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FrenchTrnks
of\IVorld\|/arll Insistence that tanks which
took the place of cavalry
should above all be fast
Fromthe birthof thetankin 1916, the Brtfishledthewoildin
caused British tanks to be
both the desigm and, use of armowed forces, hut by 1939 thinly protected and
internal anny politics and mistaken tactical doctrine had inadequately armed.This is a
CruiserMklVof the Ist
rcbbed Britain of this important and hard-won advantage. Armoured Division.

The tanks discussed here are amonq some of the Ieast successful of the markable production feats of World War II, but today they are ii:te
World War II period, Some of them (such as the British Valentine, known outsrde their home nations.
Matilda and Churchill) were eventually turned into good frghting The tale of the Crulser tanks produced by the Unrted Kingdom has b_.-
machines, but workrng in a rush and without a proper development base now been often told but it still bears re-examination of how a docirine
Aom which to work up their designs many British tank designers pro- accepted without proper investigation can affect the course of battles
duced tanks that were no match irr their counterparts in the German even well past the pornt when the doctrine has been found wanting
Panzer units. The reasons for this state of affairs are described herern, British and Ailied tank crews had to drive their charges into batia
but it is not all a sorry tale: despite all their drawbacks, these tanks (both knowing that their mdn gmns were too weak, their armoured protecticl
Infantry and Cruiser types) were at tlmes ali there was to hand and with too thin and their mechanrcal reliabrlity all too suspect at a critica_
them their crews and commanders learned the important lessons that moment, But they went into battle all the same and olten manaqed :c
were to produce the eventual Ailted victory, defeat a better-armed and prepared enemy. Thus while reading of ihe
Some of the development and design resu_ltswere remarkable. Work- tanks thought must be glven to the men who manned and fought them, lcr
ing from a base where virtually no healy engineering facilities existed, tanks are but lumps of metal constructed in a certain fashion, and are
Australla was able to produce the Sentinel from scratch, and it was no nothing without men to drive and use them in combat.
fauit of the desrgners that their progeny was never to see action. The
same can be said of the Canadians, who produced the Ram in a remark-
France had somefinetanks in 1940, butobsessionwith adefensive stratery
ably short time, again from scratch and with no tank production experi- left her armoured forces unfit to face the German onslaught. Here a late-
ence whatsoever. These two projects must rate among the more re- model Renault R-35 lies burningas tft e Blitzkrieg continues.
If ii[lcnr<iss H-35 and H-39 lisrht tanks
Fitted with the SA 3 I 37 - mm L33, the
During the early 1930s the French
army, in common wlth many other H-39 had arespectable performance
European armies, decrded to re-equip by 1930s standards.lts onlymajor
rts ageing tank parks with modern dis advantage wa s th at the
equipment, At that time the French fol- commander had to work the gun.
lowed the current practlce of dividing
tank functlons into cavalry and infantry
usage and one of ',he new tanks in-
tended for cavalry lxe was a desigm
known as the Char L6ger Hotchkiss
H-35. But although intended primarily
for cavalry formation use, the H-35 was
later adopted for infantry support as
well, mal:rng it one of the more impor-
tant ofthe French tanks of the day, The
H-35 was a small vehicle with a crew of
two, and it was lightly armed with only
a 37-mm (1 46-in) shorlbarrelled gun
and a single 7,5-mm (0,295-in)
machrne-Qnrn. Armour was also ltgtht,
rangmg in the thickness from 12 mm
(0,47 in) to 34 mm (1,34 in), It was also
rather underpowered, and after about
400 H-35s had been produced from
1936 onwards the basic model was were able to surpnse the Germans,
supplemented by the Char L6ger but only in purely local actions, so
Hotchkiss H-39, first produced during many were either destroyed or caP-
1939, The production totals for the H-39 tured by the advancinq Germans, Al-
were much greater (eventually run- ways short of mat6rre1, the Germans
ning to over 1,000 units), but in general took many Hotchkiss tanks into their
French tank production was slow, own serqice as the PzKpfw 35-H 734(f)
beinq severely limited by a lack of and PzKpfw 39-H 735(f), and these
mass production facilittes, and was were used for some years by second-
constantly beset by labour troubles, line and occupation units, Many of the
even after 1939, H-35 and H-39 tanks later had their
The H-39 diilered from the H-35 in turrets removed ald replaced by Ger-
havrng a 120- rather than 75-hp (89,5- man anti-tank gurs for use as mobile
rather than 56-kW) engnne, and could tank destroyers.
be recoetnized by the raised rear Not all the French tanks fell into Ger-
decking, which on the H-39 was almost man hands. Many were located in the
flat compared with the pronounced French Mrddle East possessions and
slope on the H-35, Also a new and lon- some were erther taken over bY the
ger 37-mm gmn was fitted, but this was Free French or were used in action by
only marginally more powerful than the Vichy French during the campaign
the earlier weapon and soon proved to in Syna rn 194i. Perhaps the Hotch]<rss
be virtually useless against most Ger- tanks wrth the most unusual travel tales
man tanks, were those taken by the Germans to
Both the H-35 and the H-39 were the Soviet Uruon Ln 1941, when they
used in actron in France in May 1940, were so short of tanks that even the
and both were abie to give a good captured French vehicles were found
account of themselves, However, their useful, Weight: 12,I tonnes fJ-35s, seen fi ere on parade,
part ln the fightingwas more than dimi- By there were few H-35s or
1945 Powerplant: one Hotch}:tss 6-cyltnder equipped many French mechanized
nished by their dismal tactical use. In- H-39s left ariyrvhere: the Middle East petrol engine developing 120 hp cavalry units. Although armed with
stead of being used en masse (in the examples survived in small numbers, (89 5 kW) the ineffectual SA I I 37-mm L2I , they
way that the Germans used their Pan- and post-war some were used to form Dimensions:lengrth4,22 m(13 ft I0 in); could still have pertormed effectively
zer columns), the French tanks were part of the Israeh army tank arm, re- width 1,95 m (6 ft 4 B 1n); heisht 2.15 m in the reconnaissance role but
scattered along the line in penny pack- maining Ln service as late as 1956. (7 ft0,6 in) insteadwere deployed piecemeal to
ets, assigned to local infantry support Performance: maximum road speed bolstertheinfantry.
instead of being used as an effectrve Specification 36 km/h (22.3 mph); maximumroad
anti-armour force and were able to Hotchkiss H-39 range 120 lan(74,5miles); fording obstacle 0,5O m ( I ft B rn); trench LBO m
0,85 m (2 ft 10 in); grradient 40'; vertical (5ft11ln)
make little impact, On occasion they Crew:2 t
{
FRANCE

Renault R 35 small tank with a crew of only hvo, The "tl\


:t.
i*...,-,..
desigm made much use of cast armour
The Renault R 35 had its origins in a and the suspension followed the Re-
design known originally as the Renault nault practice of the day, being of the- I

ZM, produced rn late 1934 tn answer to


a French army request for a new infan- Continued onpage 1324
try support tank to supplement and
eventually replace the ageing Renault Two-man infantry suPqort tanks in
FT 17 which dated back to World War the Grcatwar lradition, the R 35s
L Trials of the new tank started in early were built in the belief that tank
1935, and in that same year the design warfare had changed little since
was ordered into production without 1918.
completion of the testrng as Germany
appeared to be in a mood for conflict.
Before production got under waY it
was decrded to increase the armour
basis from 30mm (1,1Bin) to 40 mm
(1.575 in),
The R 35 never entirelY rePlaced
the FT 17 in sewice, but bY 1940 over
1,600 had been built and it was the
most numerous French infantry tank in
use, Its overall appearance was not
unlike that of the FT 17, for it was a

I acc
The tloncornef Raid
lespit-e the different currents of military
thought in the I930s, the spectre of
Verdun loomed largein tiemindsof M..., 'i,.:rr.. ar-i it,rrj ':..r;! .l q!6ffi

French defence ptinn"ri.


the
ciiii"ia
futility of affensivewarfare, armour
ot dri,ii,Xia$di'l
i,bi:,1,,ffi
t::., :, : 4 :;: it :t;t : t.: re

had only a supporting role in French


tactics. &{&*{

To a generatron of French men and women the


name Charles de Gaulle has a rinq that con-
j.rres up many memories but to molt he is strli
best remembered as the man who rallied the
Free French in rhe dark days ihalion;;;a iil;
German occupalion of Fran6e in 1940 Bur even
before that de Gaulie was well known in milit-
ary circles as he was one of the few men rn the
French army who read and absorned tne miirr-
ary thinkings oI Liddell Harr and Fuller and
who had been active in calhng lor armoureJ
formations similar ro rhose nelng nuiii Lp l;
Germany. In a military world that"war
"orii"ni
to wait behind the Maqinot Line his calls went
unheeded but gradually de Gaulle qained in
personal influence to the poini where he was
offered a political post in ihe French wartime
government.
De Gaulle refused rhe post, and instead se-
vered his connections *irtr ttie miiii;r;ilfl=
and returned to his tank teqi-enli.ti";;;,x
only a cotonet bur he *ut j*n inab;.iil; i;
oversee the formation of the few armoured un-
its that the French army was able to ur."'mnt"
These were few enough (and belated ar thar),
and were. only a holiow shell of what they were Armoured Divrsion, but the drvision hardiv ex- French armourwas all too oltendeployed in penny
supposed to be, Most tank forces were reiainej
rn therr various'iniantry and 'cavalrv, supoort l.*ted. When he arrived ar hrs posr de Giulle packets. makrn geasy meatfor the'Geiman ta.nki."'
tound only a smatlering of rank unirs an Here, Hotchkiss H-35s and H-Zgs fiffer a street m
functions lor the bujk of rhe army, rnciudrnci the ernbryo slaff and a rabble olreiugees and com eastern France, unahle to stem l/re remorseless
large lorces kept sratic behind the Maoinor bat-weary soldiers, But he declded to strike advance of the Panzers.
Lrne, so Lhe new armoured divisions andbrr- north from his location to the north east of Sois-
gades had to be formed from whatever units towards the French and a few anti-tank quns
sons towards Moncornet, which was then some were rushed rnto posilron, Soon French tanks
were .left over, Equrpment was sparse, the 32 km (20 miles) behind ttr* C"i*un iinLi *"f,
tanks involved were usualiy slow and under- were in flames and the infantry units eiiher
as they were al that stage of the campaign For debussed and scattered or turned and ,wrth,
gunned and all the time tiie armoureO iom- thrs attack he could muster no rnore ihai three
manders had ro fight agarnst lhe apathy and drew, German self-propelled gnrns started ro
battalions of tanks, of which two had the smalt ;orn rn the melee and the French tanks simply
conservatism of the established staffs. inlantry Renault R-35s armed onlv wirh a short
When the Germans attacteO fiance in May 37-mm gun the rhird battalon had one com-
ti-rrned to the rear ana maOe tireii fft"fi;i;;
therr stqrting point. En route they were con-
1940 the new armoured divisions e;i.64;;
paper only. What units ttrere wete taciud
pany of rhe excellenl Char D-2 but lhe orher stantly harassed by the ubiquitous Stuka dive-
companies were newly formed, ill-trained and bombers and all the way the French tanks
trarnrng, guidance and equipmenr and even their tanks had only long 37-mm guns, In addr-
they were immediately iplit up into penny were engaged by various enterprising local
tron to this tank force there n as one battalion of untls.
packets to try to plug gaps as they occurred'. infantry carried jn commandeered buses, bur
The Panzers brushed such small unils asrde in At best de Gaulle s venture throuqh the Ger-
virtually no artillery no air suppon and no anri- man lnes to Moncornet could be dJscribed as
their headlong rush across the Meuse ;nJih; aircraft defences, an armoured rard, It certainiy was not un ut,uak
north French plain but by 17 May the German For all rhis de Gaulie set out on Lhe mornino
advances had become so great tirat the panzer lhat wds supposed ro sever ihe Cerman,neck
oI 17 May wi'h rh. drvision forcrnq irs wai Not only was 1r totally lacking in numbe.rs and
commanders were ordered to halt It was aithis through columns of hapiess ref,rgees. En route
poinl that de Caulle was given his ordet supporhng arms, such as infantry and artillery,
to to Moncornet the French tanks ran into lttle but jts counterpart altack Jrom the north never
make an attack across the neck of the panzer opposttron unril they overrdn an unprepared
advance. even got beyond lhe planning sraqe At besr _:
uerman reconnarssance untt rn a vrllage called was nothing more than a nursance to the Ger-
In eflect de Gaulle was to strike north across Chivres, There a short sharp action knocked
the German neck' while anotfrei-irmoureO qgns whg contlnued their advances quite ur-
out the German unit in exchanges of machine- affected. But lor all thls the raid on Moncornei
force was 1o strike sourh towaids [*-th;;;; gmn fire and a few rounds frod the tant qun"
was overambitious tiom ttre rtait tloi exi-njp-fe, assumed an importance rn the de Gaul,E
Soon after a line of German 'B' vehicles irere legend out of all proportion to iis military worth
the attack from the norrh neve, eubn srartecil. l set on fire in a spectacular bonf,re and Moncor- as did a simrlar raid carried out a few days laier
ls low diff,cult to describe th; i"ih;;it;"J net lay ahead. in the direction of Laon. That too was made ir
lack of comprehenston of armoured #arfare Unbeknown to de Gaulle Moncornet was ihe
that beset the French military establishmeniin weak strength with virtually no supporl and
headquarters cf the XIX Panzer Corps tsfFan: without any deflnire purpose bur the iwo ra :,
those_days, but the German-arrack pul logical zer Dtvision, The arrival of the French tanks
thought and planning ro flight, The FrSnch became in the minds oi many rhe poinr of c.:.-
caused a state of mild panic for the rear-area flict between two masters of"d"d;a;&;;--
command degenerated into a state of what can soldiers were vrrtuaily unprepared for the
now only be described as defeatism that soon de Gaulle and Guderian, Jn fact Guderian icc <
arrival of the enemy in their midst, but it was not no part in the repulsing of either raid. Thai';:s
filtered down through the ranks ro the ordinary long before some active officers got rhrnos
soldiers who simply gave up any idea of Iefl to hrs subordrnates, but de Gaulle s e:I : -
moving, One immediarely took control of a fe"w did at ieast strike many as berng at least ::,
hghtrng. Not all french units were affec:ed by German tanks emerging from a field workshop
thls thinkingr, but many were and thrs factor effort to retaliate againsi an enem-i carryric
-frc::e--
and sent them towards the attackers, whb before hrm and a gesture of dedance r
made itself apparent durino de Oaulle's attack, seemed equally unprepared for their arrr,,'al.
De Gau1le had taken command of the 4ih French army lhat was defeated everr := :I
German anti-aircraft guns started to spray fire the German invasion began
Renault R 35 (continued)

