Cruiser Tank A23

Cruiser Tank A23

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Cruiser Tank A23

The Cruiser Tank A23 was an unsuccessful design for a heavy cruiser tank produced by Vauxhall in 1940-41. After the campaigns in France and North Africa in 1940 the Ministry of Supply issued a specification for an improved cruiser tank which was to carry the 6pdr gun, have 65-76mm armour at its thickest and be more mechanically reliable than the Covenanter or Crusader.

Vauxhall responded with the A23, a scaled down version of their A22 Churchill infantry tank. This would have had 75mm of frontal armour, used a 12 cylinder Bedford engine, carry a crew of five and have the same suspension as the A22.

This design was one of a number examined in January 1941, but this was rejected in favour of the A24 Cavalier, the direct ancestor of the A27M Cromwell.

Cruiser Tank Mk VI Crusader (A15)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/13/2017 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The British used the "tank" to good effect during the many late-war offensives of World War 1 (1914-1918). These slow-moving systems spearheading infantry advances into enemy territory, providing some protection from battlefield hazards while supplying cannon and machine gun fire in turn - akin to mobile bunkers. In the post-war years, the British moved to adopt a new two-pronged approach set to utilize lighter "cruiser" tanks alongside heavier "infantry" tanks. Doctrine called for cruiser tanks to break through weaker spots along the enemy's defensive line, allowing these crews to wreak havoc on weaker flanks and rear sections. The infantry tank would then crush the enemy head-on while supporting advancing infantry used to take and hold ground. To fulfill these roles, each tank type was designed with certain qualities in mind - cruisers were lightly armed and armored to preserve their speed and maneuverability and infantry tanks were heavier armed and armored, thus slower during the advance but holding greater battlefield survivability.

This concept continued into the pre-World War 2 days of the 1930s. As another war in Europe seemed inevitable, many tank projects were furthered and the British Army ended up using a large collection of tanks before the end of World War 2 (1939-1945) and the standardization to Churchill infantry tanks and the American M4 Sherman medium tank.

In the latter part of the 1930s, a new cruiser tank was considered as the "A13" which became the "Cruiser Tank Mk V", best remembered as the "Covenanter" (detailed elsewhere on this site). The design was intended to replace the more costly Cruiser IV series by Nuffield but carry on the same cruiser tank qualities (lightweight, speed, maneuverability). London, Midland, and Scottish Railway became responsible for its design using a Nuffield turret and 1,771 examples were ultimately produced. However, the tank was soon found to have poor engine cooling qualities which relegated her to second-line duties for all of World War 2. It was obsolete as soon as 1943.

During production of the A13, Nuffield moved ahead on its own modified, improved version of the A13 tank as the "A15". Initially, the new tank design carried two small, machine gun-armed turrets along the glacis plate - one at the driver's position and the other alongside to be operated by a bow gunner. Each mini-turret held a 7.92mm BESA machine gun. During testing, these installations proved wanting and were eventually deleted in the finalized design. Evaluation also showcased the same cooling issues as found on the Covenanter and the transmission gear change system proved unreliable. Ventilation of the crew compartment was also a concern. On the whole, the tank retained the major features of the Covenanter including a turreted main gun armament, rear-mounted engine, crew of four, and track-over-wheel running gear.

This design also proved sound enough to the General Staff that it was also accepted for serial production as the "Cruiser Mk VI" - best remembered as "Crusader". The vehicle retained the same faceted turret (with its sharply angled sides) on an all-new low-profile hull. An extra roadwheel was added to each hull side for better weight displacement - a quality not seen in earlier cruiser tank attempts which usually carried only four roadwheels to a side. The engine was an in-house Nuffield Liberty V-12 gasoline powerplant of 340 horsepower mated to a Nuffield constant mesh 4-speed transmission system. Operational range reached 200 miles with a road speed of 26 miles per hour. Armor protection reached 40mm thickness at the most critical facings. The crew numbered four (or five) and included the driver, commander, loader, and gunner.

The tank was primarily armed with a QF 2-pounder (40mm) main gun fitted to the front face of the turret. The vehicle also carried a 7.92mm BESA machine gun in a coaxial mount for anti-infantry work. 110 x 40mm projectiles were carried for the main gun and onboard stowage allowed for up to 4,950 x 7.92mm rounds of machine gun ammunition.

