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Kangaroo APC

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The Kangaroo was a series of modified tanks that were used mainly by Canada as armored personnel carriers during World War II.

Description

Kangaroo is a broad term used to describe any of a number of improvised armored transports used by Canada during the war. The original Kangaroos were based on the M3 Stuart in Italy, but these proved under-armored and too small to be well effective. Later, the M7 Priest a stripped down version of the M4 Sherman[2] was used in a Kangaroo role. The Priest's main gun, a 105 mm M2 Howitzer, gun mantlet, ammo bins, and main gun-crew crew seats were all removed, and its casemate was filled in with armored plating. These early Kangaroos retained the Priest's "pulpit" M2 Browning machine gun, as well as its armor thickness and mobility.[3][Note 1] Sixty percent also retained the original radio set.[3]

Ram Kangaroo

An early Ram Kangaroo. Note the small machine gun turret on the right side, just above the extra tracks.

Later Kangaroos were created from the indigenous Canadian Ram, an already obsolete vehicle that was considered incompetent in its original role as a Cruiser Tank.[4] Just as the Priest's howitzer was removed, the turret of the Ram was discarded to make room for the infantry it would be transporting. The original Ram Kangaroo Carriers exhibited the standard Ram's auxiliary dual M1919 machine gun turret on the port side, while later Kangaroos featured a single hull-integrated machine gun instead.[3] [4] The empty turret ring and socket, accomidation for infantry, sometimes featured a mounted .50 caliber Browning. These were found to be clumsy and often removed in favor of additional .30 caliber Brownings or other smaller machine guns scavenged from the battlefield.[4]

History

British Priest Kangaroo

An "Unfrocked Priest" ferrying British infantrymen.

The Armored Transport plan was originally devised for Operation: TOTALIZE by Lieutenant General Guy Simonds, commander of II Canadian Corps. A large number of M7 Priest SPGs were lowned to Canada by the United States of America as a temporary placeholder for the former's artillery units. The current Canadian plan was to supplant all current artillery pieces with the British 25-Pounder howitzer. As such, the borrowed Preists became useless as the new guns came in. Simonds suggested to General Harry Crerar that the now-purposeless M7 Priests, which he had observed in combat earlier, should be modified into infantry transports.[3]

Crerar, who valued speed and mobility in infantry formations, gave Simonds' plan the go-ahead, and a rag-tag mechanical unit was set up to begin the project. The new Advanced Workshop Detachment under Major G. A. Wiggan was codenamed "Kangaroo", a name later used to describe the vehicles they constructed.[4] Kangaroo began work on "unfrocking" the Priests on August 2nd of 1944 and, by the end of the week, 72 Kangaroos were completed.[3][4]

The Priest Kangaroos numbered 76 by the initiation of TOTALIZE and were divided up among British and Canadian forces. The Canadian's Kangaroos were assigned to the new "1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron", better known as the "Kangaroo Squadron".[3]  The operation was deemed a success, in-part due to the carriers' performance. The Unfrocked Priests went on to partake in the similar Operation: TRACTABLE, once again proving their worth.[4]

Ram Kangaroos

A convoy of various Ram Kangaroos, led by an early model with a machine gun turret.

The APC proved to be a viable concept, and the Canadian military began to seek out an improved, more finished vehicle. The new Kangaroo was built upon the Canadian Ram Cruiser Tank, of which large numbers were available in surplus. The Ram, which was obsolete by the time it entered service, was withheld from the front lines in mass. This made it the perfect candidate for the project.[3][4]

The new Ram Kangaroos sported much heavier armored than the older Priest conversions, and had a much lower silhouette.[4] In 1944, the first Ram Kangaroos were delivered to Canadian troops stationed in Pierreville near Rouen in France. On October 24th of the same year, the Kangaroo Squadron gained regimental status. It was thereafter referred to officially as the "1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment". The new regiment was assigned to Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Churchill, a grizzled veteran of World War I. The unit was even given its own emblem; a Kangaroo standing over a scroll bearing the regiment's motto, "Armatos Fundit" (Latin: Bringing Forth/Pouring Out The Armed).[3][5]
Late Rams

A late Ram Kangaroo with the machine gun incorporated into the hull.

The Ram Kangaroos continued to serve in Holland and in the Battle of the Bulge, eventually equipping two complete regiments; one of which was a British section under Hobart's Funnies.[3] The Kangaroos saw service again during the battle for the Rhine when they partook in Operation: VERITABLE, an Allied attempt to break through the Siegfried Line.[6]

The Kangaroos served until the end of the war in Europe in 1945.[3]

Variants

  • (Unfrocked) Priest Kangaroo: The original proof-of-concept Kangaroos based on the American M7 Priest self-propelled gun. The gun and other accompaniments were removed from the main hold to make room for infantry.
  • Ram Kangaroo: The standard base-model Kangaroo produced in large numbers, built upon the de-turreted and gutted bodies of the unsuccessful Canadian Ram tanks.
    • Early Ram Kangaroo: The early conversions from Ram Tanks. The frontal dual machine gun turret was retained.
    • Late Ram Kangaroo: The later variant of the Kangaroo based on the Ram. These models had the machine gun integrated into the hull, similar to a common tank.
    • Ram Wallaby: An ammunition carrier based on the Kangaroo, designed for Sexton formations.[7]
    • Early Ram Badger: Early modifications of Late Ram Kangaroos into flame tanks. The bow machine gun was replaced with a Flamethrower Portable, No. 2, which was mounted upside down to fit within the vehicle. The empty turret ring was roofed with sheet metal, and extra machine-gun turrets from early Kangaroos and Rams were mounted on top as makeshift commander's cupolas. Later Ram Badgers were made from entire Ram Tanks instead. [8][9]
Ram Badger

A Ram Badger with the auxiliary machine gun turret on top of the sealed turret ring.

References

Notes

  1. These modified Priests were sometimes humorously referred to as "unfrocked Priests"

Sources

  1. Icks, Robert J., "AFV Weapon Profile No. 26"
  2. http://web.inter.nl.net/users/spoelstra/g104/1cacr/m7.html
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/vehicles/apcs/kangaroo.htm
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-armour/allied/kangaroos.htm
  5. http://www.mapleleafup.net/histories/1cacr/index.html
  6. http://www.canadiankangaroos.ca/Site/History_Booklet.html
  7. http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/canada/Ram_Cruiser_Tank.php
  8. http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/vehicles/flamethrowers/badger.htm
  9. http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/canada/Ram_Cruiser_Tank.php

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