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Great Britain's Cruiser Mk VIII, A27M, Cromwell

Photos

Die Cast 1/72 Hobby Master 3101:
Great Britain's Cromwell Hobby Master 1/72 Diecast Armor 3101
Die Cast 1/72 Hobby Master 3103:
Hobby Master HG3103 United Kingdom Cromwell Mk IV 1/72 Diecast Armor
Die Cast 1/72 Hobby Master 3104:
Hobby Master 1/72 Diecast Armor, 3104, United Kingdom Cromwell Mk VI, A27M
Die Cast 1/72 Hobby Master 3105:
Hobby Master 1/72 Diecast Armor, 3105, United Kingdom Cromwell Mk IV

Design

The concept of the cruiser tanks was that it would be more mobile, like cavalry, and to be more mobile would be lightly armed and lightly armored.9

A new cruiser design was sought in January 1941 to replace the Crusader and to have armor of 65 mm, weight 24 tons, and carry a 6 pdr (57 mm) gun in a turret with a 60" ring.9,10 The A.24 Cruiser Mk VII Cavalier was a result and was found to be inadequate.9

The General Staff drew up specifications in late 1941 for a heavy cruiser tank that's main armament was larger and would be propelled by a better engine.5

Early models of the Cromwell were riveted with later models being welded.11 The Cromwell was the first British tank to have an all welded hull.6 It was not well liked by the crews as it didn't have good armament and lacked armor protection.6

In January 1942 Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company took over the design. In January 1943 production models first appeared.

With experience in Africa, the General Staff change the specifications to include the 75 mm gun that would allow HE ammunition to be fired at infantry and anti-tank targets.9 The ammunition was American made and taken from the Lend Lease supplies. Initially the gun was a bored out 6 pdr. (57 mm) which had it's problems, which were corrected in May 1944.1

Turret

23 rounds of 75 mm was stored in the turret and the rest around the walls of the fighting compartment. There was a No. 19 wireless set in the back of the turret. The turret was boxed shaped and had armor bolted onto an inner skin.1,8

Engine

In 1941 two designs were submitted. One with a Liberty engine that was produced by Nuffield and the other with a Rolls-Royce Meteor engine that was produced by Leyland. The Meteor engine was proven to be very reliable and based on the Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engine. Approximately 80% of the components of the engine were similar to the aero engine. The M in the A27M stood for Meteor.8,11

Initially Rolls-Royce produced the engines, but it was contracted out so that Rolls-royce could concentrate on aircraft engines.

The engine was placed between two air cleaners and two fuel tanks.9 The radiators were mounted upright in the back.9 There were curved flame guards on the deck.1 Some storage was lost, and local modifications often added additional storage.

Armament

There was a 7.92 mm Besa machine gun in the hull.9 Up until the Cromwell IV there was a hood over the machine gun's periscopic sight.9

In the turret the 75 mm gun and Besa machine gun would be fired by pressing a pedal located in the floor.9

In the turret was 23 rounds of 75 mm ammunition and 41 rounds around the hull.9

The loader could fire a 2" bomb thrower that was located in the roof of the turret and had a range of 150-450 yards.9

Comparison of Main Tank Armament Performance

 

Armor

The armor plate that made up the hull was single skin armor that was riveted or welded.9 The Cromwell Mk V's and Mk VII's were welded.9 There were side panels that added protection for the suspension.9

Crew

The driver, on the right, and co-driver/hull machine gunner sat in the forward compartment.9 The rest of the crew was in the turret and the loader was also the radio operator.9 The turret could be rotated in 15 seconds.9

The commander was behind the gunner on the left side of the turret.9 The earlier commander's cupola had 2 episcopes and later models having 8 episcopes.9 The gunner would use a telescopic site for aiming the gun.9

The driver had a lever, to change gears, and steering levers located between his knees.9 There were two periscopes and an armored visor for the driver to see through.9 There were doors above the driver's seat to allow his entry, otherwise he could go through the turret.9 In later models side doors were added for the driver and hull gunner to be able to exit the tank easier.9

Hull

There was a storage bin above the left track guard and two storage bins above the right track guard.9

Production

  • Cruiser Mk VIII, A27M, Cromwell:
    • Production: January 1943 - ?5,9
    • Manufacturer: Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company9

Comparison of Main Tank Production

Comparison of Main Tank Production

 

Variants

Usage

This was the most numerous British tank in 1944-458,11, and replaced Shermans in many units.6 Many considered it too lightly armed and armored.