The initial production model became "Crusader I" which entered service in 1941 - by this time, the British Empire had been at war with Germany and her Axis allies since September of 1939 so any new tank was a welcomed addition. However, these early Crusaders quickly showcased limitations in being lightly armored and too lightly armed with their 40mm main guns. The guns were largely ineffective against the mid-generation German Panzer tanks (Panzer III / Panzer IV) increasing in battlefield numbers. It was decided to "up-gun" Crusader Is with a 6-pounder (57mm) main gun but supply-and-demand dictated that this modification would have to wait. At the very least, the tank saw its armor increased to 49mm thickness to produce the "Crusader II" mark. All other facets of the tank remained largely intact with this variant.

It was not until the introduction of the "Crusader III" that the line finally came into its own. The 6-pounder main gun was the standard armament fitting for this variant and gave the vehicle near-equal footing against the mid-generation Panzers. It was this mark that made a name for itself in the North Africa campaign despite poor early showings that continued to showcase reliability problems (only worsened by desert conditions) and modest armor protection. The 1st Armoured Division, stocked with Crusader tanks, finally broke through the Axis defensive lines to reach Tobruk and played important roles during El Alamein and in Tunisia where their speed proved an asset and armor protection and armament proved serviceable against mounting odds. North Africa was eventually claimed by the Allies to begin shrinking Axis influence over the Mediterranean.

Despite its use in frontline combat, many of the aforementioned inherent issues (engine cooling, ventilation) were never fully ironed out in the Crusader design. Nevertheless, the vehicles were pressed into considerable action against a determined foe but the end of the North Africa campaign marked the end of the Crusader as a fighting tank. 4,350 units were produced as frontline combat tanks during the war.

The story of the Crusader was not wholly written by 1943 for its basic workings proved as versatile as any in the war - the vehicle continued to find service in second line roles by being modified as needed. Nearly 1,000 hulls existed as offshoots of the combat version and this included the "Crusader III AA I" armed with 1 x 40mm Bofors autocannon for anti-aircraft work, the "Crusader III AA II" with 2 x 20mm Oerlikon cannons, the "Crusader ARV" converted to serve in the Armored Recovery Vehicle role, and the "Crusader Dozer" fitted with a construction-style bull dozer for clearing debris. The "Crusader Gun Tractor" was a modification used to speedily hauler large field guns and sported an open-topped hull superstructure in place of the original turret. The "Crusader IICS" was fitted with a 76.2mm howitzer and used as a fire support / demolition vehicle. Other forms existed as command tanks holding "dummy" main guns in their turrets and given 2 x No. 19 radio sets for battlefield communications. A mobile observation post variant was also realized. Still other hulls were used in a variety of trials that included amphibious and mine-clearing vehicles which benefitted other tanks.

Due to its widespread availability, versatility, and early contributions to the war, the Crusader became just one of the several "classic" British tanks of the conflict, joining the likes of the Churchill and Matilda. The type was eventually superseded by the American M3 Grant/Lee medium tank which offered better armor protection and armament and even these were themselves replaced by M4 Shermans coming to Europe in quantity. The Crusader was able to endure under the harshest of battlefield conditions through its reliability issues while still seeing service in other roles through to the end of the war. Captured examples by the Germans were even pressed into service against their former owners as was the case with the 15th Panzer Division. Other wartime users included Australia, France (Free French), Italy, the Netherlands, Poland (UK-based training only), and South Africa.

In the post-war years, some hulls ended their days in the Argentine Army inventory converted as Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) systems mounting French 75mm and 105mm field howitzers to fixed hull superstructures.

Over 5,300 Crusader cruiser tanks were produced in all from the period spanning 1940 to 1943. Its service tenure spanned from 1941 to 1945.

Construction [ edit | edit source ]

Internally Cavalier was subdivided by bulkheads which also functioned as structural members. The driver and hull gunner were in the front compartment, the fighting compartment was in the centre. The bulkhead behind the fighting compartment was the firewall from the engine, a Liberty Mark IV, and the final bulkead separated the engine from the transmission. Mechanically the Cavalier was similar to the Crusader but the Mark IV engine gave more power. Operation of the steering brakes and gear changing was pneumatic.

The Cavalier turret was a six sided boxy structure. The mantlet was internal with a large opening in the front of the turret for the gun barrel, the coaxial Besa machine gun and the aperture of the No. 39 telescopic sight. The gun was of the "free elevation" type the gun was balanced such that it could be readily moved by the gunner. This fitted in with British practice of firing on the move.

The Cromwell: The Fastest British Tank of WWII

The tank Cruiser Mk.VIII “Cromwell” is a British medium cruiser tank used during the Second World War. It was named after the leader of the English Civil War Oliver Cromwell. In Britain’s military lists, the Cromwell tank was designated A27M.

By the end of 1942, the British leadership was aware of the threat from the new German tanks that had appeared on the fronts. To combat them, it was necessary to create a cruising tank which could go up against the German Panthers and Tigers to a decent degree.

