How did British tank factories operate?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Chris C, May 15, 2019.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    An image on another forum prompted this question in my mind again, enough to actually post about it. Does anyone know what sort of process British tank factories used?

    Take this image for instance:


    Looking at the leftmost line (from our POV) one tank has a turret and the rear sloping louvres mounted (I think) (but raised up vertically). I am unclear whether the tank in front or behind have those louvres attached. None of them seem to have the louvres that cover the flat part of the hull behind the turret. If this was an assembly line I would have thought to expect tanks reaching a more complete status as they progress, so the first tank in this line should be in a more advanced stage than the one behind it.

    On the other hand, on the rightmost line, 2nd tank up, a tank DOES have covering on the flat part of the hull behind the turret. And the tank closer to us does not.

    The middle section looks like a specialty area for mounting tracks, so that's somewhat by-the-by, but it's unclear to me that the tanks are progressing in a linear less-to-more completed state in that picture.
  2. CL1

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

  3. Dave

    Dave Junior Member

    the picture is very much like Crewe railway works, 10 shop/Erecting shop... but Wikis search says they produced over 150 Covenanter tanks, and those in the picture don't look like Covenanter's...
    Also in the photograph it looks like the completed tanks are coming towards the camera, the 2 outside belts building the frames up, then lifting it into the middle belt for tracks to be fitted.

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  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I never get the impression there was an 'official' process. Factories allocated war orders used systems largely depending on facilities available.
    Places like Vickers' greater tank experience might mean smoother lines & more efficient processes than somewhere that traditionally produced railway gear, but the end product can still be the same.
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    The top photo features Matilda II and the lower photo an early War 'light tank' (I can't remember its proper name). Both photos therefore illustrate early War manufacture. Not sure how relevant that is though to the original question!
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  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    It might be possible from the serial number to identify exactly which model of Light Tank is being built, but they were just Light Tank Mark VIB and so on, so far as I know.
  7. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Chris, it's a Mk VI without suffix - the clue is the return roller being part of the Horstmann suspension unit - which I assume makes it a prewar image.

    There is a similar looking set of photos to your first image from the Montreal Locomotive Works in the summer of 1943 depicting four lines, three of Grizzlies and one of Sextons, that you may be familiar with Chris.

    Grizzlies not Rams - I stand corrected - schoolboy error!
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019 at 6:26 PM
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  8. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Member

    These are not Rams on the production line but M4A1 Grizzlies, AKA the M4A1 Sherman, 188 of which were produced at Montreal between Oct and Dec 1943. Note the hull machine gun port on the RHS of the vehicle.

    Production of the Ram ceased in July 1943.
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  9. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    The Matilda was a particularly unusual tank to manufacture, because it needed an enormous amount of "dressing" i.e. grinding away of the large castings that made up its hull, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if the production line for this tank looked somewhat haphazard.
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