Landing Craft Assault

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Canadian landings at Juno Beach.jpg
Class overview
Name: Landing Craft Assault
Operators:  Royal Navy,  Royal Australian Navy,  Royal New Zealand Navy
Completed: ~2000
Active: 0
General characteristics
Type: Landing craft
Displacement: 9 long tons (9,144 kg)
Tons burthen: 4 long tons (4,064 kg)
Length: 41.5 feet (12.6 m)
Beam: 10 feet (3.0 m)
Draught: list error: <br /> list (help)
light: 1 ft 1 in fwd, 1 ft 9 in aft
loaded: 1 ft 9 in fwd, 2 ft 3 in aft
Ramps: 1
Propulsion: 2x 65hp Ford V-8 petrol
Speed: 10kt (light), 6kt (loaded)
Range: 50-80 miles
Troops: 36 troops & 800 lb (363 kg) cargo
Crew: 4 - coxswain, two seamen and a stoker plus 1 officer per group of 3 boats
Armament: Light machine gun

The Landing Craft Assault (LCA) was the British and Commonwealth landing craft of the Second World War. It was the main small landing craft used to put troops ashore on Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword Beaches.

History

After the problems experienced at Gallipoli during the First World War, it was obvious that for a successful landing, troops had to be put ashore safely and quickly in large numbers. The design and production, and use of landing craft was the responsibility of the Royal Navy

The first LCAs were put into service at the start of the Second World War and were used for landing British forces thereafter, though among their first duties was evacuation from Dunkerque (Operation Dynamo).

The LCA was used for every landing in Europe, for Madagascar and with the Commonwealth fleets (RN, RAN and RNZN) in the Far East. Following the invasions of Normandy and southern France, production of LCAs was stopped in Europe. Some manufacture continued in the Far East up until the end of the war there.

Sixteen LCA could be carried on the British 7000-ton Landing Ship, Infantry from davits.

In RN service LCA were normally crewed by Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) officers and ratings who had signed up for hostilities only and later by Royal Marines

The LCA was never operated by the US, though on many occasions in Europe RN LCAs were used to transport US troops. Some were used to this end on D-Day, for the US Army Rangers on Omaha and Pointe du Hoc and some for other army battalions at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. Two battalions of US Army Rangers and two battalions from 1st amd 29th Infantry Divisions were landed on Omaha Beach by a number of RNVR LCA Flotillas in the first waves at the Eastern and Western extremities of Omaha beach on D-Day.

Design

The LCA was built of wood with steel armour bolted on to protect the occupants. The LCA had a long central section with seating for the troops, this was divided from the landing ramp in the bow by bulkhead fitted with two vertically hinged doors. Immediately behind the bulkhead were a steering position and a light machine gun (eg Bren gun) position, the wheel to the starboard and the LMG to the port.

Drive was by two shafts from the pair of low-powered Ford engines which limited the boat's speed. Fuel capacity was 64 imperial gallons (290 l). Steering was by two rudders. The landing ramp was relatively narrow at only 4 ft 6 inches wide, limiting the speed at which the troops could disembark.

LCAs were designed for silent assualt by Commandos, resting low in the water and capable of approaching a beach quietly. Early production of LCAs included buoyancy material in the hull, which made the boats almost unsinkable, but as production increased buoyancy materials became short leading to a number of LCAs being constructed with empty hulls.

Total production was about two thousand.

See also