:;'pe used on the Renault cavalry tank duced, and a few were produced be- swept throuqh France. cord was such that it proved to be of
iesigms, The driver's position was for- fore the Germans invaded in May 1940. Large numbers of R 35s fell into Ger- more use to the Germans than the
-rard, while the commander had to act The little R 35s soon proved to be no man hands vrhrally intact, These were French,
as his own loader and gmnner firinq a match for the German Panzers, Fol a duly put to use by various garrison un-
3?-mm (1,456-in) short-barrelled gmn start they were usually allocated in its in France while many eventually Specification
and co-axial 7.5-mm (0.295-in) small numbers in direct support of in- passed to driver and other tank train- RenaultR35
rnachine-gnrn mounted in a small cast fantry formations, and could thus be ing schooJs, With the invasion of the Crew:2
turret, Tlus hlrret was poorly equrpped picked off piecemeal by the massed Soviet Union many R 35s were stripped Weisht: 10000 ks (22,046 lb)
with vrsion devrces and was so German tanks, Their gnrn proved vir- of their turrets and used as artillery Powerplant: one Renault 4-cylinder
arranged that the commander had to tually ineffective against even the tractors or ammumtion carriers. Later, petrol engine developing 6l kW
spend much of his time in action stand- Iightest German tanks, though in return many of the R 35s still in France had (82 bhp)
ing on the hull floor, Out of action.the their 40-mm (1.575-in) armour was thet hrrets removed so that their hulls Dimensions:lenqth4,20 m (13 ft
rear of the turret opened as a flap on fairly effective against most of the Ger- could be converted as the basis of 9.25 in); width I.BS m (6 ft 0.75 in);
I
which the commander could sit. man anti-tank gnrns, Thus the R 35s several self-propelled artillery or anti- helght 2.37 m (7 ft 9,25 in)
i
For its day the R 35 was a sound could contribute but little to the course tank gun models, the turrets then Performance: maximum speed 20
enough vehicle, and was typical of of the campaigrn and many were either being emplaced in concrete along the lcr/h (I2.4 mph); range 140 kr (87
destroyed or simply abandoned bY coastal defences of the Atlantic Wall, miles); fordirg0.B m (2 ft 7 in); vertical l
contemporary French design, In 1940 I
a version unth a revsed suspension their crews in the disasters that over- Thus the R 35 passed into history, obstacle 0.5 m ( I ft 7,? in); trench 1,6 m
ancl known as the AI!D( R 40 was intro- took the French army as the Germans and despite its numbers its combat re- (5ft3in)

S-35 gave a good account of itself Well protected and manoeuvrable,


SOMUA S-35 medium tank though revealing a serious design de-
fect when under fire: the upper and
the S OMUA S - 3 5 was undoubtedly
the best Allied tank in I 940. I t had a
When the re-equipment of the French weapon in 1944, The secondary arma- lower hull halves were jorned by a ringt r adio and its 47 -mm grun eou ld tire
cavalry arm with tanks started during ment was a single 7,5-mm (0.295-rn) of bolts along a horizontal join, and if an both armour-piercing shot and high
the mid-1930s several concerns be- co-axal machrne-gn-m. anti-tank projectile hit this ioin the two ex plosive, an obvious re quirement
came involved, amonq them a The S-35 was ordered into produc- halves split apart with obvrous dire re- which had e scaped B ritish
Schneider subsidiary in St Ouen and tion but, as in nearly ai1 other sectors of sults, But at the time thrs mattered less desjerners.
known as the Societ6 d'Outillage the French defence industry before than the way in which the tanks had to
M6canique et d'Usrnage d'futillerie, 1939, this production was slow and be- be handled: the S-35 had a crew of
better known as SOMUA. In 1935 this set by labour and other troubles, Only three (driver, radio operator and com-
concern displayed a tank prototype about 400 S-35s had been produced by mander), and it was the commander in
that attracted immediate attention, and the time the Germans invaded in May his one-man turret who caused the
its very advanced design was qurckly 1940, and ofthose only about 250 were problems, for this unfortunate had not
recogmized by the award of a produc- in front-line sewrce, But in action the only to keep an eye on the local tactrcal
scene, but also to assimrlate orders
from the radio whrle loading and firing
the gmn. The tasks were too much for
one man, so the full potential of the S-35
was rarely attained. As with other
French tanks ofthe day the S-35s were
split into smail grroups scattered long
the French line and were called
together on only a few occasions for
worthwhile counterstrokes against the
Panzer columns,
After the occupation of France the
Germans took over as many S-35s as
they could find for issue to occupation
and training units under the designa-
tion PzKpfw 35-S 739(f) Some were
handed over to the ltalian army, but
many were strll based in France when
the Allies invaded rn 1944 and S-35s
were once more rn actron, this time in Specification
German hands, Any S-35s taken by the SOMUAS-35
Allies were passed over to the Free Crew:3
French, who in ther turn used them in Weight: 19.5 tonnes
tion order, One of the best if not the In manySOMUAswere
1940 the reduction ofthe beleagmered Ger- Powerplant: one SOMUA V-8 petrol
best AFV of its day, the type was damaged and abandoned like the man garrrsons iocked up in their Atlan- engine developing 190 hp (141.7 kW)
known as the SOMUA S-35 to most of one seen here, but the vehicle was tic sea-port strongrholds, Dimensions: Ieneth 5,38 m (17 ft 7,8 in); t
Europe though to the French army rt good enough for the Germans to use width2.12 m(6 ft 11,5 in); heisht2.62 m a

was the Automitrailleuse de Combat against the Allies fouryears later. (B ft7 in)
(AMC) modele 1935 SOMUA, Performance: maximum road speed
I
The S-35 had many features ihat Below: Despite the weakness 40 km/h (24.85 mph); maximumroad I
were later to become commonplace. of h aving the comm ander operate range 230 lcn ( 143 miles); fording L
The hul] and turet were both cast the main armament, the S-35 was a L00 m (3 ft 3 in); eradient 40'; vertical
components at a time when most con- finetank. obstacle 0.76 m (2 ft 6 in); trench 2. 13 m
temporary vehicles used riveted (7 ft)
plates. The cast armour was not only
well-shaped for extra protection but it
was also much thicker (minimum of
20 mm/0,79 rn and maximum of 55 mm/
2. 16 in) than the norm for the time, For
all that it still had a good reserve of
power provided by a V-8 petrol en-
gine for lively battlefield performance,
and a good operational radius ofaction
was ensured by large internal fuel
tanks, Radro was standard, at a ttme
when hand signals between tanks
were still common. To add to all these
advantages the S-35 was armed with a
powerful gn.rn: the 47-mm (1,85-in) SA
35 was one of the most powerful
weapons of the day and a qnrn that
could still be regarded as a useful

1324
I Eillt Bl-bis heavy tank
The series of tanks lcrown as the Char formations.
B had a definite look of the 'Great War' The Germans had a gneat respect
era about them, and this is not surpris- for the Char Bl, for the 75-mm (2.95-in)
ing for their development can be gmn was quite capable of lnoclcng out
traced back as far as 1921 and the even their PzKpfw IV, but they were
aftermath of World War I. What was conslderably assisted during the May
demanded at that time was a tank with 1940 fighting by several factors, One
a 75-mm (2,95-in) gnrn set in a hull- was that the Char Bls were complex
mounted embraswe, but it was not un- beasts and required a gffeat dea] of
til about 1930 that the result ofthis re- careful maintenance: many simply
guest was finally built, This was the broke down en route to battle and
Char B hearry tank with a weight of were left for the Germans to take over
about 25 tonnes, and prolonged de- undamaged, The type's combat poten-
velopment led ln 1935 to the fuI1 pro- tial was somewhat lessened by the
duction versron, the Char Bl, need for a well-trained crew and by
The Char Bl was a powerful tank for the usual drawback in French desrgn
the period as it had a turet-mounted and usage ofthe commander having to
47-mm (1.85-in) gun and a 75-mm (2,95- sewe the qun as well as command the
in) gmn set in the lower hull front. The tank and crew, The final drawback for
Limited traverse of this latter gun was the French was that, as was the case
partially offset by a complex steering with other tank formations, the Char 81 The Char B I was easily able to deal Specification
system that allowed the vehicle to be units were foequently broken up into with any German tank in exktence, CharBl-bis
rapidly pornted towards the correct small local-defence groups instead of but abysmal handling rendered it Crew:4
target sector, Although its archaic being grouped to meet the German largely ineffective. Weight:31,5 tonnes
appearance belied the fact, the Char B tank advances, Powerplant: one Renault 6-cylinder
was firl1 of very advanced design fea- The Germans took over the Char Some were fitted with flamethrowers petrol engine developing 307 hp
tures that ranged from self-sealing fuel Bl-bis as the PzKpfw Bl-bis 740(f) and as the PzKpfw Flamm(f), In 1944 a few (229 kW)
tanks to grouped lubrication for the used it for a variety of purposes. Some were still around to pass once more Dimensions: lenqth 6.37 m (20 ft
many bearinqs; an electric starter was were passed intact to occupation units into French army use but by 1945 only 10.8 in); width 2,50 m (B ft 2,4 in); height
also provided and attention was given such as those in the Channel Islands, a handfui were left. 2,79 m (9 ft I.B in)
to internal fire protection, However, while others were converted for driver Performance: maximum road speed
the crew of four men was scattered training or were altered to become 28 lqn/h(17,4 mph); maximumroad
about the interior rn a way that made self-propelled artillery carriages, range 180 km ( 1 12 miles); fording not
internal communicatlon difficuit, and known; gnadient 50 per cent; verticat
this led to many operational problems. The 400 or so CharBIs possessed by obstacle 0.93 m (3 ft I in); trench 2,74 m
The crew of the Char BI had to be a the French army in I 940 were (e ft)
highlytrained group of speciahsts to potentially a devastating
make the best of the vehicle's potential force.
fighting value, and in 1940 these teams
were few and far between.
The flnal production model was the
Char BI-bis which had increased
armour (maximum and minimum of 65
and 14 mm/2.56 and 0.55 in compared
with the Char Bl's 40 and 14 mm/1,57
and 0,55 in), a revtsed turret design
aad a more powerful engine. Later
productron modeis had an even more
powerf,rl aircraft engine and extra fuel
capacity, Productlon of the Char B I -bis
started in 1937, and by 1940 there were
about 400 Char Bs of all types in ser-
vice, By then the Char Bi and Char
Bl-bis were the most numerous and
powerfirl ofall the French heavy tanks,
and the baslc type was the main battle
tank of the few French armoured

ffi Vi"t
"rs
Light Tanks
The Vickers tight Tanks had theu orr- tvvo men, making a three-man crew m wrdely used throughout the lg30s and Mounting a 0.50-in and later a I 1-mm
gms in a sedes of tEnkettes deslgned all, and the same mark also saw the the early war years. Many of the early BESA machine-gan with a co-axial
and produced by Ceirden-l,oyd during introduction of a 12,7-mm (0.S-rn) marks were used in India and for im- 7.9 2 - mm m achine-grun, the V icker s
the 1920s. The story pf these little vehi- machine-grun alongside the original perial policing duties, in whrch they Light Tank was an adequate vehicle
cles is outsrde the scope ofthis account 7,7-mm (0,303-in) weapon, Of course proved ideal, but in action during the for armoured reconna.r'ssance,
but one of them, the Carden-loyd Mk there were changes between all the early campaigns of World War II they
VIII, acted as the prototype for the various marks: for instance the Irigrht soon revealed themselves as being
Vickers Light Tank Mk I. Only a few of Tank Mk IV was the first to use the virtually useless. Their main drawback
these innovative vqhicles were pro- armour as supporting plates for the was their thin armow, which could be
duced and issued, but they provided a chassrs, rather than the other way penetrated even by small-calibre
Erreat deal of insight into what would be round, and changes were made to the armour-piercing projectiles, and their
reguired for later rnodels, The Mk I suspension to improve cross-country
had a tvuo-man crew and had a small performance, With the Mk VI the light
turret for a 7,7-mm (0,303-in) machrne- tanks came to the peak of their de-
sun, velopment and were agile vehicles
The Mk I led via the light Tank Mk capable of a nil'ty cross-country speed,
IA (better armour) to the Light Tank and were up-armed to the point where
Mk II (improved turret and modified the Light Tank Mk VIc had a ls-mm
suspensron) which appeared in 1930, (0,59-in) hearry machine-gnrn in the h:r-
ald this formed the basis for later ver- ret. All manner of changes to items
sions up to the lJight Tank Mk VL All such as engrne cooling and vision de-
these light tanks used a simple hull vrces were also introduced on this late
with rrveted armour which was of the mark, and even the machine-gnrn was
order of I0 to 15 mm (0.39 to 0.59 in) chanqed to the new Besa 7.92-mm (0,
thick, From the Light Tank Mk V on- 312-in) machrne-gnrn of Czech origins,
wards the turret was enlarqed to take The Vickers Light Tanks were
Vickers Light Tanks (continued)

