Churchill Tanks

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Gerry Chester, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

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    Admittedly I am biased, however, here's what the Prime Minister had to say about "his" tank:

    "In 1942, with the war in North Africa at a critical stage, Winston Churchill - then serving as prime minister and minister of defense - delivered a historic speech before the House of Commons. Facing a motion of censure, Churchill delivered a ninety-minute oration, during which an MP asked about a certain 'Churchill' tank fiasco.

    'This tank,'Churchill candidly explained, 'was ordered off the drawing board and large numbers went into production very quickly. As might be expected, it had many defects and teething troubles, and when these became apparent, the tank was appropriately rechristened the 'Churchill.'

    'These defects have now been largely overcome,' he added. 'I have no doubt that this tank will prove, in the end, a powerful, massive, and serviceable weapon of war.'

    [This self-deprecating joke was met with delighted laughter throughout the House; in the ensuing vote the motion was defeated by a majority - of 475 to 25.]
     
  2. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    The Churchill achieved its height as an infantry support weapon, especially the "Crocodile" variety with its flamethrower. Andrew Wilson's book "Flame Thrower," is a gripping account of the tank in action. "Tank Tracks," a history of 9th RTR, is also good.
     
  3. chollie

    chollie Junior Member

    The Petard armed Churchill was also succesfull in it's limited support role. If memory serves it initially served with Hobarts funnies.

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  4. GUMALANGI

    GUMALANGI Senior Member

    Hi there

    Noted also, so called 'super' churchill tank or black prince, it has a long gun ,.
    looks fearsome, it is said the tank never actually went into action.
    and it was equipped with 17 pdr gun..

    untill this very moment i really cannot converse millimetres to pounder
    as to inch,.. i dont have problem with that...

    Cheers.

    Gumalangi
     
  5. chollie

    chollie Junior Member

    Black Prince, not a good pic i'm afraid but the parentage of this tank is clear in the photo.

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  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Whilst searching I came upon these photographs of the Black Prince, which unfortunately came to nothing as it was developed from 1943 to 1945 and never saw series production.


    I bet that Tom Canning and his fellow Tankers would have liked these in 1943-44 :D


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    It certainly looks the part.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Clive,

    That's a good link.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    IIRC the Black Prince were ready at about the same time as the Centurion, both carried the same gun (17lb, 76.2mm, 3" or whatever) but one was an evolutionary dead end while the other was the first British MBT (even if they were called "universal tanks" at the time).
     
  10. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    WW1 Design.

    Dead End.

    Not really considerng the tank-developments of the previous years of the war.
     
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    IIRC the Black Prince were ready at about the same time as the Centurion, both carried the same gun (17lb, 76.2mm, 3" or whatever) but one was an evolutionary dead end while the other was the first British MBT (even if they were called "universal tanks" at the time).

    More a case of convergent evolution in technological terms. The real dead end was the concept of separate 'infantry' and 'cruiser' tank doctrines, equipment and units.
     
  12. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    A dead end that took some time dying, as it still served in Korea, while the Irish Army kept them until 1969 :)

    It served honourably and well, a pity it's suspension system wouldn't allow further development, but for the purpose it was designed our Vets would say they were glad to have it.

    A Churchill tank named Ballymoney - Ballymoney Today

    B Sqn HQ was astonished at the news, however "Ballymoney" was given new enemy targets and the crew knocked out two German gun emplacements on the way. The enemy never imagined tanks could climb such high positions, they were mystified at the amazing climbing capabilities of the Churchill tank, unequalled by any other British tank at that time. Battle over,… B Sqn was relieved, Trooper D was informed that although he had disobeyed orders, he was to be commended for his actions.
     
    dbf likes this.
  13. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Said it before. Let down by a bus engine, In instead of hand buidling merlins we should have been slinging packard merlins in tanks instead of building Lanc's, gettin shot down in their hundreds....

    It was the last tiem we would make this mistake...

    Hindsight.....

    Kev
     
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    ZA
    That excerpt was all about the taking of Longstop Hill in which Gerry Chester was involved as it was his squadron which climbed that hill to the utter confusion of the enemy !

    Smudger - We would have loved to have had a Churchill MK VII in Italy at that time even without the 17pounder ! - all we ever had was the MkIV - until at the Gothic we had three MkV's with the 95mm Howitzer - for the whole battalion !!! Our 3rd Troop had one gunned by Wee Wally Fenn from Glasgow ! -Then we were presented with a Panzer MkV ( Panther) which "Smokey" Smith V.C. of the Seaforths of Canada had scared into a ditch - and used that against it's makers for a while - until Walter Pollard the gunner stepped on a Schu mine while re-fuelling !

    Cheers
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Kev - Never had any problems with our engines - only once in nearly two years did we have trouble in starting our engine - that was when I was "helping" the driver to clean the four carbs - and I forgot to put in the floats - that became a very long day - with NO dinner !
    Cheers
     
  16. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    WW1 Design.

    Dead End.

    Not really considerng the tank-developments of the previous years of the war.

    Interestingly that dead-end design saw it get to the top of Longstop hill; which was more then C coy 1st BN 18th RCT could manage on foot. Mind you it was raining when they did it.
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I thought ToS's dead end comment wasn't particularly referring to the Churchill, more to Black Prince as the ultimate expression of it?

    That has validity.
    Especially when considering the 'Universal Tank' concept of the time, and comparisons to the Centurion, as he mentioned.

    IIRC the Black Prince were ready at about the same time as the Centurion, both carried the same gun (17lb, 76.2mm, 3" or whatever) but one was an evolutionary dead end while the other was the first British MBT
     
  18. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Whilst the idea of a churchill being an anti-tank weapon may be argued by some as a dead end (the argument being I believe that you are continuously upgunning a tired design proven to be vulnerable to enemy AT fire)... the design of the churchill as a utility vehicle (i.e a chassis for something else) was most definitely not, case in point being the AVRE, ARC or the funnies.... and when this is considered the AT churchill becomes paradoxically valid.

    If you look at a country with limited resources constrained by the shipping tonnage reaching its coast... with a pre designed reliable chassis (i.e. that was known to work in the field), pre skilled workforces (in a manpower shortage) and with pre-tasked factories on site and ready to produce it, then the Churchill was most definitely not a dead end. In fact, when you factor out knowledge of the outcome of the war the black prince actually seems pretty sensible to me. Building higher calibre heavy-tanks from scratch is a post war ideal given what was possible at the time and what you have available previously; an idea that is reinforced by statistics of global factory output and nonsensical ideas of liquid-insustry and one click build-queus.

    Was the Churchill the greatest tank of the war? I didn't drive it under fire, but I'm guessing not. But it did seem to do its job admirably however.
     
  19. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    A dead end that took some time dying, as it still served in Korea, while the Irish Army kept them until 1969 :)


    Hmmmm. The Irish Army.... maybe not the first reference in matters of usiage of tanks :rolleyes:
     
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Phaeton
    I would agree that the Churchill - in all marks - was the best British Tank of the war until superceded by the Challenger - all that the Cromwells and Comets had were a bigger and more effective gun than the 6 pounder.

    Some of the tales I read of their performance in NWE did not equal that of the Churchill in Africa and Italy - in far worse conditions. They were built to the Tank philosophy of the day as being the thumpers and breakers of the enemy's lines to allow the lighter pursuit tanks to swan around in rear of the enemy - finally did a great job in supporting the Infantry as both 21st and 25th Tank bdes with the 1st Canadian Div in Italy.
    Before Hobo's funnies came on the scene we had them carrying facines and also the Ark's - which were badly needed with the hundreds of rivers there.
    Cheers
    Cheers
     

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