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Weapons of World War Two

Churchill Mark 2 infantry tank

Churchill Mark 2 infantry tank

In September 1939 the High Staff of the British Army finally realized that England did not had a heavy tank able to effectively support the infantry against fortified targets, or to oppose the action of the German tanks of the latest types. An Irish company was in charge of projecting an armored vehicle that should put a remedy to the situation. The investigations were carried with praiseworthy speed, but despite of being already in 1939, all the models that were studied were strongly influenced by theories and concepts from the Great War about tanks and their utilization. This is something that, in respect of Allied tanks, has been reiterated many times.

For the project were considered armaments installed in side nacelles, tanks with the main armament in fixed emplacement, huge armors and other formulas of this genre. Just one year after the order the company was in disposition of presenting a prototype for serial production. Albeit it was not really a return to the old schemes, it was still a strange tank. Fitted with all-around tracks, it had a good maneuverability and an acceptable march on road. The armor granted a good protection, but the speed was rather low, and the main weapon, a 76.2-millimeter howitzer, was installed in fixed position, whereas in the turret were emplaced a 40-millimeter antitank cannon and a 7.92-millimeter machine gun. On the top of the turret it could be installed an antiaircraft machine gun Bren 7.7 millimeters.

This type, denominated Mk 1, was very soon modified by replacing the howitzer on the hull by another 7.92-millimeter machine gun. So it was born the Mk 2. But the 40-millimeter cannon was no longer effective against the armor of the new tanks, and it was quickly replaced by one of 57 millimeters, closer to the level of the situation, being denominated this type Mk 3. The subsequent Mk 4 had a turret of cast steel as well as soldered plates. The Mk 5 had, instead of the 57-millimeter cannon, a 95-millimeter mortar to use in close range against fortifications. Finally there would be the Mk 6, armed with a 75-millimeter cannon in the turret, and the Mk 7, of modified silhouette, which would remain in service many years after the war.

Were built as well special versions, as the bridgelayer or flamethrower types. Albeit it cannot be defined as the best of the British tanks, the Churchill was still appreciated by its crews, both for the protection and the sufficient reliability. This tank, which would fight practically in every front of the European and North African theaters, would be used as well as a special element in the ill-fated operation in Dieppe. There thirty tanks Mk 1, Mk 2 and Mk 3 from the 14th Canadian Armored Regiment, fitted with special exhaust tubes and air intakes that rendered them as amphibious (as the one in the illustration), would have to enter action against the German positions soon after the disembarkment. It did not happen so, and at the end of the battle the soldiers of the Wehrmacht could retrieve a good number almost intact, while only a small part of the landing force barely managed to return to the ships that would return it to England.

Year: 1941

Weight: 36 tonnes

Length: 7.44 meters

Width: 3.25 meters

Height: 2.48 meters

Ground clearance: 51 centimeters

Maximum armor: 100 millimeters

Engine: Bedford of 12 cylinders and 350 horsepower

Maximum speed: 27 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 203 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 40-millimeter cannon; two 7.92-millimeter machine guns; one 7.7-millimeter machine gun

Ammunitions: 150 of 40 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 3.65 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 1.21 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 30 degrees

Fording: 0.91 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

M 13/40 medium tank7TP light tankFiat G50 Freccia