lack of a weapon heavier than a Surprisingly enough, the Germans


machrne-gnrn. In France in 1940 they in France were happy to use any Light
were frequentiy incorrectly deployed Tanks they could recover, not as battle
as combat tanks and suffered accor- tanks but as anti-tank gnrn carriers, but
dingly, for they were only reconnaiss- only small numbers are believed to
ance vehicles, Their iight armour and have been so converted.
lack of an offensive weapon made
them of lrttle use for anything else, but Specification
in 1940 the lack of numbers of tanks on LightTankMkV
the gnound often meant that they were Crew:3
rushed into action aqainst the German weishr 4877 kq (10,752 lb)
Panzers with disastrous results. Powerplant: one Meadows ESTI, 6-
The Light Tanks remained in use in cylinder petrol engine delivering
the North Aftican desert campargns for 66 kw (BB bhp)
some trme until replacements came Dimensions: length 3,96 m (i3 ft);
along. Back in the United Kingdom the width2,0B m (6 ft 10 in); height2,235 m
later marks were often r:sed for trials. (7ft6in)
One of them was an attempt to convert Performance: maximum sPeed
some of the otherwise wasted vehicles 5L5 lan/h (32 mph); range 201 km (2I5
into anti-aircraft tanks, mounting either miles)
for-r 7.92-mm (0.312-in) or two lS-mm
(0,59-in) machine-gnrns, but although
some conversions were made they A{ter sulfering heavy losses in
saw little use. Other attempts were F rance when mk takenlY used in
made to fit a 2-pdr (40-mm/1.58-in) close support of the infantry, the MK
anti-tank gnrn in an enlargted hrrret, but W soldiered on in the Middle East
that idea was not pursued, andNorthAfrica.

ffi i,igt, Tank Mk VII Tetrarch


type's auborne operational career, but virtually a Tetrarch with thicker
The Tetrarch light tank started its life mq the Normandy landings of 6 June
as the lJight Tank Mk VII, and was a 1944 during the second airborne wave. some were retained for a few years armour (6-38 mm/O,25- L 5 in rather than
Vickers private-venture project to Most of them landed near the River after the war until their Hamilcar glld- 4-15 mm/O,15-0.6 in) and many mecha-
continue its line of ]ight tank desigrs, Orne, where therr combat life was ers we.re withdrawn from service. nical changes, but it also acted as the
That was in 1937, and the flrst pro- short. They were next used durinq the The basic design of the Tetrarch basis for yet another vadant known as
totype started its trials in 1938. These Rhine crossrngs on 24 March 1945, but was used for a number of develop- the Alecto, Thrs was to have been an
tnals demonstrated that the new de- only a few were used during that event ments dunng the war years, One was airborne or light self-propelied gnrn
sigm, knovrn at that time as the Purdah, as their numbers had been suP- the Light Tank Mk VIII Harry Hopkins, mounting a 95-mm (actually 94-mmi
lacked any of the attributes that would plemented by the AmericanM22 Lo- a number ofwhich were produced but ' 3,7-in) howitzer, but few of these were
make it an outstanding weapon; but the cust. That marked the limits of the never used, The Harry Hopkins was produced. Despite plans to produce
type offered some potentiai, and it was versrons with 25-pdr or even 32-pdr
gmns, the only versions to be butlt were
decided to undertake further testinqt
pendrng a possible production con- fitted wlth dozer blades for a possible
tract, airborne engineer role, In the event
In its initial form the Purdah, later the Alectos ended up as hack tractors
designated the A17, and later still the on Salisbury Plain,
Tetrarch, differed from the earlier iigtht
tanks by halrng four large road wheels
on each side. A hvo-man turret was
centrally mounted, and this turret was Specification
large enough to mount a 2-pdr (40-mm/ Tetrarch
1,58-in) gun with co-axial 7.92-mm Crew:3
(0,312-in) machine-gun. Various al- Weight 7620 ks (16,800 Ib )
terations were demanded once the Powerplant: one Meadows l2-cylinder
prototype had completed its initial petrolengine delivering 123 kW
(165 bhp)
trials, notably to engrine cooling and for
provision of more fuel tanks to improve Dimensions: lengrth overali 4,305 m
(14 ft i,5 in); lenerthof hull4 ll5 m(13 ft
range, Eventually the Tetrarch was put
into production wrthout any great en- 6 in); widrh 2,31 m (7 ft 7 in); heisht
thusiasm, but it was at least something 2. l2i m (6 ft 1 1.5 in)
ready to hand at a period when the Performance: rnaximum road sPeed
British army had few tanks of any kind 64 krn/h (40 mph); maximum cross-
to put into the field. Light tanks were country speed 45 krdh (28 mPh);
recognized as a liability in action by fordinq0.914 m(3 ft); trench 1,524 m
1941, however, so the few that were (5 ft)
completed became surplus to require-
ments other than for limited operations Above: Carried in a Hantilcar glider,
such as the invasion of Madaqascar in the Tetrarch was used by British
May 1942, Numbersof Tetrarchswere airborne forces during the
even handed over to the Soviet Union. N ormandy landings. H opeless ly
But the fortunes of the Tetrarch outclassed by German tanks, this
changed with the establishment of the Tetrarch has aLittlejohn adapter
airborne forces, and it was not long fitted to its 2-pdr grun to increase
before the lighhffeight Tetrarch was muzzlevetodity and thus armour
accepted as the army's first airbome penetration.
tank, A new glider, the General Air-
craft Hamilcar, was designed and pro- Right: Originaily aVickers Private
duced as the auborne carrier for the venture, the T etr arch was pu t into
Tetrarch, but it was not until April 1944 production despite lacking armou4
that the first trial landings were made, eftective armament or a ProPerlY
some of them being spectacular in the defined purpose. It eventually saw
exkeme. For their new role the turrets limited action in Madagascar and the
were fltted with a 76.2-mm (3-in) infan- USSR before being adopted as
try support howitzer, the vehicie being Britain's first air-portable tank.
redesignated Tetrarch ICS,
The Tetrarchs went into action dw-

1326
British Cruiser Tonks
British designers concluded that tanks
should be divided into two types: one to
support the infantry in battering a hole
in the enemy line, and another to pour
through the gap in headlong pursuit.
The first would be well armoured but
slow, and second would sacrifice
protection to gain speed. Unfortunately,
this philosophy led to British armoured
forces using decidedly inferior vehicles
in a tragically amateurish fashion.
During the years rmmediately after World War
I the Britlsh army gradually lost the lead in tank
design and employment that it had gained dur-
ing the years 1916-8. Thls resulted from all
rnanner of reasons, one of them being lack of
money for new designs or experiments and
another the loss of trained and skilled men as
the army's manpower resources were allowed
to run down, But a small core of sturdy souls
managed to keep some flicker of interest in the
tank and its associated tactrcs and among these
were some of the most influential and far-
sighted tank philosophers of the day,
One of these men was Coionel J. F. C. Fuller
and the other Captain B Liddell Hart, although
the latter was a retired officer, Both had experi-
ence of tank warfare dunng Worid War I and
had the vision to see ahead to the time when the neglected for the sake of any other the imba- Cruiserswere designed toperform the cavalry
tank would dominate the battlefield in the way lance will create an rmsuccessfuiweapon. With roles of reconnarssance andp ursuit. These are
it dld durinq the early years of World War II. the 'Cruisers' two of these attributes, flrepower Mkl ASs, thefirstCruiser tanks; theywere lightly
But for all their foresight the main emphasis that and protectron, were sacrrficed for speed in protected and armed with the feeble 2-pdr. Many
these men provrded was on 'all-armour'forces order to carry out the 'armoured breakthrough' were left in France after Dunkirk. The suwivors
in which the tank predominated to give rise to served in North Africa until I 94 L
and 'strike deep' philosophies of the interwar
rapid fluid campaigns with tactics based on armoured philosophers. Other nations did not
speed and shock. Durlng the I920s some ex- follow the British reasoning, For instance, the ducing shipping and steam locomotrves. In
perimental formations were used to try out Germans drrectly followed Liddell Hart's and time these concerns had to assume some form
such tactics, but they dld not last long before Fuller's phrlosophies closely but produced in of deslgn parentage as well as production, and
funds were used up and the experlmental units their Panzers vehicles with a much better ba- subsequently some ol them produced designs
drsbanded, lanced combination of weaponry; protection from scratch that with hindsight were less than
But they left behind an influence that was to and performance, with no differentiatlon be- successfui.
bedevil British tank design for years to come, tween'lnfantry' and 'Crursers' at all.The Soviets But this is to work ahead of the 'Cruiser' story
One of the lessons learned' was that there had simply built good tanks ur huge numbers while somewhat, for the first 'Cruiser' tanks were both
to be two types of tank for future warfare. One the Americans watched and waited until fund- produced by Vickers-Armstrongs, The first
would be a slow well-armoured tank for the ing became available, was the A9 Cruiser Tank Mk I, which used an
dlrect support of infantry units and the other a Coupled to the British philosophy was an AEC bus engine as a powerplant and was a
much faster vehicle wrth armour sacrificed for understandable but regrettable lack ofdesign simpie design with iots of flat surfaces rlveted
speed in order to exploit armoured break- expertise and productron capabilrty. Between together, It had the then-fashionable feature of
throughs and strike deep into an enemy's rear the wars armament production centres were
areas, This led directly to the division between nearly all allowed to run down, to the extent
'lnfantry' and 'Cruiser' tanks. that the healry engineerrng faciiities required
The 'Infantry' tanks evolved as slow vehicles for tank production were virtually nonexistent,
protected by thick armour belts. The 'Cruisers' Vickers was the only major concern to marntain
were relatively fast and had much thinner tank production of any kind, and it kept going
armour, What both lacked was proper arma- on commercial export orders for various de-
ment, for in both instances the designers simp- signs of llght and medium tanks for all parts of
ly took what ordnance there was to hand and the world, Not surprisingly Vickers gained an
fltted lt to their designs wrlh little thought for experience in basic tank design and construc-
future deveiopments, For both the 'lnfantry' tion that had to be learned the hard way by
and the 'Cruiser' tanks this meant the little 2- many of the concerns that became involved in
pdr gmn which fired a high-velocity armour- tank manufacture during the late 1930s, when
piercing shot, This gun had a calibre of 40 mm the war clouds gathered once more over
(l 575 in), and during the I930s it was as good Europe.
an armour-plerclng gun as any ln service any- These new concerns were gathered into the
where, but lt had the limitation that it could not tank manufacture business as part of an officiai
fire a hrgh explosive shell and this led to the programme to build up a tank industry. The
anomaly of some'Cruisers' (and'lnfantry' tanks) larger automoblle and truck producers were
having to mount a low-velocity 76.2-mm (3-in) obvious candidates for selection but included
howitzer flring shells for local close support; in the iold were workshops more used to pro-
these were known as CS tanks.
While the 'lnfantry/Cruiser' tank division had AnA9leads twoCruiserMklVs onexercise on 30
its attractions, it overlooked the fact that suc- August 1940. The Mk IVswere archetypal cruiser
cessful tank designs have a balanced division tanks, thin-skinned and undergunned but capable
between firepower, protection and movement, o{high speed. Their Christie suspension proved a
If any one of these attributes rs sacrificed or greafsuccess.
British Cruiser Tanks

