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American soldiers deploy an M2 assault boat
German soldiers in a rubber assault boat crossing the Meuse
British soldiers crossing the Meuse-Escaut canal

An Assault boat is a boat used for making a landing in combat. Meant for inland waters, assault boats were light enough to be carried by several men and paddled, or fitted with an outboard motor for hi-speed operation, manually portable or not.



U.S. militaryEdit

Assault boats in the U.S. military during World War II were typically the property of Combat Engineer Battalions, whose combat engineers also deployed and crewed them.[1]

The Americans deployed two types of assault boat: the "storm boat" was an 8 man (6+2 crew) hi speed Assault Boat with a 55 HP Outboard Motor, designed to beach at speed, thus allowing the soldiers on board to "storm the shore"; the M2 was a ten-man boat (8-2 crew) that was paddled.


Similarly, the British fielded two types of assault boat: a "storm boat" and a lower performance canvas boat, The Goatley boat.

Overview of the differences between British and American Storm and Assault BoatsEdit

Section 8. Comparison of River Crossing Equipment, From the Engineer chapter of A Military Encyclopedia Based on Operations in the Italian Campaigns, 1943-1945 [2][3]

Assault BoatsEdit

a. British Canvas Boats. (The 'Goatley boat')

(1) Easily portable (Could be carried open by four men).
(2) Easily maneuvered in the water when loaded.
(3) Easily damaged in transit by rough handling.
(4) Not easily repaired.

b. U.S. Plywood Boat, M-2.

(1) Not so easily portable.
(2) Easily maneuvered in the water, loaded or empty.
(3) Not so easily damaged in transit (boats "nest").
(4) More easily repaired.
(5) Served dual purpose (i.e. making infantry support rafts and expedient assault boat bridge).
(6) Much noisier in use with non-rubber shod personnel.

c. Conclusions:

(1) The American pattern assault boat was decidedly more robust and had the great advantage of dual purpose. However, the British boat proved itself perfectly adequate for its primary task which did not require great durability.

Storm BoatsEdit

a. British Storm Boat.

(1) Heavier to carry across country.
(2) Would carry heavier load (6 pounder or jeep though latter a top heavy load).
(3) Carried ten men, but with a lower speed.

b. American Storm Boat.

(1) Carried by 6 men (plus 2 for motor).
(2) Would carry up to 1500 lbs with very little reduction in speed.
(3) Carried 7 men (above crew) at maximum speed.
(4) Was the faster boat; would beach at full speed.

c. Conclusions:

(1) For assault crossing of personnel the U.S. boat carried fewer men but got them across the river and in action much faster.
(2) For cargo carrying, British boat carried a greater load but at a slower speed.

See alsoEdit


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