British Infantry Tank Mk IV (A22) Churchill
History, development, service, specifications, statistics, pictures, video and 3D model.
Type: Heavy Infantry Tank Mk IV (A22).
At the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939, there was a strong school of opinion at the War Office that conditions on the Western Front would not be very different from conditions experienced in 1914-18. There was therefore a need for a very heavy infantry tank invulnerable to known anti-tank guns, with a very wide trench-crossing ability, and able to negotiate ground churned up by shell fire. Designated A20, a specification was drawn up by the Superintendent of Tank Design, Woolwich, and Harland&Wolff were asked to build a pilot model. Armour thickness of 80mm, speed of 15mph, ability to climb a 5ft parapet, and a crew of seven were among characteristics requested. Essentially the A20 was a refinement of the ‘lozenge’ shape tanks built by the British in 1916-18; various combinations of armament were considered including a 6pdr, French 75mm, 3in howitzer, and 2pdr. Finally a 2pdr was selected for the turret, another to be mounted in the nose, with machine guns recessed in the hull side at the front. Four pilot models were ordered in February 1940. The first pilot model ran trials in June 1940, plagued by gearbox trouble. Data from the first run, however, showed that in order to maintain the required performance the gun armament would have to be reduced to a single 2pdr.
This coincided with the Dunkirk evacuation, when Britain was left with less than 100 tanks for home defence. Vauxhall (the British off-shoot of GMC) were therefore asked to ‘refine’ the A20 design, scale it down slightly, and get it into production as rapidly as possible, preferably within a year. Choice of Vauxhall was largely influenced by the fact that their Vauxhall-Bedford twin-six engine was scheduled for the A20. The A20 pilot model and plans were handed over to Vauxhall, extra draughtsmen were loaned by the Mechanisation Board, and a pilot model of the new design, A22, Infantry Tank Mk IV, was ready by November 1940.
The first 14 production models were delivered in June 1941 from an order for 500 straight off the drawing board. Due to the rushed development programme for this vehicle, there were numerous defects in the design leading to frequent breakdowns with the early marks. This necessitated considerable re-work programmes in 1942-43, the sending of Vauxhall engineers to units equipped with the tank, and numerous detail improvements to mechanical components.
Named Churchill, the A22 was built in quantity by a production group consisting of Broom&Wade, Birmingham Carriage & Wagon, Metropolitan Cammell, Charles Roberts, Newton Chambers, Gloucester Railway Carriage, Leyland, Dennis, and Harland&Wolff, all under the ‘parentage’ of Vauxhall.
The Churchill was of composite construction consisting of an inner skin of 1/2in mild steel with an outer covering of armour-plate bolted or riveted in position. Initially a cast turret was fitted, but later models had larger turrets of either cast, welded, or composite construction. The engine and drive were at the rear, and the overall tracks with small sprung bogie assemblies allowed space between the lower and upper runs of track for stowage of ammunition and stores, making the Churchill an unusually roomy vehicle. Escape doors for the crew were fitted in each side. Transmission featured the new Merritt-Brown four-speed gearbox which provided controlled differential steering, the Churchill being the first British tank to have this.
Armament of the Mk I was a 2pdr with a 3in howitzer in the hull front. Changing tactical requirements, however, led to a change of armament through the Churchill’s production life. In common with the British cruiser tanks a 6pdr gun was fitted in 1942, necessitating a larger turret (Mk III).
Experience in the desert fighting of 1941-42 led the War office to believe that speed and reliability were more important than heavy armour, and it was decided to cease Churchill production in 1943 when the A27 Cromwell series of cruiser tanks became available. However, the Churchill’s first combat actions, with the 1st Army in the Tunisian campaign, proved most successful in the hilly conditions of the terrain and this earned the vehicle a reprieve. In 1943, the Churchill was again up-gunned (Mk VII) with the new British version of the 75mm gun.
At the same time major design improvements were effected. Since it was built to meet British railroad loading gauge restrictions, the Churchill suffered from the same disadvantage as other contemporary British designs in that it was too narrow to take the larger turret required for the 17pdr gun. Thus by 1944-45 it was under-gunned by German standards, but this was offset to an extent by the vehicle’s heavy armour protection.
Pictures Churchill tank
Animated 3D model Churchill Mk VI
Specifications Churchill Churchill Mk VI (Infantry Tank Mk IV, A22)
|Churchill Mk VI||Specification|
|Type||heavy infantry tank|
|Engine||Bedford twin-six 350hp|
|Gearbox||Merritt-Brown four-speed gearbox|
|Length||24ft 5in (7.442m)|
|Maximum speed||15 1/2 mph|
|Cross-country speed||approx. 8 mph|
|Fuel consumption per 100km||?|
|Road radius||90 miles|
|Vertical obstacle||2ft 6in|
|Trench crossing||10 ft|
|Fording depth||3ft 4in|
|Churchill Mk VI||mm||angle|
|Details unknown||Maximum 102 mm, Minimum 16 mm||unknown|
|Churchill Mk VI||specification|
|Main armament||OQF 75 mm Gun Mk V|
|Muzzle velocity APC||2,030 fps|
|Muzzle velocity APCBC||2,650 fps|
|Shell weight||13.75 lb (other sources: 14.4 lb)|
|Extreme effective range||HE: 10,000 yds; Smoke: 4,500 yds; AP: 2,000 yds|
|Secondary armament||2 x 7.92mm BESAG|
|Penetration 100 yds||?||?|
|Penetration 500 yds||68 mm||103 mm|
|Penetration 1,000 yds||61 mm||94 mm|
|Penetration 1,500 yds||54 mm||86 mm|
|Penetration 2,000 yds||47 mm||78 mm|
|Churchill Mk VI||data|
|Production||from November 1943 onwards, existing MK IVs were converted to roughly Mk VII standards and designated Mk VI|
|Combat delivery||used in NW Europe 1944-45|
|Price per unit||?|
|Total production figure (all)||5,640|
Video from the action with Churchill tank in video games
Mission with German captured ‘Beutepanzer Churchill’ in a ‘Realistic Ground Battle’ of the free2play game War Thunder:
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