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THE A27M CROMWELL TANK.

This article was designed to review Revell's new 1/72nd scale Cromwell IV kit and the S&S 28-30mm wargames Cromwell. I have broadened it to include some other Cromwell models, plus some general information on the Cromwell that I found while working on my Firefly book.

Contents:

  1. Cromwell. A quick guide.
  2. Cromwell versions
  3. Cromwell use in 1944 and 1945 - sample data from PRO files.
  4. Cromwell Production.
  5. 1st Royal Tank Regiment Cromwells 1944.
  6. Revell Cromwell IV - 1/72nd
  7. S&S Cromwell VII - 28-30mm (approx. 1/60th).
  8. Tamiya Cromwell IV - 1/35th, plus notes on the Centaur IV kit.
  9. Other Cromwell models.
  10. Statistics and performance.
  11. References.
  1. Cromwell. A quick guide.
  2. The Cromwell was a very important tank and does not get the credit it deserves. It was second only in importance to the Churchill as the prime British tank in 21st Army Group. It was in service from 1943 until about 1960. It was the first British tank, to combine reliability, high speed, an acceptable general purpose gun and reasonable armour. In 1943 it would have been a winner as on most counts it was superior to the Sherman (especially if you factor in the far lower silhouette), but it did not reach the troops in a usable version until just in time for D Day. The 1943 versions, not being considered battle worthy. In 1945 it was in most categories of tank verses tank combat a liability. In 1950 it would have been a death trap, by 1960 I dread to imagine. It just shows how fast tank technology was advancing in this period. David Fletcher quotes Major General Duncan (then Director Royal Armoured Corps) in 1950 as saying that "The Cromwell 75mm is not a battle worthy tank. It is incapable of knocking out frontally any Russian tank...owing to our overall deficiencies it would be necessary to equip a formation with Cromwells in the event of mobilisation. I considered that this would be very unpleasant for the formation concerned." (1951). From Mr Fletcher's article in "Wheels and Tracks No 60 on the Charioteer.

    Just what is a Cromwell? Well it was a boxy tank constructed of flat armour plates on a steel frame. It was based around the wonderful Christie suspension, used in British Cruisers going back to the A13 and the superb Rolls Royce Meteor engine. It had rear drive sprockets, a low silhouette and was armed with the 6 Pdr gun, 95mm close support gun or the British 75mm QF, although only the latter two weapons seem to have seen combat. Armour protection varied, but eventually got up to 101mm on the front plate in the up-armoured versions. Many Cromwells were of riveted construction, but later ones were welded, with their serial number having a "w" on the end to indicate this fact. It was the main equipment of the British Armoured Division's Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments and of the 7th Armoured Division. Note that it only served in North West Europe (at least in WW2) and was not used in Italy, nor in the Middle or Far East, baring a few test vehicles, until after WW2. Post war it saw action in Korea and soldiered on as a training tank, until at least 1960. Exports seem few and baring use by the Poles and Czech's under British leadership it was not used by foreign nations, except for the odd test vehicle, like the one shipped to the US for comparative trials. The one exception would seem to have been the single one captured in Korea from the British and then used against them, until the Cromwells grandson (the Centurion) took it out with a well placed 20 Pdr shot.

    The tank was a linear development of the A15 Crusader, via the A24 Cavalier (simply put a Cromwell hull and 6 Pdr turret, but with a Crusader type rear hull to accommodate the old Liberty engine.), and the A27L Centaur. It had been believed that many Centaurs were converted to Cromwells, by replacing the Liberty with a Meteor, but it now seems more likely that the contracts were changed and the tanks produced as Cromwells from the start.

    This leads nicely into a key problem with the whole Cromwell family. It is virtually impossible to tell versions apart as the identifying features are often hidden. The obvious changes such as the main gun or the hull crew hatches not withstanding, detail differences to the engine deck hatch layout and the welded or riveted hull form. Two Cromwells can for example be of different marks, but have the same hull form are hard to see. This makes them very difficult to model as it is harder to see every detail than it is say with a Sherman, a Panther or a Churchill. Examples were rebuilt, in some cases more than once. Basically on the basis of current research there were about eight marks and a whole plethora of sub marks using three main hull forms. Add in the three armament variations and the welded or riveted construction, you have a very confusing mess for the researcher, war gamer or model maker to work out. It was made by several manufacturers; probably Leyland, LMS Railway, Morris Motors, Metro-Cammell, Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company, plus English Electric for early examples. Given that records are incomplete one must be very careful about making categorical statements. The first modern attempt after Chamberlain and Ellis (British and American Tanks of WW2, 1969.) was by (in alphabetical order) John Church, David Fletcher and Dick Harley for Tankette Vol 14, No 5 in 1979. This article with 1/76th scale plans was very important and is the standard, by which the subject can be judged. One must not forget the Profile by Major James Bingham and more recently "Cromwell Tank" by David Fletcher (HMSO) and David's Darlington Publications "Museum Ordnance Special Number 25". These have however concentrated on the Cromwell IV. In Polish we have Janusz Ledwoch's monograph "Cromwell", which is very good, with excellent photos and artwork and some English captions. But I can not comment on the text as my Polish is non-existent! For a bibliography, please see later in this article.