However, talks about the development of Cromwell and Centaur date back to 1940, codenamed A23 and A24. The British military were conscious that the Crusader tank would become obsolete and so were seeking a future replacement.

Vauxhall Motors Limited submitted the A23 for consideration, which was a scaled down version of the A22 Churchill tank. Nuffield Mechanizations and Aero Limited offered up the A24 which was heavily based on a Crusader design and had a Liberty V-12 engine. It was hoped that, since it was based on a previous design, it could be put into production quickly.

Leyland Motors Limited, in conjunction with The Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (BRC&W) presented a tank that was considered similar to Nuffield’s A24.

In early 1942, the Mk. VIII Centaur had been created, but this tank design was abandoned as not fit for purpose due to the unreliability of the engine. It was suggested that a new Rolls-Royce engine be fitted, but Nuffield was not prepared to redesign the A24 for the new engine.

Consequently, in October 1942, taking the Centaur layout scheme as a basis, Leyland presented a new cruiser tank to the military department, called the Cruiser Mk. VIII Cromwell.

Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell (A27M). Photo: Mike1979 Russia CC BY-SA 3.0

In early 1943, the new tank with its Rolls-Royce Meteor engine was put into production at factories in the cities of Birmingham and Coventry.

During the period of serial production, Cromwell was repeatedly upgraded, and 4016 copies were released. In all, 3066 A27M Cromwell were built, and adding 950 A27L, the entire A27 class was 4016 tanks strong.

A King’s Royal Hussars Cromwell of the 11th Armoured Division advances through Uedem, Germany, February 28, 1945.

Cromwell has a classic layout. The crew consists of five people. Initially, the frame was made of riveted construction, but later welding was used. The boxy turret sat above the central fighting compartment, isolated both from the engine and front compartments.

A bulkhead with access holes separated the hull gunner and the driver from the fighting compartment. A second bulkhead separated the fighting compartment from the transmission and engine compartment.

Cromwell VI tank and crew of 4th County of London Yeomanry, 7th Armoured Division, June 17, 1944.

Cromwell was heavier than the Сrusader. This was thanks to the reinforced armor which, depending on the version, reached a thickness of 3 to 4 inches (76-100 mm).

However, Cromwell compensated for the increased weight with a powerful Rolls-Royce Meteor engine. This was a version of the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine which was installed in Lancaster, Spitfire, and many other aircraft of the Second World War period.

The V-shaped 12-cylinder Meteor was one of the most reliable engines mounted on a British tank. Thanks to this engine, Cromwell can be called one of the high-speed British tanks during World War II. Engine power was up to 600 horsepower, which made it possible for tank to the maximum speed of 40 mph (64 km/h).

Rolls-Royce Meteor engine, ex-Comet, in eau de nil, at the Parola Tank Museum. Photo: Ohikulkija CC BY-SA 4.0

By the time the Mk. III was being produced, the main armament consisted of a QF 6 pounder gun (57 mm). Cromwell Mk. IV and Cromwell Mk. V were armed with a 75mm QF 75 gun. Modifications of Cromwell Mk. VI and Cromwell Mk. VIII were armed with a 95-mm howitzer and belonged to the class of assault tanks.

A Cromwell Mk IV of No. 2 Squadron, 2nd (Armoured Reconnaissance) Battalion, Welsh Guards, at Pickering in Yorkshire, March 31, 1944, displays its speed during an inspection by Winston Churchill.

The first tests were conducted in August-September 1943 in the UK. Cromwell proved to be more reliable in contrast to the older brother of the Centaur, but both tanks lagged behind the American Sherman. Test Leader Major Clifford noted that he would not want to manage the A27L Centaur tank unit due to its unreliability and numerous service personnel.

Cromwell tanks of 7th Armoured Division in Hamburg, May 3, 1945.

According to him, the Cromwell could have become a valuable fighting vehicle, but in its present form at the time, it could only be considered as a prototype requiring further refinement.

Cromwell VIIw with type Dw or Ew hull, showing welded construction with applique armor.

Cromwell participated in the hostilities of the Second World War in Western Europe as well as in North Africa. It saw its first fighting in the Battle of Normandy in June 1944.

The tank was in service with the reconnaissance regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps, in the 7th Armoured Division, 11th Armoured Division, Guards Armoured Division, 1st (Czechoslovakian) Independent Armoured Brigade Group as part of the First Canadian Army, 6th Airborne Division and others.

A Cromwell pursuit tank with men aboard making for the Arromanches beaches after leaving an LST (Landing Ship Tank) on June 6, 1944.

