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LCT (Landing Craft, Tank) Mark-1 to Mark-5
Model featured: LCT-474 (Mark-5) transporting Sherman tanks
- circa June 6, 1944 (D-Day) -
Comparison of LCT-1 to LCT-5 hull lengths
The model featured is a Mark 5 LCT, which was an essential component of the amphibious assault in that it could transport tanks from a mother ship right up onto a beach. At a length of 114 feet and a beam of 33 feet, it displaced 286 short tons. This gave it the capacity to carry five 30 ton tanks, or four 40 ton tanks or three 50 ton tanks; or nine loaded trucks. Powered by three Gray Marine diesels applying 225 hp to each of the 3 shafts, it's top speed was only 8 knots. However, fully loaded, the draft at the bow was only 36 inches and at the screws just over 4 feet.
For stability at sea, water was pumped into the bilges. Then - as approaching the beach - the water was voided to raise the craft. At the same time an anchor on a cable was let loose several hundred yards from the beach. Then the craft was run right into the beach until she grounded. With the ramp lowered, the tanks usually never even got their treads wet. As the cargo disembarked, the craft would rise and - with the assistance of a winch pulling on the anchor cable, the craft could usually extract itself off the beach... providing the operation was done quickly and not on an ebb tide.
Manned by a crew of one officer and 12 men, the craft
was minimally armed with only two 20mm AA guns or two .50 caliber machine
guns. Quite vulnerable to enemy fire, there were 500 Mark 5 LCTs built during
World War II and nearly 10% of them were lost in action.
LCT-474 rescues nearly 200 aboard flaming ship
It was D-Day plus three, at 4AM and the transport area off Utah Beach had been zeroed in by German shore batteries. Thickening weather had reduced friendly air cover and the captain of LCT-474, Lieutenant Joseph A. McFalls, stood on the bridge watching for enemy planes in the soup above. Suddenly a dive-bomber nosed down toward a Liberty ship and released a bomb that severed the stern. The crew of the LCT felt the blast and saw flames shoot 50 feet above the stricken vessel. McFalls knew the ship carried ammunition so he asked for volunteers to effect a rescue. Ducking machine gun bullets from ashore, the crew gave their answer with action as they cast off. The Liberty ship was settling rapidly and burning fiercely as the LCT threaded its way through survivors blown from the decks. Shocked men aboard the Liberty ship could not respond immediately to help take the LCTs lines, so it was with difficulty that McFalls managed to tie his vessel alongside. Immediately he organized fire fighting and rescue crews, and put them aboard the flaming ship. The firefighters kept at the job for 8 hours and rescued 177 men from the Liberty ship before shoving off - minutes before the Liberty ship blew up and settled to the bottom.
Lt. Joseph McFalls, now retired, wrote later about D-Day: "It is notable that LCT-474 was the first American ship to enter a French port. We mine swept the Port of Cherbourg while the American army was chasing the German defenders out from the landside. The inner harbor proved to be free of mines and we just tied up to the pier and waited for Cherbourg to be totally occupied by the American forces."
LCT-474 was involved in further rescues as the invasion progressed and the Navy's official news release on Utah Beach quoted that "LCT-474 acted with distinction during and after the invasion".
|Mark 1 to Mark 5 comparison|
|Mark 1 LCT||Mark 2 LCT||Mark 3 LCT||Mark 4 LCT||Mark 5 LCT|
|Length||152 ft||159 ft 11 in||192 ft||187 ft 3 in||114 ft 2 in|
|Beam||29 ft||30 ft||30 ft||38 ft 9 in||32 ft 8 in|
|Displacement*||372 tons full load||590 tons full load||640 tons full load||586 tons full load||286 tons full load|
|Draught forward||3 ft (landing)||3 ft 8 in (landing)||3 ft 10 in (landing)||3 ft 6 in (landing)||3 ft (landing)|
|Draught aft||4 ft (landing)|
|Load||250 tons (landing)||250 tons (landing)||300 tons (landing)||350 tons (landing)||150 tons (landing)|
|Engine Make||Hall Scott||Paxman or Napier Lion||Paxman or Sterling||Paxman||Gray Marine|
|Horsepower / engine||350||450 or 350||460||460||225|
|# of engines and type||2 gasoline||3||2 diesels or 2 gasoline||2 diesels||3 diesels|
|# of props||2||3||2||2||3|
|Speed||10 knots||10 knots||9 knots||8 knots||7 knots|
|Range (miles)||900 miles||2,700 miles||2,700 miles||1,100 miles||700 miles|
|Armament**||2- 40mm||2- 40mm||2- 20mm or 2- 40mm||2- 20mm AA
or 2 - 50 cal.
|# built||30 (UK)||73 (UK)||235 (UK)||731||500|
* In short tons (2000 lbs) maximum displacement
** Armament varied depending on theater of operation
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