  3. Cromwell versions.
  4. As noted above it is very hard to tell Cromwells apart and unlike some tanks (such as Fireflies), there is some mileage in using serial numbers to assist. The following is from research done by Phil Greenwood and I am indebted to him for allowing me to reproduce this for this article:

    "I have come up with the following info on who built the Cromwell, but it's not complete.

    Table 1: Serials

    T171964 -186999

    Centaur (none seen converted) Built by Leyland

    T187000 -187999

    Cromwell MkIV & VI 'D' hull Built by Leyland

    T188000 - 188999

    Cromwell MkV 'F' Hull "

    T189000 - 190500

    Cromwell MkIV 'C' Hull LMS Railway ???

    T217000 - 218500

    Centaur (none seen converted) Morris Motors

    T120415 - 120689

    Cromwell MkVI D&F Hulls Metro Cammell

    T121000 - 121999

    Cromwell V/Vw/VIIw D* Hull Birmingham RC&W Co


    * = 'Vauxhall' Drivers Hatch

    Number blocks seem to have been allocated to manufacturers, tanks in the blocks certainly have similar generic features. I should point out the mark quoted is the main production mark, a few early tanks in the number blocks were pilots and MkI's. Also some number blocks have large gaps in them so cannot be used to calculate numbers built."

     

    Table 2. Hull types:

    Type

    Description

    A

    Hull crew hatches in roof only (easily blocked by the turret), 4 stowage bins, no raised air intake. Cavalier similar and rear hull, no exhaust grille.

    B

    Hull gunners side hatch introduced, 3 stowage bins.

    C

    As B, but with Reshaped air intake fitted, armour thinner at rear.

    D

    Different pattern of engine deck hatches, very common other wise as C.

    E

    Externally identical to D, but with internal modifications to drive train to govern speed to 32 mph, reducing wear and tear.

    F

    As E, but with a side hatch for the driver, 1 less bin, often supplemented with standardised turret bins.

     

    Table 3. The marks were as far as I can tell at the moment:

    Mark

    Main gun

    Track width/Road wheel type

    Riveted or welded hull (R or W)

    Appliqué armour

    Hull Types

    Notes

    I

    6 Pdr

    14 in/ Holes

    R

    No frontal 76mm base

    A, B, C

    Training only, but could be reworked to 75mm standard, becoming a later mark in the process.

    II

    6 Pdr , no hull Besa

    15.5 in

    R

    No frontal 76mm base

    A

    No hull gunner or hull Besa. Dave Fletcher states that this version was never produced.

    III

    6 Pdr or 75mm

    14 in/ Holes

    R

    No frontal 76mm base

    A, B, C

    Reworked Centaur I (sometimes called Cromwell X)

    IV

    75mm

    14 in/Solid

    R

    No frontal 76mm base

    B, C, D, E, F

    Centaurs built as Cromwells. It was believed that these were converted Centaurs. Some sources provide for welded Mk IV's. Or should that be a Vw?

    V

    75mm

    14 in/Solid

    R

    No frontal 76mm base

    D, E

    New build Cromwells, and rebuilt Mk I's?.

    Vw

    75mm

    14 in/Solid

    W

    No frontal 76mm base

    D, E

    New build Cromwells

    VI

    95mm

    14 in/Solid

    R

    No frontal 76mm base

    D, E, F

    Reworked or new build Cromwell

    VIw

    95mm

    14 in/Solid

    W

    No frontal 76mm base

    D, E, F

    New build Cromwell?

    VII

    75mm

    15.5 in or 14 in/Solid

    W

    Yes to 101mm std frontal

    E, F

    Upgraded Cromwell IV. Largely post-war, but did see service in 1945.

    VIIw

    75mm

    15.5 in/Solid

    W

    Yes to 101mm std frontal

    E, F

    New build Cromwell or rebuilt Cromwell Vw

    VIII

    95mm

    15.5 in/Solid

    R

    Yes to 101mm std frontal

    D, E, F ?

    Reworked Mk VI, possibly some VIIIw based on Vw hulls. Post war as far as I can see.

    Centaur IV CS

    95mm, no hull Besa

    14 in

    R

    No

    C, D?

    114 built, less used.

    Charioteer

    20 Pdr , no hull Besa

    15.5 in

    W

    No, but hull front thicker

    F

    1950 to about 1979 in foreign service.

    This is a very rough stab at a problem that will continue to vex researchers for many years to come. You can see why it's so complex!

    Phil's list also notes "Type D* with the * equating to a Vauxhall type drivers hatch, which differed from the earlier pattern, by being split diagonally in two.

    As this article is primarily aimed at gamers and model makers. I can suggest the following simple solution as none of us are going to solve this issue over night. That solution; is to model your Cromwell on a photo. You will be unlikely to be able to see all of the details, but you will have to a take a guess safe in the knowledge that with the best brains working on this topic no one has cracked the full details yet! For war gamers, the armament is the 75mm or 95mm guns, no matter what the hull and I suppose that the eight mph speed difference between D and E/F hulls could be of importance, as could the extra armour of the latter vehicles. This of course takes the late Cromwells to only 9mm less than the Tiger I's similar angled glacis, but with a far greater road speed, even though across country the Cromwells narrow tracks, might not have made up for its lighter weight. It might also be that the welded examples were less vulnerable to a non penetrating hit, but I have found no evidence of this and doubt if it would be important within a wargame. To model makers, pick your photo and model it. The differences are easy to model and in 1/35th there are numerous conversion sets to help you.

