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The Battle for Normandy (June 1944 - August 1944)

The Battle for Normandy (June 1944 - August 1944)

The Normandy landings were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, June 6th, 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 AM British Double Summer Time (UTC+2). In planning, D-Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval.

The assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30 AM. There were also subsidiary 'attacks' mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion of all time, with over 175,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944. 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. The invasion required the transport of soldiers and materiel from the United Kingdom by troop-laden aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-support. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

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German Wurfkorper M F1 50 Stuka zu Fuss Halftrack with Rocket Launchers - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 German Wurfkorper M F1 50 Stuka zu Fuss Halftrack with Rocket Launchers - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

After the campaign in France in 1940, J. Gast KG. Berlin were ordered to develop a projector for the Wurfgerat 40, which would be fitted on the Mittlere Schutzenpanzerwagen. The resulting Stuka zu Fuss ("Stuka on foot") could be traversed by the driver and used against enemy troop or armored formations some distance away.

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US M3A1 Half-Track - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 US M3A1 Half-Track - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The best known American half-tracks were the M series made as a standardized design by Autocar, Diamond T, International and White. The M series had a similar front end to the White M3A1 Scout Car but used more powerful engines: a 147bhp 6.3-liter White AX in the Autocar, Diamond T, and White, and a 143bhp 1HC in the International.

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US M4A1 Sherman Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 US M4A1 Sherman Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. A Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. A Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.

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US T1E3 Aunt Jemima Sherman Medium Tank with Mine Roller - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 US T1E3 "Aunt Jemima" Sherman Medium Tank with Mine Roller - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

One of the many hazards faced by both man and machine in WWII was the landmine. Various means were designed to counter it, and while none were more effective than clearing an area by sheer manpower, there were some mechanical devices designed to be fitted to the front of tanks that came into being. The US developed a mine clearing device known as the T1E3 exploder (a.k.a. "Aunt Jemima"), which was mated to the front of a standard Sherman tank.

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British Churchill Mk. VII Infantry Tank - Chorley, Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 British Churchill Mk. VII Infantry Tank - "Chorley", Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The "Churchill" began life as a 1939 requirement that envisaged a return to trench-warfare, and was therefore slow and heavily armored like the Russian KV-1 series. That said, the final Churchill prototype was much lighter than had first been thought acceptable, although it still resembled a World War I tank in appearance.

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British Centaur C.S. MK.IV Crusier Tank MK.VIII, with A27L 95mm Howitzer - Royal Marines Armored Support Group, Normandy, France, 1944 British Centaur C.S. MK.IV Crusier Tank MK.VIII, with A27L 95mm Howitzer - Royal Marines Armored Support Group, Normandy, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Cromwell tank was used by the British Army during the later stages of World War II. The Cromwell was ordered in 1941 and intended to replace the lightweight Crusader "cruiser" tank by being more heavily armoured, and, it was hoped, more survivable in battle.

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British Cruiser Tank, A27M Cromwell Mk. IV Artillery Observation Tank - 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, Villers Bocage, France, 1944 British Cruiser Tank, A27M Cromwell Mk. IV Artillery Observation Tank - 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, Villers Bocage, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Cromwell tank was used by the British Army during the later stages of World War II. The Cromwell was ordered in 1941 and intended to replace the lightweight Crusader "cruiser" tank by being more heavily armoured, and, it was hoped, more survivable in battle.

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German Steyr RSO/01 Crawling Tractor with PaK 40 Anti-Tank Gun - 2.SS Panzer Division Das Reich, Normandy, 1944 German Steyr RSO/01 Crawling Tractor with PaK 40 Anti-Tank Gun - 2.SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich', Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Raupenschlepper Ost, literally "Crawling Tractor - East", is more commonly abbreviated to RSO. This fully tracked, lightweight vehicle was conceived in response to the poor performance of wheeled and half-tracked vehicles in the mud and snow during the Wehrmacht's first winter on the Soviet Front.

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British Morris Quad Gun Tractor with Limber and 25 Pounder Gun - Unidentifed Unit, Normandy, 1944 British Morris Quad Gun Tractor with Limber and 25 Pounder Gun - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Morris Commercial C8 FAT (Field Artillery Tractor) commonly known as a Quad was an artillery tractor of the British and Commonwealth forces during World War II. It was used to tow medium artillery pieces, such as the 25 pounder gun-howitzer, and the 17 pounder anti-tank gun.

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1942 Production US Army GMC CCKW 353 6x6 2-1/2 Ton Truck - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [With Collector Magazine] 1942 Production US Army GMC CCKW 353 6x6 2-1/2 Ton Truck - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [With Collector Magazine] (1:72 Scale)

The GMC 6x6 was built for the US Army as part of a standardization program begun in 1939, which allowed for only two of each type of vehicle to be considered, and emphasized commonality of parts and accessories wherever possible.

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German leFH 18(Sf) 105mm Gun auf Geschutzwagen 39H(f) Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun - 21.Panzer Division, Normandy, France, 1944 German leFH 18(Sf) 105mm Gun auf Geschutzwagen 39H(f) Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun - 21.Panzer Division, Normandy, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The leFH 18(Sf) 105mm Gun auf Geschutzwagen 39H(f) self-propelled anti-tank gun was built to the same specifications as the Sd. Kfz. 135 Lorraine Schlepper, but were fitted with an armored superstructure of greater thickness.

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1942 Production US Army GMC CCKW 353 6x6 2-1/2 Ton Truck - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [D-Day Commemorative Packaging] 1942 Production US Army GMC CCKW 353 6x6 2-1/2 Ton Truck - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [D-Day Commemorative Packaging] (1:72 Scale)

The GMC 6x6 was built for the US Army as part of a standardization program begun in 1939, which allowed for only two of each type of vehicle to be considered, and emphasized commonality of parts and accessories wherever possible.