In Western Europe, it was given reconnaissance missions due to its high speed and low profile, which made it harder to spot.

Cromwell VI with type F hull, showing driver’s side-opening hatch and turret storage bins.

The most significant drawbacks of the Cromwell were weak firepower and insufficient armor. Under certain conditions, the tank was able to compete with the German Panther, although it couldn’t penetrate its frontal armor. However, the Cromwell was relatively weak in front of the heavy Tiger tanks.

Cromwell tank leads a column of armor from 4th County of London Yeomanry, 7th Armoured Division inland from Gold Beach, June 7, 1944.

In the battle of the French town of Villers-Bocage on June 13, 1944, German heavy Tiger tanks led by Michael Wittmann defeated the British convoy with minimal losses. The main part of the British forces were Cromwell tanks.

Knocked-out Cromwell observation post tank in Villers-Bocage, 5 August 1944.

After the war, the Cromwell took part in the Korean War with the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars and the 7th Royal Tank Regiment. In the 1955, the tank was retired in favor of newer tanks.

After the war, the Cromwell was provided to various countries around the world such as Israel, Austria, Jordan, Finland, and the socialist countries of Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Centaur IV of Royal Marine Armoured Support Group, Normandy, June 13, 1944

As part of the Jordanian and Israeli armies, the Cromwell took part in the Six-Day War but was inferior in all respects to newer tanks at that time.

Under the Lend-Lease program, six Cromwell tanks were delivered to the Soviet Union. However, there is no information about their combat use on the Eastern Front.

Tank Profile – The British Cromwell Tank – Speedy, Reliable, And Powerful

Perhaps the most balanced British tank that came out of the Second World War, the Cromwell, named after the English Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell, offered a reasonable armor protection combined with enough firepower to take on its German counterparts. But the main trait of this tank was its excellent V12 Meteor petrol engine produced by Rolls Royce which ran at 600 horsepower.

It was capable of achieving the maximum speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) and thus belonged to the cruiser tank category. Cromwell, official markings being Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell (A27M), was the direct successor of the Crusader tank, produced early during the war. The tank saw its first action as a support tank for the British marines that landed in Normandy in 1944.

A Cromwell Mk. 1 displayed at the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum, Puckapunyal, Australia (2007). The white writing on the turret is to inform cargo handlers that it is not to be transported by sea as deck cargo Photo Source

The first talks of development date back to 1940 with the prototype designs codenamed A23 and A24. The main problem for British tanks at the time was the cooling system. It caught the armored forces like an epidemic, as Crusader tanks tended to overheat and become useless.

Thus, the tank board decided to split the Cromwell prototypes into three different projects, in order to avoid investing too many resources in a potentially flawed design.

The A24 Cromwell I late became known as the Cavalier. This tank was closest to its predecessor, the Crusader. The second, A27L Cromwell II, became known as the Centaur, and the third, A27M Cromwell III, being the original Cromwell tank. Besides the Meteor engine which was made compatible with the Liberty engine used by the Centaur, the tank was installed with the Merrit-Brown gearbox.

Centaur IV of Royal Marine Armoured Support Group, Normandy 13 June 1944

It utilized an Ordnance QF 75 mm, derived from previous versions which were mounted with a QF 6-pounder (57 mm). Depending on the variant, Cromwell’s armored was between 3 and 4 inches thick (76mm – 100 mm).

The first tryouts in August–September 1943 were codenamed Exercise Dracula and held in Britain. Even though the Cromwell proved to be more reliable and generally superior to its older brother, the Centaur, the tank’s performances were still lagging behind the American Sherman tank. Both the Cromwell and the Centaur experienced malfunctions and were sent for re-evaluation.

Wounded German soldiers being ferried to an aid post on the hull of a Cromwell tank

When D-Day arrived, the British had to rely on the yet untested tank which was to be part of the 6th Airborne Division, 7th Armoured Division, 11th Armoured Division, Guards Armoured Division, and 1st (Polish) Armoured Division. The tank was also used by the 1st (Czechoslovakian) Independent Armoured Brigade Group as part of the First Canadian Army in Dunkirk.

Cromwell saw extensive combat in France and Germany, where it was able to tackle many of German standard armored vehicles. Still, its 75 mm gun lacked the ability of armor penetration against the German Tiger ― a trait which made its 6-pounder predecessor famous. Improvements were made by the end of the war by installing the improved 77 mm, but it barely saw any action.

