Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Best British Tank of WW2

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by uksubs, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. uksubs

    uksubs Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    36
    What was the best made British tank of WW2 ?
    Was it the Churchill for it all round versatility ?
    Cromwell for it speed , or the Comet tank with it 77mm gun ?
     
    von Poop likes this.
  2. Drucius

    Drucius Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    16
    It depends on the period. At various times the best British tank would have been the Matilda II, the Churchill VII, the Comet and finally the Centurion (even though it didn't see action, I know). I'd plump for the Comet overall, the Churchill was neutered when they gave it the 75mm QF.
     
  3. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    1,362
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Sewanee, Tennessee, USA
    The Brits have the tanks that I know the least about, so I'll have to get back to you on this one.
     
  4. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Messages:
    8,809
    Likes Received:
    368
    Location:
    Portugal
    I vote the unsung Valentine. If the Russians - who had a thing or two to say about tank design - liked it, then it certainly had to be good.

    Reliable, mobile, low-silhouette, well armed (6pdr versions), well armoured for the size, a great tank.
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    10,480
    Likes Received:
    420
    Well since you didn't mention if it had to have been used in combat before the war ended I would say the Centurion. :)
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Messages:
    8,809
    Likes Received:
    368
    Location:
    Portugal
    I was afraid to say that word.
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    755
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    The Valentine. An excellent light tank with good potential. That is what endeared it to the Russians. It was a far better vehicle in that role than their own T60 or T70 was and they were smart enough to recognize its value.

    The various cruisers ranged from awful to passable. The Churchill was a throwback to the previous war. The Matilda was good for the first two years of the war but lacked upgradability and cost too much to produce in quantity.
    The various British "light" tanks like the Mk VI were as outdated as the Pz I was in 1939.
     
  8. krieg

    krieg Ace

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,554
    Likes Received:
    30
    i say i would haft to faver the . churchill tank . is this the one that had a
    little success in the early stagers of the desert campain in the 8th army:confused:
     
  9. Weisenwolf

    Weisenwolf Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    3
    We could debate what you mean by best BRITISH tank but the most effective in British and commonwealth service for a reasonable portion of the war has got to be the Sherman Firefly ;)

    All the early tanks were very much a case of making do with the inadequate in one way or another and to pick a 'best one' is a bit like being asked to select your own method of execution; it can be done but why bother? :eek:

    With the Cromwell UK tank design just about caught up with the US Sherman and the previous generation of German Tanks and SP's (Panzer IV and so on) so I suppose the Cromwell is the first contender but really the Comet is the first tank intended to be built in Large numbers and able to compete with the Panthers and Tigers followed by the Centurion and as the Germans had largely ran out of Tanks by this stage they were both too little too late.

    The Valentines were extremely popular with Russian light tank battalions because they were a more survivable option than the T60's & T70's they were stuck with otherwise.

    Given the choice they would have had T34's but when you are last in the pecking order you need to be pragmatic. Thus Valentines are popular with the Russians NOT because they were a competitor to Russian vehicles or their German opponents but because they were better than what they would have had otherwise; there were still complaints about an inadequate gun and narrow tracks so it was hardly beloved.
     
  10. Joe

    Joe Ace

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,948
    Likes Received:
    123
    The Germans also thought that in Dieppe in 1942, the British sent them there to throw them away (the Churchills).
    It was in Tunisia when It redeemed itself though, and it was also the first British tank to have the US 75mm M3. Very distinguishing.
    Also proved very useful with the 'funnies', it would take far too long to list all the conversions, so I'll let you all research them yourselves, If you don't know them already.
    Oh, and when Churchill saw 'his' tank, apparently he said, "This tank has even more faults than myself".

    BUT

    Although it is my favourite, it was certainly not the best. It was designed as an 'infantry tank', and that concept was very useful circa 1917 but in WW2 was obsolete.
    The best tank THAT SAW ACTION in WW2 was the Comet, hands down. The Gun was excellent, speed, blah blah it has all the fine points of a brilliant tank. To bad it came so late.
     
  11. Weisenwolf

    Weisenwolf Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    3
    The Churchills used by the 8th Army in North Africa and The Italian campaign with US 75mm guns were actually 6pdr models as built with US guns fitted 'in the field' from wrecked Shermans (complete with mount as I recall!). If memory serves there were about 120 of them so converted. So again as with the Firefly is this really a British Tank?

    The British built 75mm Churchills did not arrive in numbers until the Normandy campaign (even then they were in short supply and battalions had a mix of these and 6pdr's) and although they were popular from a certain perspective since unlike everything else they could resist hits to the front from some German weapons and the specialist armour was useful they could still not take on the Panthers and Tigers plagueing the commonwealth forces in particular so I can't see 'Best British Tank' being a worthy title.

    How about Matilda II in 1940 ?
     
  12. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    223
    A few words on the Churchill.

    A brilliant tank. In fact a tank that did a lot more than what it was called to do. Designed as an infantry tank, it had heavy armour so that it could move about with the infantry. It was slow, but that was ok because the swanning actions was earmarked for the cruiser tanks. When it was first deployed it came with a manual of known flaws, a list that would grow as it was exposed to combat. Later on it would get rid of many of these and mount a proper gun.

