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Great Britain's Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15

Photos

Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15:
Great Britain's Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum
Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15:
Great Britain's Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum
Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15:
Great Britain's Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader, A15
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum

Design

Major-General Wavell was impressed by the Bystrokhodnii tanks he saw during the Soviet Union's maneuvers in 1936.8 These used the Christie suspension had had excellent speed and mobility.8 In October 1936 the War Office purchased a Christie 1932 prototype.8

Nuffield built the Crusader using many of the same parts from the A13 series.6 Used a Christie suspension and a Nuffield Liberty engine.6,8

Suffered from unreliability due to it was quickly put into production before trials were completed.

Construction

The construction of the Crusader was a base frame of steel plates to which armor was bolted onto.6,8 The turret was welded with additional armor bolted on.6,8,10

Turret

Only the Crusader Mk III had an extractor fan to expel the smoke and gases from the turret.8 At the back of the turret was the radio, a No. 9 set in the early Crusaders and a No. 19 in later models.8

Suspension

The Crusader used a Christie suspension.10 The hull was lengthened and another pair of road wheels was added to help distribute the additional weight of the 50 mm armor.8 Maximum speeds were often exceeded as the suspension was rather tough.9

Engine

Nuffield designed the Cruiser Tank Mk VI at about same time of the Covenanter but it had a Liberty engine and gearbox.1,7,8

Fuel tanks were located on each side of the engine with radiators fitted vertically between the tanks and the engine. Two cooling fans were fitted in the rear bulkhead. The drive chains were exposed and this posed problems in the desert and were replaced by a form of a shaft. The exhaust pipes went on each side of the engine, over the transmission, and ended inside the rear hull louvers. The concertina type air cleaners were mounted on the rear track guards in early models and were replaced by an oil bath type.

Early models of the Crusader's engines would overhead as the cooling fan broke its drive shaft quite often. Some vehicles in North Africa had their engine governors opened and the Crusader was able to achieve speeds up to 40 mph which was very hard on the engine.

Crew

The driver was located on the right side in the front of the hull under a raised hood.8 There was an access hole in a partition between him and the front gunner.8 The driver could change the gears with a lever between his knees and on either side of him were the steering levers.8 There was an armored visor, that had a prism, in front of him to see through.8 To the right of the visor was a pistol port.8

The gunner in the front was located in a small polygonal shaped turret that had a machine gun.8 This turret could be traversed 150°.8 If the gunner had his turret closed up, then he could only see out via the telescopic sight of the machine gun.8

The commander, loader, and gunner were located on a turntable that was suspended from the turret.8 The commander was behind the gun and had periscopes in the roof and triplex blocks on each side of the turret to see out with.8 The gunner had shutter in the front of the turret to see through.8 The loader had a periscope in the roof of the turret.8

The main armament was elevated by shoulder and was fired by a trigger that was held in the gunner's right hand.8 His left hand controlled turret traverse either by hand wheel or a grip that switched on the power traverse.8 It took ten seconds to fully traverse the turret.8

Prototype

The Crusader prototype had small turrets in front of driver and gunner each holding a 7.92 mm machine gun.7,8 After trials these were eliminated from the design.7,8 The turret hatch slid back to open. However, it would sometimes close on the commander unexpectedly. An initial order for 200, plus a pilot model, was placed in July 1939. The pilot was delivered in March 1940. In June 1940 the order was increased to 400, and then to 1,062.1

Production

A total of 9 companies produced the tank.1

  • Crusader I:
  • Crusader II:
  • Crusader III: 144
    • Production: May - July 1942
  • Total: 5,3001,5,10, 5,700,
    • Standard: 4,3503
    • Specialized roles: 1,3733
    • Production: March 1940 - 194310, 1940 - 19435
    • Manufacturer: Nuffield10

Variants

  • Crusader I (Mk VI): Had 2 pdr gun.7
  • Crusader I CS (Mk VI CS):
  • Crusader II (Cruiser Mk VIA):
  • Crusader II CS (Mk VIA CS): 76.2 mm / 3" howitzer.7
  • Crusader III:
  • Crusader III OP: Dummy gun and extra communications.6,810 Used only after rest of class was withdrawn from front line service. Issued to Royal Artillery batteries and carried Forward Observation Officers. Two No. 19 and one No. 18 wireless sets were installed.8
  • Crusader Command: Dummy gun installed to make more room.8
  • Crusader III AA Mk I: 40 mm Bofors.7,10
  • Crusader III AA Mk II: Two or three 20 mm.7 Two 20 mm Oerlikons in an enclosed turret.10 Radio located in turret.10
  • Crusader III, AA Mk III: Two 20 mm Oerlikons in an open turret.10 Radios placed in hull.10
  • Crusader VI:
  • Crusader VII:
  • Crusader AA with Triple Oerlikon: Used for training. Originally intending for every HQ squad in invasion of Europe, but not used because of air superiority. Disbanded in June 1944.
  • Crusader II, Gun Tractor Mk I: 23 tons.8 Crusader II chassis with open topped superstructure.6,10 Used to tow 17 pdr AT.1,6,7,8,10 Used by AT regiments in NW Europe (1944-45).1,7,8 Side extensions used for wading. Used by assault divisions in Normandy.
  • Crusader with AMRA (Anti Mine Roller Attachment) Mk. 1D: The Mark 1D weighed about 1.5 tons and had 4 heavy duty sprung rollers suspended from a frame. The tank could detach itself on the battlefield if necessary by setting off an electrically fired fuse. On sand it could detonate most anti-tank mines. On harder ground weight had to be added by removing a cap and filling the roller with anything that was available (sand, earth, rubble, water). Not sure if used in combat.
  • Crusader ARV: Inspired by the Germans ability to recover vehicles in the battlefield the British formed a Recovery Committee in the summer of 1942. Removed turret and added a 5-ton portable jib.6,7,8,10 Had a crew of three. It is believed only one was made.
  • Crusader Dozer: The turret was removed, and a winch and jib were fitted to make a working dozer blade.6,7,8,10
  • Crusader Dozer and Crane (ROF): Used by Royal Ordnance Factory in bomb disposal.1
  • Crusader Amphibious: Two large pontoons were attached to each side of the hull. Special blades were attached to the tracks to propel the vehicle in the water.