Czechoslovak soldiers on a Cromwell tank near Dunkerque in 1945. Photo Source

The Centaur was left almost entirely for training purposes, as it failed to overcome its design flaws. Cromwell, on the other hand, was praised for its speed, reliability, and extremely low profile, which made it harder to spot.

After the war, Cromwell was provided to countries such as Australia, Austria, Burma, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Eire, Finland, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Portugal, South Africa, USSR, and West Germany.

In was retired in the British Army in 1955 and replaced with Tank, Cruiser, Comet I (A34).


The Cromwell was the fastest British tank to serve in the Second World War with a top (ungoverned) speed of 40 mph (64 km/h). However, this speed proved too much for even the Christie suspension and the engine was governed to give a top speed of 32 mph (51 km/h), which was still fast for its time. Thanks to its excellent engine power and Christie parentage the Cromwell was very agile on the battlefield.

The dual purpose 75 mm main gun fired the same ammunition as the US 75 mm gun and therefore it had around the same HE and armour-piercing capabilities as the 75mm equipped Sherman tank. The armour on the Cromwell ranged from 8mm up to 76mm thick overall. However, on all-welded vehicles built by BRCW Co. Ltd, the weight saved by the welding allowed for the fitting of appliqué armoured plates on the nose, vertical drivers’ plate and turret front, increasing the maximum thickness to 102 mm.

These vehicles are identified by their War Department numbers carrying the suffix W, e.g. T121710W. This armour compared well with that of the Sherman, although the Cromwell did not share the Sherman’s sloped glacis plate. The Cromwell crews in North-West Europe succeeded in outflanking the heavier and more sluggish German tanks with superior speed, manoeuvrability and reliability.

However, the Cromwell was still not a match for the best German armour and British tank design would go through another stage, the interim Comet tank, before going ahead in the tank development race with the Centurion tank.

Cruiser Tank Mk II (A10)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/19/2019 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

In 1934, Sir John Carden of the Vickers-Armstrong concern began work on a fast, mobile tank requested by the British War Office. Doctrine of the day specified two distinct tank forms to encompass British Army actions - fast, light and capably-armed "cruiser" tanks and slower, well-protected and well-armed "infantry tanks". Cruiser tanks would use their speed and mobility to advance beyond enemy defenses and engage in disruptive actions behind the lines whereas infantry tanks would move ahead in support of infantry-minded actions, tackling enemy defenses and tanks head-on. For this initiative, the first cruiser tank to emerge proved to be the "Tank, Cruiser Mk I (A9)" of 1938. It was not an outright success and only 125 of the type were produced into 1941, the same year they were retired from service.

At the same time, Carden began work on a heavier design with slightly better armor protection intended for the infantry support role in cruiser tank form. The A9 and A10 had much in common including thin, long-running tracks set about a wheeled and suspended chassis. A short hull superstructure housed a 360-degree traversing turret at center. Where the A9 featured a pair of machine gun positions to either side of the hull superstructure, the A10 did away with these rather novel installations. Primary armament remained a QF 2-pounder (40mm) cannon fitted to the turret. Defense was through a coaxial 7.7mm Vickers machine gun and a hull-mounted 7.9mm BESA machine gun (front-right). The A9 armor thickness of up to 14mm was bettered in the A10's 30mm maximum. However, both designs were governed by the AEC Type A179 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine of 150 horsepower which only served to limit the heavier A10 design. Maximum speed was, therefore, 16 miles per hour on ideal surfaces with an operational road range of 100 miles. Comparatively, the A9 featured a top road speed of 25 miles per hour with a road range of 150 miles. The A10 was crewed by five personnel in what amounted to cramped working conditions. The crew included the driver seated in the front-left of the hull, the bow gunner seated at front-right and the commander, loader and gunner in the turret/central hull.

A pilot (prototype) vehicle emerged in 1936 as the "A10E1" to designate its experimental status. Despite its reduced performance specifications when compared to the preceding A9, the additional armor and capable armament was enough to warrant the type for formal adoption into the British Army. The vehicle was formally christened as the "Tank, Cruiser, Heavy Mk I" before this marker gave way to "Tank, Cruiser, A10 Mk I". The designation was once again formalized to become "Tank, Cruiser, Mk II" with serial manufacture ordered in July of 1938 amidst the growing clouds of war over Europe.