    The road wheels are referred to as "Holes" or "Solid". This is my shorthand for the Crusader style road wheels with tyres with holes in the outer face, or the later wheels with solid tyres, without holes. Fortunately for the model maker both are available in 1/72nd and 1/35th, with it being an easy modification in 1/76th. Note that Centaur IV CS's used in Normandy seem to have had the "holes" road wheels, but some later Centaur conversions, such as the ARV may have had the solid wheels. The preserved Centaur IV CS in France is a post war rebuild for display and has post war wheels from a Centurion and should not be taken as representative of wartime tanks. The wheels with holes in are called "perforated" in some sources.

  5. Cromwell use in 1944 and 1945 - sample data from PRO files.
  6. Table 4. Sample returns from various files from Cromwell units in 1944: Figures show tanks with a unit fit or fit within 24 hours, KO or unfit within 24 hours are excluded:

    Date

    Unit

    Cromwell 75mm

    Cromwell 95mm

    Notes

    30th June

    11th AD, 2 N Yeo

    31 + 3 in Fwd Del Sqn

    2

    4 75mm in 11 AD HQ

    30th June

    256 Army Delivery Sqn

    9

    0

     

    30th June

    7th AD, 22 Armd Bde + 8th Hussars

    189 + 8 in Fwd Del Sqn

    24 + 1 in Fwd Del Sqn

     

    30th July

    5th Gds Armd Bde, 2nd W Gds

    56 + 8 in Fwd Del Sqn

    5

     

    30th July

    7th AD, 22nd Armd Bde + 8th Hussars

    171 + 8 in Fwd Del Sqn

    20

     

    30th July

    11th AD, 2 N Yeo

    51

    4

     

    21st October

    Czech Armd Bde

    110

    14

     

    21st October

    Gds Armd Div

    63

    4

     

    21st October

    7th Armd Div

    175

    17

     

    21st October

    11th Armd Div

    44

    5

     

    21st October

    1st Polish Armd Div

    33

    3

     

    Table 5. December 1944 statistics:

    Unit

    Cromwell 75mm

    Cromwell 95mm

    Cromwell ARV

    7th Armd div

    196

    23

    12

    11th Armd Div

    49

    7

    3

    29th Armd Bde

    18

    -

    -

    Guards Armd Div

    70

    7

    3

    1st Polish Armd Div

    60

    5

    0

    Czech Armd Bde

    125

    13

    5

    Other units

    4

    0

    1

    ARG's

    98

    9

    3

    Totals

    620

    64

    27

     

    Table 6. Holdings week ending 3rd February 1945. From WO 219/3352.

    Unit

    Mk IV/V 75mm

    Mk VII 75mm

    Mk VI 95mm

    ARV

    Tk Ops RAC

    TK Ops RA

    7th Arm Div

    181

    6

    23

    14

    9

    10

    11th Arm Div

    43

    0

    6

    3

    7

    0

    Gds Arm Div

    67

    2

    7

    3

    0

    0

    1st Polish Armd Div

    60

    0

    5

    3

    3

    0

    6th Airborne Div

    8

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    12 Corps Trps

    2

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

    30 Corps Trps

    0

    3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    8th Armd Bde

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    29th Armd Bde

    20

    0

    0

    0

    8

    16

    Czech Armd Bde

    143

    3

    16

    6

    4

    4

    Total unit holdings

    525

    14

    57

    31

    31

    30

    Other holdings

    270

    14

    53

    16

    0

    0

    Total reported holdings

    795

    28

    110

    47

    36

    30

     

     

    Table 7, Holdings week ending 12th May 1945. From WO 219/3353.

    Unit

    Mk IV/V/ VII 75mm

    Mk VI 95mm

    ARV

    Tk Ops RAC

    TK Ops RA

    7th Arm Div

    178

    27

    15

    2

    18

    11th Arm Div/29th Armd Bde

    10

    29

    18

    8

    8

    Gds Arm Div

    62

    6

    2

    0

    0

    1st Polish Armd Div

    53

    5

    3

    3

    0

    6 Gds Armd Bde

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    8 Corps Trps

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

    3rd Br Inf. Div

    0

    0

    1

    0

    0

    8th Armd Bde

    2

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Czech Armd Bde

    159

    21

    6

    8

    4

    Total unit holdings

    468

    88

    28

    21

    40

    Other holdings

    228

    62

    10

    1

    7

    Total reported holdings

    688

    150

    38

    22

    47

    Note that by now all 75mm Cromwells are recorded in the same column, so one can't say how many MK VII's there were. But this does prove that some MK VII's were used in WW2. But the numbers were quite low, compared to the MK IV and V. It is probable that the MK VII did not enter service until January 1945, but more work is required to confirm this. Note that no MK VIII were in use before the war ended on the basis of these records.