    What makes the Churchill a machine to admire is the ability to fill many roles. Hobart funnies supplied the Army with an array of specialist tools that would save many lifes (well allied ones anyways)

    In Italy another factor of the Churchill became apparent. A feature that would earn it the nick 'the mountain goat' You don't have to be the best tank, if you're the only tank around. The climbing abilities (shared with the Cromwell) of the Churchill tank ensured that the Army could deploy tanks in seemingly impossible terrain.

    As for the Churchill not able to dance with the Tiger or Panther... Well it's not intended to is it? Look at the doctrine applied by the British. They fought the enemies asymetrically. And for the Panther and Tigers as the British armour's scourge... A load of rubbish. Concentrations of Minnies/Arty, and entrenched AT guns took the lions share of British AFV's.

    The really bad thing about the Churchill is of course it's unesthetic appearence. It looks outdated and ungainly. Well you cannot win them all.
     
  13. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Messages:
    4,047
    Likes Received:
    266
    I personnaly believe that the British severly lacked in terms of tanks and SP guns, with the Germans and Russians leading(even if many German tanks\SP's were just make shift), I believe none of them to be up to the task of taking on a German BattleGroup and hoping to win without extreme superiority(there are exceptions to this), just look at the formation of Shermans, one being the Firefly only supposed to take on Tigers, while the other shermans would try to encircle it and hit it in the engine. During the Nomrandy invasion the allies enjoyed complete air superority and were able to knock of German heavy tanks and prevent movement, which lead to the British to have the upper hand in tank movments.

    I believe the Americans were catching up with the German tanks but still did lack until the end of the war.

    The Russians, I believe were the only country able to properly engage the German Tanks and expect to win with the T-34's, all the 'T' series as well as the SU. JSU, and the JS series, the Russians T34s was even better then the German Tanks at the beginning.

    OK but if I had to chose one British tank I would have to go with all the Cromwell series dispite there flaws, they were are good tank design even if they were lacking.
     
  14. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Messages:
    4,047
    Likes Received:
    266
    In terms of the Russian front, the tigers have been credited with one quarter(1/4) of all Russian tanks destroyed on the Eastern Front alone:)
     
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    5,589
    Likes Received:
    1,328
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    I like a bit of pedantry :D , but if Captain Morrell's work with 665 REME & the na(75) Churchill IV's at Bone wasn't a British effort then I don't really know what is. I always love the "Hmmm, I've got an idea" way it was done. The later 'official' 75 was essentially an American gun built into a 6 pdr mount so if that criteria applied then that would have to be called a US vehicle too, which it patently isn't.
    Choosing Churchills is tricky, it's important to specify which mark, as the later VII's were to many intents a very different vehicle.

    To avoid a complex run-down by year & theatre and turning away from my immense soft spot for the Churchill & Tilly 2 I'm going to plump for the easy 'overall' option and select the Comet. Despite some flaws (show me a tank without flaws), a fast, reliable, well armed vehicle. It's HV75 (77mm) gun being almost on a par with the 17 pdr meant that a truly powerful gun that didn't require the really specialist ammunition to be effective was finally mounted in a coherent & fully traversable design.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  16. Joe

    Joe Ace

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,948
    Likes Received:
    123
    I wondered how long it would take for you to show up Adam! ;)

    I would have loved to say the Churchill was the best, unfortunatly I have had bad memories on other forums...

    But the Comet was definatly the Best British tank.
    It also looks brilliant.
    [​IMG]
     
    von Poop likes this.
  17. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2002
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    23
    A couple of comments on the Churchill, from things I recall reading long ago:

    1. There was once a long-range shoot-out in Normandy between a Churchill with 6pdr firing APDS and a Tiger 1. The Tiger's shot bounced off the Churchill, while the Churchill drilled holes in the Tiger...

    2. The Germans played with a captured Churchill and added small wheels for the top run of the track to run on, instead of just sliding along a channel as they usually did. The drop in track friction provided a marked increase in speed.
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    5,589
    Likes Received:
    1,328
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    Gerry Chester, who was there, tells us that in most Italian encounters with the Tiger the Churchill came out on top, and the Pz.IV was actually seen as the greater threat by British tankers in that theatre.

    I could never quite believe the return rails on the Churchill (but then there's many things about it's development process I find hard to believe :D). If I recall it was a solitary Dieppe Churchill that was modified so, it beggars belief that no British designer considered rollers during any of it's long development and the subsequent rework programme. It's said the gains in speed were marginal, but the stress and wear on the track was reduced greatly.
     
  19. uksubs

    uksubs Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    36
     
  20. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    223
    tomcat
    I find that hard to beleive.

    The USSR suffered a total of 83,500 losses during the war. 1/4 of that is 20,875.

    If you take away the losses in 1941 and 1942. 20,500 and 15,000 you are left with 48,000.

    So the Tiger has to knock out nearly half of all casualties from 1943 onwards...

    The total number of Tigers built was 1355. Starting at 25 per month in August 1942, and ended in August 1944. Peak production was 104 in April 1944. The peak strength was on 1 July 1944 with 671 runners.
     
    Otto likes this.

Share This Page