Cromwell tank use

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Seroster, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher Patron

    I know that 7th Armoured Division was equipped with Cromwells on D-Day, and I know the Poles used them in their armoured division in France and Germany.

    But I don't think I've absorbed the fact of their use by other divisions - if they used it - and yet wikipedia says that 4000 Cromwell tanks were produced?
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    at least in ETO (11th and Guards) the divisional armoured Recce Rgts had some 40 gun and 6 CS Cromwells each.

    Juha
     
  3. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    Yes, definitely 11th AD. There is a Cromwell tank in the Overloon War museum in the Netherlands that was with 15/19 Hussars.
     
  4. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher Patron

    But the main regiments continued to use Fireflies and Shermans, right?
     
  5. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello Chris
    Yes, the Armoured Bdes but 22nd had Shermans as their main tanks. Armoured Recce Rgts were divisional troops not part of Armoured Bdes.

    Juha
     
  6. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    A handful were used (or carried about) by 3/4th CLY until enough Sherman IIs arrived, after 4 CLY merged with 3 CLY in 4 Armoured Brigade.

    So for them to (albeit briefly) end up in an Independent Armoured Regiment is jolly unusual, and frankly the exception.
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    And also with the 1st Polish Armoured Div Cromwells belonged to the Armoured Recce Rgt, its ArmBde had Shermans and Honeys.
     
  8. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Some clarification...While the armoured recce regts were originally divisional troops, combat experience in Normandy showed that they were unsuited to the recce role, which was better conducted by armoured car regiments, So, all the armoured divisions reallocated their armoured recce regts to their armoured brigades to provide fourth tank regiments, and an armoured car regiment from corps troops became the divisional recce regt.
    JDKR
     
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  9. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    The Czech Armoured Brigade also had Cromwells.

    I think the figure for 4000 Cromwells also includes 2000 odd Centaurs. There's also the fact that all the Cromwells produced until late 1943 had 6 pounders, and so weren't considered suitable for NWE. In addition, British armoured formations operated with an (iirc) 166% reserve, so even most of the Cromwells in the theatre would be unallocated. Then there's the fact that Cromwell production did not end until Jan-Feb 1945, so not all Cromwells would have been available during the most intense part of operations. This is even before we get to wastage.

    It's remarkable how many tanks you need to keep a single armoured formation in being.
     
  10. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher Patron

    Was it not possible to refit those Cromwells with a 75mm gun? I guess that wasn't a priority.
     
  11. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    And the Div HQs of the three British and one Polish Armd Divs also had Cromwells. Armd Bde HQs had the main type of tank of their Regts, so Cromwells for 22nd Armd and the Czech Indep Bde, Shermans for everyone else.

    Gary
     
  12. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Yes, this would have been possible. It would also have been possible to have fitted Meteors in 75mm and 95mm Centaurs. I have got no idea why this wasn't done, and there are no records as far as I can see why it wasn't done. It would have been far easier I would have thought to fit Meteors into the Centaurs than almost completely rebuild battle damaged Cromwells, which they did do. During mid 1944 they scrapped about 200 to 300 6 pounder Cromwells just to scavenge their Meteor engines for the 75mm equipped equivalents.
     
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  13. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher Patron

    I don't know anything about the process of rebuilding damaged Cromwells, but I wonder (regarding reworking Centaurs or 6-pounder Cromwells) if it might have been something as "simple" as the time to set up the rework process. I gather there were many fewer factories involved in tank production at the end of the war.

    According to *cough cough* wikipedia, the Cromwell's suspension was strengthened, it was heavier, and it could take wider tracks due to a different track tensioning system (although I doubt I, or wikipedia, have that entirely right?). So there would have been some differences after changing the engine.

    I wondered about (but am somewhat hesistant to mention, because I suspect I'm wrong) whether there might be other smaller differences that don't get much mention. In one of the Archer documents I found a single solitary reference to the interior lighting of the fighting compartment not having been installed as had been previously agreed upon. Maybe it's just a lack of documentation for the Archer but that sort of minor change certainly didn't percolate up as far as General Staff meeting minutes.
     
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It was probably far more hassle to change ammunition stowage than the gun itself with the 75 being a derivative of the 6pr.
     
  15. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    I know the Ministry of Supply created a conversion kit to replace the 6 pounder with the 75mm in the Churchill, and this was supposed to be a very easy job to undertake. I think a lot of the 6 pounder Churchills on the Italian front had this conversion done to them.

    It may be the case that some Centaurs and 6 pounder Cromwells were indeed converted to become battleworthy 75mm Cromwells, but I have seen absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this ever happened.
     
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  16. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Churchill MOS conversion kit was undertaken at a Regt level by Fitters, its where so many of the 75mm armed IVs and IIIs suddenly come from. No need for factory refits, have details of it scribbled down somewhere.

    In short, wasn't too hard.
     
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  17. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Chamberlain and Ellis (British and American Tanks of WWII) state that the Cromwell III (6-pdr) was the Centaur I re-engined with a Meteor and that the Cromwell IV was a Centaur III (75mm) re-engined in the same way.

    I have some usage and modification questions, though. Did any Cromwells with the 6-pdr ever see field service? OK, maybe not in NWE, but how about the Med/ME? Also, some Centaurs were given to the Greeks postwar. These seem to have retained the 6-pdr, but does anyone know if they were brought up to Cromwell standard in powerplant (Meteor) or armor (101mm applique plates) before being handed over? Given the lighter gun and the known poor performance of the Centaur with the Liberty, I would have thought that the British would have at least tried to do the right thing by their Allies.
     
  18. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher Patron

    Cromwells were not used operationally in Italy or the ME. I believe one or more were sent to the theatre for testing, but that's all.
     
  19. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    A demonstration troop of Cromwells (can't remember if it was four or six) was sent to the Italian front in mid-1944, where they got an enthusiastic reception. It was reported that the 2nd Polish Armoured Division requested to be converted to the Cromwell immediately.

    All the Centaurs sent to Greece, Portugal and France retained their Liberty engines and original armour basis. The later Liberty V engines (which were Leyland rather than Nuffield Mechanizations developments) were reasonably reliable by the standards of the day, having a 2000 mile overhaul life compared to the 3000+ mile overhaul life of the Meteor. I would say that the Centaur was a more reliable tank than the Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panther and Tiger, none of which had an overhaul life above 1500 miles, and in some cases considerably less.
     
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  20. rick wedlock

    rick wedlock Member

    we sent 5 cromwells to russia for evaluation but apparently they weren't impressed. which is odd as mechanically they were excellent. i think the gun and armour combination was not up to russian standards
     

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