68 - Churchill Crocodile

Churchill Crocodile, the flamethrower tank

An armoured nightmare on the battlefield

a diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen

The British Churchill Crocodile flamethrower tank could throw it’s burning fuel up to 150 yards (137 m), though 80 – 100 yards (73 - 91 m) was more realistic in combat circumstances.

The Crocodile was invented by a British research group called the Petroleum Warfare Department, which came up with some genuinely horrific weapons.

One of these inventions

led to the Crocodile.

The Churchill Crocodile Mark VII was a variant

of the A22 Infantry Tank Mk. IV Churchill.

The tank was towing a six and a half ton;

armoured trailer which carried 400 imperial

gallons (1,800 l) of fuel as well as compressed

nitrogen propellant.

The trailer could be ejected from within

the tank if necessary.

No tank driver likes to tow a trailer, particularly

one as lethal as this.

In action, the trailer had to be shielded from

enemy fire by the tank itself, and it had to be

used with care.

The flame-gun had to be 'pressured up' before

action by turning on the gas and unless it is used

within 30 minutes most of the pressure leaks


The Crocodile was not only a flamethrowing

beast, it was also able to function as a gun tank

with its turret mounted 75 mm gun.

Of the 800 Crocodiles produced, 250 were held

in reserve for possible operations against the


The remainder was sufficient for producing three

regiments of tanks as well as training and

replacements for battlefield casualties.

The Crocodile was used in Europe under and

the Normandy invasion in 1944

It was an effective assault weapon whose threat

could induce enemy troops to retreat or

surrender after the first ranging shots.

The flame projector was a potent psychological

weapon; there is at least one recorded instance

for crews of disabled Crocodiles to be executed

on the spot as revenge for their attacks.

The Churchill Crocodile was often found at the

very front of an advancing British column,

serving as infantry-support.

Few Allied weapons struck fear into the

hearts of the German infantrymen more

than the fearsome Churchill Crocodile.

The flamethrower was one of the deadliest

weapons in the British Army’s arsenal as they

fought through Europe during the latter stages

of the WWII..

When facing a stubborn enemy bunker or

position, the Crocodile would lay some flame in

visual range to showcase its deadly breath.

Should the position continue to stand, the

accompanying AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal

Engineers) would crack it open with a mortar


The Crocodile would then proceed to cover the

breached area in the flaming liquid which would

then flow into the position and burn anyone

inside to death.

One can only imagine the dread felt by the

Germans who were being stared down by the flaming nozzle of the Crocodile and the mortar of the AVRE.

WW2 Service

The Crocodile saw widespread service during the Allied push through Italy and North-West Europe.

The Royal Armoured Corps put their Crocodiles to bare on the first day of the Normandy invasion.

British Crocodiles supported the U.S. Army in the Normandy bocage, at the Battle for Brest, and during Operation Clipper, the Anglo-American assault on Geilenkirchen, and the attack on s-Hertogenbosch in October 1944.

In Italy, the Crocodiles saw action with the 25th Armoured Assault Brigade.

The success of the Crocodile was also its curse.

Once the German army learned how to identify a Crocodile, all available anti-tank fire was often concentrated on it to stop the fire-breathing monster.

The diorama - the sketch

will show a Crocodile engaging a German bunker

outside a bombed-out Normandy village.


British troops following close to the flamethrowing tank.

The Crocodile are sending a blast of burning fuel next to

the bunker, and no surprise, the German crew are

coming out, waiving the white flag.

Better to be POW than roasted to death!

Building the Diorama

As a base for the diorama, I used a 120 x 40cm (40 x 16in) OSB board.

I had sketched how the diorama should be (see above), and I tried to keep as close to the sketch as possible when building.

I planned to build the following elements:

- The Crocodile.

- The ruined village and the surroundings.

- The German bunker

- The troops (British and German)

- A burned-out German tank

- The burning beam from the Croc to the bunker

- The burning fuel next to the bunker.

Building the Crocodile

The kit was the 1/35 from Tamiya.

In my opinion. The kit is very good.

A lot of details and very few problems.

The tracks look very detailed and are easy to assemble.

The only problem is that there is no interior if you want to have the

hatches open.

For me, that was not a problem because I planned to place the commander in the turret.

The trailer was easy to build, and together the tank and the trailer

made a very impressive sight!

The only problem for me was the marking on the Crocodile.

The kit had only decals for the 79th and 34th Armoured Division.

The diorama is supposed to

in Normandy, after the invasion,

which means that it should be part of the 141 Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (The Buffs, Royal East Kent Regiment).

The tank I placed in the diorama was therefore marked as from

Squadron A of the 141st.

The Base

The diorama was built on a 110 x 40 cm (44 x 16 in) OSB board.

I thought that would be big enough,

but in the end, I had to add 15cm

(6 in) behind the bunker, so I ended

up with a 125 x 40 cm (50 x 16in) diorama.


