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Landing Craft Assault (LCA 888) Pointe Du Hoc MOC

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This week sees the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings so I thought I'd share my WW2 landing craft MOC - the British built Landing Craft Assault (LCA)

Developed in 1938/39 by the Thornycroft company, the LCA became the primary troop landing craft used by British and Commonwealth troops throughout WW2. On D-Day, they were mainly used to ferry British and Canadian troops from larger transport ships to Juno, Gold and Sword beaches but they were also used by small units of elite US troops on Utah and Omaha beaches - most notably at Pointe Du Hoc.

Here it was feared that the German's cliff top guns would be able to target the invasion fleet and beaches, so an initial force of 225 Rangers were tasked with landing at the base of the cliffs before scaling them and destroying the guns. In order to do this, 10 LCAs were fitted with rocket propelled grappling hook launchers which would allow the troops to quickly scale the cliffs. This MOC represents one of these craft... LCA 888, which was the first craft to reach the beach and carried the Rangers' commander Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder. Apart from the 6 grappling hook launchers and rope boxes it is a standard LCA...

48007602276_66398503b7_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

The LCA had a narrow bow landing ramp (just wide enough for 2 men side by side). The hull either side was filled with a buoyancy foam to keep to boat afloat if it became swamped. Rollers on the end of the ramp stopped it digging into soft sand and made withdrawing from the beach easier.

48007686422_cd68a7796f_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Armoured doors protected the crew and passengers from enemy fire until the very last minute. (I have ideas for a better design (without the big gaps) but haven't had time to try it out yet!)

48007689137_6e819d53ac_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Armoured steering shelter. From here the coxswain steered the craft and relayed instructions to the stoker(engineer) in the engine room via a telegraph and speaking tube. LCAs had a crew of 4 altogether (Coxswain, Stoker, 2 deckhands) and they were generally all ordinary ratings (no officers). Despite this the coxswain was in charge of the boat and its passengers until they reached the beach.

48007684152_49a376b8c9_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Gunners position. Most LCAs didn't have a fixed armament but a shielded position was provided for use by a Lewis or Bren gun being carried by the troops being transported. 

48008008122_0f3da87fd0_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Troop section. A standard LCA could carry 36 passengers (a standard infantry company of 31 plus 5 "specialists" - usually a heavy weapons team or engineers to clear beach obstacles). The men sat on benches, facing forward. Because of the weight of the grappling hook launchers, the boats assaulting Pointe Du Hoc carried 22 men each. (my version can carry 20 men seated)

48007610788_147274d700_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

The engine room was at the rear and accessed through a hatch. Above the hatch is the winch for a kedge anchor. This was dropped as the boat approached the beach and kept the boat steady by preventing waves hitting the stern from pushing the boat around. The anchor was also used to pull the boat off the beach (as using the engines at full power astern was found to suck in sand, rocks and debris causing damage to the prop/rudder)

48007610853_1d0aff9e0b_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Rear deck with hatch covers, ventilators and wave deflector. Below this is the engine room which contained 2 Scripps/Ford V8s with the engineer sat between them controlling the speed. The MOC does have space inside for the engines and crewman but I'm still looking for reference pics so for now it's empty!!

48007610203_e965d301a1_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Stern view. Here we can see the anchor, engine exhaust outlets and guards to protect the propellor/rudder.

48007686527_43f14ca936_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Top view

48007600731_089c5ff09b_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Close up of grappling rope launcher and rope box.

48007598956_306860ef72_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

Crewman and passenger - both figures are from Brickmania (unfortunately no-one seems too make custom Royal Navy minifigures so I've had to make do with a WW1 Italian sailor!!)

48007597781_627ca877e3_c.jpgUntitled by g.nat, on Flickr

As for the real life operation, the mission nearly ended in disaster as the boats were swept off course, delaying the landing. Once ashore, the troops quickly reached the cliff top under heavy fire but found the guns had been removed. They eventually managed to find the guns hidden a short distance away and destroyed them but then came under a fierce counterattack. With their reinforcements having been reassigned to another beach, the men had to hold on for almost 3 days before being relieved. By then, of the 225 Rangers who set off, only 90 were left able to fight.

While building this, I came across an interesting local link as 6 of the LCAs used at Pointe Du Hoc (including LCA 888) were launched from a larger vessel (known as a Landing Craft Infantry) called the Ben My Chree which happened to be a requisitioned Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry. The "Ben" had been converted to carry 6 LCAs on strengthened lifeboat davits and operated as the command ship for the operation. The BM marking on the side is a reference to this. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company still operates today and their current flagship is called the Ben My Chree!! 

The MOC is still a bit of a work in progress as I find out more about these interesting little craft. For example, I've just found some colour photos taken in 1944  which show that boats used by US troops were more of a blue colour (dark blueish grey or even sand blue!!). It should also have an orange recognition stripe across the top of the stern which was unique to the Rangers. I've also got plans for a British camouflaged version and some other variants.

Anyway, thanks for looking - comments are always welcome.

Edited by greg3

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Super detailed landing craft and your thorough explanations demonstrate your knowledge on the subject. And perfect timing sharing it today. Excellent MOC.

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