THE LAST CRUISER TANKSIn the period from 1937 to 1945 in service with the British army consisted of only four types of infantry tanks. Changing models of military vehicles cruising type resembled a kaleidoscope. So, haven’t had time to finish military career cruising tank Krusader (“modelist-Konstruktor” No. 11 for 1999), in June 1941 began to develop a more powerful heavy cruiser tank. It was called Cromwell and the index of the A27. However, in the absence intended for his engines Rolls-Royce Meteor (they all went to the aircraft), it was decided to install the old Liberty engine as in previous models of cruiser tanks. The novelty was adopted under the name Cruiser Tank Mk VII Cavalier (A24).

The hull and turret of the tank had a rectangular shape without any rational angles of inclination and going on the frames from rolled armor plates with bolted connections. Armament consisted of 6-pounder gun and coaxial machine gun, another machine gun was mounted in the hull left of the driver. Chassis had five rollers and spring (patterns) suspension. Structurally, the Cavalier was a Crusader, but with a new hull and turret.
Since the summer of 1942 and spring of 1943 the Nuffield factory in Birmingham was made 500 tanks of this type.
Because of the greater mass of 26.9 t Cavalier had the worst dynamic performance than the Crusader. Worked with the strain and without the unreliable Liberty engine constantly broke down. For this reason, “cavalry” in combat units was not hit, but was only used for training purposes. In the second half of 1943 about 200 such tanks had been converted to a machine control for artillery units of the Panzer divisions. They actively participated in the fighting on the Western front in 1944-1945. A small part has been converted into BREM.
A temporary alternative to the A27 was also proposed by the firm English electric tank for so-called intermediate option, again with produced in large quantities by Liberty motor. But unlike the A24 could be used together with the new transmission Merritt-Brown, which replaced the old planetary transmissions of the type Wilson used English tanks during the First world war. The tank received the name of the Centaur army designation Cruiser Tank Mk VIII and index of war Department A27L (L-Liberty). The motor Meteor came to denote the index А27М.
In the production of the Centaur was attended by several companies: Leyland, LMS, Harland, Fowler, English Electric and Nuffield. In total, from August 1942 to February 1944 was released Centaur 3134 all modifications (including SOL). Thus, this tank became the most popular “heavy cruiser” of the British army during the Second world war.
The first version of the tank — Centaur I, armed with a 6 pounder gun, in fact nothing except the powertrain and some small parts did not differ from the Cavalier. On Centaur II tried to install a wider track and drive sprocket with more teeth. However, mass production of this modification went. On Centaur III to install a 75 mm gun MK V or MK VA. A significant part of the machines of this modification were obtained by alteration of Centaur I. the Latest version is Centaur IV was a support tank armed with 95 mm howitzer, firing high explosive and smoke shells.
From late 1943, when it was possible to expand the production of Meteor engines, the mass conversion of “sentarou” up to standard “Cromwell”. To distinguish these tanks from one another only on minor details. For example, there were different tensioning mechanisms caterpillars.
“Century”, which was not replaced, the engines were converted to machine artillery observers, Bramy, bulldozers, and armored personnel carriers Centaur Kangaroo (“Sentor Kangaroo”) and anti-aircraft self-propelled Centaur AA.
In its original form, “century” in the fighting did not participate. The only exceptions are the tanks of the RMASG (Royal Marine Armoured Support Group — “Armored support group, Royal Marines”). Included in it about 100 tanks “Sentor IV” supported the actions of the British marine corps, landing at Normandy in June 1944.
Cruiser tank Cromwell I
Cruiser tank Cromwell I:
1 — 6-foot gun 2— 7.92 mm BESA coaxial machine gun; 3 — hatch for firing personal weapons; 4— drawer equipment: 5 — periscope observation devices of the driver; 6 — driver’s hatch; 7 — fan of the fighting compartment; 8 — grenade smoke grenade; 9 — periscope; 10 — Luke loader; 11 — us Windows who-dehority; 12 — flip cover engine hatch; 13 — folding hatch cover to access the radiator and the main clutch; 14— hinged hatch access to transmission; 15 — commander’s cupola; 16 — fan compartment; 17 — Luke gunner; 18 — searchlight; 19 — inspection hatch of the driver; 20 — set exchange machine gun BESA

Due to difficulties with engines Cromwell tanks first Meteor left the factory workshops only in the second half of 1943. The General contractor for their production were firm Leyland. However, the release of this very popular British cruiser tank of the Second world war brought other firms: Metro, BRCW and Fowler. The tank was in serial production from 1943 to 1945. During this time, released 1070 units.
