The Cromwell tank, also known as the Mk VIII, Cromwell (A27M) is a cruiser tank that originated in the United Kingdom. It was manufactured by Nuffield Organization for use by the British army during the Second World War. It comfortable carries 5 crew members (driver, co-driver, commander, loader and a gunner and come equipped with the Ordnance QF 75 mm, ( OQF 75 mm) British tank-gun and of the Second World War 2 x 7.92 mm Besa machine guns.
It is just over 9 feet wide, 9 feet high, 20 feet long and weighs 28 tonnes. The Cromwell is powered by a 600 horsepower Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 engine and has a cruising range or 174 miles.
The history of the Cromwell Tank
The Cromwell tank was named for Oliver Cromwell, an English Civil War leader. It was considered to be one of the most successful tanks in the field for British troops during the Second World War. In some instances, it even replaces the popular Sherman tank. Part of the reason for the popularity of the Cromwell was because it combined a dual-purpose gun, armor protection as well as high speeds.
It was initially designed in 1941 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company to replace the Crusader tank which had become problematic and was fast becoming obsolete. The first prototypes to be tested were called the Cavalier. They were made quickly using inferior materials, as such presented with far too many issues for them to be sent into the field for use by the troops. The main issue was that the engine, a Nuffield-built Liberty, could not adequately power the tank. In the redesign, an engine based on the Merlin aircraft engine was used. It was called the Meteor and manufactured by the rover Car Company. It wasn’t until 1943 that there were sufficient materials available to begin production on the Cromwell. The versions being produced in 1941-1942 were known as the A27 Centaurs and came equipped with the older and less reliable Liberty engine. Just after January 1943, there were sufficient Meteor engines available to begin production on the Cromwell Tank.
When production was complete, there were a total of 4,016 tanks made with 950 Centaurs and 3,066 Cromwells.
Uses for the Cromwell
The Cromwell entered into the field in 1944 during Operation Overlord and was received with mixed feelings by troops. It was faster than the Sherman Tank, but the shape of its armor made it less effective and the artillery available by the Sherman was still slightly better in combat. It was therefore relegated mainly to training and was used by the Royal Marines on D-Day.
After WWII, the Cromwell tank remained in British service and was even used by Finland’s Army.
Performance and armor
The Cromwell tank was the fastest tank serving the British military during WWII. It clocked a top speed of 40 mph. This had to be reduced because the suspension available at the time could not adequately support the speed. It was reduced to a top speed of 32 mph. The thickness of the Cromwell tanks armor was increased from 76mm to 102 mm by the addition of welded armor plates.