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German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank with Zimmerit - Red 135, Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank with Zimmerit - "Red 135", Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

In many respects, the Panther tank was viewed as the finest armored fighting vehicle of the Second World War. Based in large part upon the Soviet's highly successful T-34 medium tank, the PzKpfw V Ausfuhrung G was built by several manufacturers including MAN, Daimler-Benz and MNH.

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German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [D-Day Commemorative Packaging] German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [D-Day Commemorative Packaging] (1:72 Scale)

The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.

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German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - Black 232, Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [D-Day Commemorative Packaging] German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - "Black 232", Unidentified Unit, Normandy, 1944 [D-Day Commemorative Packaging] (1:72 Scale)

The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.

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US M4A1 Sherman Medium Tank - Derby, 2nd Armored Division, Normandy, 1944 US M4A1 Sherman Medium Tank - "Derby", 2nd Armored Division, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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USAAF Willys Radio Jeep - 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, RAF Bassingbourn, England, 1943 USAAF Willys Radio Jeep - 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, RAF Bassingbourn, England, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Developed by the Quartermaster Corps, the jeep and other motor transport vehicles were transferred to the Ordnance Department in August 1942. Despite its lightweight, the jeep could perform a variety of functions, including towing a 37mm antitank gun over a 7% grade.

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US Willys Jeep - 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 7th Armored Division, Belgium, 1945 US Willys Jeep - 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 7th Armored Division, Belgium, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Developed by the Quartermaster Corps, the jeep and other motor transport vehicles were transferred to the Ordnance Department in August 1942. Despite its lightweight, the jeep could perform a variety of functions, including towing a 37mm antitank gun over a 7% grade.

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British Sherman Firefly Mk. VC Tank - Velikye Luki, 3 Troop, A Squadron, Northamptonshire Yeomanry, France, 1944 British Sherman Firefly Mk. VC Medium Tank - "Velikye Luki", 3 Troop, A Squadron, Northamptonshire Yeomanry, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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Dragon Expo 06: British Sherman Firefly Mk. VC Medium Tank - Turret Gunner Douglas Kay, Carole, 13th/18th Royal Hussars, 27th Armoured Brigade, France, 1944 Dragon Expo '06: British Sherman Firefly Mk. VC Medium Tank - Turret Gunner Douglas Kay, "Carole", 13th/18th Royal Hussars, 27th Armoured Brigade, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded by many as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly".

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German Sd. Kfz. 251/7 Ausf. C Half-Track - Panzer Lehr Division, St. Lo, France, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 251/7 Ausf. C Half-Track - Panzer Lehr Division, St. Lo, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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US Willys Jeep - C Company, 506th Airborne Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Normandy, June 6th, 1944 US Willys Jeep - C Company, 506th Airborne Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Normandy, June 6th, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Developed by the Quartermaster Corps, the jeep and other motor transport vehicles were transferred to the Ordnance Department in August 1942. Despite its lightweight, the jeep could perform a variety of functions, including towing a 37mm antitank gun over a 7% grade.

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British Achilles IIC Tank Destroyer - 1st Army Corps, Normandy, 1944 British Achilles IIC Tank Destroyer - 1st Army Corps, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

A British variant, designated "Achilles", was developed to mount the successful 17-pounder anti-tank gun in a modified turret. It was used by the British, Canadian and Polish armies in Italy and north-west Europe.

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US M4 Sherman Medium Tank with Deep Wading Kit - C Company, 70th Tank Battalion, Utah Beach, Normandy, 1944 US M4 Sherman Medium Tank with Deep Wading Kit - C Company, 70th Tank Battalion, Utah Beach, Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The most important tank produced by the USA during WWII was the M4 Sherman, and it served in many other Allied armies too. One country that employed it was Russia, where tanks were supplied under the Lend Lease program.

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German Sd. Kfz. 251/7 Half Track w/2.8cm sPzB41 Anti-Tank Gun - Panzer Lehr Division, Southern Normandy, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 251/7 Half Track w/2.8cm sPzB41 Anti-Tank Gun - Panzer Lehr Division, Southern Normandy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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British Churchill Mk. III Infantry Tank - 141st Regiment, Sword Beach, D-Day, June 6th, 1944 British Churchill Mk. III Infantry Tank - 141st Regiment, Sword Beach, D-Day, June 6th, 1944 (1:50 Scale)

The "Churchill" began life as a 1939 requirement that envisaged a return to trench-warfare, and was therefore slow and heavily armored like the Russian KV-1 series. That said, the final Churchill prototype was much lighter than had first been thought acceptable, although it still resembled a World War I tank in appearance.

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US M3A2 Half-Track US M3A2 Half-Track (1:43 Scale)

The best known American halftracks were the M series made as a standardized design by Autocar, Diamond T, International and White. The M series had a similar front end to the White M3A1 Scout Car but used more powerful engines: a 147bhp 6.3-liter White AX in the Autocar, Diamond T, and White, and a 143bhp 1HC in the International.

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German VW-82 Kubelwagen - 21.Panzer Division, Normandy, 1944 German VW-82 Kubelwagen - 21.Panzer Division, Normandy, 1944 (1:32 Scale)

Built by Volkswagen, the simple yet reliable Kubelwagen ("bucket car") was the German equivalent of the American Jeep. This nimble four-seater, based on Ferdinand Porsche's original "People's Car" design of the 1930's, used the same rear-mounted, aircooled engine to drive the rear wheels. Some models mounted an MG 42 machine gun behind the front passenger seat, giving the Kubelwagen a nasty bite.

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