Matilda Scorpion Flail Tank
The mine-clearing flail was designed by South African officer, Major A. S. du Toit. Du Toit was the driving force behind the first Flail tank built, the Matilda Scorpion. Its first significant action was at El Alamein.
The Flail concept was devised as one means of overcoming the problems that Mines posed. Mines could be used clandestinely, planted on roads to catch advancing enemy out, or more obviously in organised minefields, suitably marked, to channel attackers in other directions.
The thinking was that if you can break through an organised minefield you will hit the enemy in a vital spot, but the problem was first to clear a route through it. Many different systems were tried; rollers, ploughs, even explosives, but flails proved the most reliable.
The simple principle behind the Matilda Scorpion Flail relied on the thrashing of the ground ahead of the tank with revolving weighted chains driven by an engine. The thrashing detonated the mines to clear a lane through the minefield. The process isn’t perfect; mines were missed and the equipment was easily damaged and worn out quickly, but they reduced the risk to an acceptable level.
One crewman was positioned in the side-mounted box to operate the Flail mechanism. This position required a high level of courage to operate.
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An ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle) is a vehicle used to recover battle damaged or broken down vehicles during combat in order to complete more extensive repairs behind the frontlines