However, as already mentioned, a significantly larger number of machines of this type received by setting the Meteor engine tanks A27L Centaur. It should be emphasized that the “Cromwell” is constantly upgraded by installing new weapons and additional armor protection. So in its original form until the end of the war came very few.
The first production version of the — Cromwell I, like his predecessors, was armed with a 6 pounder gun. On the model of Cromwell II, and not running in production, eliminated a machine gun course, reduced the crew to four people, set a wider track and new drive sprocket. Cromwell III was a Centaur I, where the Liberty engine was replaced by Meteor. The most mass modification was Cromwell IV (Centaur I with the Meteor engine and the 75 mm gun Cromwell and III with 75 mm gun).
The combat weight of tanks of this model did not exceed 27,9 t the Crew consisted of five people. The armament consisted of 75 mm gun Mk V or MK VA, and course paired 7.92-mm BESA machine guns, 7.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun Bren carried inside the tank, and a 2-inch mortar to fire smoke mine. The ammunition consisted of 64 artillery rounds, 4950 rounds of BESA machine guns, 600 rounds for Bren machine gun and smoke 30 min. Frontal armor of the tower was made of 76 mm, the case is 64 mm.
Tank Cromwell IV, as, indeed, on all other versions, the mouth-poured 12-cylinder, V-type, carbureted, liquid-cooled engine Rolls-Royce Meteor power 600 HP at 2550 rpm Torque from the engine using a double-disc main clutch dry friction is transmitted to the transmission Merritt-Brown Z5, includes an unsynchronized five-speed gearbox, planetary rotation mechanism and drum brakes.
Suspension as applied to one side consisted of five rubber rollers large diameter drive wheel at the rear and idler. Suspension — spring. 1-, 2-, 4 – and 5-m hardpoints mounted hydraulic absorbers. In each track consisted of 125 trucks a width of 356 mm. Tank has a top speed of 64 km/h. cruising range is 280 km away.
Similar characteristics and had the following modification — Cromwell V, representing the Cromwell I rearmed with 75mm gun. Cromwell VW model had a welded hull (W — welded — welded). The frontal armor hull and turret was increased to 101 mm.
A variant of the Cromwell VI is a Centaur IV tank with Meteor engine, as well as Cromwell Cromwell III and V with 95 mm howitzer.
Cromwell VII Cromwell III, Cromwell IV and Cromwell V with increased thickness of armor hull and turret (forehead — 101, side housing 35, the side of the tower — 75 mm). The mass of the tank increased to 29 were enhanced suspension imposed solid rubber tires rollers. The tank was equipped with a caterpillar with a width of 394 mm. by changing the gear ratio of the gearbox the maximum speed has dropped to 51 km/h.
Support tank Cromwell VIII Cromwell VI with increased to 101 mm frontal armor, Cromwell I with increased thickness of the armor and 95 mm howitzer.
In addition to the linear modifications on the basis of the tank “Cromwell” has built a significant number of special machines: commander and command post, the advanced artillery observers, BRAM and engineering.
In the fall of 1943 tanks “Cromwell” began to enter the army, especially in those parts which were to participate in the invasion of the European continent(operation Owerlord, which began in June 1944).
In the first wave of British troops who took part in the Normandy landings, there were three armored divisions. Most “Cromwell” were part of the 7th armored division Desert Rats (the”Desert rats”). In the 22nd tank brigade consisted of three regiments: the 1st and 5th Royal tank regiments, the 4th regiment of the Yeomanry of the County of London (County of London Yeomanry). They in total there were 130 tanks “Cromwell III” and “Cromwell IV” and 15 “Cromwell VI”. These machines are manned and reconnaissance regiment of the division — the 8th Royal Irish hussars (The Kings Royal Hussars Irisn).