    Within the above Divisions and Brigades the following Regiments used Cromwells:

    Table 8. Cromwell Regiments 1944-45:

    Regiment

    Parent formation

    10th Mounted Rifle Regiment

    1st Polish Armoured Division

    8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars

    7th Armoured Division

    1st Royal Tank Regiment

    7th Armoured Division

    5th Royal Tank Regiment

    7th Armoured Division

    4th County of London Yeomanry (to July 44)

    7th Armoured Division

    5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (from July 44)

    7th Armoured Division

    6th Airborne Reconnaissance Regiment (RAC)

    6th Airborne Division

    2nd Battalion Welch Guards

    Guards Armoured Division

    2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry (to August 44)

    11th Armoured Division

    15/19th Royal Kings Hussars (from August 44)

    11th Armoured Division

    Table 9. An overview of Cromwell unit statistics from the Six Monthly RAC Progress reports:

    Unit

    June 44 75mm

    June 44 95mm

    June 44 OP

    June 44 ARV

    Dec 44 75mm

    Dec 44 95mm

    Dec 44 ARV

    June 45 75mm

    June 45 95mm

    June 45 ARV

    June 45 OP

    7th Armd Div

    201

    24

    8

    14

    196

    23

    12

    90

    31

    13

    -

    11th Armd Div

    62

    6

    0

    3

    49

    7

    3

    95

    26

    -

    8

    Gds Armd Div

    59

    6

    0

    3

    70

    7

    3

    -

    -

    -

    -De-mechanised.

    Polish Armd Div

    53

    6

    0

    3

    60

    5

    -

    49

    7

    3

    3

    Total with units

    375

    42

    11

    23

    522

    55

    24

    154

    64

    18

    13

    UE

    385

    42

    -

    23

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    ARG/Depots

    100

    13

    -

    6

    98

    9

    3

    314

    65

    6

    -

    Res UE

    124

    15

    -

    8

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Czech Armd Bde

    116 (UE, none issued)

    14

    4

    9

    125

    13

    5

    -

    -

    -

    -

    8th Armd Bde

    -

    -

    -

    -

    1

    -

    -

    5

    -

    1

    2

    12 Corps

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    3

    -

    -

    -

    -

    30 Corps

    -

    -

    -

    -

    3

    -

    -

    3

    -

    -

    -

    3 Inf Div

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    1

    -

    Source WO/165/135-137

  7. Cromwell production.
  8. Cromwell production. I am not sure what the total production of the tank was at this stage. It is known that orders for about 3500 of all Cromwell marks were made. The following may be of interest:

    File Avia 11/30 records that in 1944. 1935 Cromwells were built. Of those 1730 were to F.S. standard. I am not sure what this was, but it refers to a Cromwell that was fit for combat. To support these, plus other equipped tanks some 2,849 Meteor engines were made. This makes Cromwell in 1944 the most widely produced British tank, with about 800 more built than Churchill's in the same period.

    The end June 1944 RAC Progress Report notes the following:

    "Cromwell IV, V, VI, VII, VIII"

    "The Cromwell Series are all powered by the Rolls Royce Meteor engine, and are considerably faster than any other type of Cruiser Tank in Service. All Cromwells are fitted with geared elevation. Cromwell IV and V mount the 75mm and 7.92mm Besa coaxially and the VI mounts the 95mm How and 7.92mm Besa coaxially. These three marks of Cromwell are all fitted with 14" tracks. The later Marks VII and VIII are respectively developments of the MK V and VI, the MK VII mounting a 75mm and 7.92mm coaxially and the MK VIII mounting a 95mm How and 7.92mm coaxially. Both these later marks have 15.1/2 " tracks.

    Earlier models of all Cromwell Marks were considered to be unbattleworthy owing to numerous defects, but all Cromwells reworked to FS Specification can now be used operationally."

    Phil Greenwood gave me the following:

    The 'battle worthiness' referred to with regard to the Cromwell may have been the floor plates. I believe that the Centaur had 8mm floor plates which was too thin, and may be why none were converted to Cromwell. Later tanks (Cromwell MkIV ?) had the armour under the fighting compartment increased to 14mm, but that under the engine bay remained 8mm. Final production (Cromwell MkV ?) tanks had 14mm overall. It is also worthy of note that most riveted tanks had their front plates reinforced by welding prior to D-Day. This was also part of the 'battle worthiness' programme.

    Peter Brown thinks that FS could stand for "Field Service" or "Full Service", but this is conjectural at the present time. But it would make sense and fits known British terminology.

    Table 10. Orders placed:

    Mark

    Order

    IV

    1935

    V

    170

    VI

    390

    VII

    100

    VIII

    No orders placed yet

    Centaur IV, Liberty Engine

    114, RM Support Group only

    Peter also notes that at PRO he found files in the cabinet (CAB) series that show that Centaurs were still being produced after the first Cromwells. This is another example of how complex the A27 story is.

    I will undertake to do more work at PRO to see if I can bottom out the details.

  9. 1st Royal Tank Regiment Cromwells 1944.
  10. I have very detailed information for one unit in the build up to D Day. This is 1st RTR, part of 7th Armoured Division from their war diary:

    Table 11. The left hand figure is the tanks on operational strength, with the right hand figure the training tanks:

    Date

    Mark 1

    Mk IV

    MK V

    ARV

    Centaur III/IV

    1st April

    0/6

    18/20

    10/8

    3/0

    0/4

    14th and 21st April

    0/6

    33/20

    10/8

    3/0

    0/4

     

     

    Table 12. Cromwell used by 1st RTR 6th June 1944:

    Squadron

    Vehicle code

    (wireless station)

