles were converted into flamethrower tanks, which were named "Matilda-frog" Mk. I. The charging radio operator was removed as unnecessary, and a tank with a capacity of 150 gallons of thickened fire mixture was installed in its place. And another 100 gallons of such a mixture was in a special dumping tank at his stern. "Frog" (which translated from English means "frog") threw this fire mixture at 80 - 125 m (although often this distance was exactly half less), but it did not play much. After all, not a single Japanese tank or anti-tank gun was able to penetrate his armor!
In order to protect their vehicles to the maximum from the shells of Japanese cannons, which often fired from behind cover almost point-blank and at the same time were aimed either at the tracks or under the base of the tower, Australian engineers decided to install cast U-shaped caps on them that covered the tracks in front. and the base of the turret shoulder strap was surrounded by an armored parapet. This breastwork walked around her on either side of the driver's hatch.
Conversion "Matilda" with parapet and armored caps (by the way, they could recline!) Caterpillars. Australian Tank and Artillery Museum in Karins, Australia.
Then the Australians put a bulldozer blade on a number of tanks, and then decided to install the Hedzhehog (Hedgehog) anti-submarine bomb launcher on them in addition. In general, what the Matilda tank was, so it remained, except that it had an armored package at the stern for launching 7 jet bombs. One such bomb weighed 28, 5 kg, and the weight of the "torpex" explosive inside it was equal to 16 kg. It was possible to shoot from the "hedgehog" at 200 - 300 m (the last range was achieved with a more powerful engine). The package was lifted by the driver, who had two indicators, looking at which he informed the commander of the elevation angle.
Matilda-Hedgehog. Museum of the Australian Royal Armored Forces in Pacapunyal.
The first round was corrective, after which the commander corrected the aiming and could already fire in a volley. To protect the antenna from damage by projectiles flying out, bomb # 5 could be fired only by turning the tower with the antenna in the opposite direction. Six tanks were equipped with bombers and they were all sent to Bougainville Island, where there were heated battles with the Japanese. But they ended up there when the fighting was over.
Bomb for the Matilda-Frog tank. Museum of the Australian Royal Armored Forces in Pacapunyal.
Interestingly, the Australians themselves later said that if their British colleagues who fought in Matilda tanks in the deserts of North Africa looked at them in the jungle, they would not believe their eyes. “We could not have won the campaign in New Guinea if it were not for the Matilda tanks,” the Australian tankers who fought with them declared many times.
Churchill-Frog. Museum of the Australian Royal Armored Forces in Pacapunyal.
After the end of the war in Australia in 1948, the Matilda tanks entered service with the civilian armed forces (analogous to the National Guard), their 1st tank brigade, which were then used for another seven years to train tankers when they were replaced tanks "Centurion".
Australian Churchill. Museum of Armored Vehicles and Artillery in Karins, Australia.
By the way, the English heavy tank Mk. IV Churchill. By the way, it was tested in conjunction with the American Sherman tank, which it surpassed in all main indicators, so that in the Australian army, his service, as well as in the Matilda tanks, continued after the war. "The perfect tank for a jungle war," said the Australian tankers. But in Russia, our tankers felt sorry for those of their comrades who had to serve on these heavy and seemingly obviously awkward Lend-Lease tanks, which turned out to be especially good in the jungle! By the way, the "Churchill-Frog" flamethrower tank was used by the Australians and again very successfully. It was impossible for the Japanese to escape from its fiery jet even in the jungle!
"Sherman" with a composite hull: cast bow, the rest of rolled armor, supplied under Lend-Lease to Australia.
The Australians created their own tank during World War II only in 1942, and although they clearly succeeded in its design, they still did not produce it, so as not to create unnecessary problems with … the supply of tanks under Lend-Lease, which the production of their own Australian tanks could would seriously interfere!
Sentinel AC I. Museum of Armored Vehicles and Artillery in Karins, Australia.
Australian medium tank "Sentinel" ("Sentinel") Mk. III - the first and last tank, created in great haste by Australian designers. And it so happened that the command of the Australian ground forces issued an urgent order: on the basis of its own technological base to make a tank, no worse than the American Ministry of Health "Lee / Grant". At that time in Australia there was no capacity for either casting or rental of armor, there were no suitable engines, so the designers had to solve a difficult problem.But, in spite of everything, the first three tanks were made in January 1942, and in July they launched their production at the railway plant in Chullora. A total of 66 tanks were built, but then production was stopped.
The Sentinel AC IV Thunderbolt is a modification with the 76 mm QF 17 pounder cannon, based on the AC III. Only one prototype has been produced. But if it went into production, it would be much stronger than the Sherman tanks supplied to Australia. Museum of Armored Vehicles and Artillery in Karins, Australia.
We can say that the Australians have shown the maximum resourcefulness. So, the body of the machine was entirely assembled from cast parts, and the ability to install weapons of a larger caliber on it was incorporated into the design from the very beginning. The tank was lower than the similar Sherman. Don't have a powerful tank engine? No problem! The Australians installed on the tank a block of three (!) Cadillac gasoline engines with a total capacity of 370 hp. The tank weighed 26 tons (like the T-34 of the very first issues), but the thickness of its frontal armor was 65 mm versus 45 mm for the T-34. True, the cannon of the first Mk. I was a 40mm caliber, like all purely British vehicles. Suspension on "silent blocks" - an analogue of the French suspension of the tank "Hotchkiss" - provided the car with a smooth ride, although they were very overheated due to the heat, like a block of triple motors.
The armored mask of the frontal machine gun on the Sentinel ACI tank was of a surprisingly strange shape. And it is unlikely that it happened by chance … However, it is not so much its "phallic shape" that is significant as its weight. You can imagine what the mass of the counterweight should have been so that the machine gunner could direct it to the target without much effort!
The Sentinel line. Rice. A. Shepsa
Later, even a 25-pound (87, 6-mm) field howitzer was installed on the ACII modification, and the frontal armor plate was made with a very large slope to increase armor resistance. Then they created an ACIII prototype with two (!) 25-pound howitzers. Finally, the next sample was completely equipped with a 17-pound British gun, which only a year later fell on the Sherman Firefly tank. But then the Americans intervened in the matter, as a result of which a decision was made not to produce this tank with 25, 17-pound, or even two 25-pound twin guns, and use the first 66 manufactured vehicles only for training purposes.
Production of armored vehicles during the Second World War from left to right: USA, USSR, Germany, Great Britain.