The A10 was of conventional design weighing in at 15.7 tons (short). She fielded a running length of 18 feet, 4 inches with a width of 8 feet, 4 inches. Her height to the turret top was 8 feet, 8 inches which made her a relatively small target at distance. The multiple crew was charged with operating in very tight confines though communication was relatively open with no compartment bulkheads featured. The engine was fitted to the rear of the hull which allowed for an expanded forward-set crew area. The drive sprocket was at the rear with the track idler at front and three track return rollers used to guide the upper track regions in place. The running gear included six rubber-tired road wheels with the two-most out ones being of a noticeably larger diameter than the four inside pairings. Riveted hull construction was highly apparent and presented a danger to the crew inside in the event of a direct hit (rivets and shell splinters could ricochet all about the inside). A pair of circular headlamps was installed at each front hull corner for low-level/night time driving. Not an imposing specimen, the A10 nonetheless filled a required need of the time.

First production quality vehicles entered service in late-1939/early-1940, the sole operator only ever being the British Army (the type was never exported). 175 units were ultimately ordered and this production was spread across Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (45), Metropolitan-Cammell (45) and Vickers (10). A follow-up order with Birmingham Railway Carriage netted the final 75 units which proved rather distinct in their additional armor protection - though this did little to prove the type effective in modern combat of the day.

The A10 managed only a short service life in World War 2 when it was pressed into action during the defense of France through the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Despite their being built around speed, these cruiser tanks had trouble navigating the variable French countryside under the stresses of combat that consisted of obstacles, uneven terrain and mud. They did prove reliable under certain circumstances, however, particularly when in use at the defense of Tobruk in the dry African desert during 1941. It was to be noted that many examples actually fell to their own mechanical shortcomings, primarily in the track links which were prone to breaking free of the running gear, than actual enemy fire during their short time abroad. With A10s still in supply, the type was also shipped for combat in Greece and gave a good account of themselves there on the whole. However, their use after 1941 fell off precipitously through basic wartime/mechanical attrition and more modern, capable models coming online in the British inventory.

Despite its limited production numbers, the A10 saw three major variants produced beginning with the original 31 examples under the base Mk II designation. The Mk IIA was similar with the exception of a protected radio station and the coaxial Vickers machine gun replaced by a BESA type for improved logistics (the same ammunition could now be used across both machine gun installations). The Mk IIA CS saw its 40mm main gun given up in favor of a 94mm field howitzer for use as a close support system (hence its "CS" designation). The Mk IIA CS model was primarily intended to supply on-call smoke screens for advancing (or retreating) friendly units. The A10 chassis went on to influence another more well-known British Army tank, the Valentine Infantry Tank of 1940 which saw production figures reach over 8,200 examples.

One example of the Cruiser Mk IIA CS resides at the Bovington Tank Museum in the UK.

Production by KhPZ (Kharkov)

The first run and trials of the BT-2 were successful and showcased a road speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), with an offroad speed of 60-70 km/h (37-43.5 mph) depending of the terrain. They were largely showcased for propaganda purposes and featured in movies throughout the thirties. In 1933, it was completely new and unrivaled concept in the world, allowing "true" cavalry tactics built on speed, mostly for breakthrough exploitation and advanced reconnaissance missions. This emphasis on speed over protection also reflected the confidence in the naval "battlecruiser" concept, traduced in land warfare. The speed acted like an active protection on its own, since a target moving so fast was more difficult to hit.

The M5 engine gave a 39 hp/t power-to-weight ratio and a 400 liters tank allowed a 300 km (186 mi) range at cruising road speed, with a tactical range of just 100 km (62 mi), also impressive for the time, giving that it was at an average off-road 60 km/h (37 mph). The Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant delivered 620 BT-2 until 1935. Most were equipped with the 37 mm (1.46 in) model 30 gun, provisioned with 96 rounds. Some also received a radio "horseshoe" antenna fixed on the turret. The latter had only two side small vision slits. The gun mantlet also varied slightly in shap during the production run. Another external modification included the front mudguards, not mounted on the earliest model, and headlights.

The BT-3 and BT-4

Before the production came to an end, the BT-3 was built according to Soviet specifications. These were virtually identical to the "regular" BT-2s, only differing by the use of the metric system for their construction instead of the old Imperial one. However this was only a factory designation, the army still registered them as BT-2s.

The BT-4 was a true upgraded version with a partially welded hull and a modified suspension, only produced to three prototypes in 1935. These plans were altered for the upcoming, upgunned BT-5.


Internally Cavalier was subdivided by bulkheads which also functioned as structural members. The driver and hull gunner were in the front compartment, the fighting compartment was in the centre. The bulkhead behind the fighting compartment was the firewall from the engine, a Liberty Mark IV, and the final bulkead separated the engine from the transmission. Mechanically the Cavalier was similar to the Crusader but the Mark IV engine gave more power. Operation of the steering brakes and gear changing was pneumatic.