    Commander

    Name

    WD serial

    number

    Possible Mark

    A

    Control

    Maj. RJ Crisp

    Anewnoit

    189689

    IV C

    A

    2

    Capt. JB Smethurst

    Anwecandoit

    120486

    VI D or F 95mm

    A

    3

    SSM R MacGregor

    Andsodowe

    190054

    IV C

    A

    5

    Lt HE Kirkham

    Ajax

    189865

    IV C

    A

    5A

    Sgt W Tibbles

    Achilles

    189511

    IV C

    A

    5B

    Sgt A Garvey

    Anson

    189522

    IV C

    A

    6

    Capt. PN Clapperton

    Annous

    189557

    IV C

    A

    6A

    Lt CH Gray

    Apre Vous

    121749w

    Vw D*

    A

    6B

    Sgt G Mckee

    Apache

    189521

    IV C

    A

    7

    Lt JM Storey

    Angel

    190032

    IV C

    A

    7A

    Sgt AW Davies

    Astrid

    121740w

    Vw D*

    A

    7B

    Cpl D Spencer

    Antoinette

    189560

    IV C

    A

    8

    Lt GA Roper

    Andrea

    121746w

    Vw D*

    A

    8A

    Sgt B Whiteland

    -

    190027

    IV C

    A

    8B

    Cpl B Shelsher

    Ali Baba

    189559

    IV C

     

     

     

     

     

     

    B

    Control

    Maj. RW Gillespie

    Miss Blandish II

    190057

    IV C

    B

    2

    Capt. BF Canham

    Bertrand Du Gurschlin

    190053

    IV C

    B

    3

    SSM EE Brown

    Buonaparte

    120482

    VI D or F 95mm

    B

    5

    Lt AM Walker

    Oor Wullie

    121747w

    Vw D*

    B

    5A

    Sgt W White?

    Atlanta

    190064

    IV C

    B

    5B

    L/Sgt E Tait

    Lilli Marlene

    190025

    IV C

    B

    6

    Lt EWC Smart

    Lady Godiva

    121750w

    Vw D*

    B

    6A

    2nd Lt P Fletcher

    The Saint

    189539

    IV C

    B

    6B

    Sgt F Williams

    Fair maid O Perth

    121745w

    Vw D*

    B

    7

    Lt B McEnrey

    El Abugiesse V

    189530

    IV C

    B

    7A

    Sgt T Taylor

    Little Audrey II

    189873

    IV C

    B

    7B

    Sgt A Elvy

    Betty Boop I

    189524

    IV C

    B

    8

    Lt DA Wickenden

    Minerva

    189517

    IV C

    B

    8A

    Sgt J McConnachie

    Diana

    190031

    IV C

    B

    8B

    Sgt F Wildgoose

    Venus

    189867

    IV C

     

     

     

     

     

     

    C

    Control

    Maj. CL Sproull

    The Old firm

    189517

    IV C

    C

    2

    Capt. J Mears

    Tobruk Boy

    190052

    IV C

    C

    3

    SSM W Ashwell

    Champ II

    120480

    VI D or F 95mm

    C

    5

    Capt. JAA Shambrook

    -

    121748w

    Vw D*

    C

    5A

    Lt HR Herrington

    -

    189872

    IV C

    C

    5B

    Sgt C McCarty

    -

    190024

    IV C

    C

    6

    2nd Lt EJ Prowse

    Fuka Walad

    121743w

    Vw D*

    C

    6A

    Sgt H Lincoln

    Cumon Thith Way

    189879

    IV C

    C

    6B

    Cpl M Gerrard

    Marleesh

    190022

    IV C

    C

    7

    Lt G Boak

    Slaphappy

    121742w

    Vw D*

    C

    7A

    Sgt L Dauncey

    Miss - Kwoise

    190026

    IV C

    C

    7B

    Sgt E Wainright

    G.U.T.S.

    187826

    IV or VI D

    C

    8

    Lt R Frost

    Crippen I

    189859

    IV C

    C

    8A

    Sgt HJ Smith

    Lord Crump III

    189875

    IV C

    C

    8B

    L/Sgt H Gerrard

    Avenger II

    190028

    IV C

    The regiment also had a VC Firefly with each Troop - see the authors book "Firefly" for further details and some M3 Stuarts and scout cars as the recce element. The list is detailed with information from Christopher Gray via Peter Brown. The possible mark and hull type is based upon Phil Greenwoods table listed above and from notes from Mr Gray. The list is also on "British Tank Names and Markings", By BT White.

  11. Revell Cromwell IV - 1/72nd
  12. The Revell Cromwell is probably the most welcomed tank kit for many years and it's great that Revell have seen fit to make a simple kit at pocket money prices of something other than yet another Panzer. Airfix considered one in 1/76th many years ago, but nothing came of it. Revells new range has been a little variable, with such poor kits as the Stug IV and great kits like the Panzer III's. The Cromwell falls into the later category. Revell seem to have taken the same route as Tamiya and replicated the Mk IV at Bovington's Tank Museum. This Cromwell is serial T190003 Type C hull and like Tamiya's kit the model looks just right and falls within acceptable dimensional accuracy. It includes Tamiya's option of a Cullin hedgerow device and a Normandy Cowl. Revell have also replicated some of Tamiya's marking options as they did with the reissued Firefly, which replicated some of Dragons options. The first one is the 4th CLY tank knocked out at Villers Bocage. See "Villers Bocage Through The Lens" for a series of photos of the tank and the modifications you would need to model this vehicle. See my photo of my Tamiya Cromwell for this, with the book photo in the background. The second option appears as colour artwork in Les Blindes Allies En Normandie, P45. I have not managed to find a photo of this Cromwell though to back up the artwork. If the serial is correct this tank should be a IV or VI on a D Hull. This means that the engine deck hatch layout would need to be modified to D standard. Otherwise the IV and V should be practically identical externally.

