LCT 7074

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Spitfires of the Sea, Jun 18, 2019.

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  1. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Hi all,

    LCT 7074 is an ex Royal Navy Landing Craft Tank Mk III, built in 1944 and which saw service at Normandy and through the rest of the war. In 1945 she was converted to Naval Service Craft (Large) and post war became a floating clubhouse, then a nightclub. At present she is being restored in Portsmouth and next year will go on display outside The D-Day Story in Southsea.

    I’m lucky enough to be the archaeologist responsible for recording changes to LCT 7074 during her restoration. Alongside this, I’m advising on the return to her 1944 appearance and carrying out research into her wartime history, as well as that of the troops and vehicles she carried (expect to see more threads on this soon).

    I’ve spent the last few months poring over 7074’s hull, recording items that will be modified during the works. In the main this involves restoring changes made during her conversion to an NSC(L) and her later life. There are however (inevitably), a number of areas that could use some more expert input and I’m hoping the combined minds here may be able to help. So I was planning on putting queries into this thread in the hope that someone may be able to assist. If people have questions about 7074, I’ll do my best to answer them as well.

    My first query relates to some unusual fittings. Does anyone have any idea what these masts are, seen on the bows of several LCT IIIs during Neptune? The examples seen here on LCT 7035 are taken from a NARA photo in Cracking Hitler’s Atlantic Wall (Anderson) and below, on 7074 herself in IWM photo B 5135.

    To the best of my knowledge, they only seem to appear on Mk IIIs – in fact almost all of the photos of Mk IIIs at Normandy seem to show them (not every one though). However, I don’t think I’ve seen a pre-Normandy photo that includes them (except during the few weeks beforehand), and several pictures of 7*** series Mk IIIs at launch do not have them fitted either. They do not appear to have any relationship with the ramp or the Mulock Extensions, nor the FAMs on the bows. Nor do they appear on any drawings of Mk IIIs I’ve seen.

    Any ideas are much appreciated!
    Steve

    Capture.JPG B5135.jpg
     
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  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Stared & stared, but only speculations so far.
    Any surviving veterans to consult?
     
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  3. tmac

    tmac Senior Member

    Stab in the dark: Could the masts be for hoisting signal / identification flags?
     
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  4. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Member MLW has a website of documents from the US National Archives. Amongst them are the Combined Operations Bulletins. If their purpose is anywhere, that's where I'd look.

    I will be watching this thread with interest...
     
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  5. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Hmm... is it possible they could be roly-poly related? The masts don't look particularly sturdy, though. Were these LCTs originally tasked for GOLD?
     
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  6. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    ....and what about the vertical poles behind them?.....
     
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  7. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Thank you all for your thoughts. I'm glad it's not just me that's struggling to understand these! The main thinking is towards hoisting something, but it's really hard to see what that might be...

    That's a good idea. If any do come forward during the engagement work, I'll make sure they're asked.

    They certainly don't look sturdy enough to hold much else, and there do appear to be pulleys on the ropes. However, although I've seen lots of pictures LCTs with these masts, including at sea, I've never seen anything hoisted on them. It's still possible though.

    Thank you, I'll look into that!

    The masts seem to appear exclusively on LCT Mk IIIs of Force L, the follow up wave. They were bound for Juno and Gold beaches on the evening of D-Day, carrying 22nd Armoured Brigade, so no Roly Polys or other funnies (aside from AVREs) as far as I'm aware. No, they don't look very sturdy - they're vertical and only affixed at one point, so probably not for great loads.

    If you mean the dark cylindrical poles a little shorter than the masts, they're Fast Aerial Mines (or FAMs), a bonkers AA contraption that fired a parachute and cable with an explosive charge attached. The idea was it would wrap around an enemy plane's wing and slide down it, making contact with the charge and blowing it off. We're fabricating some of those for the restoration.
     
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  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    We had something about these aerial wire mines here a while back. No idea they were fitted on LCTs, having assumed the project didn't go too far.

    Camo net hoists my only real speculation.

    Did wonder about some sort of station-keeping thing on a crowded very well photographed & surveyed beach with a meticulous plan - line up with these landmarks between poles & everything else will fit - but second wave maybe discounts that, and I'm sure any skipper could land wherever without.
     
  9. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Alas, that's been suggested but I've got a good picture of a Force L Mk III with it's camo nets in place, without any use of the masts. Plus the masts are limited to Mk IIIs, seemingly just form Force L, but camo nets were used more widely than that.

    I've come across references to merchant ships being fitted with them along with the simpler PAC weapon. In warships, they seem to have been extensively fitted to LCTs and LSTs. I don't know about other warships, but I haven't looked in any great detail to be honest!
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    However the progress, mate. Please do keep us informed of any breakthroughs.
    Love a bit of serious unanswered question. It can take years, but it's splendid when something is cracked.
     
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  11. reinaart

    reinaart Member

    Hi, the masts may have been for a canvas cover (tarpaulin) :

    [​IMG]

    By the way, I wonder which search words I have to use to find this pic in the IWM collection (hope to find more by the same photographer) :

    [​IMG]

    Regards,

    Arjan
     
  12. Spitfires of the Sea

    Spitfires of the Sea Stephen Fisher

    Cheers Arjan. The plan you have above is actually of a Mk II LCT. They did indeed have quite large mast supports at the bow, as you can see in the image below (IWM A 10064). However, Mk IIIs didn't have these as standard – their canvas covers over the tank deck ran on rails along the coaming. Nonetheless, I'd agree with you except for the fact these masts seem to be unique to Mk III LCTs sailing in Force L...

