What's the Rap on the Crusader III tank?

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David C. Clarke
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What's the Rap on the Crusader III tank?

Postby David C. Clarke » 29 Sep 2005 16:16

I have to admit that I've always had a liking for the clean lines of this vehicle. I understand there were questions about its reliability, but what did the average British tanker feel about the vehicle?

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David

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Michael Emrys
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Re: What's the Rap on the Crusader III tank?

Postby Michael Emrys » 30 Sep 2005 00:44

David C. Clarke wrote:...what did the average British tanker feel about the vehicle?


Curiously enough, I can't recall reading anything by a Crusader crewman, at least not about the period he was serving in a Crusader. Otherwise, the feeling is that it was under-armored, under-gunned, prone to brew up if hit and penetrated (well, what wasn't?), and mechanically unreliable. It was fairly fast and like you, I find it a handsome vehicle. Too bad it wasn't better at its trade.

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David W
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Postby David W » 30 Sep 2005 08:16

I like the looks of the entire range of British Cruiser tanks. The Crusader III was undoubtably the best of the lot. I understood it to have been more reliable than the other earlier cruisers?
The six pounder was adequate for 1943 wasn't it? I know it couldn't compete with a Tiger's 88, but then in 1943 what could?
I agree, it would be good to read some veterans thoughts on what it was like on the inside of one in combat!

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Postby Michael Emrys » 01 Oct 2005 06:15

David W wrote:The six pounder was adequate for 1943 wasn't it?


Oops, yes that is true. I was thinking of the 2pdr on the earlier models and my comment was directed to those. My mistake and I apologize.

The only thing really wrong with the 6pdr is that it didn't reach the front six months sooner. While I don't think it would have made up for bad tactics at Gazala, it would have helped some. Where it might have been most useful is even earlier during Crusader. But that's the way it goes sometimes...

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Postby David W » 01 Oct 2005 21:05

No apology required my friend. :)

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David C. Clarke
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Postby David C. Clarke » 02 Oct 2005 23:26

Hi Guys, did the 6 pdr. fire a decent high explosive shell?

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David

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Postby JonS » 03 Oct 2005 00:05

yes. From late '42/early '43.

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Postby JonS » 03 Oct 2005 00:05

A rare double. w00t!
Last edited by JonS on 03 Oct 2005 03:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Tony Williams » 03 Oct 2005 02:54

As far as I can gather, 6 pdr tanks rarely carried much, if any, HE. This is probably because the 75mm tanks carried a far more effective HE shell, so the 6 pdrs were reserved mainly for 'hole punching' - something they remained good at for the rest of the war (and most especially from 1944 when APDS became available).

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Postby Jon G. » 03 Oct 2005 06:55

I can remember Macksey spending a few paragraphs on the Crusader III although he does not directly quote any tankers who operated it. I agree that the Crusader series of tanks have aesthetic appeal, and the Mark III wasn't even undergunned - but the Liberty engine (originally designed for aircraft) apparently did not perform well in the desert climate. According to Macksey (IIRC), the water pump for the Liberty's cooling system was not drained prior to shipment to the Middle East, and the cooling system was not refilled after arrival in Egypt. That's bound to cause trouble in North African temperatures.

Also, the Crusader apparently used a chain transmission (!), and if the chain broke it would fall to the bottom of the tight engine compartment, meaning that you had to lift the engine to put the chain back in place - i.e. a workshop job, and the British did not have anything similar to the German's workshop companies until the time of Crusader - Operation Crusader that is.

Strict maintenance may have done something to improve the Crusader's reliability. It was probably let down by the dusty desert climate, the absence of a competent technical branch in the British army until November 1941, and finally by better Grants and Shermans being available once teething problems had been solved. Still, there were AA tanks on Crusader chassis with British forces in NW Europe in 1944. I don't know if they suffered from as many mechanical problems as the original Crusaders did, but you would assume that some of the technical issues had been solved by then.

I have not yet bought David Fletcher's two books on British Tanks in WW2, but judging by the title of the first volume, it addresses all the mechanical shortcomings of early British tanks.

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Postby Tony Williams » 03 Oct 2005 14:15

Shrek wrote:I have not yet bought David Fletcher's two books on British Tanks in WW2, but judging by the title of the first volume, it addresses all the mechanical shortcomings of early British tanks.


These books are essential reading for anyone interested in British WW2 tanks.

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Postby David C. Clarke » 03 Oct 2005 20:18

Hi Guys, I must have missed something, IMHO, there's not too much on the Crusader III in "The Great Tank Scandal". Unfortunately that is one of only two reference books I have on WWII British armor.

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David

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Postby Michael Emrys » 04 Oct 2005 07:39

Shrek wrote:...there were AA tanks on Crusader chassis with British forces in NW Europe in 1944.


I've seen pictures of these, and read that they were assigned to armoured formations, but I know next to nothing about their actual employment. Can anybody tell me something about this? Such as, how many were in different kinds of formations, i.e., regiments, brigades, divisions? What were their functions? I know, AA defense, but I mean did they accompany the leading squadrons into battle, or hang behind the front guarding higher HQs, LOC etc.? And given that the Luftwaffe seldom made a showing in the ETO, were they ever used against ground targets in the manner that the US used the M16?

Michael

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Postby Jon G. » 04 Oct 2005 08:00

IIRC, the Crusader AA tanks were withdrawn in 1944 'due to there being no enemy aircraft to shoot at' (I recall that phrasing from a now-defunct website!) Still IIRC, they were deployed with AG asset air defense regiments and with corps and army HQs - i.e. not really on the frontline.

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Postby Martin_Schenkel » 04 Oct 2005 19:34

In 44-45, Armoured and Tank Brigades would have been authorized 20 AA tanks (6 per Bn, 2 per Bde HQ). The Armoured Recce Regts also had 5 AA tanks. By 1945 most had been withrawn, however some were retained as they proved to be quite effective when used in direct fire against soft ground targets. But it seems as though the freeing up of crews from the AA tanks was on the whole more useful than the ground fire from the tanks. Apparently the Recce Regts were the ones to keep the tanks more often, aa they worked well in conjunction with the Stuart lights.

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Martin


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