Churchill Crocodile

churchill crocodile

The Churchill Crocodile was a British flame-throwing tank of late Second World War. It was introduced as one of the specialized armored vehicles developed under Major-General Percy Hobart and known as one of ‘Hobart’s Funnies.’ It was produced from October 1943, in time for the Normandy invasion.

400 imperial gallons of fuel and the compressed nitrogen propellant, enough for eighty one-second bursts, were stored in a 6½ ton detachable armored trailer towed by the Crocodile. The trailer, connected to the tank by a three way armored coupling, could be jettisoned from within the tank if necessary. The thrower had a range of up to 120 yards.

The pressure required had to be primed on the trailer by the crew as close to use as feasible, because it could not be maintained for very long. The fuel was used at 4 gallons per second; refuelling took at least 90 minutes and pressurization around 15 minutes. The fuel burned on water and could be used to set fire to woods and houses.

The flamethrower could project a ‘wet’ burst of unlit fuel which would splash around corners in trenches or strong points. It was used so successfully against bunkers that many bunkers surrendered after the first ranging shots. Aspects of the mechanism were considered by the British to be so secret that disabled units, if they could not be recovered, were rapidly destroyed by any means, even air strike if necessary.

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