    The kit builds up quite well, but the seven part lower hull (with separate outer hull sides) needs a bit of care to get it right. Tamiyas more modern single part lower hull is far easier to get right. I mention this as if you are war gamer intent on throwing together a few in an evening, think again as the kit will take a bit of care. The link and length track is also not something for speedy construction. It looks great once assembled, but again it takes time. Modern flexible track as used by Tamiya in recent kits is far easier to use and just as realistic. One problem with the kit track is that when I re modelled the suspension to show the flexibility of the Christie type, the long lengths of track did not have the flexibility to really take to the shape I wanted to put them into! But build the tank on the level and you should have few problems. The kits suspension is very easy to adapt like this as you can just carefully slice the axles away and bend them up or down, using the wheels to position it against the diorama surface. My model is based on a Cromwell crossing a railway line in 1945, from a photo in Dave Fletcher's recent book "British Tanks of WW2, (2) Holland and Germany 1944/45". The motorbike was a modified Nitto Harley Davidson, changed to represent a generic military motorbike. The base is a Matchbox M16 kit item, in a Homebase filler groundwork. The model is painted in Hannants Xtracolor Khaki Drab No 15 enamel. Decals come mainly from Fingerprint designs.

    Hasegawa/Revell have issued a Crusader III kit in 1/72nd and this can provide the holed tyre road wheels and parts useful for a Cavalier.

    Overall the kit is very nice and I give it 9/10, only spoiled from the perfect 10 by the work needed on the tracks and the complicated fit of some parts. At 4.99 in the UK a steal.

    Revell Cromwell photo 1. Click for a bigger image.

    Revell Cromwell photo 2. Click for a bigger image.

     

     

     

  13. S&S Cromwell VII - 28-30mm (approx. 1/60th).

This is a new model from those old friends of the society S&S. They have done two models; a MK VIII and the Mk VII reviewed here. The model has the six parts and assembles in half an hour. It must be stressed that it is designed for the popular new wargames scale 28-30mm figure size, rather than to an established scale. What do you get for your 15.00? A basic MK VII with appliqué armour on the upper glacis plate and what is probably the welded F type hull with side doors for both hull crewmen. The lower hull appliqué armour on the glacis is not well defined and could be added. This means that the model is only really suitable for 1945 use and post war (such as Korea). The sister Mk VIII does not from the data I have to hand seem suitable for WW2 at all. But that said it's easy to convert the models to the MK Vw F and the MK Vw F. With more work the D and E type hulls can be produced and if you remove the appliqué armour the other non up armoured types. Given my above comments on working out which Cromwells are which you can use a great deal of artistic licence with Cromwells, as long as you stay within the bounds of reality and the available data. I tried very hard to find a photo that matched this model in the books, but could not find one, various vehicles came close, but not one exactly matched the F type hull with the appliqué armour. The nearest might be T121763w, which should be a VIIw or Vw in Fletcher's Darlington book and "D Day to Berlin". It's so covered in cammo that it could be any type! It could also represent the F Type hulled Polish command tank in Osprey's Polish armour Vanguard. There are some casting problems, such as the turret bolts, which did not really come out very well. The ribs on the track guards should be indentations, but are raised, understandably to simplify the casting and the master. The stowage bin ribs should be raised and these are OK. No lights or shackles and mounts are provided. The Besa's lack detail as well.

Now I am not really a gamer, not having done much since my A level days twenty years ago, so I will try to assess it on two levels:

  1. As a war games model the kit is very good. It has the hull and turret in resin and the suspension and guns in white metal. The casting quality is acceptable, but the suspension units do not need the wheels rounding off in places, but nothing too serious. To keep things single the suspension units are cast to fit the solid track guards, which makes for a strong joint, simple to disguise with filler and scale mud. I am not sure if 15.00 represents good value as I will not be buying a squadron of them to pit against some Panthers, but if this is your scale then it should be a good buy.
  2. As a scale model it works out to between 1/58th and 1/60th depending upon which dimension I used. The drawing in Dave Fletcher's Darlington Cromwell book matches quite well by pure coincidence by the way! To improve the model, I drilled out the holes in the sprocket, rounded up the road wheels as noted above, improved the fit with filing of the suspension to the hull and filled air bubbles and other imperfections with Squadron Green filler, which works perfectly well on resin and metal as it does with its intended for plastic. To hide some of the kits problems I added foliage camouflage on the turret (many late Cromwells seem to have this, but not on the hull, whereas Shermans seem to have the hull camouflaged as well, probably on account of their greater height). I put the model on a simple base and used scale mud to hide the worst features of the suspension and the basic tracks. I found that the 75mm gun was over scale and the muzzle brake rather odd. I hunted around for something else and found a spare Tamiya Churchill 75mm item, which I had replaced with superior turned aluminium ones from Jordi Rubio. It is 1/35th, which is way too big. But I sanded it down and after a bit of work the muzzle brake looked a lot better than the kit item. The barrel itself was replaced with two bits of Contrail plastic tube (available now from Aeroclub). It's not to scale, but it does look better, if you want to spend the time. A simple alternative is to camouflage the gun and put a cover on the muzzle brake! I built a Normandy Cowl for the exhaust from thin pewter sheet, including the partitions missing from Revells kit. Stowage was from A&B Putty for a big canvas sheet encompassing kit as was often seen on Cromwells. Some bits and bobs from Skytrex and other firms 1/76th scale accessories completed the model. Decals came from Finger Print Designs 1/35th scale sheets, adapted to fit the smaller model. As I could not find a specific vehicle, I modelled a generic late MK VIIw of the Guards Armoured Divisions Recce Regiment; the Welsh Guards. The decals are largely Fingerprint Designs. The foliage for the turret came from surgical bandage, painted and covered with Tesco Dried Parsley herbs, fixed with a spray of matt varnish. To give an idea of scale I added a Kitney and Co British Airborne soldier with Bren gun, to indicate tanks operating with the para's after the Rhine crossing.