The Cavalier turret was a six sided boxy structure. The mantlet was internal with a large opening in the front of the turret for the gun barrel, the coaxial Besa machine gun and the aperture of the No. 39 telescopic sight. The gun was of the "free elevation" type the gun was balanced such that it could be readily moved by the gunner. This fitted in with British practice of firing on the move.

Cruiser Tank A23 - History

On July 9, 1999, about 1815 Pacific daylight time, a Beech A23, N8873M, registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, experienced a loss of engine power and collided with the terrain about a quarter mile short of the Swanson Airport, Eatonville, Washington. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The private pilot and the pilot-rated passenger in the front seat were seriously injured. The passenger in the rear seat was fatally injured. The flight departed from Arlington, Washington, about one hour and 15 minutes prior to the accident.

During a telephone interview and subsequent written statement, the pilot reported that he does not recall all of the events leading up to the accident. The pilot reported that the aircraft was fueled to the bottom of the visual measuring tab located in the filler neck of each fuel tank at the beginning of the flight. The pilot did not recall if this was done the day before the accident or on the day of the accident. The pilot's brother (right front seat pilot-rated passenger) recalled that the aircraft was fueled at Puyallup, Washington, Pierce Co. - Thun Field prior to the flight. The pilot also recalled that while en route to Arlington, the radio was malfunctioning, and a landing was made at another airstrip to accomplish repairs. After the problem was resolved, the flight then continued to Arlington. No services were required at Arlington, and the flight departed at approximately 1700. The pilot recalled that the flight was uneventful.

The right front seat passenger reported that he does not recall the events leading up to the accident.

A pilot, who was landing ahead of the accident aircraft, stated that he was in radio communication with the pilot of N8873M. The witness heard the pilot of N8873M announce that he was over Northwest Trek (located approximately three miles northwest of the airport) and inbound to Eatonville. The witness radioed the pilot to announce that he was also in the same area. The pilot of N8873M, responded that he was over the north end of Ohop Lake. The witness responded that he had their aircraft in sight and was over the south end of Ohop Lake. The witness thought that N8873M was a high performance aircraft and he asked the pilot if he wanted to go first. The pilot of N8873M, responded "no go ahead." The witness then announced that he was downwind for Eatonville. The witness stated that he made a normal approach and landing to runway 34. As he was flaring for landing, the witness heard the pilot of N8873M announce that he was turning base for Eatonville. The witness stated that as he was turning off the runway onto the taxiway, he looked back and saw N8873M on final approach, low. The witness stated that the aircraft appeared to be in level flight. Just before the witness lost sight of the airplane, the aircraft turned about 25 to 30 degrees right (east) of runway heading and then nosed down.

Two witnesses on the ground reported that the airplane was on final approach to runway 34. One of the witnesses reported that the approach path appeared normal, however, the airplane was too low. This witness did not recall hearing any engine noise.

The other witness, who was outside a daycare center located on Center Street, reported that he saw the aircraft flying extremely low. The witness stated that it (the airplane) was coming toward the Ford Small Engine Repair shop (located on the opposite side of the street and under the approach path for runway 34) when it glided out of view. The witness stated that just before the aircraft disappeared from sight, he heard a noise as though the engine was trying to be started.

Both front seat occupants are pilots. Both pilots hold private pilot certificates for single-engine land aircraft. At the time of the accident, the pilot-in-command, seated in the left seat, had accumulated a total flight time of 450 hours, with 250 hours in the Beech A23. The right seat pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 200 hours, with 1 hour in the Beech A23.


The wreckage was located approximately 1,650 feet short of the approach end to runway 34, and approximately 300 feet east of the runway centerline. The area of the accident site was in a pit that was surrounded by up-sloping terrain. The terrain rose to about 30 feet on all sides. A gravel road allowed entrance to the pit. The airplane was positioned on its belly with all three landing gear collapsed under the airplane. The nose of the airplane was pointing to a magnetic heading of 330 degrees. The airplane came to rest with the nose of the airplane at the top of the approximate 45 degree incline where the gravel road entered the pit.

The airplane remained intact. Both wings remained attached at the wing root. The right wing displayed minor damage at the wing tip. An approximate four-inch tear in the lower wing skin, near the leading edge and about four feet outboard of the root, was noted. There was no evidence of a fuel spill. Approximately 22 ounces of fuel were drained from the right wing fuel tank. Both the flap and aileron remained attached to their respective hinges. The flap was extended to 25 degrees.

The left wing displayed an upward crush along the leading edge, beginning about 54 inches from the wing root and extending to the wing tip. The upper wing skin was wrinkled. There was no evidence of a fuel spill. Approximately 12 gallons of fuel were drained from the left wing fuel tank. The aileron remained attached to its respective hinges and was undamaged. The left main landing gear collapsed rearward. The flap was bowed upward at its mid section. The flap appeared to be fully extended and remained attached at its hinges.