Workplace of the driver
The workplace of the driver:
1 — fold cover of the landing of the driver’s hatch; 2,4 — periscope observation devices; 3 — glass in the lid of the inspection hatch; 5 instrument panel; 6 — a control lever throttle; 7— button adjustment air shutter; 8 — lever air control damper; 9—the lever of the starter; 10,19— control levers; 11 — accelerator pedal; 12— cylinder servo brakes; 13—a brake pedal; a 14— seat driver; 15— control mechanism of the left caterpillar; 16 — control mechanism right tracks; 17 — servo control the main clutch; 18 — pedal the main clutch; 20 — a gear lever; 21 — compass 22 — warning lamp Parking brake; 23 — lever open the lid of the inspection hatch

In the Guards and 11th tank divisions of “Cromwell” were only in the intelligence parts: in the 2nd battalion of the Welsh guards (Welsh Guards) and in the 2nd regiment of Yeomanry Northamptonshire (Northamptonshire Yeomanry).
In addition to these parts, they were armed military squads in divisions and brigades. Finally, shortly after landing in Normandy in the reconnaissance regiment of the 6th airborne division light tanks “Tetrarch” was replaced with 12 “Cromwell”.
In these and some other parts of the British army “Cromwell” participated in the fighting in Europe until the end of the war. In other theatres they are almost never used.
In addition to the British army, these machines were equipped with some armored units of the Polish armed forces in the West, mainly of the 1st Polish army corps. First got them the 10th regiment of mounted Riflemen of the 1st Polish armored division from 1943 to 1947 in the Polish part of the West received 250-300 tanks “Sentor”/” Cromwell”.
One hundred and ninety tanks, “Cromwell IV and Cromwell VI” became part of the Czechoslovak tank brigade, also fought in the West. After the Second world war these tanks was in service with the Czechoslovak army until the early 50-ies.
As for the UK, a small number of tanks “Cromwell” participated in the war in Korea. In 1953 they were transferred from regular army units in the territorial army.
In 1952 the state arsenals in cooperation with the firm Robinson and Kershaw Ltd. converted 200 tanks in version Charioteer Mk 7 (FV 4101).
Cars were double solid welded tower with a 20-pounder (83,8 mm) cannon similar to that applied on the tank Centurion Mk 3, and coaxial machine gun, the Diameter of the tower overhead in the light was increased to 1632 mm. the aiming Devices borrowed from Centurion. Case, motorradreisen the panel and chassis borrowed from the complete tank Cromwell VII, except for the installation of exchange machine gun, the breach of which was brewed. Tanks late production gun was fitted with ejection device for purging the barrel.
Tanks “Charioteer” (warrior on a fighting chariot) was in service with the British army until 1956 and was used mainly as antitank weapon. They were later handed over to the territorial troops, and began to sell to other countries.
Fifty tanks purchased in Jordan, where they were armed with two squadrons of the 3rd tank regiment. Subsequently, a number of “charioteers” the Jordanians gave the Palestine liberation Organization, which used them in Lebanon in 1976. Ten machines of this type was captured by the Israel defense forces. 56 the British tanks supplied to Austria, and in 1958 a contract for the purchase of “charioteer” signed Finland. A batch of 35 tanks arrived in this country in 1960. They are quite intensively exploited until 1973, when they began their withdrawal. The last place to service these vehicles was a school for Junior officers. There “chariotry” served until January 1980.
Further development of the Cromwell cruiser tank with the use of a significant number (about 40 percent) of its components and assemblies was the cruiser tank Comet (A34) — the best and strongest British tank of the Second world war, took part in the fighting. It was made by the firm Leyland since September 1944.
The hull and turret of the combat vehicle — fully welded construction. The frontal hull is the same as the Cromwell. The tower was large and well-developed fodder niche. Cannon with an initial velocity armor-piercing projectile 787 m/s was a shortened version of the 17-pound gun. Both guns fired the same shells, but shells of new guns were shorter and larger diameter. To make it easier to see the projectiles guns, short gun was called 77 mm, although the actual calibre was 76.2 mm Chassis tank mostly borrowed from Cromwell.
The first production tanks were delivered to troops in December 1944. In structure of 11-th tank division the “comet” took part in repelling the German offensive in the Ardennes in January 1945. The development of the tank troops was facilitated by its structural proximity to the “Cromwell”. In its combat characteristics “Comet” inferior to the German “Panther”, but was superior to the Pz.IV.
In early 1945 the 11th armored division was the only connection the British army, fully armed these machines. Other parts got new tanks later, many after the end of hostilities in Europe. In early 1949, the “comet” is completely replaced in the army with tanks “centurion”, but in tank units stationed in West Berlin and Hong Kong, they operated until 1958.
The “comet” was delivered to Burma, Ireland, South Africa and Finland. So, armed with the Finnish army from 1960 to 1970 was 41 combat vehicle of this type.

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