Armored bulldozers and Tank Dozers
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The Humble Bulldozer's Contribution to Battle
Pictured is an American Caterpillar D-7 bulldozer with British armor added over the engine and the driver's compartment. IWM Photo.
The Allies used bulldozers in various forms throughout World War II and although mostly uncelebrated, they contributed greatly to the Allies' battle successes.
Dozers, which included armored bulldozers as well as tank dozers, were used during the invasion of the beaches at Normandy and continued their work as the forces moved inland, making significant contributions by clearing beach obstacles, removing disabled landing craft, clearing roads, and filling bomb craters. They were also used to plow up mine fields, breach hedgerows in the Bocage, and to bury German pillboxes and captured bunkers, as well as fire on the enemy.
At Arromanches, the site of the Mulberry B harbor, bulldozers came to the rescue when rocks were discovered on the beach at low tide. The bulldozers were able to plain the rocks flush, creating a gently sloping shelf, free of the hazardous rocks, which enabled many more crafts to safely beach.1 For use in combat, a standard Caterpillar bulldozer could be protected by the addition of armor over the engine and driver's compartment. See IWM photo above right .
The General Sherman M4A1 Medium tank could become a tankdozer by adding a standard M1 bulldozer blade and a hydraulic jack to raise and lower the blade.2 It then worked as a bulldozer, combined with the toughness and firepower of a tank. After completing dozer operations the tank could discard the additions and fight as a regular Sherman tank. The dozer tank could also fight if necessary, with the blade still in place, although some M4s had their turrets removed and permanent dozer blades installed. One hundred and five Sherman tank dozers were available for the landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
The Centaur bulldozer was a Cromwell tank with the turret removed and a bulldozer blade added which could be raised and lowered with a winch. The commander of the tank dozer was protected by an armored lookout tower. IWM photo to the right, shows Centaur bulldozer.
Developed by General Hobart's 79th Armored Division, the Centaur dozer was known as one of Hobart's Funnies. Over 250 were built during World War II, but they did not see service until the last months of WWII. The M3 Grant was also converted to a tank dozer by the Australians, with the addition of an M1 dozer blade.
1John P. Taylor. The Prefabricated Port of Arromanches – "Mulberry B". London: Shipbuilding and Shipping Record, 1945, p.32.
2Harry Yeide. Weapons of the Tankers: American Armor in World War II. Saint Paul: Zenith Publishing, 2006, p.79.