Cockpit documentation noted that the fuel selector was positioned to the left-side fuel tank. The fuel selector placard indicated that 26 gallons of fuel were useable. The placard also recommended use of 15 gallons from the left fuel tank first.

The fuselage was bent slightly to the left at the point near the aft baggage compartment. The horizontal stabilizer with the stabilator attached was also displaced to the left. The tail cone was broken in this area. The vertical stabilizer with the rudder attached was undamaged. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to the tail, and from the wings to the cockpit area.

Rescue personnel reported that the top of the fuselage was cut in order to extricate the occupants. Prior to cutting the top, the windshield and side windows were intact. Rescue personnel reported that they turned off the battery, alternator and fuel boost switches. No other switches were disturbed. Rescue personnel also removed the two front seats. All four legs on both seats were collapsed. All four seat-track attaching clamps were deformed.

The engine remained attached to the firewall and encased in the cowling. The nose of the engine was positioned downward. Upward and aft crushing was noted to the underside. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft. One half side of the propeller spinner was crushed inward. Propeller blade "A" was undamaged. Propeller blade "B" was bent aft under the engine about 45 degrees. Lengthwise scoring and gouges were noted along the blade back.

The entire aircraft was hoisted onto a flatbed trailer and transported to the Eatonville Airport. The propeller was removed and with the aid of a machine press, propeller blade "B" was straightened. The propeller was reinstalled on the crankshaft in preparation for an engine run. Prior to running the engine, it was noted that the boost pump switch was broken. It was also noted that the throttle lever shaft was broken. The fuel lines were inspected and noted that the fuel injection system, supply line to the fuel pump, and the line from the metering unit to the manifold valve, did not contain fuel. The fuel gascolator did contain fuel. Fuel was introduced to the system via the pump inlet line and into the injector intake ports. Because of the broken throttle lever shaft, the butterfly valve was positioned to the idle setting. After several attempts, the engine started. The engine was run long enough to prove a smooth operation (about ten seconds) then shutdown. While the engine was cranking, the fuel pump gauge indicated two and a half to three PSI. The fuel pump was then removed from the airframe. With the aid of the aircraft battery, power was applied along with a fuel source. The fuel pump functioned, and pumped fuel.

The Beechcraft Pilot's Operating Handbook indicates that the fuel tanks located in each wing have a nominal capacity of 29.9 gallons. In each fuel tank filler neck, a visual measuring tab permits partial filling of the fuel system. When the fuel touches the bottom of the tab, it indicates 15 gallons of fuel. The pilot reported that he had fueled the tanks to the bottom of the tab. The POH also states that a fuel return line from the engine-driven fuel pump returns approximately three to six gallons of fuel per hour to the left tank when the engine is operating at 75% power or less. A caution is indicated to "Use 15 gallons from the left tank first." The section also reports that, "If the engine stops because of insufficient fuel, refer to the EMERGENCY PROCEDURES Section for the Air Start procedures."

The pilot reported that the route of flight was fairly direct and that he remained to the east of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Class B airspace. The total nautical miles for the route of flight beginning at Thun Field, was estimated as 67 miles, with two starts, taxis, and takeoffs prior to landing at Arlington. The return leg from Arlington to Eatonville was estimated as approximately 78 nautical miles. The pilot reported that the duration of flight time was approximately two hours.

The Beechcraft Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) indicates in the Performance section that standard day cruise performance at altitudes between 2,500 feet to 3,500 feet RPM between 2300 to 2550 and True Airspeed (Kts) between 97 to 116, the fuel flow gallons/hour are between 6.8 to 9.3. Therefore, the flight is estimated to have consumed between 14 to 19 gallons, with 16 to 11 gallons remaining at the completion of the flight. Approximately 12 gallons of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank, while approximately 22 ounces of fuel was drained from the right fuel tank.

The POH indicates under the section entitled Emergency Procedures, that the procedures to follow for an air start are:

1. Fuel selector valve - SELECT TANK MORE NEARLY FULL 2. Throttle - FULL FORWARD 3. Mixture - FULL RICH 4. Fuel Boost Pump - ON until power is regained then OFF 5. Throttle - ADJUST to desired power 6. Mixture - LEAN as required

The fuel selector was found selected to the left fuel tank. The fuel boost pump switch was damaged, and the position could not be determined.

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on December 9, 1999. The wreckage was moved to and secured in the owner's hangar at the Eatonville Airport.