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Inside the Chieftain's Hatch: Crusader


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The_Chieftain #1 Posted 04 August 2018 - 01:03 AM

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Warhammer124 #2 Posted 04 August 2018 - 02:04 PM

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on 04 August 2018 - 01:03 AM, said:

 

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The_Chieftain #3 Posted 18 August 2018 - 08:02 AM

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hon2838 #4 Posted 06 September 2018 - 04:17 PM

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what do you think the viability of this tank during its time though?

neokai #5 Posted 08 September 2018 - 06:00 AM

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View Posthon2838, on 06 September 2018 - 04:17 PM, said:

what do you think the viability of this tank during its time though?

 

The Crusader served mainly on the African front, so any evaluation has to be based in that theatre.

 

Short version: The tank was considered "okay", but quickly became under-armed (2pdr) and under-armored (40mm to 51mm depending on version) compared to its main opposition, the Panzer III and Panzer IV, over the course of its deployment.

 

From memory (correct any mistakes I have):

In 1941 and  early 1942 the 2pdr gun was viable at first (the Matilda 2 also used the same gun to great effect) since much of the Afrika Korps were using Pz IIs with a smattering of Pz IIIs. The 2pdr also provided superb on-the-move accuracy for its time (shoulder-supported gun brace made for effective "stabilization" to shoot on the move).

 

But the 2pdr suffered the lack of a HE round, which made the British tanks vulnerable to soft targets like towed AT guns. A common tactic the Germans applied was to feign retreat and bait British tanks into the teeth of German AT guns, e.g. during Operation Battleaxe. The Matilda could shrug off smaller AT shells, but the lightly armored Crusaders were vulnerable. Riveted armor construction also meant that even glancing hits by shells could be fatal to crew members as the rivets broke off and became projectiles inside the tank. End result of Battleaxe were the decimation of Crusaders were over 3 days in one of the most crushing British defeats in WW2.

 

Pz III and a smattering of light tanks formed the mainstay armor during Tobruk, Jun 1941

 

By early 1942, the first Pz IVs arrived in Africa (Feb), and the Pz III with the long barrel 50mm gun were quickly replacing the light tanks of Afrika Korps. The Crusaders' 2pdr was on par with the 50mm, but the 75mm on Pz IVs outranged them and the hardened armor of both Panzers would often shatter the 2pdr AP round while the Crusaders' lack of armor worked against their survival. The Cruiser mk3 would arrive in theatre (May 1942) with an upgraded gun (6pdr) and better armor but they were overshadowed by the M3 Grant tanks that came as part of Lend-Lease.

 

Regardless, Cruisers would form a quarter of Allied armor forces in North Africa and serve in the frontline up till the Afrika Korps surrender in May 1943.


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