Sir Percy Hobart and the Funnies of World War 2
Posted by Hobbies | Thursday, February 19, 2015
This is a fascinating story, about how, in August, 1940, the prime minister Winston Churchill was reading the Sunday Pictorial newspaper with the headline "We Have Wasted Brains!" talking about former Major-General Percy Hobart.
He was the pioneer and developer of the feared Blitzkrieg technique and a former commander of the world's first permanent tank brigade. And now the newspaper had found him, ' a wasted brain' serving as a corporal in the Home Guard. The prime minister directed that Hobart should be taken back into the Army immediately.
In 1943 Hobart was given command of the 79th (Experimental) Armoured Division, and he subsequently found fame at the D-Day landings in June 1944. The armoured vehicles of the 79th became widely known as 'Hobart's Funnies.' They were specially developed armoured fighting vehicles which spearheaded the amphibious assault phase of the Normandy D-Day invasion.
Specialized vehicles of the 79th included the DD Sherman amphibious tank, the Crocodile flame thrower, the carpet-layer, the mine-clearing Crab flail tank, the lumber & fascine carrier, the AVRE, the small box girder and many others.
The 'Bobbin' carpet layer was a Churchill AVRE adapted to lay reinforced matting on soft beach surfaces that could not otherwise support the weight of armoured vehicles etc. which allowed them to drive across the difficult terrain.
The 'Crab' was a Sherman tank with a roller and weighted chain attachment, which was used to clear mines. The flail was powered by the tank's main engine. The Sherman also retained its 75mm gun, which could be fired as normal when the flail wasn't being used.
The Crocodile flamethrower was fitted to the heavy armoured Churchill tank, and the devastating and demoralising flame was thrown 150 yards. The 'Crocodile' was effective both as an assault and psychological weapon throughout the north-west Europe campaign.
AVREs were used to transport fascines - large bundles of wooden sticks and other materials used to bridge gaps in the ground. The AVRE would release the fascine into these gaps to create a passable surface.
All of these unusual vehicles played an important role in the D-Day landings, the Battle of Normandy and the campaign in north-west Europe, and their ingenuity saved countless British and Allied forces lives.
Hobbies are pleased to be stocking a range of highly detailed 1:35 scale plastic model kits of the Hobart Funnies by AFV Club