    That image is A 23146. It's part of a series of images taken on board an LCT Mk III, converted to a Landing Craft Gun (Large). The sequence starts at A 23135 and runs to A 23149 (A 23137 has not been digitised).

    Cheers,
    Steve
     

    Attached Files:

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  13. I believe the poles and attached cables/pulleys are ad hoc fixtures installed for folding/unfolding the Mulock Ramp Extensions.

    I think I've read in an account somewhere that an LCT crew devised a similar rigging for that purpose, since unfolding the Ramp Extensions by hand could be a hard and even risky job in heavy seas.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
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  14. reinaart

    reinaart Member

    Hi Steve, I agree that these masts are not likely to have supported nets or tarpaulins but perhaps they were used to facilitate their deployment. I'm thinking of the problems I encounter when I try to install bird netting over my cherry trees .

    Thanks for the IWM pic info! I'm looking for LCT Mk IV details so the capstan pic is probably the only useful one for me of this particular photo sequence. I get the impression that even within vessels labelled "Mk IV" there are quite a few detail differences. Perhaps one should also differentiate between early and late production vessels.

    Regards,

    Arjan
     
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  15. As pointed out by Steve, the masts on the bows seem to have been confined to the two LCT(3) Squadrons ("V" & "H" LCT Squadrons) of Force L, which happened to comprise only craft from hull number 7035 up. Conversely, they appear to be absent on all LCT(3) below 7012, as on this photo:
    7012 LCT(3) L12 - p012856.jpg

    As also noted by Steve, they are again absent on LCT 7037 and 7038 (which were launched too late to take part in D Day), although the Mulock Extensions have been fitted:
    7037 LCT(3) underway on the Humber, 25 Jun 44 - FL_007115.jpg

    7038 LCT(3) - FL_022409.jpg

    However, LCT 7093, which did not participate in D Day either but joined "V "Squadron later, had them when photographed at Weskapelle, probably in 1945:
    7093 LCT(3) Westkapelle - FO067272.jpg

    All this points to a modification performed exclusively by "V" and "H" Squadrons on their own craft, possibly as a result of the generalisation of the Mulock Extensions. Unfortunately I have no photo of LCT(3) between 7012 and 7034 to check whether the modification was indeed specific to the two Force L Squadrons.

    As always, there is an exception! Here is the only example I could find of similar, although apparently shorter, masts being fitted to another Mark of LCT. This is LCT(4) 952 (at that time part of 22 Flotilla, "N" Squadron) during the assault on Westkapelle on 1 Nov 44:
    The_Royal_Navy_during_the_Second_World_War_A26272.jpg
    Source: IWM A26272 via File:The Royal Navy during the Second World War A26272.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    952 does not appear to have had the masts on D Day:
    952 I40 LCT(4) prob prior to D-Day - CombinedOps - Miller%20photo%202.jpg
    Source: LANDING CRAFT TANK SQUADRON, LCT SQUADRON,

    The modification must therefore have been implemented during the refit or repair of 952.

    Michel
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
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  16. reinaart

    reinaart Member

    I had missed Michel's explanation of the masts' function when I wrote my message. Michel's explanation makes perfect sense to me.

    Arjan
     
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  17. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member Patron

    Have you tried searching for all past posts about LCTs? There are quite a lot, some from a now deceased member, with several plans and pics. Might be worth a trawl through.
     
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  18. reinaart

    reinaart Member

    Thanks, I think I read about everything there is on the internet about LCT (4) s.. The threads on this board are most informative and of course so are Michel's contributions.

    I have been interested in landing craft (both Allied and German) for many years. In 2007 or 2008 I bought the 1/35 Accurate Armour kit but I sold it some 4 years ago (I do regret this now...). My fellow countryman Henk's 1/35 scratch build has recently inspired me to have a go at scratch building one too, I would like to make an rc version though..

    Regards,

    Arjan
     
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  19. I found a few more pics of LCT(3) of the second series (or "LCT(3)*") with/without "bow masts".

    LCT 7081 & 7101 "being fitted out in Hendon Dock, 1944"

    7081, 7101 LCT(3), Hendon Dock, 1944 - Sunderland Museum.jpg
    Source: Sunderland Museum

    Next photo spans to the right and shows the after part of 7101 and three other LCT(3), including 7104, in various stages of completion:
    7101, 7104 LCT(3) and a corvette being fitted out in Hendon Dock, 1944.jpg
    Source: Sunderland Museum

    LCT 7081 will then join 17 Flotilla, "H" LCT Squadron, while 7101 will go to 19 Flotilla, "V" LCT Squadron.

    Note that the "mystery masts" are absent on all craft, but are now present on 7101 when photographed unloading US troops after D Day. Notice how the masts are fitted at slightly different locations on the two craft:
    7101 LCT(3), RHF.jpg
    Source: Sorry, couldn't find where I found this photo (10 years ago!). Probably some US website...

    At first I thought that the masts were plain pipes with a circular section. Then I saw them as tubing with a square or slightly rectangular section. However, it seems that they were made of a kind of shallow "I" profile iron/steel rail. This would make sense as they would be much sturdier than mere tubing. See previous photo, as well as the following (cropped) one (you can download the full, high resolution tiff version here):
    7057 LCT(3) bow masts - 80-G-286430 (cropped).jpg

    Michel
     
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