 

Overall I give this 7/10 as a wargames model and 5/10 as a scale model. It looks good when finished and is every inch a Cromwell and it makes a nice heavy model, that sort of "feels" right, but I don't know if I could afford a squadron of them. I shall leave that for those who game in this scale to decide. But in the end well done Shaun and the guys at S&S - a brave attempt to get into a new market and I wish them all the very best of luck with this and subsequent models - now how about a Firefly or a Churchill (yes I know I am bias!).

  1. Tamiya Cromwell IV - 1/35th, plus notes on the Centaur IV kit.
  2. Just a quick mention of these kits to cover the inclusion of the model photo. These kits have been out for a few years and give the model maker a lot of kit, even at about 22.00 + in the UK at the moment. Basically they are the same kit, baring the perforated road wheels in the Centaur kit and the difference in armament. I have already built both kits, improving them a little to better represent the vehicles upon which they are based. See the photos for details (Cromwell on the left, Centaur on the right). One point is that it seems unlikely based on Phil Greenwoods recent work that any Cromwells had the internal track tensioning device, so the external one should be fitted to a Cromwell, with the other parts saved for an earlier conversion. They are excellent kits, that fit like a dream and have good decal sheets. Options for the Centaur are limited due to its limited use. The two most photographed examples are included and Hunter is the easiest to model, with a few modifications to the serial number and details. The alternative has the earlier pattern track guards, but these are available in the Eduard etched steel sets. Depending upon which vehicle (either Cromwell or Centaur) you are making you might need both detail sets as they provide some complimentary parts. Aber produce sets as well including an early conversion that would be useful. Accurate Armour make conversion and details parts as well including the 15 1/2 in tracks and sprocket and an F Type hull. As noted above be careful with the Centaur as the preserved vehicle has some non standard features fitted during restoration. The options for the Cromwell are nice. The 5th RTR option may be depicted in "British Tank Names and Markings", P13, by BT White. Dick Harley says it's Ok straight from the box. Option 2 - Welsh Guards is OK from "D Day To Berlin", P 56, by T Wise. It's track guards are intact and the crew are wearing RAC helmets. Other than that its heavily camouflaged with a of stowage. Option 3 is the 4th CLY OP tank at Villers Bocage included in the Revell kit. See the photo of the model for detailed modifications. It's a D type hull so should need the minor modifications to the engine deck. The fourth option is a Polish vehicle P 49 "D Day Tank Warfare", by Steve Zaloga. It's also depicted on the front cover of the Polish Cromwell book. This has a fixed turret as it's a command vehicle and many little details not catered for in the kit. The horseshoe is included in the Eduard set if you model this tank! This one does need a bit of work and can not be built right from the box. It should have been a MK IV or a MK VI D hull, before the gun was replaced with a dummy and extra radios. The next one is also a command tank, this time from 11th Armoured Division. P132 "La Battaile du Bocage" or the Polish monograph on P 47. Again this is probably a MK IV D type hull. Many details need to be changed to represent this tank. In all highly recommended. Pity about the UK price though!

    Tamiya Cromwell IV, finished as 4th CLY OP tank Villers Bocage, Normandy June 1944. Click for a bigger image.

    Tamiya centaur 4 finished as Hunter, RMSG, Normandy June 1944. Click for a bigger image.

     

  3. Other Cromwell models.
  4. S&S make some very basic 1/76th scale Cromwells, which are cheap and cheerful, typical S&S! The masters in 1/76th are the MMS white metal models. I don't have any of these, but they are very, very nice and good value at under a tenner. Milcast make a couple in resin as well and one imagines that Cromwell will be issuing one or two in their wonderful combat ready range in the near future. MMS also get a mention for their tank rider set of British infantry, which will fit nicely on theirs or someone else's Cromwell model.