twin auxiliary turrets mounted one on each side


of the driver's position forward and each
mounting a machine-gnrn. The suspension was
of a 'slow motion' type that was to be used
virtually unchanged on many future Vickers
designs.
The A10 Cruiser Tank Mk II was also a Vick-
ers-Armstrongs desrgn, but it was originally
designed as an 'Infantry' tank. In the event it
became something of a hybrld andwas termed
a 'Heavy Cruiser'. It lacked the auxiliary turrets
of the Mk I but was otherwise generally similar,
But even as the Mks I and ll were roliing off the
lines of converted rarlway carriage workshops
a new design was in the offing. This was the AI3
Cruiser Tank Mk ill, which featured the tor-
sion-bar suspension devised by J. Walter
Christie which offered improved cross-country
performance and increases in speed, Up to the
introduction of the Christie suspension most
tank designs used what was generally known
as the Horstmann suspension which was simpie
and easy to repair (or replace) when damaged charges was too thin to defeat even the lightest The two types of tank produced by pre-war theory:
but had only a limited travel which hmited of the German antr{ank gn:ns, and that therr on the left, the fast but terribly vulnerahle Mk IV
performance; the Christre suspension offered a Z-pdr guns were of little avail against the Cruiser;on the right, the thickly armouredMatilda
much larger travel. It was adopted for the Mk heavier Panzers, They also had to learn new which could only make about I 3 km/ h (8 mph)
cross-country.
ill, which went into production under the tactics in the heat of battle, and too many tanks
parentage of the Nuffield Organization, were lost when their crews simply charged at
The Mk III followed the general layout and the enemy in time-honoured cavalry fashion, In the desert campaigns by the M3 Lee/Grant and
appearance of the two earlier marks, apart place of the charge they had to learn the well- the M4 Sherman, which were much more reh-
from the suspension which now featured large executed flanking actions, the carefui able and better armed, and had at least a mod-
road wheels. The Cruiser Tank Mk IV was ambushes and the stealthy movements that icum of protection. But the 'Crulser' line did not
vrrtually an uparmoured version of the Mk IIi. were much more effective, end there. Other desigms such as the Cavalier,
All of these 'Cruiser' marks formed the bulk While the 'Cruisers'in France were learning Centaur and Cromwell appeared but these
of the British army's tank strength when World their trade, their counterparts in the Middle bore little resemblance to the earlier'Cruisers',
War II began in September 1939. Their num- East were also learning, but with the added They were much better overall designs with
bers were bulked out by the Matllda Infantry problems of tank survival and logistics in the better gn:ns and armour, and although many
Tanks Mk I and II, but these latter vehicles desert, Cruisers ol all marks took part in the carried over some of the mechanrcal troubles
were issued as intended in battallons for the early campaigms against the ltalians in 1940 and of the early days they were better combat
direct support of infantry formations and their 1941, when the hard lessons of France were tanks.
slow speed rendered them unsuitabie for the often driven home regarding firepower and Perhaps the best rndrcation of the draw-
envisaged'Cruiser' operations, When the BEF protection, for the Italians had some very effec- backs suffered by the eariy 'Cruisers' was the
left for France the newly-formed lst Armoured tive anti-tank guns. fact that during many of the early desert battles
Division did not go with rt, for it was still in a The expected replacement for the early the Valentine lnfantry tank had to take the
state of trainlng and equipment familiarizatlon, 'Cruisers'was supposed to be the Covenanter, place of the 'Crulsers' . It was a much better tank
and was in ail truth unready for war. All manner but this design was rushed into production ln for the purpose than the 'Cruisers', but this was
of stores were missing, weapons were rn short an attempt to boost tank totals with the inevtt- mainly the result of the fact that it came from a
supply and many tanks were in no state for able result that it suffered from endless mecha- Vickers background based on experience
combat, Reasons for the last were not hard to nical and other troubles, Although the Cove- gained over the years of design and manufac-
flnd: designed in most cases from scratch, the nanter was used extensively for training it was ture know-how. The early 'Cruisers' qenerally
'Cruisers'were not very reliable and a general never used in action, and thus the early'Cruis- Iacked this background and they and therr
lack of appreciation of the importance of ers'were replaced by the Al5 Cruiser Tank crews suffered accordingly.
maintenance rendered many vehicles unfit for Mark VI, the Crusader, Like so many other
combat. rushed designs of the period the Crusader had
The ist Armoured Division arrived in France more than its share of troubles, but it was gra-
in early 1940 just in time lor the German dually developed into a reliable vehicle, but
onslaught of May 1940. When it arrived the one that strll suffered the basrc troubles com-
dlvisron was lacking all manner of items from mon to all'Cruisers', namely lackolarmour and
main gmns and machine-guns to spares and Iack of a proper gun, In time the gnrn problem
ammunition. The division lacked its field artil- was partially overcome by the introduction of
lery, bridging equipment and many other units, the more viable 6-pdr, but even this was in-
including its anti-aircraft gn:ns, Even the tanks adequate when pitted against Fanzers armed
were lacking in many items, some having to go with much more powerful 75-mm (2.95-in) guns
into action with nothing more oifensive than a and fitted with better protection, But the Cru-
crewman's rifle poking through the gnrn mantlet sader was a nippy tank and was frequently
where a gun should have been. Many of the able to use its performance to get it out of
squadrons had to be issued with light tanks as trouble. Lack of firepower usually meant that
'Cruisers' were not available, and so the sorry Crusaders came off worse against Panzers,
story went on. however, and in the desert there were too
The blow that halted the German Panzers at many occasions when Crusaders were used to
Arras were 'Iniantry' tanks, not 'Cruisers'. The charge carefully-emplaced German defences
'Cruisers' were located mainly to the west of with dreadful results.
the main German thrust across northern Gradually the Crusaders were repiaced in
France, and although they remained in action
on and off for three to four weeks they were Cruiser Mk IVs were armed with the Z-pdr grun,
able to accomplish llttle and suffered heavy which had weak armour penetration and, worse,
casualties in the process. Too late the unfortun- no high explosive round to tackle enemy anti-tank
ate tank crews learned that the armour of their gruns and slron gpoints.

r328
British and French Tanks of World War II
ffi bruiser Tank Mk VI Crusader
The Cruiser Tank Mk VI that became The Crusader III was the first British
knornm as the Crusader had its origins tank to be armed with an effective j
!
around the same time as the Covenan- gun, the 6-pdr. Its other great
ter, but was a Nuffleld design and s trongpoint w as
jfs suspensjon, iff
\*
therefore used the Nuffield Liberty Mk whichwas so tough thatthe
III engne and a Nuffield gearbox, In theoretical max imum s peed could
overall appearance and layout the often be exceeded.
Crusader resembled the Covenanter,
but there were several differences,
One was that the Crusader had flve
road wheels on each side instead of
the Covenanter's four,
The prototype was known as the
Al5. It had the unusual feature of two
forward miniature twrets, one in front
of the driver's hood and the other for a
gmnner seated in the front hull, Each of
these tunets was fitted with a 7,92-mm
(0.312-in) machine-gun, but after eariy
trials the ddve/s gnrn and turret was
eliminated, These early trials once
more highlighted that engdne cooling
was inadequate and that the gear-
change arrangements were unreli- /? fr I ih\
able, These problems, and others, mounting either a single 40-mm (1.58- Specification
took a long time to remedy and, in- in) Bofors gnrn (Crusader III AA I) or CrusaderIII Performance: maximum road speed
deed, many were still present when twin or tnple 20-mm (0.787-in) cannon Crew:3 43. 4 Wnlh (27 mph) ; maxmum cross-
the Crusader was withdrawn from ser- (Crusader III AA lI), There was a Cru- Weight 20067 kg (44,240 tb) country speed 24 kdh (15 mph);
vice. sader AR! armoured recovery vehi- Powerplant: one Nuffield Liberty Mk range with extra fuel tank 204 kn ( 121
The first production model was the cle version without a turret (but with an III petrol engrine developing 254 kW miles); fordins 0.99 m (3 ft 3 in);
Crusader I, which had a 2-pdr (40-mm/ 'A' frame jib) and another turretless (3a0 bhp) vertical obstacle 0.686 m (2 ft 3 Ln)
1.58-in) gmn and atmour with a 40-mm version featured a dozer blade for Dimensions: lengrth 5,994 m (19 ft B in); trench 2.59 m (B ft 6 in)
(1,58-in) basis When Crusader Is en- combat engineerinq purposes (Cnr- width 2.64 m (B ft B in); heiqht 2.235 m
tered service in 1941 they were sader Dozer). Many Crusaders were
already inadequate for combat, and as fltted with an open box superstmcture
the new 6-pdr (57-mm/2.24-in) gunwas for use as high-speed arlillery tractors
still in short supply the armour alone (Crusader Gun Tractor), and were
was rncreased in thickness to a 50-mm widely used in Europe dururg 1944 and
( 1.97-in) basis to produce the Crusader 1945 to tow 17-pdr (76,2-mnl3-in) anti-
II, and it was not until the Crusader III tank gnrns. Many more were used for
that the 6-pdr gun was fitted. This trials that ranged fuom engnne installa-
turned out to be the main'combat'ver- tions via mine warfare de\'1ces to wad-
sion ofthe Crusader dunng the North rng trials that led to the 'Duplex Drive'
African campaigns before it was re- tanks.
placed by the American M4 Sherman. The Crusader was one of the 'classic'
In action the Crusader proved fast and Britrsh tanks of World War 11, and had a
nippy, but its armour proved to be too dashing and attractive appearance
thrn, and the Crusaders armed mth that belied rts lack of combat efftcien-
2-pdr gmns were no match for their cy Despite tts low and agglesslve
German counterparts, Their rellability silhouette it was outclassed as a battle
problems did lrttle for Crusaders' tank on many occasions but saw the
chances of suwival under desert con- war out in several special-purpose
ditrons, but gradual lmprovements variants.
were effected. The Crusader IICS was
fitted with a 76.2-mm (3-in) howitzer. Two early model C rus aders are seen
Once they were no longer combat during Operation'C rusader'. The
tanks the Crusaders were used for a battle dem o ns tr ate d th at g a ll antry
variety of spectal purposes. Some alone is not a suhstitute for good
were converted as anti-aircraft tanks equipment.

ffi b*ire, Tank Mk VIII Cromwell


ln the United Kingdom the differentia- The first Cromwells were produced
lion between 'Cruiser' and 'lnfantry' in January 1943, The first thtee marks
lanks persisted almost until the end of (Cromweli I with one 6-pdr and hvo
the war desprte the fact that most other Besa machrne-qnrns, Cromwell II with
nations had never entertained the no- wider tracks and only one machine-
tron, It persisted even after the unfor- gmn, and Cromwell III produced bY
hrnate experiences of the early'Crus- re-engining a Centaur I) all had as
er' designs had highlighted the draw- their main armament the 6-pdr (57-
backs of producing a lightly armed mrn/2.244-in) gmn, but by 1943 it had
and armoured main battle tank, and
contrnued even when a replacement Continued on page 1332
for the Crusader was berng sought,
The need for more armour and a big- A Cromwell roars through a
qer gun was finally realized (and a village in N orm andy, Augus t
more powerful engdne would be re- 1944. Initially mounting a 6-Pdr,
quired) and in 194 1 a new specification by D-Day they were armed with a
was issued, It was answered bY ttlro 75-mm gun which gave them a
main entrants to the same basic 427 reasonable chance against
design, one the A27L with a LibertY German armour. The Cromwell
engine (this was to become the Cen- entered service in 1943 and manY
taw) and the other the A27M with a crewswere trained in it before
Rolls-Royce Meteor that was to be- the invasion. In the acid test of
come the Cruiser Tank Mk VIII Crom- combat, the C r omwell its elf did
well, notletthemdown.
British Cruiser T
British and Freneh Tanks *f W*r3d" '\.fl,i:rl:.
The Cramwell, slrown here sporting ffie desert .rat insignia c! .:.+
Armoured Divisian, was built to a 194] General Staff y*.q1,"r *-rl.;.,
far a'heavyCruiser'" Experientewiih the earlier Cru.ber lerj:; rr;::
demonsfrafed ffiaf }lr'gft speedcou/eJnof conrpe.nsnfe-far le i,c;
armauv and inaCequatefirepoute"r, andso fJre Crcrnweilwas ne::.
50 per cent heavier than dfte Crusaders jt replaeed, and hett:t
armoured in prapartian.

F, ;qit ''ii ;: *

:a SARSOIdf rOUv BRvAld

,.;,i11!$l{ r. :l:i:t1li:{.ir '.


