Major-General Wavell was impressed by the Bystrokhodnii tanks he saw during the Soviet Union's maneuvers in 1936. These used the Christie suspension had had excellent speed and mobility. In October 1936 the War Office purchased a Christie 1932 prototype.
Nuffield built the Crusader using many of the same parts from the A13 series. Used a Christie suspension and a Nuffield Liberty engine.
Suffered from unreliability due to it was quickly put into production before trials were completed.
The construction of the Crusader was a base frame of steel plates to which armor was bolted onto. The turret was welded with additional armor bolted on.
Only the Crusader Mk III had an extractor fan to expel the smoke and gases from the turret. At the back of the turret was the radio, a No. 9 set in the early Crusaders and a No. 19 in later models.
The Crusader used a Christie suspension. The hull was lengthened and another pair of road wheels was added to help distribute the additional weight of the 50 mm armor. Maximum speeds were often exceeded as the suspension was rather tough.
Nuffield designed the Cruiser Tank Mk VI at about same time of the Covenanter but it had a Liberty engine and gearbox.
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.
The driver was located on the right side in the front of the hull under a raised hood. There was an access hole in a partition between him and the front gunner. The driver could change the gears with a lever between his knees and on either side of him were the steering levers. There was an armored visor, that had a prism, in front of him to see through. To the right of the visor was a pistol port.
The gunner in the front was located in a small polygonal shaped turret that had a machine gun. This turret could be traversed 150°. If the gunner had his turret closed up, then he could only see out via the telescopic sight of the machine gun.
The commander, loader, and gunner were located on a turntable that was suspended from the turret. 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. The gunner had shutter in the front of the turret to see through. The loader had a periscope in the roof of the turret.
The main armament was elevated by shoulder and was fired by a trigger that was held in the gunner's right hand. His left hand controlled turret traverse either by hand wheel or a grip that switched on the power traverse. It took ten seconds to fully traverse the turret.