    Worthy of mention for those who like their games big is the Airfx Polythene model in their old 1/32nd scale range. This is not bad, baring the inevitable simplifications and if you have a couple then use it in those big back garden summer wargames. If you want you could turn it into a better model with Airfix Crusader parts to make an early 6 Pdr armed, narrow track, perforated wheel version. But unless you simply must have 1/32nd scale, get the Tamiya kit. Before the Tamiya kits came out there were expensive Resin examples in 1/35th. These were good, but superseded by the Tamiya kit at under half the price. There are bound to be other wargames models I do not know about from various firms. I do have Skytrex's little 1/300th models and these are OK for those that game in the smaller scales. I have also seen their 1/200th model and that OK as well. The next model was the very old Modakit vacform kit from the 1960's. This came part built from the estate of Maurice Condon and while I was writing this article I cam across it and decided to finish it. The original kit came complete with vacform wheels, but I chose to use Matchbox Comet Road wheels and sprockets, with Airfix Crusader idlers and track (a bit small, but it looks OK). The gun and Besa's came from Airfix's Churchill (spare after a 3in Gun Carrier conversion, so nothing wasted!). I added turret stowage boxes and Normandy cowl from Skytrex and finished it as a late WW2 example. A challenge if you come across one.

    In summary the Cromwell is well catered for now that these new kits have come out. Support the makers, as if we don't who knows when we might see decent kits of British tanks again.

  5. Statistics and performance.
  6. Table 13. Dimensions of Cromwell VII and VIII. All measurements are for a vehicle on the level. Mk IV/V and VI similar, except where stated:

    Measurement

    Figure

    Length A/O end of front track guard to end of rear track guard

    21 ft 0.5 in, 20 ft 9 in with earlier pattern track guards.

    Length of track on ground from centre of front and rear road wheels

    12 ft 3 in

    Length centre of lifting eyes front and rear.

    17 ft 4 1/4 in.

    Angle of track to ground front

    28 degrees

    Angle of track to ground rear

    21 degrees

    Height from bottom of track to top of hull

    4 ft 5 in. Fording depth 4 ft.

    Height overall to top of antenna base

    8 ft 3 in

    Width of turret over lifting eyes at front

    5 ft 2 in

    Width of hull O/A inc. track guards

    9 ft 5 1/4 in

    Width of tracks

    15 1/2 in (14 in on earlier marks). 15 1/2 in tracks have 18 teeth sprockets and 14 in tracks have 20 tooth sprockets. If the 15 1/2 tracks are used a tank should only have the solid road wheels. The 14 in track can use either type.

    Width of hull front between lifting eyes upper glacis

    6 ft

    Depth of tracks from top to bottom if correctly adjusted

    3 ft 6 in.

    Width of hull front between lower glacis shackle eyes

    4 ft 5 1/4 in

    Weight

    28 tons 27.5 tons - Mk IV, V, VI

    Speed

    39 MPH, more with tuning, 32 1/2 MPH in E type hull models with different gear ratios.

    Armour max and min

    63mm or 101 with appliqué armour frontal max. 14-8mm minimum (floor). Varies in detail between marks, e.g. early type A hull had a thicker engine deck.

    Ground pressure

    14.7 per Sq. in - MK IV.

    Power to weight ratio

    21.8 to the ton. At 600 hp

    Fuel capacity and range

    110- 116 gal sources differ, range upto 150 miles on average, 170 miles road, 80 cross country.

    Trench crossing width

    7 ft 6 in.

    Armament

    1 X 75mm QF, 2 X 7.92mm Besa or 1 X 95mm and 2 X 7.92mm Besa. Earlier marks 6 Pdr and 1 or 2 Besa. Centaur IV 1 X 95mm, 1 x 7.92mm Besa.

    Data taken from various Tank Museum drawings and documentary sources.

  7. References.

Title

Author

Publisher

Date

Bellona Print Series Six A27M Cromwell IV plans

North ADJ

MAP

1965-70

British and American Tanks of WW2

Chamberlain P and Ellis C

Arms and Armour/Cassell

1969/2000

British and Commonwealth Armoured Formations (1919-46)

Crow D

Profile Publications Ltd

1971

British Tank Names and Markings

White BT

A&AP

1978

British Tanks of WW2 1 and 2

Fletcher D

Concord

2000 and 2001

Cromwell

Ledwoch J

Wydawnictwo MILITARIA

1994

Cromwell Mk IV

Bingham Maj. J

Profile Publications, Armour in Profile series No 5 and combined volume

1967/1968

Cromwell stats

Greenwood P

-

Unpublished communication

Cromwell Tank Vehicle History and Specification

Fletcher D

HMSO

1983

Cruiser Tank Mark VIII, A27M Cromwell Mark IV

Fletcher D, with assistance from Harley D

Darlington Productions Inc Museum ordnance Special No 25.

2000

D Day Tank Warfare

Zaloga S/Balin G

Concord

1994

D Day To Berlin

Wise T

A&AP

1979

Les Blindes les Allies En Normandie

Buffetaut Y

Histore and Collections

1994

Military Modelling Vol. 29, No 11 . Cromwells of Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the Tamiya kit.

Eburne B

Nexus

1999

Military Modelling Vol. 31, No 12. Cromwells of 5th RTR.

Huett D

Nexus

2001

PRO files various

-

WO and Min of supply and Aviation

1943-45

Tankette Vol. 33, No 5, detailed review of the Tamiya kit

Harley D

MAFVA

1998

Tankette, Vol. 14, No 5. The detailed article on the Cromwell with 1/76th scale plans

Harley D, Fletcher D, Church J

MAFVA

1979

Villers Bocage Through The Lens

Taylor D

After The Battle

?

Wheels and tracks Number 60

Fletcher D

After The Battle

1997

 

I hope that you find this useful and I look forward to any comments you may have.

Mark Hayward

Copyright Mark Hayward 2002

Thanks go to Phil Greenwood and Peter Brown for their help.

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