Cruiser Tank Mk VIII (continued)

been decided that something heavier


would be required and a new 75-mm
(2,95-in) gnrn was demanded, For once
things were able to move relatively
svift1y on the production lines and the
first 75-mm (2.95-in) Cromwell Mk IV
tanks were issued to the armoured
regriments in October'I943. Therea-fter
the 75-mm (2,95-in) gnrn remained the
Cromwell's main gnrn until the Crom-
well Mk VIII, which had a 95-mm
(actually 94-mm/3.?-in) howitzer for
close support,
Perhaps the main value of the Crom-
well to the British armoured regnments
dwing 1943 was as a training tank, for
at last the troops had a tank that was
something of a match for its German
counterparts, There was better
armour (8-76 mm/0.315-3in) on the
Cromwell than on any previous 'Cruis-
er' tank and the 75-mm (2.95-in) gnrn,
whrch shared many components with
the smaller 6-pdr, at last provided the
British tankies with a viable weapon,
But by the time they were ready for
actle service the Cromwells were in
the process of berng replaced by the Above: Cromwell tanks move up to
readily-availabie M4 Sherman lor pw- their start line for one oftke breakout
poses of standardization and logistic battles in Normandy, l944. The price
safety, But the Cromwell did see ser- of attacking the well-s ited G erm an
vice, Many were used by the 7th positions was often heavy, despite
Armoured Divrsion in the campaigns the improved qu ality of B ritis h
that followed from the Normandy land- afmour.
ings, Here the excellent performance
provided by the Meteor engine made Right: Although the majoriV of
the Cromwell a well-liked vehrcle: it B ritis h tank units were e quipped
was fast and reliable, and the gun with the Sherman, the Cromwellwas
proved easy to lay and flre. a successfu/design, doingmuch to
The Cromwell was but a stepping restore the dreadful imbalance of
stone to the later Comet tank which quality between British and German
was to emerge as perhaps the best armour.
all-round Britrsh tank of the war years,
But the Cromwell was an important tank that became known as the 433,
vehicle, not just as a combat tank but which was ready by May 1944 but nev-
for several other roles. Some were er got into production,
used as mobile artiliery obsewation
posts (Cromwell OP) with their main Specification
gnrn removed and with extra radios in- CromwelllV
stalled. Others had theii trrrrets entire- Crew: 5
ly removed and replaced by all the W eisht: 27 I 42 kg (6 1, 600 ]b)
various bits and pieces required for Powerplant: one Rolls-Royce Meteor
the Cromwell to be used as the Crom- V- 12 petroi engine developlng
well ARV armoured recovery vehicle, 570 bhp (425 kw) 2,51 m (B ft3 in) miles); iording 1,219 m (4 ft); vertical
The Cromwell was also used as the Dimensions: lenqrth overall6.42 m (2I ft Performance: maximum speed 6 1 obstacle 0.914 m (3 ft); trench 2.286 m
basis for a heavily armoured assault 0.75 in); u'rdth 3.048 m ( 10 ft); heisht kr'/h (38 mph); road range 278 lcn ( 173 (7 lt 6 in)

ffi bruiser Tank Mk VIII Centaur


The Cnriser Tank IVIk VIII Centaur was ered to provrde the Centaur with the well on the beaches and the area rm- these variants took part in the early
a contemporary of the Cromwell and same performance as the Cromwell; mediately inland that many were re- stages of the Normandy campaigrn bul
was derived foom the same qeneral nor was the engnne hfe up to the stan- tained for some weeks afterwards for were withdrawn once the anticrpated
staff specification. But whereas the dards of the Meteo/s reliability, the slow and dangerous combat in the threat of air attack did not materia[ze.
Cromwell was a Rolls-Royce Meteor- The Centaur I was produced luth bocage country,
engined vehicle, the Centaur was a the usual 6-pdr (57 -mrrt/2,244-in) gnn of Thereafter the Centaurs were with- Specification
Leyland Motors project and was fitted the period, and the first examples drawn from combat use and under- Centaur III
with the l,iberty engine, In many other were ready in June 1942, These early went the usual routlne ofconversion for Crew: 5
respects the Centaur and the Crom- Centaurs were used only for training other purposes, As usual the simplest Weisht:28849 ks (63,600 lb)
well were identrcal (apart from the en- purposes, some with auxiliary fuel conversion was to an artiilery observa- Powerplant: one Nulfield Liberty Mk V
gines, gearboxes and other transmis- tanks mounted at the rear. The Centaur tion post (Centaur OP) whrle others V- l2 petrol engnne developing 295 kW
sion components) and some Centaurs III was produced in small numbers simply had their tunetsremoved to act (395 bhp)
were fitted mth the Meteor engine at a only, but this mounted a 75-mm (2.95- as Centaur Kangnroo armoured per- Dimensions: length 6.35 m (20 ft I0 in);
later stage and redesignated Crom- in) main gmn, Armow varied in thick- sonnel carriers. The usual armoured width 2.895 m (9 ft 6 in); heisht 2.489 m
wells. ness from 20 to 76 mm (0.8 to 3 in). The recovery vehicle variant duly (B ft2 in)
Leyland had already produced a Centaur IV was the main'combat' ver- appeared as the Centaur ARV alongr Performance: maximum road speed
'Cruiser' tank desiqn known as the sion of the senes as it was spectally with the Centaur Dozer turretless ver- 43. 4 krn/h (27 mph); maximum cross-
Cruiser Tank Mk VII Cavalier which produced for use by the Royal Marines sion f,tted with a dozer blade for com- country speed about 25.7 kdh
had proved to be a generally unsuc- Armoured Support Group dwing the bat engnneer duties, T\Mo Centaur con- (16 mph); range 265 lcn (165 miles);
cessful design as a result of poor per- D-Day landings in Normandy on 6 June versions that did mount guns were the fording 0,9 14 m (3 ft); vertical obstacle
formance, mechanical breakdowns 1944, These Mk IVs were fltted with two marks of Centaur IILTTV AAI and 0,914 m (3 ft); trench 2,280 m (7 ft 6 in)
and a short engrine life, Leyland under- 95-mm (achrally 94-mm/3.7-in) close- Centaur IIYff AAII tanks, These had
standably used some features of the support howltzers; B0 of them were the same 20:mm antr-arrcraft turrets as
Cavalier on the Centaur but unfortu- issued, and these were intended to be the earlier Crusader AA tanks, but the
nately it also carried over some of the used only in the initial stages of the Centaur AA versions mounted 20-mm
earlier design's problems, for the amphibious assault. In fact most of (0,787-in) Polsten cannon ln place of
LiJcerty engine was really too low pow- them landed safely and performed so the earlier Oerlikon cannon, Both of

10o6
ffi bruiser Tank Challenger
British and French Tanks of World War II
The Cruiser Tank Challenger pro- Arguably the ugliest tank desigm of
Cuced during World War II bore no the period, the Challenger was a
lesemblance to the mighty Challenger s trctched C r omwe ll armed with a I 7 -
rat is currently being issued to the pdr, armour beingreduced to keep
3ritish army, for the original Challen- weight down. Fortunately for British
:ler was one of the British tank indus- tank crews the Sherman Firefly was
:y's least successful progeny, It was adoptedinstead.
jerived from a 194 1 request to mount a
:eaw qun capable of tacklinq even signed and replaced. The large size of
-re heaviest German tanks and the 17- the 17-pdr fixed ammunition meant
pdr (76.2-mmi3-in) gun, then complet- that only a restricted number ofrounds
::g its development, was selected as a could be carried internally, and the
-kely weapon, The A27 CromwelV hull machine-gmn had to be removed
lentaur chassis seemed a suitable to make more room, leaving only the
;asic chassis and work began on co-axial 7,62-mm (0,3-in) Wn, Perhaps
aCapting this for the heaw gun project, the biggest problem was that the
The new gun would requtre two weight overall was such that the
-:::ngs, One was a much larger chassis armour protection had to be reduced
:: accommodate the weights invoived to bring weight down to a reasonable
ir.id the other a larger twret ring to level, Armour varred from 20 to 102 mm
isorb the recoil forces, At that time all (0,8 to 4 in) in thickness, Desplte all
::astnq designs were too nafiow to these problems the Challenger was
=--:ommodate so large a turret dng, ordered into production purely on the
::t by lengthening the existing Crom- strengrth of its powerful gnrn, which was
'rell chassis and adding another road at least something that could destroy
;;:eel the tuiret ring section could be any known German tank,
-,';Cened to enable a largter rlhg to be But the Challenger was slow to get gmished while the Firefly fought its way Specification
:sta-lled, This formed the basis of what into production for a variety ofreasons. across Europe. Challenger
:ecame known as the 430, and even- It was not until March 1944 that the first But some Challengers did see ser- Crew: 5
::ally the name Challenger was be- production examples were ready and vtce from late 1944 onwards, Numbers Weisht 33022 kg (72,800 lb )
::rwed upon the vehicle, by then it was too late for the Challen- were issued to the reconnaissance Powerplant: one Rolls-Royce Mete::
The first pilot model was ready in ger to take part in the extensive water- regrments of the British armowed divr- V-12 petrol engine developing 44I .<-,','
l.larch 1942 and like many hasty im- proofing prognamme that would be re- sions to provide some extra fire sup- (600 bhp)
;:cvisations it showed up badly during quired for the Normandy landings. pod to the 75-mm (2.95-in) Cromwells Dimensions: length overall B. l4T r-
- : early trials, The extra welqht of the Another blow to the Challenger progr- which were by then the main equtp- (26 ft 8.75 in); width 2.90 m (9 ft 6 5 -:.
:=her high and awkward turret was ranme was the fact that the M4 Sher- rr,ent ofthese units. As soon as the war heiqht2.775 m(9 ft 1,25 m)
:-:: balanced by the lenqthened sus- man had been adapted to take the l7- ended most Challengrers were with- Performance: maxrmum speed
;ension, which proved to be a source pdr, and as the Frefly thrs conversion drawn. Some were sold overseas but 51,5 krn/h(32mph); range 193 kn:-2-
:: many troubles, and the mounting of assumed many of the responsrbilitres the type rapidly vanished from the miles); fording 1,37 m (4 ft 6 in) ai=:
--:e heavy gun in the turret made intended for the Challenger dunng the scene, The Challenger II, with a lower preparation; vertical obstacle 0.9-4 :-
:averse so slow that the origrinal early stages of the post-Normandy turret, was produced only in prototype (3 ft); trench 2,59 m (B ft 6 in)
-ilverse mechamsm had to be rede- campaigm. Thus the Challengter lan- form,

ffi infantrv Tank Mks I and II Matilda


-r-requrement for a British army 'lnfan- machine-gnrn instead of the Vickers mine-clearing, Starting with the Matil- blades as the Matilda Dozer for ccr::.ie:
tank was flrst made in 1934 and the Q[L]n, da Baron and then the Matilda Scor- engineering, and many were ::=:
=r.
::medrate result was the AII Infantry The main combat period for the pion, it was used extensively for this wlth various flamethrowing de;:=
Tank tvlk I, later nickramed Matilda I. Matiida (the term Matrlda II was drop- role, but Matildas were also used to as the Matilda Frog, There were r-.:-,
lijs was a very simple and small tank ped when the little Matllda I was with- push AMRA mine-clearing rollers. other special and demolition der:=
rith a two-man crew but with armour drawn in 1940) was the early North Another variant was the Matilda CDL used with the Matilda, not all ci r:::
:eavy enough to defeat any contem- African campaign, where the type's (Cana1 Defence Ligrht), which used a under British auspices for the Ma: :"
!,rrary anti-tank gnrn, The small inret armour proved to be effective against special turret with a powerful light became an important Ar:sffahan :a:r:
::cunted any Italian or German anti-tank gnrn source to create 'artificial moonlight'. as wel1, In fact Matilda gnrn tarks -'t:::
-,-:ckers a single 7,7-mm
(0.303-in)
machine-gun and the engine v\'lth the exception of the German 'BB', Matildas were also fitted wlth dozer used extensively by the Austr='-=
rias a commercial Ford V-B unit. The Matilda was one of the armoured army in New Gurnea and else.Ji:-:::
l.rders for 140 were issued in April malnstays of the British forces until El until the war ended in 1945, arc -::.
-337, but when the type was tried in Alamein, after which its place was devised several flame-thror-:- ;
::mbat in Prance in 1940 it revealed taken by better armed and faster de- equipments. The Germars aLrc ':-=:
::iany shortcomingTs: it was too slow sigms, But the importance of the Matil- several captured Matildas to mc-:.: , :-
:nd underatmed for any form of da did not diminsh, for it then entered rious anti-tank weapons of thei :-r;-
lrnoured warfare, and the small num- a long career as a spectal-purpose It is doubtful if a complete Ls:-; ::
bers that remarned rn service after tank. al1 the many Matilda variants l";.1.r :;=:
lunkrrk were used only for training. One of the most important of these be made, for numerous 'field mci:':a-
The Matilda I was intended only as special purposes was as a flail tank for tions' and other uffecorded :h-.:=s
an rnterim type before the Al2 Infantry
Tank Mk II became available, This The Matilda was the only Bitish
project began in 1936 and the flrst ex- with enough armour to withstand':nk
amples were completed in 1938, The German tank gruns in the early years .
Mk II, known later as Matilda II, was a After a brief momentof glory at
much larger vehicle than the Matilda I Arras, it won its real reputation with
wlth a four-man crew and a turet 8th Army in the desert.
mountrng a 2-pdr (40-mm/1,57S-in) qnrn
and liberal belts of cast armour
(varying from 20 to 78 mm/0.8 to 3.1 in
in thickness) capable of defeating all
known antr-tank gmns, The Matilda II
was slow as it was intended for the
direct support of infantry units, in which
role speed was not essential, Overall it
was a qood{ooking tank and it h-rned
out to be far more reliable than many of
rts contemporaries. And despite the
light qnrn carned it was found to be a
good vehicle rn combat, The Matilda
IIA had a 7,92-mm (0.312-in) Besa
InfantryTanks MksI and II Matilda(continued)

were made to the basic design. But the width2,59 m(B ft 6 in); heisht2,Sl m
Matilda accommodated them all and (8 ft 3 in)
many old soldiers still look back on this Performance: maximum speed 24
tank i^rith affection for, despite tts slow krn/h ( 15 mph); maximum cross-
speed and light armament, rt was reli country speed 12,9 km/tt (B mph); road
able and steady, and above all it had range 257 km ( 160 mlles); vertical
good armour, obstacle0,609 m(2 ft); fording0,914 m
(3 ft); trench 2, 133 m (7 ft)
Specification
MatildaII A Matilda is seen in the desert in J une
Crew:4 1 94 1 during Operation'Battleaxe', an

Weisht:26926 kg (59,360 lb) unsuccessfu/ a ttempt to relieve


Powerplant: two Leyland 6-cyltnder Tobruk which cost the 4th Armoured
petrol englnes each developing 7l kW B rig ade 64 of their M a tildas. Tough
(95 bhp) or two AEC dresels each but s \ow, the M atildas were cur s ed
developing 65 kW (87 bhp) withthe ineffectual Z-pdr as main
Dimensions: length 5.613 m (18 ft 5 in); armament.