Many were used by the 22nd Armored Brigade of the 7th Armored Division.5,7,8 Five of the armored reconnaissance regiments of the 21st Army Groups' armored divisions.7

Not Well Liked

Many didn't like the Cromwells that replaced the Shermans.6

One driver said:

"It was fast, reliable and good to drive, but for its intended role it was a disaster."6

Another stated that after tests in March 1944 when the top brass asked for the crew's opinions:

"We told the truth which was almost unprintable."6

Normandy

The 7th Armored Division, the "Desert Rats", was equipped with the Cromwell when it was landed in Normandy on D+1 (June 7, 1944).9,11 After fighting through the bocage the 7th Armored was able to use the Cromwell with more mobility.9

Specifications

  Cruiser Mk VIII, A27M, Cromwell
Crew Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver.3
51,3,4,8,10,11
Radio No. 199
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 61,472 lb10, 61,600 lb3
27-28 tons4, 27.5 tons1,8,11
27,941 kg8,11, 27,942 kg10, 27,970 kg1
Length 20' 10"1,3,4,6,8,11, 21' 0.75"10
6.35 m1,8,11, 6.42 m10
Height 8' 2"3,4,6,8,11, 8' 3"10, 9' 4"1
2.49 m8,11, 2.51 m10, 2.83 m1
Width 9 ' 6"8,11, 9' 6.5"3,4,6, 10', 9'1
2.9 m8,11, 2.91 m1
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 1' 4"
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 14.93 psi, 14.7 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 75 mm1,10
OR 1: 6 pdr (57 mm)1
Secondary  
MG  
MG - coaxial 1: 7.92 mm MG10
1: 7.92 mm Besa MG1
1: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG11
MG - hull 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG1
1: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG11
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 643,9
Secondary  
MG 4,9503
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 8 - 761,4,5,10, 83, 763,8,11
Welded variants: 103
Applique: 1013,8,11
Hull Front, Upper 57-63 (101 with applique)
Hull Front, Lower IV: 57
Hull Sides, Upper 32@0°
Hull Sides, Lower 32@0°
Hull Rear 32@0°
Hull Top 20@0°
Hull Bottom 6-14 (10 on welded versions)
IV: 8@90°
Turret Front 76@0°
Turret Sides 63@0°
Turret Rear 57@0°
Turret Top 20@81° & 90°
Engine (Make / Model) Rolls-Royce Meteor1,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,11
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders V-126,8,10,11
Net HP 57010, 6006,8,9,11
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 5 forward, 1 reverse,
Merritt-Brown9
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline8,10,11
Octane  
Quantity 139 gallons
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°3, hydraulic, rotated in 15 seconds
Speed - Road 31.67 mph1, 32 - 40 mph4, 38 mph10
51 kph1, 61 kph10
Speed - Cross Country 18 mph3
Range - Road 173 miles3,10,11, 172.67 miles1
278 km1,10,11
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -12.5° to +20°3
Fording depth 3'3, 4'10
1.219 m10
Prepared: 4'3
Trench crossing 7' 6"3,10
2.286 m10
Vertical obstacle 3'3,10
0.914 m10
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Improved Christie.3
Wheels each side 5
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 14"3,9
15.5" in later models.3,9
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 8' 1.75"3

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 1943-1945, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  3. 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
  4. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. World War Two Tanks, George Forty, 1995
  7. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  8. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  9. Profile AFV Weapons #25 Cromwell and Comet, Major James Bingham, 1971
  10. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  11. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site