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Rnd 1 Grp 2 - Valentine (Britain) vs Cromwell & Comet (Britain)

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  • #16
    I don't think there ever was a "Universal Tank" though, and can't find any reference to it.

    The British tank programme for 1945 was that the A43 Black Prince was due to start production in 2nd Quarter 1945, for service in the 3rd Quarter, and A41 Centurion was to start production in 3rd Quarter 1945 for service in the 4th Quarter 1945 or early 1946, presuming that the war was ongoing. There would then be the next Infantry tank, the A45, which was to be based on the Centurion. The A30 Avenger and Alecto were also intended to be significant programmes.

    As far as I can tell, it was the end of the war that curtailed the development of everything but the Centurion, so it became a kind of universal tank by default, not by intention. So my feeling, based on the information I have, is that Fletcher's idea of the British groping towards an ideal "Universal Tank" that was manifested as the Centurion seems to be a kind of retrospective fiction.

    But if anyone has any better info that can correct me.....
    "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
    - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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    • #17
      Originally posted by DogDodger View Post
      I don't have access to the notes, so I was going by what Fletcher, Beale, and Buckley had written. Buckley says in British Armour in the Normandy Campaign 1944, "As late as April 1943, in a joint memorandum from the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Supply to the Defence Committee, all appeared well for the HV 75 mm gun and its mounting in the Cromwell. Indeed, it was planned that following successful testing of six pilot weapons by July [1943], mass production could begin with a peak of 600-700 units per month from spring 1944 onwards." His references for this include "AFV Liaison Committee meetings, 9 March, 13 April, 11 May, and 25 May 1943." Do those entries indicate that production of Cromwell with the HV 75 was planned?

      As far as controversy over the episode, "Lt-Gen John Fullerton Evetts, ACIGS, even claimed that there was little point in developing the A34 at all, as by the time it arrived, US 76 mm-equipped Shermans would be available and these were a safer purchase." The ACIGS felt it would be better to concentrate on A41 instead of A34.

      Anyway, I'm still unconvinced A34 begat A41.
      I think the confusion here is that the Comet was originally known as the "A34 Cromwell" and the Comet name was given later, so the early development of the Comet goes under the Cromwell name. It's a bit like how it's often quoted that the Black Prince programme was stopped mid-war and started again later, when in fact the first Black Prince was a remote-controlled Matilda that had nothing to do with the later Super Churchill that is better known.

      I'll have to check this in detail though.

      The A34 didn't beget the A41, but the A41 was certainly known as the "A41 Heavy Cruiser" before it was christened Centurion.
      "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
      - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        The A34 did not directly begat the A41. The A34 was simply a very good tank, that had originally derived from a line of cruisers, that led directly back to the awful A15 Crusader, possibly the worst tank of WW2.

        The A34 was a cruiser, and that concept was half of the package that led to a Universal Tank, ie both Infantry (tactical) and Cruiser (operational) capabilities.
        Thanks for the clarification. I misunderstood what you and flash meant by "led" and "directly lead."
        Originally posted by Don Juan View Post
        I'll have to check this in detail though.
        Thanks, looking forward to it

        the A41 was certainly known as the "A41 Heavy Cruiser" before it was christened Centurion.
        Of course.

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        • #19
          OK, here are the relevant excerpts from the AFV Liaison Committee meetings:

          9 March 43:

          9Mar.jpg

          13 April 43:

          13Apr.jpg

          11 May 43:

          11May.jpg

          25 May 43:

          25May.jpg

          I can't see anything in these excerpts that indicates any controversy. In the event, the Comet was supposed to start volume production in Aug. 44 but was delayed slightly due to the need to keep the Cromwell in volume production to replace losses in Normandy. Note that it is the gun that they are talking about entering volume production in Spring 44, and not the tank that mounts it, indicating there probably wasn't any delay in getting the HV 75, or something like it, mounted on a cruiser chassis.

          The other big myth about the Cromwell is that Nuffields and Leylands were opposed to the Meteor engine, and tried all they could to keep the Liberty, which is something else that the primary sources indicate is not true. I find it a bit dispiriting when supposedly reputable sources prove to be so erroneous, tbh.
          "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
          - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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          • #20
            Thanks for the images. Your suggestion that the early nomenclature of "A34 Cromwell" was confusing may have merit, as the minute from 13 April indicates the gun is for the "Cromwell series." At any rate, apparently at least the ACIGS was confused, and later very disappointed when he learned that a new vehicle was needed for the HV 75.

            Good images, thanks!

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            • #21
              What the AFV Liaison Committee notes seem to suggest to me is that the HV 75mm and its mounting (and ammunition!) took about a year to develop, test and productionise, which was enough time to modify the Cromwell chassis and develop a new turret.

              It doesn't seem to be the case that a production-ready HV 75mm was available to be fitted into the Cromwell, but couldn't be because the Cromwell's turret ring was too small, and so the introduction of the gun was delayed.

              So the "accepted" version of the story doesn't appear to be correct. Anyway, something for me to research further, I think.
              "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
              - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

              Comment


              • #22
                I would have to go for the Comet, but only of the reason of it being the gate closer. And as such some of the features were carried over post war. Both the others deserve more praise.

                Ed.
                The repetition of affirmations leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, you better wake up and look at the facts.

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                • #23
                  Valentine for being the most numerous in terms of Commonwealth AFV production, allowing Britain to render material support to the USSR. Also, it appears to have been a reasonably solid and reliable little AFV at a time when the British Army was struggling with reliability issues.

                  Cromwell and Comet, both fine tanks, but in terms of influence and significance both a sufferent from being the last of the line, utilizing design ideas and parts already available - much like the Panther. The Cromwell was the first to use the Meteor engine, which did go on to power the Centurion but else......

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                  • #24
                    Valentine (Britain)

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                    • #25
                      Valentine as it was more influential,

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                      • #26
                        I'm going with the Valentine.
                        "A foolish man thinks he knows everything if placed in unexpected difficulty; but he knows not what to answer, if to the test he is put."

                        --Hávamál

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                        • #27
                          I like the Cromwell very much when the 17pdr gun was added this made it capable of taking out the Tiger tanks in Normandy along with the Firefly Shermans.

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                          • #28
                            The 17 pdr wasn't added to Cromwell per se. A largely unsuccessful version called Challenger was procured, and later Comet used a gun firing 17 pdr projectiles.

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