>K int"r,r* Tank Mk III Valentine


In 1938 Vickers was imted to join tn were so successful that the Valentlne
the production proqgamme for the new was at one time the standard DD tank,
Matilda II tank, but as the companY There were also Valentine
akeady had a production line estab- Flamethrower tanks, and one attempt
lished to produce a heavy 'Cruiser' was made to produce a special tank-
tank known as the Al0, it was invited to krller with a 6-pdr anti-tank gmn behind
produce a new infantry tank based a shield. That project came to nothing
upon the Al0, Vickers duly made its but the Valentine chassis was later
plans and its AlO-derived infantry tank used as the basis for the Archer, an
was ordered into production tn July open{opped vehicle with a l7-Pdr
army planners
1939, Up to that date the gnm pointing to the rear, This was used
had some doubts as to the effective- in Europe from 1944 onwards.
ness of the Vickers submrssrons, re- The basic Valentine tank was exten-
sulting mainly in the retention of a sively modified throughout its oper-
small two-man turret which would limit ational career, but it remained
possible armament increases, but by througrhout reliable and sturdy, The
mid-1939 war was imminent and tanks Valentlne was one of the British army's
were urgently required, most impor:tant tanks at one point, It
The new Vrckers tank, soon known was used by many Alhed armies such
as the Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine, as that ofNew Zealand, and manY saw
clrew heanly on experience gained action in Burma. The bulk of the Cana-
with the A10, but was much more dian output was sent to the Sovret Un-
heavily armoured B-65 mm (0,3- ion, where the type appears to have
2.55 in). As many of the AlO's troubles given good servlce, The Valentine did
had already been experienced their have its drawbacks, but overall its
solutions were burlt into the Valenttne, main conhbution was that it was avail-
which proved to be a relatively trou- il
able quantity at a t]me when it was
ble-free vehicle. Mass production be- most needed, and not many British
gan rapidly, and the first Valentiae I tank desigrns could claim the same,
examples were ready ln late 1940. By
1941 the Valentine was an established Specification
tfpe; and many were used as Ciuiser Valentine IIITTV
tanks to overcome deficrencies. Crew:3
The Valentine was undoubtedly one weight: u690 ks(39,000 ]b)
of the mosl important Britr,sh tanks, but Powerplant: one AEC diesel
the main reason for this was quantity developins 98 kW ( 131 bhp) in Mk lil
rather than quality, By early i944, or GMC diesel developrng 103 kW
when production ceased, 8,275 had (138 bhp) rn Mk IV An early modelValentine provides
been made and during one period in Dimensions:length 5.41 m (U ft 9 in); the focus of attention as Malta
1943 one quarter ofall British tank pro- width 2,629 m (B ft 7.5 in); heisht celebr ates K ing G eorge VI's
duction was of Valentines, Valentines 2,273 m(7 ft 5.5 rn) birthday. TheValentine was one of
were also produced in Canada and bY Performance: ma:amum speed 24 the more successful pre-war
several other concerns in the Untted kn/tr ( 15 mph); ma;amum cross- desiErns, and saw service world-wide.
Kingdom apafi from Vickers. countryspeed 12,9 knih(B mph); road
There were nurnerous variants on range 145 kn (90 miles); vertical Mass-produced from I 940, the
the Vaientirie. Gun tanks ran to I I diffe- obstacle 0.838 m (2 ft 9 in); fording Valentine fought throughout the
rent marks with the main armament 0.914 m(3 ft); trench2.286 m(7 ft6 in),: desert campaigns. Although slow
increasrng from a 2-pdr (Valentine I- like theMatilda, itwas a sturdy
VII) via the 6-pdr (Valentine VIII-X) to vehicle and was able to be re-armed
a 75-mm (2 95-in) gmn (Valentine XI), with hetter guns as thewar
and there was even a self-propelled progressed.*
gun version mountinq a 25-pdr field
gnrn and known as the Bishop, Specral-
purpose Valentines ran the .whoie
gamut from mobile bridges (Valentine
Bridgelayer) to Canal Defence Ltgthts
(Valentine CDL) and from observation
posts (Valentine OP) to mine-cleartng
devices (Valentine Scorpion and
Valentine AMRA), The numbers of
these.variants were legion, r4any of
them beinq one-off devices produced
for trials or experimental purposes,
typical of which were the early Duplex
Drive Valentine vehicles r.$ed to test
the DD system, Actually these tanks

1334
Crusctder'
AIter winning crushing victories over an ltalian army many times its size, the British
Army in North Atrica was pushed back to EgWt by the newly-formed Afrika Korps
Ied by Erwin Rommel Only the port of Tobruk held out, and early British attempts to
relieve it metwith failure. Brilish and Commonwealth forces under General
Auchinleck paused until autumn, gathering strength. On I I November 1941 over
700 British tanks struck out at the German line.

Operation 'Crusader' took place in the North Matildas) and I95 light tanks, The last were
A-frican desert from 18 November to an inde- American Stuarts, newly arrived in the Middle
terminate date in December 1941, It was a East and a vast improvement over the Vickers
confused and muddled battle that involved one Light Tanks whlch they replaced, Unfortunate-
of the very first uses of Brltish armour on a large ly the Stuarts, for all thetr many good attributes,
scale against what was to be the Britlsh army's were not 'tropicalized' and lacked British wire-
b6te nojre, Rommel and his Afrika Korps, less sets, so as soon as they arrived they had to
The sudden and unexpected arrlval of the move straight into the workshops for a mod-
Afrika Korps in North Africa in early I94l had ification programme which delayed the plan-
created a great deal of trouble for the Allied ned offensive, British tank crew perch on a Mk IV Cruiser to plan
forces following their early vrctorles over the Against this array of vehicles Rommel had their attack. Auchinleck's aimwas to relieve
Italians durlng 1940. In practical terms the 320 tanks, only 35 of which were 75-mm (2,95- Tobruk and push theGermans backfromEwpt;
in) armed PzKpfw IVs, He had also I39 PzKpfw the task of British armour was to bring Rommel's
Allles had been pushed back across the Egyp- tanks to battle and destroy them.
tian frontier from Libya ieaving a garrison be- IIIs and i46 Italian M, l3s of various types. But
leaguered in the port of Tobruk. The relief of this numerical deficiency masked one thing
these troops was an obvious objective flrr the and that was that the Germans had an array of tion of the enemy armoured forces, Its main
Ailied commander, General Str Ciaude Au- highly effective anti{ank guns (including the striking component was to be the 8th Army
chinleck, who used much of the summer of I94l famous '88') and also had a well-established set with its XXX Corps and XIII Corps, Combined
planning a major counteroffensive, He was of tactlcs for defensive co-operation between with these two powerful corps would be the
aware that a successful counteroffensive wouid tanks, artillery and anti{ank gmns. The British Tobruk garrison which was to play a major part
require large amounts of mat6rlel, including generally lacked this highly developed form of in its own break-out, The plan of Operation
tanks, and much of the available time was spent inter-arm co-operation and one of the main 'Crusader' was basrcally srmple. XIII Corps
in building up tank totals to an acceptable Allled arms, the artrllery, was ln a state of con- would initially hold the coastal road and the
level, In fact they accumulated 756 tanks, of slderable disarray followtng a major reorg- approaches to the important logistic areas to
which 336 were 'Cruise/ vehicles (mainly of anization conjured up rn the middle of a cam- the rear, XXX Corps would make the usual
the early marks but with a sizable proportion of paign, The artillery often found itself frag- sweep south and then north towards Tobruk
the new Crusaders), 225 'lnfantry' tanks (mainly mented and lacking any system lo produce the and at the appropriate time the Tobruk garn-
massed fire effects that were essential to effec- son would strike outwards and hopeful1y catch
tive antitank defences. the enemy in the rear,
Aformation of Mk IV Cruisers kicks up the dust as The operation duly commenced on 18
it speeds across the stony desert. Christie The Allied counteroffensive was named Op-
suspensrbn ena bled the Cruisers to travel at very eration 'Crusader', and one of its main objec- November 1941 wlth the XXX Corps move.
high speedsover suchground, butthewear and tives was the relief of the 70th Division ln Tob- XXX Corps was mainly an armoured lbrmation
tear on men and machines was severe. ruk, whlle the overall priority was the destruc- containing the 7th Armoured Divrsion, the 4th
Operation'Cnrsader'
Armoured Brigade Group, the 22nd Guards rious columns a relatively easy proposition. occasion was saved for the British by the arrival
(Motor) Brigade and the Ist South A-frican Divi- Time and again thq advancing columns were on the scene ofan armoured brigade when one
sion with the 2nd South A-frican Division in re- met by what were frequently small German or of the involved brigades had only 28 tanks of
serve. This force moved around the border Italian forces that were able to delay, harass any kind left, An attempt by the Tobruk garrl-
'rnre that divided Egypt from Libya, swept and disrupt, Communications between the va- son to become.involved led to the loss of 60
through all the old deserted Italian camp areas rious Allied units was made virtually impossi- tanks out of the I09 they had available.
that had been taken so easily in the previous ble by poor radio communications brought ab- But the Germans lost heavily too and with-
year, and then turned north towards Tobruk, out by unsuitable equipment and a low overall drew, Ieaving Sidi Rezegrh ln Allied hands, at
The main dominating feature on the standard of signals training. Thus instead of a least for the moment. For a while all was quiet
approaches to Tobruk is the Sidl Rezegh ridge, carefully co-ordinated advance, XXX Corps' until the Germans attacked in drvisional force
about 19 km (12 ml1es) south of the Tobruk forces grradually moved towards Sidi Rezegh ln and by accident captured the entire headquar-
perimeter and the site of an lmportant airstrip. a series of dispersed moves, ters of an armoured brigade, Thrs loss made
This ridge was to become one of the most Once they arrived close to the Sidi Rezegh the fighting even more confused, and Sidi Re-
important leatures of the subseguent opera- rldge some degree of concentration became zegh chaneted hands again, In this situation the
trons, and in the days and weeks that followed it possible, but while the Allies prepared a set- battle-readiness and flexible tactics of the Ger-
was to be taken, lost and re-taken by both piece attack the Germans attacked them first, mans showed to their advantage time and time
sides. But in the initial stages of XXX Corps' The set-piece attack degenerated into a series again, while the Allies often attempted to re-
movements the overall cohesion of the adv- of hurried defensive actions into which isolated medy any local difficulty by charging at the
ance began to break up. The leadtng elements, groups of tanks were fed piecemeal into the enemy. This had its effect but all too often
instead of rehaining in a tight force, gradually fray, On some occaslons artillery support Allied casualties were heavy. But by 23
fanned out across the desert areas making the saved the day but in others isolated gnrns were November XXX Corps had managed to con-
enemy lnterception and dispersal of the va- teft to provide what fire support they could. The centrate lts armour again.

Fighting in the desert has never been particularly easy, with


. MEDITERRANEAN SEA
extremes of heat and cold, aridity and the ever-present dust.
Bringing vehicles into such an environment multiplies the
difficulties, as desert grit can find a way into the most
carefully protected engine. Maintenance thus becomes of
prime importance.

LIBYA

Above: From positions behind the Egyptian


border, the British torces under Auchinleck tried
to relieve the beleaguered Tobruk garrison. The
distances were not really large, but amaior
obstacle lay ahead in the shape of Erwin Rommel.

Operating in the desert, natural delensive features


are often hard to find. On such occasions, tank
formations would cluster into an easily defensible o;f,'6.1
&. 4:g*' ri
Iaager for the night. The scene duringOperation Aa*i**:,;+
'Crusader' would have included both Mk IV
Crurers (seen ahove) and Crusaders, or Cruiser
MkVI (seenright).

1336
British and French Tanks of World War II

Aboze: llatildas provided the bulk of the 225 infantry tanks which fought in the 'Crusader' batUes. In such
, open terrain the slow-movingMatildaswerevulnerable to longer-rangedGerman anti-tankguns.

I
.-ff

As the sun rose, abating the chill of the desert night, the first
units moved off from laager. Often thewear and tear of
desert operations would cause breakdowns, and the REME
engineers attached to the tank units had to perform
prodigies of maintenance and repair to keep a proportion of
the temperarrtental Crusaders on the move.