Usage

The Crusaders became operational in early 1941.6,7 In June 1941 Crusaders were first used at Fort Capuzzo, Libya.10 It was the standard tank in the armored brigades in North Africa until they were replaced by Grants and Shermans.3,6,8,9

In May 1941 was shipped to the 6th Royal Tank Regiment in the Middle East. First action was June 1941 (Capuzzo).1,6 They were used in an attempt to relieve Tobruk (Operation "Battleaxe") in June 1941. The next unit outfitted with them was the 22nd Armored Brigade and they went into action in November in Operation "Crusader."8

Pulled From Frontline

The Crusader was then used as training vehicle.10

Specifications

  Cruiser Mk VI (A15) Crusader
Crew 39, 51,5,6
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 44,147 lb9
19 tons1
19,300 kg1, 20,067 kg9
Length 19' 6"1, 19' 8"3,4,9
5.994 m1,9
Height 7' 4"1,3,4,6,9,10
2.235 m1,9, 2.24 m6,10
Width 8' 8"1,3,4,6,9,10
2.64 m6,9,11, 2.642 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 1' 4"
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 15.5 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main

1: 2 pdr9
1: 6 pdr (57 mm)1

Secondary  
MG 1 or 2: 7.92 mm Besa MG1,6
MG - coaxial 1: 7.62 mm MG9
1 or 2: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG10
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1104
Secondary  
MG 5,0004
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 7 - 491, 409, 516,10
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Nuffield Liberty Mark III/IV1,4,6,9,10, Liberty3
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders V-126,10
Capacity  
Net HP 3406,9,10
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 4 forward,  1 reverse
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline6,9
Octane  
Capacity 120 gallons
500 liters + 136 liters (auxiliary)
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°4, hydraulic, powered8, hand8
36°/sec8
Speed - Road 27 mph4,6,9,10
43 kph1, 43.4 kph9, 44 kph6,10
Speed - Cross Country 15 mph4,9
24 kph9
Range - Road 100 miles6,10, 124.2 miles1, 127 miles9
161 km6,10, 200 km1, 204 km9
Extra fuel tanks: 100 miles4, 127 miles4
Main tank: 177 km2
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius 29' 7"
Elevation limits -12.5° to +30°
Fording depth 3' 3"4,9
0.99 m9
Trench crossing 8' 6"4,9
2.59 m9
Vertical obstacle 2' 3"4,9
0.686 m9
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie3,4
Wheels each side 53,7
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 10.75"4
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire Tread  
Track centers/tread 7' 7"4
  Cruiser Mk VI, Crusader A
Crew 42
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 18.8 tons2
Length 5.98 m2
Height 2.24 m2
Width 2.77 m2
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 0.41 m2
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 1.09 (kg/cm2)2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main

1: 40 mm L/522

Secondary  
MG 1: MG2
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1302
Secondary  
MG 4,9502
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 20-402
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 14+142
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 14-282
Hull Top 72
Hull Bottom 6.4-10.42
Turret Front 492
Turret Sides 23.52
Turret Rear 20 - 30.72
Turret Top 122
Engine (Make / Model) Nuffield2
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water2
Cylinders 122
Capacity  
Net HP 340@1,500 rpm2
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 4 forward2, 1 reverse2
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Capacity 455 liters2
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 41.8 kph2
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 160 km2
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius 9 m2
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 1 m2
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Christie2
Wheels each side 52
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 246 mm2
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire Tread  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. Panzer Truppen The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  3. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  4. British and American Tanks of World War Two, The Complete Illustrated History of British, American, and Commonwealth Tanks 1933-1945, Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, 1969
  5. World War Two Tanks, George Forty, 1995
  6. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  7. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  8. AFV #8, Crusader-Cruiser Mark VI, Major James Bingham
  9. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  10. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site