The first I did was to place the prop

on the OSB board and draw the ground plan.

Then I sculpted the terrain with Paper Mache, glued the buildings and the other props in place and painted everything with acrylic.

I needed some grass, bushes and trees to make the terrain more


The grass was made by using the applicator for electrostatic grass.

A 9V battery operates the applicator. By pouring clear glue on the ground, placing nails in the wooden board

and connection the nails with the 9V battery in the applicator, the grass

that is sprinkled over the ground will stand straight up in the glue thanks

to the electrostatic effect.

Very easy and very effective.

In the picture (to the right) with the applicator, you can clearly see the added base behind the bunker.

The Bunker

The bunker was made of foam- and cardboard. It was half buried in the terrain and therefore a somewhat

easy construction.

The idea was that the Crocodile should spray the first shot of burning fuel next to the bunker to show what awaited them if they stayed in the bunker.

The German knew exactly what a terrible weapon the Crocodile was

and did the sensible: Running out waving a white fabric.

To the right of the bunker, I made a support for the burning beam from the Crocodile.

The Ruined


The village, at least the part shown in the diorama, was heavily damaged and the houses mostly in ruin.

I decided to make at least one of the houses and used a 10mm foamboard to cut out the Café Normandie.

The ruined Cafè was built by cutting the foamboard using a ruler and a sharp scalpel.

The structure on the front was made by pressing a metal rod against the surface.

Window frames, window gaskets, shutters and gutters were made of bits and pieces from my scrap box.

The café sign was printed on my printer and glued on the façade.

Bits from foam- and cardboard made all the rubbish (bricks etc.) around the ruined houses.

Everything was painted with acrylic colours.

The other house, the Pharmacie du Centre, was made of a kit from MiniArt.

Most of the accessories (lamp post, fences etc.) were made from the kit “House Accessories” from MiniArt

The burned out tank

The diorama was on a very long

base, and I had to find ways to fill

the gaps between the Crocodile and the bunker.

I decided to place a burned-out tank next to the Cafè and used the

German Panzerkampfwagen (Sd.Kfz.121) because this was a

small tank.

The building of the tank was only to throw together the main parts, do some damages and add some debris outside. Then everything was painted black/grey.

The Troops

To make the British soldiers, I used

a mix from the Tamiya “British Troops” and the “British Paratroops” from Bronco.

The German was made by some old figures in my scrap box. There was

no one with the arms in the air, so I had to make some correction to get them the way I wanted.

The Burning


The Crocodile spits out a solid jet of flame fuel, and I was planning on building the beam of fire with some kind of light inside.

It had to be a long (60 cm / 24in) and thin ray, and I tried all the light sources I could think of; Fibre Optics, Fibre Cable, LED Wire, Neon Light, Car Flexible tube, LED Strips to mention some.

Nothing worked.

It gave either too little light, or too much light, had a too large diameter

or did not give an uninterrupted light beam.

In the end, I put all the fancy stuff away and went back to the basic:

A brass rod, some clear glue and some Kapok Fibre Filling.

Usually I would have used cotton, but this time I would like to try the Kapok, which by the way was a pleasant acquaintance.

It was easy to sculpt, easy to airbrush, and did not have the lumps which

you often find in cotton.

I used a hot glue gun to put some unevenness on the beam.

Then I painted the beam yellow

before I glued Kapok on the rod.

The beam would therefore not include lights.

But, in the end it looks like the real thing, even without light.

The Burning Fuel

This was made by the well-proven cotton-on-a-chicken-cage method.

I had made room for LED bulbs in the filling next to the bunker.

These and some cellophane would create the fire.

The smoke from the fire would be airbrushed very dark.


The background was painted on a cardboard.

I made the sky overclouded and

dark; this was after all a war

scenario, and the and the atmosphere should be a little gloomy.

Between the background and the village, I placed pictures of a couple of houses to make depth to the village scene.

Please note:

The length of the burning beam from the Crocodile to the bunker is unrealistic short which means the Croc is dangerously close to the German bunker.

In the diorama, the flames from the Croc is 60cm (24in) which means 21m (70ft) in a 1/35 scale.

At that distance, the Germans would easily have knocked the Crocodile out with a Panzerfaust.

The Crocodile could throw the burning fuel up to 137 meters (150 yards), but the practical range in a battle situation would be between 73 - 91 meters (80 – 100 yards).

This means that if I had made an authentic diorama, the base would have been about three meters long, the action would have been more or less non-existent, and the Germans would probably not have surrendered.

If they believed they could not fight the British troops and the Crocodile, they would probably have retreated into the woods through the bunker’s back door.

I hope you understand why I choose to make it more compact. Call it artistic freedom.

And here is the diorama:

I hope you enjoyed this website!

Thank you for visiting!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions

or comments



Bjørn Jacobsen

February 2018