1337
Operation'Crusader'
23 November the Allies succeeded
-: -r11,'on
:apiunng the headquarters of the Afrika
il:ps bui the commander, General Cruewell,
,';=< absent and responded to the situation by
:--<ng an immediate attack in the Sidi Rezeqh
-ea, Thrs attack drove the Allies from the fie]d
prob-
=i'Jrrough the dreadful communication
-e::s:Lre headquarters of the 8th Army learned
-r:','; its hopeful plans had been dlsrupted. it
.';:s iime to use all available reserves to make
-- ail-oui attack on Sidi Rezegh again. The
preparation for this attack was assisted by
i.cnmel who chose that instant to make one of
:: characteristic raids deep into the Allied
::ar, movinq through numerous rear areas as
:e did so. This raid looked serious enough at
-:le time, but it was a serious tactical mistake for
:ie ieft quite powerful Allied forces still intact in
:is rear: these were thus able to concentrate
aEain and were soon ready to move on Sidi
?.ezegh,
With Rommel's raidfinally halted by concen-
:ated artillery (for once),
rt was time to attack, Above : Charging forward, pennants fluttering in
Yet another counterattack by a Panzer division the breeze, this Vickers Light Tank MkVI shows
-,';as made but this time was met by a fleld how light armour could be regarded as latter-day
Dartery that llterally fought the attackers to the cavalry. But the'Crusader' battles highlighted the
need for good inter-arm co-operation. All too often
nuzzles of their gnrns and suffered accordingly British tankformations suffered heavy losses
-:r the process, But it was enough to knock the charging German positions without infantry or
Germans oif balance and in the slight breathing artillery support.
lcace more tanks from the reserves arrived for
iC{X Corps and renewed fighting commenced.
Right: The victor: a Cruiser MkVI Crusaderpasses
These attacks were typical of the perrod, for ablazingGerman PzKpfw |V,27 November I94l.
:me and trme again the Allied tanks charged at Rommel had 35 PanzerlVs,whichwere superior to
carefully laid anti-tank defences that deci- any of the British tanks involved in the battle. To
nated their numbers and more than coun- defeat these excellent vehicles with a B ritish Cruiser
:erbalanced the disparity in the ratio of attack- tank demanded great courage and not a little luck.
ers io defenders, But gradually the Allies
noved forward and even linked up with the with Tobruk was lost. Again it looked as though
Tobruk garrrson, Once again Sidi Rezegh was Rommel had won, but his gain was rliusory, The
Below: Fast, but lacking either the firepower or
r A]lied hands. armour oltheGerman tanks, theimbalanceof the Allles still had reserves to hand, once they
But it was not for long. In typical style the Cruiser desigm had been revealed before could be organized, and Rommel had none, His
Germans immediately counterattacked and 'Crusader', but the troops had to fight with armoured raid was seen to be what it had been,
caughi the unprepared Allies off balance. Sidi whateverwas available - in this case a Cruiser a diversion that drew off forces at a vital mo-
F.ezegh once more changed hands and the link MKIV. ment, He had to fa]] back and, in a series of
well-planned well-executed moves, the Ger-
man and ltalian lorces withdrew westwards to
El Adem and then to El Agheila, This tookplace
in a series of moves that lasted until 6 January
1942 although Operation'Crusader' had ended
well before then,
So Tobruk was relieved, but Operation 'Cru-
sader' had failed in its objective of destroying
the enemy armoured forces, which were still
intact awaitingr their next opportunity to move
east to the point where Tobruk would be re-
taken and only El Alamern would stand before
Rommel and the Nile region. The Allies consr
dered they had won a victory, as well they
might, but it was a victory that cost them dear.
Much of thls cost had been caused by their or,rm
mistakes: dispersion instead of concentration,
headlong attacks against well-defended locah-
tles and generally feeding penny packets into
a battie rnstead of warting for the one all-
important blow,
The tanks had not shown up well, Even the
new Crusader demonstrated once again that
the 2-pdr gnrn was of little value when pitted
against tanks with larger-calibre high-velocity
weapons and that its armour offered iittle pro-
tection aqainst such weapons, Even.the newly-
arrived Stuarts showed that they lacked oper-
ational range, and the poor Infantry Matildas
and Valentines suffered from the German '88s
But the Allies learned from their errors il:d
were much better prepared for the battles ::
come, battles that were initially defeals br:
were to lead to eventual victory,
>K int"r,rrv Tank Mk Mhurchill
-;en to provide a list of all the Chur-
chill marks and variants would filI
:rany pages, so thrs entry can provide
::Jy a brief outhne of what was one of
:-e most important Brrtish tanks of
.icrld War IL In production terms the
l:rurchill came second to the Valen-
--e, but in the scope of applicatrons
variants it came second to none.
=dIhe Churchill was born in a spe-
:jcatlon known as the 420 which was
-ssued in September 1939 and envis-
:;fed a retwn to the trench flghting of
-,iorld
War L Hence the A20 tankwas a
-;rhral update of the old World War I
!:rrish 'lozenge' tanks, but experi-
=:ces with the A20 prototype soon
Left: Churchills move up to the Above : The C hutchill was es sen traiLl.
Normandy front line past a column of desigmed for areturn to trench
US M4 Shermans in early August warfare. As such itwas a classic
1944. Note how the crews have inf antry tank, slow bu t he aviJy
attached large sections of track to the armoured. I ntroduced in I I #, its
front hull and the turret side as cftassr's was su bsequently used for a
additional armour. fi osf ofspecr'afis t vehicles.

ing improvements were added suc- modiflcations and was able :: ::::; =
cessively, In a1l there were I I Chur- wide assortment of odd gad;:'. :-. -
chill marks, the last three of them 're- as wall demolition charges iChu:c:ui
works' of earlier marks rn order to up- Light Carrot, Churchill Onior. -=:-.
date early models to Mk VII standard Churchill Goat) mine-cleanr- I .'. :.:- -i
with the 75-mm (2.95-in) gmn. (Churchill AVRE/CIRD) ca:1 ::--
=.---..-
In action the heavy armour of the devices for use on bog;r, ::---.:
Churchlll (16-102 mm/0,6-4 in in Mks (Churchill AVRE Carpetlave:
I-VI and 25-152 mm/1-6 in in Mks Vi- armoured recovery vehrcl:.. C:.--
VIII) was a major asset despite the fact chill ARV), and so on.
that the tank's first operational use was I he Churchill may har': .: . :'=:
in the 1942 Dieppe landings, when archarc, but it gave excellei: s::-. -:=
many of the Churchills used proved and many were still around -:. --.: .-- l -
unable to even reach the beach, let l95Os rn varrous grutses, the I^-: l:.---
alone cross it, But in Tunisia they chillAVRE notbeingretrei -:.- . :: :
proved they could climb mountarns
and provide excellent support for Specification
-::rved that a lighter model would be lable tarks were regarded as better armoured as well as infantry units, ChurchillVII
::qurred. Subsequently Vauxhall thari none. Later marks had these early though they were often too slow to ex- Crew: 5
I.l:tors took over a revised specifica- troubles ehmrnated. ploit local advantages. Weight: 40642 kq (89,600 lb)
--:n known as the 422 and designed The armament of the Churchill fol- It was as a special-purpose tank that Powerplant: one Bedford t'.::--.:':
:-: Infantry Tark Mk IV, later named lowed the usual path fiom 2-pdr (Chur- the Chwchill excelled, Many of these petrol engine developLng 25 - <-,',
--.-,:Churchill, chilt I-U), ua 6-pdr (Churchill fiI-IV) special variants became established (350 bhp)
',rauxhall had to work from scratch eventualiy to a 75-mm (2.95-in) grun in as important vehicles in their own Dimensions:leng1h7.442 n (2= .. : :-
--i yet came up with atracks
well armoured the Churchill fV (NA 75) arid Chwchill right, and included in this number width 2.438 m (B ft); height 3 =:i *
--=:-< wrth large
overall that qave M-VIL There were also CS (close sup- were the Churchill AVRE (Armoured (11ft4in)
design an appearance not unlike port) variants wrth 76.2-mm (3-in) and Vehicle Royal Engineers), the Chur- Performalce: maxrmum sp:e: - -
-:
':r: of World War I tanks, Unfortunate- eventually 95-mm (actually 94-mm/3, 7- chill Crocodile flamethrower tank and ]an/h (12,5 mph); maxrmun cr:s:-
,,- :e early Chwchill marks were so in) howitzers rn the Churchill V and the various Churchill Bridgelayer and country speed about 12 B k:- :-
: .:ed rnto production that about the Churchill VIIi. The Churchill I also had Churchill Ark vehicles. Then there (B mph); range 144 8 kn (Y. ::-::
:r 1,C00 examples had to be exten- a hull-mounted 76,2-mm (3-in) hourt- were the numeroLls Churchill mine- fording 1,016 m (3 fl 4 r,rt \':::::
.-.':ly modified before they could zer. The tufiets also changred from warfare variants from the Churchill obstacle 0.76 m (2 I 6 ur; ::.--:.-.
=-.'::: be issued to the troops, But they bernq cast items to berng nveted or Plough variants to the Churchill Snake 3,048 m (10 ft)
;=:= produced at a perrod when inva- composite structures, and such refrne- with its Bangalore torpedoes, The
.--,=- seemed imminent and even unre- ments as track covers and engnne cool- Churchill lent itself to all manner of

ru U*it"t Tank Sentinel ACI

The outbreakof warfoundAustraliawith nomodern tankforce and little industrialinftastnrcture. The AC -


was a home-grown tank developed at lightning speed to fight off the anticipatedJapanese invasion.
Cruiser Tank Sentinel ACI (continued)

7.7-mm (0,303-in) machrne-gnrns, and it desrgn capable of considerable


was decided to use as many compo- stretch and modif,cation. This was just
nents of the American M3 tank as as well, for the Sentinel AC3 mounted a
possible. The powerplant was to com- 25-pdr (87,6-mm/3,45-in) field gun bar-
prise three Cadillac car engines rel in the twret to overcome the short-
joined together and extensive use was comingTs of the 2-pdr,
to be made of cast armow, A second The 25-pdr was chosen as it was
model, to be known as the AC2, was aiready in production 1ocally, but it
mooted, but by late i941 as the was realized that this gnrn would have
Japanese became increasinglY only limited effect agratnst armour and
agrgressive in the Pacific, the AC2 was the Sentinel AC4 with a 17-pdr (76.2-
passed over in favour of the existing mm/3-in) anti-tank qun was proposed
ACl, which had armour ranging from and a prototype was built. This was
25 mm (1 in) to 65 mm (2,55 in) in thick- during mid-1943, and bY then the
ness. back€round to the hurrred introduc-
The first ACls were readY bY Janu- tion of the ACI into servtce had re-
aty 1942 and were soon named Sen- ceded, There was no longer the Inspite of the speed with which it featuring an all-casthull and a heavy
tinel. The whole project from paper- chance that the Japanese miqht invade was produced, the AC I Sentinel was armament. Thii is the Mk IV, which
work requests to hardware had taken the Australian mainland and anylvay, a remarkably innovative design mounted a 17-pdrWn.
only 22 months, which was a remark- M3s and M4s were Pouring off the
able achievement since a1l the facilt- American production lines in such way ahead of design practice else- Weight 28450 ks (62,720 lb)
ties to burld the tank had to be de- numbers that there would be more where, and the ready acceptance of Powerplant: three Cadillac petrol
veloped even as the tanks were being than enough to equip all the Allies, heavy guns like the 25-pdr and the engines combined to develop 246 kW
built. But only a few ACI tanks were including Australia. Thus Sentinel pro- l7-pdr was also way ahead of contem- (330 bhp)
produced as by 1942 it was realtzed duction came to an abrupt halt in July porary thought. But the Sentrnel series Dimensions: length 6.325 m (20 ft 9 in);
that the Z-pdr gmnwould be too smallto 1943 in order to allow the dlversion ol had little impact at the time for the wrdth2,768 m (9 ft i in); heisht 2,56 m
have any effect against other armour industnal potential to more important examples produced were used for (B ft 4,75 in)
and anyrivay, the hurried design sttll priorities, training only. Performance: maximum speed
had some 'bugs' that had to be mod- The Sentinel senes was a remark- 48.2 lan/h (30mph); range 322 ]cn (200
ified out of the desrgn, Most of these able one, not only from the industrial Specification miles); trench 2.438 m (B ft)
bugs were only mrnor, for the Sentinel side but also fuom the design view- SentinelACl
turned out to be a remarkably sound point. The use of an all-cast hull was Crew:5

