Landing Ship, Tank Mk1 Class (1942) LST

Following the British evacuation from Dunkirk the Admiralty realised that a return to Europe would require amphibious assaults either during raids or securing a beachead through which allied forces would pass to defeat Germany. The landing forces would comprise large numbers of troops supported by tanks and with ongoing continuous reinforcements including large numbers of mechanised vehicles.

While the landing of troops onto a hostile shore was often undertaken by the Royal Navy e.g. Quebec 1759, Crimean War 1853-56, and more recently Gallipoli 1915. During these it was often realised that specialised transports were essential and craft were suitably modified. e.g. In 1776 at Staten Island craft were built which were able to carry 100 men and with ramps mounted in the bows to quickly unload cannon. Flat-bottomed boats suitable for beaching were also often obtained during 18th century operations.

However while lessons were learned they were also often soon forgotten. But in the mid-1930's staff studies showed that the British armed services were not well prepared to carry out combined operations in a modern war. Therefore the Inter-Services Training and Development Centre (ISTDC) was set up between 1936 and Sep-1939. One of the problems it studied was the design of ships suitable for landing tanks onto a beach. (They also designed and authorised construction of a few smaller landing craft which proved their worth during operations in Norway in 1940.)

While the Centre was disbanded in Sep-1939 it was reconstituted before the end of 1939.

As a result three shallow draught tankers about 4,800 tons which were originally built to pass over the shallow bars at Lake Maracaibo were quickly modified. They were slow and showed the need for a new faster design.

These three new purpose designed LST's were ordered in Mar-1941. But their draught were not shallow enough to allow easy unloading and had a long 100ft (30.6m) ramp to allow unloading. They were converted to Fighter Direction Ships for the Normandy invasion. Lessons learned resulted in the following very successful Mk2 LST.


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This page last edited - 16 November, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.