Ttl U#ir", Tank Ram Mk I


pension demonstrated its M3 orlgins. It widely used in the pos{une 1944 cam- Specification
When Canada entered World War II
in 1939 it drd not have any form of tank was not long before the initial 2-pdr paigms, Some Rams had their gnrns re- RamMkII
unit, and the first Canadian tank train- gnln was replaced by a 6-Pdr in the moved and were used as artillery Crew:5
ing and familiarization units had to be Ram Mk II, and production proPer got obsewation posts (Ram Command/OP Weight 29484 ks (65,000 lb)
equrpped with old World War I tanks under way by the end of 1941, The Tank), while others were more exten- Powerplant: one Continental R-975
from American sources. However, it secondary armament was one co-axial sively modifled to become armoured radial petrol engtne developing
was not long before the Canadian rail- and one hull-mounted 7,62-mm (0.3-in) recovery vehicles. Some were used 298 kW (400 bhp)
way industry was asked by the UK if it machine-gnrn, Aimost as soon as pro- for various experimental and trial pur- Dimensions: lenqth 5,79 m (19 ft 0 in);
cou-ld manufactwe and supply Valen- ductron commenced numerous design poses, such as the mountrng of a 94-mm width 2,895 m (9 ft 6 in); height 2,667 m
tine infantry tanks, and this proved to modifications lrere progEessively in- (3,7-in) antr-arrcraft gn:n on top of the (8 ft 9 rn)
be a major task for the Canadians who ftoduced but none of these changes hull, Performance: maximum speed
had to virhrally butld up a tank manu- were fuldamental as the Ram was a But the Ram's greatest contdbution 40,2 knr/h (25 mph); range 232 kn (144
facturing capability from scratch. But basically sound tank, fumour thick- to the conflict was the adaptation ofthe miles); vertical obstacle 0.61 m (2 ft);
the Valentines were 'Infantry' tanks ness ranged from 25 mm (1 in) to 89 mm basic Ram hull to take a 25-pdr artrllery trench 2.26 m (7 ft 5 in)
and the new Canadian tank units (3 5 in). piece. The gnrn was placed in a simple
would need 'Cruisers' for armowed All the output went to the new Cana- open superstructure on top ofthe hull,
combat. At that time there was little dian armoured regnments and many of and in this form the Ram became the Canada had no armoured
prospect of obtaining tanks from the these regiments, as they were formed, Sexton. A total of 2, 150 was produced forcesin 1939 but decided
United Krngdom and the United States were sent to the United Kingdom. But for the Allied armies so the Ram pro- tobuildherown tankto
was not involved in the war, so the only the Ram was never to see action as a duction line made a definite contribu- equip theexpanding
thing to do was design and build tanks gnrn tank, By mid-I943 large numbers tion to the AI[ed nctory Canadian army. The Ram
in Canada, of M4 Shermans were Pouring off tankutilized the cftassis of
But what tank? Again, at the time it Amedcan production lines and as this the American M3 , but
seemed opportune to burld the Amer- tank already had a 75-mm (2.95-1n) gmn mounteditsmain
ican M3 (then entering production for a it was decided to standardize on the armamentinthe turret
British order) but this desigm, later M4 for all Canadian units, Thus the rather than in a sponson as
lsrown as the Grant/l,ee, had the draw- Rams were used for traininq only. As on the originalUS vehicle.
back of a sponson-mounted main gnrn they were withdrawn manY had their
at a time when it was appreciated that turrets removed to produce the Ram
a turret-mounted gn-rn was much more Kangaroo, which was a simPle Yet
efficrent. Thus the Canadians decided efficient armoured personnel carrier
to adopt the main mechanical, hull and
tlansmissron components of the M3,
but a'liy them to a new turet mounting
a 75-mm (2.95-in) main grun. But there
was no prospect of a 75-mm (2.95-in)
qun at the time, so the readilY-
available (40-mm/1,58-in) weapon was
chosen for initial installations, with the
chance of fitting a larqter gnrn later. This
turned out to be the 6-pdr (57-mm/
2.244-in) gun.
Burldrng such a tank from scratch
was amajor achievement for Canadian
rrdr.rstry, and the prototype was rolled
out from the Montreal Irocomotive
Works in late June 1941, It was christ-
ened the Cruiser Tank Ram Mk I, and
hmed out to be a remarkablY work-
manlike desiga making much use of
:ast amour; the drive train and sus-
r
Jsnred Forces of the World

ffi
US ArrngPar,6 lE-

A"rmyAviation
- -
--=-: y involving close to 9,000 fixed-wing aircraft
r': -: copters, United States Army aviation activi-
r;- ':-.n only a fairly small part of US Army en-
:.i,:-is as a whole. Nevertheless, a sizable prop-
:-:- cf the annual budget is devoted directly to
--
i :: :1, which is quite rightly seen as a most impor-
::- - :: ;unct to forces operating on the ground. From
--; :: nt of view of operations, US Army aviation
- :: :lme a long way slnce the start of the Vietnam
:- and it is fair to say that this conflict had a
:"- ,.,::lul and far-reaching eff ect on philosophy with
-:;.'C to the employment of aviation assets.
l:'ore the massive US involvement in Vietnam,
- : -i.my aviation had bben employed principally as
: -:ans of enhancing mobility, most of the helicop-
:. -s cperated being used as troop carrlers or for the
':: c movement of equipment such as artillery,
:* runition and other necessary supplies. As such principal manoeuvre unit, such units fighting as part The value of helicopter-borne troops was proved
:-:!.were lightly armed (if at all), but combat experi- of a brigade. Each division has three brigade head- in South East Asia, and it was a Vietnam-style
:-:e in South East Asia soon showed that the heli- quarters, the latter controlling from three to five combat assault that speatheaded the recent
liberation of Grenada. Here men of the 82nd
::3ier was in fact a most vulnerable mdchine, many battalions.
Airborne Division board a Sikorsky UH-60A Black
:' :nese aircraft falling victim to ground fire during With regard to manoeuvre forces, most divisions H awk, the replacement for the popular Bell UH- 1.
:-: nsertion and withdrawal phases of an operation. incorporate a combat aviation battalion (CAB), and
- ,,iew of this, urgent attention was directed to- this is certainly true in Europe where each of the Hawk although the trusty UH-1 H lroquois also re-
.',:rds the development of an armed and armoured heavy divisions has such a unit. Typically, a CAB mains in widespread service.
-: copter, the resulting Bell AH-1 G HueyCobra en- comprises 42 AH-l S HueyCobra, 48 OH-58 Kiowa Further aviation assets include a number of non-
='ng service during the latter half of the 1 960s and and 23 UH-1H lroquois helicopters, these undertak- assigned aviation companies undertaking tasks
:- ckly proving itself to be a most valuable addition ing such tasks as reconnaissance, anti-tank warfare which include assault support, reconnaissance, sur-
: :ne inventory. Since then, armed helicopters have and minelaying. To facilitate operational control of veillance and medical evacuation. types in use in-
::en assigned to virtually all of the major US Army these potentially unwieldy forces, a CAB is further cluding the CH-47 Chinook, the RV-1 Mohawk and
::rnmands throughout the world, and it would now subdivided into four companies: 'A' Company is the UH-1 H lroquois. Finally, it is by no means un-
:e nconceivable for the US Army to be committed principally concerned with combat support and is common for artillery and engineer regiments to
:: battle without their support. equipped with 16 UH-i Hs and 24 OH-5Bs; 'B' and operate a few helicopters, these being mainly em-
Despite the fact that the US Army now possesses 'C' Companies form the principal cutting edge of the ployed in support functions.
: most powerful attack capability, the primary mis- CAB. each possessing three UH-lHs, 12 OH-58s Now in the process of a major modernization
: cn of providing support to combat echelons oper- and 21 AH-1Ss; and 'D' Company is responsible for effort, the US Army is taking delivery of two relatlve-
=:'ng on the field of battle remains unchanged. This
maintenance and this has on charge a single UH-1 H. ly new types of helicopter in the shapes of the
- ssion embraces a multitude of tasks, and the US whilst it also usually keeps one spare example of UH-60A Black Hawk and the AH-64A Apache, but
:'my is therefore equipped with a variety of helicop- each helicopter type employed by the battalion. f urther updating is also being achieved by means oi

::rs in order that the various specialized duties can Additionally, both European-based armoured a CILOP (Conversion ln Lieu Of Procurement) prog-
:e accomplished satisfactorily. Such types include cavalry reglments also have an attached attack heli- ramme which entails the virtual remanufacture oi
:^e Boeing Vertol CH-47 Chinook for heavy-llft copter company, and these are equipped in a similar
TheHughes AH-64 Apache mounfs a fearsome
:.lties, the Bell OH-58 Kiowa for scouting and fashion to the attack companies of the combat avia- array of weaponry, with a Hughes 30-mm chain
:cservation tasks, the Bell AH-l S HueyCobra and tion battalions. lnfantry divisions also normally in- grun and either 16 Hellfire anti-lankmr'ssrles or up
-rghes AH-64 Apache gunships, and the Bell UH- corporate several troop-lift helicopter companies in to 76 ungruided rockets. I t is the most powerful
'l and Sikorsky UH-60A for utility functions. the order to enhance mobility. many of these now being helicopter ganship in the world and, priced at $ ) 0
:fter pair being what might best be described as in process of re-equipment with the UH-60A Black million, a Iso the m ost expensive.
"raids of all work'. ln addition, some fixed-wing
: rcraft are also operated, most being engaged on
:cmmunications and liaison tasks but some (such
3s the Grummman RV-1 D Mohawk and the Beech
lU-21 Ute) are employed as reconnaissance and
electronic surveillance platforms.
From the standpoint of organization, the US Army
s broken down into four individual major com-
.nands. Two of these (the 1st Army at Fort Meade,
Varyland, and the 6th Army at Presidio, California)
are based in the continental USA whilst the remain-
ng two are located overseas, these being the 7th
Army at Heidelberg, West Germany, and the 8th
Army at Youngsan, South Korea,
Subordinate divisions, of which there are 16 in all,
are attached to these. although the distribution is by
no means equal. By way of illustrating force com-
position, USAREUR's (US Army Europe) 7th Army
has two mechanized infantry and two armoured
divisions, whilst the Bth Army in Korea is a much
smaller organization, controlling just one infantry
division.
Although the division is the basic combined-arms
formation, it is the battalion which serves as the
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US Army medium- and heavy- Kiowa, and this too is being subjected to moderniza-
liftduties are now entrusted tion, many of the 2,200 examples acquired in the
solely to the 450 or so Boeing late '1960s being earmarked for conversion to OH-
CH-47 Chinooks, which are all
planned to be modernized to 5BC standard with flat-plate canopies, an uprated
CH -47 D s tand ard. U pengined
engine. infra-red suppression and improved nav/
andwithimproved crash com equipment. Operationally. the OH-58 fulfils a
survivability, the CH.47D can variety of tasks but its prime f unctlon is that of scout
alsocarry amuchgreater helicopter, and it usually works in harness with the
payload. rather more lethal attack helicopters. Another type
employed as a scout helicopter is the Hughes OH-
64 Cayuse. but this is numerically rather less impor
tant, only about 400 or so belng in service and most,
if not all, are based within the boundaries of the
USA.
US Army medium- and heavy-lift capability is now
entrusted solely to the CH47 Chinook, all remaining
examples of the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe having been
relegated to second-line service with reserve eche-
lons. As already noted, Chinook modernization
: 1 s:ing CH-41A, CH-478 and CH-47C Chinooks to plete with a Hughes XM230E1 30-mm chain gun efforts have resulted in the advent of the CH47D
:-+7D configuration, well over 400 examples which has a normal firing rate of 800 rounds per variant which is substantially more powerful than
:: rg due to receive this treatment in the next few minute. Additionally, the Apache can carry up to 76 earlier derivatives, and plans are in hand to upgrade
unguided rockets, whilst the provision of sophisti- more than 400 older Chinooks in the next 1 0 years or
As far as armed helicopters are concerned, the cated target acquisition and night vision systems so. Recently introduced to service with the 101st
:--i S Hueycobra still occupies a position of ascen- permit it to operate effectively by day and night or in Airborne Division, the CH-47D incorporates new en-
::^cy, several hundred remaining in service, many adverse weather conditions. gines, composite rotor blades, an advanced automa-
:= :nem modernized machines arlsing from an up- On the utility helicopter front. Sikorsky's highly tic flight control system and increased crashworthi-
:at ng programme which entailed the addition of the versatile UH-60A Black Hawk is new well estab- ness, features which combine to enhance payload
-C\{ wire-guided anti-tank missile. Other improve- lished in service, about half of the planned procur- by a quite remarkable degree; the Chinook can now
-ents embodied in the AH-1S include non- ment of 1,107 having been delivered. Examples of carry 44 fully-equipped troops instead of the 33 that
-:'lectiveflat-plate canopy glass, uprated engines the Black Hawk are presently operational in the USA was normal with earlier examples. About 450 Chi-
::d transmission units, composite rotor blades and and Europe. but plans to acquire the EH-608 SOTAS nooks at present serve with the US Army through-
roroved nav/com gear, whilst some new-build (Stand-Off Target Acquisition System) variant have out the world.
rachines feature an updated gun turret, compatible been abandoned because of the high cost of mis- ln addition to the types already discussed, US
,',rih either 20-mm or 30-mm cannon armament. ln sion-related avionics. Nevertheless, this require- Army aviation also includes a sizable fleet of fixed-
aCdition, Bell has also built just over 1 00 modernized ment still exists and it is not inconceivable that the wing aircraft, the majority of which are assigned to
-f -1 S helicopters which possess a new fire-control project could be resurrected at some future date. support duties. Such types include the Beech T-42A
svstem, Doppler navigation, infra-red suppression/ The backbone of US Army aviation for many Cochise. Beech U-21 Ute, Beech U-25lC-12 Huron
':'rming years, Bell's equally versatile 'Huey' remains in
and secure voice communications gear. and Beech U-B Seminole. Heavily modified variants
Looking to the future, the somewhat grotesque widespread service today and is still the most of the U-21 and C-12 are also assigned to such
rughes AH-64A Apache will become the principal numerous type ln the inventory, being found every- specialist tasks as electronic surveillance and the
aitack helicopter and this is now in quantity produc- where that the US Army maintains a presence. The acquisition of signals intelligence, whilst about 150
l on at Mesa, Arizona. Present planning calls for the principal f ront-line model is the UH-1 H which under- OV/RV-I Mohawks perform reconnaissance. Final-
acquisition of close to 500 examples of this fear- takes a multitude of missions. but older varlants are ly, primary helicopter training is accomplished with
scmely armed machine, deliveries of which began still around in some numbers, most being asslgned the Hughes TH-55A Osage, some examples of the
c.rite recently. Capable of carrying no less than 16 to second-line forces within the continental USA. Cessna T-41 Mescalero also being engaged on
Hell{ire anti{ank missiles, the Apache comes com- The next most numerous type is the OH-58 fixed-wing flying training duties.

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F lying f as t and low, thd door


gunner leaning out over the
2.75-in rocket pod, this BeIl
UH - N of the 24th C omposite
1

Squadronk ona c/ose-


support mision during an
exercise near the Panarna
Canal.