Churchill tank
Overview
 
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) was a heavy British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 infantry tank
Infantry tank
The infantry tank was a concept developed by the British and French in the years leading up to World War II. Infantry tanks were tanks designed to support the infantry in the attack. To achieve this they were generally heavily armoured compared to the cruiser tanks, to allow them to operate in...

 used in the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 tanks of the war. This series of tanks was named after Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 and Minister of Defence
Minister of Defence (UK)
The post of Minister of Defence was responsible for co-ordination of defence and security from its creation in 1940 until its abolition in 1964. The post was a Cabinet level post and generally ranked above the three service ministers, some of whom, however, continued to also serve in...

 at the time, and had been involved with the development of the tank as a weapon during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.
Initially specified before the outbreak of the Second World War the (General Staff designation) A20
A20 heavy tank
The A20 heavy tank was a British Harland and Wolff tank which did not enter production but of which a downsized version by Vauxhall Motors became the A22 Churchill tank....

 was to be the replacement for the Matilda II
Matilda tank
The Infantry Tank Mark II known as the Matilda II was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It was also identified from its General Staff Specification A12....

 and Valentine
Valentine tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production...

 infantry tanks.
Encyclopedia
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) was a heavy British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 infantry tank
Infantry tank
The infantry tank was a concept developed by the British and French in the years leading up to World War II. Infantry tanks were tanks designed to support the infantry in the attack. To achieve this they were generally heavily armoured compared to the cruiser tanks, to allow them to operate in...

 used in the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 tanks of the war. This series of tanks was named after Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 and Minister of Defence
Minister of Defence (UK)
The post of Minister of Defence was responsible for co-ordination of defence and security from its creation in 1940 until its abolition in 1964. The post was a Cabinet level post and generally ranked above the three service ministers, some of whom, however, continued to also serve in...

 at the time, and had been involved with the development of the tank as a weapon during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

A20

Initially specified before the outbreak of the Second World War the (General Staff designation) A20
A20 heavy tank
The A20 heavy tank was a British Harland and Wolff tank which did not enter production but of which a downsized version by Vauxhall Motors became the A22 Churchill tank....

 was to be the replacement for the Matilda II
Matilda tank
The Infantry Tank Mark II known as the Matilda II was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It was also identified from its General Staff Specification A12....

 and Valentine
Valentine tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production...

 infantry tanks. In accordance with British infantry tank doctrine and based on the expected needs of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

-style trench warfare
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

, the tank was required to be capable of navigating shell-cratered ground, demolishing infantry obstacles such as barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

, and attacking fixed enemy defences; for these purposes, great speed and heavy armament was not required.

The vehicle was specified initially to be armed with two QF 2 pounder guns
Ordnance QF 2 pounder
The Ordnance QF 2-pounder was a British anti-tank and vehicle-mounted gun, employed in the Second World War. It was actively used in the Battle of France, and during the North Africa campaign...

 each located in a side sponson
Sponson
Sponsons are projections from the sides of a watercraft, for protection, stability, or the mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats, etc...

, with a coaxial BESA machine gun. A third BESA and a smoke projector would be fitted in the front hull. The specification was revised to prefer a turret with 60 mm of armour to protect against ordinary shells from the German 37 mm gun. Outline drawings were produced based on using the A12 Matilda turret and the engine of the Covenanter tank
Covenanter tank
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk V, Covenanter was a British Cruiser tank of the Second World War. It was named for the Covenanters, a Scottish religious faction in the British Isles at the time of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

. Detail design and construction of the A20 was given to the Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries is a Northern Irish heavy industrial company, specialising in shipbuilding and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland....

 who completed four prototypes by June 1940. During the construction period the armament was reconsidered which including fitting either a 6 pounder or a French 75 mm gun in the forward hull. In the end a 3-inch howitzer was chosen. The A20 designs were short-lived however, as at roughly the same time the emergency evacuation
Operation Dynamo
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were...

 of the British Expeditionary Force
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 from Dunkirk occurred.

At 43 tons, with a 300 hp Meadows engine, the A20 had limited power. Vauxhall were approached to see if they could build the A20 and one example was sent to Vauxhall at Luton to see if they could provide an alternative engine. To this end they developed a flat 12 petrol engine.

A22

With France conquered
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, the scenario of trench warfare in Northern Europe was no longer applicable and the design was revised by Dr. H.E. Merritt,who was also responsible for the triple differential design of the Merritt-Brown gearbox used in the Churchill Director of Tank Design at Woolwich Arsenal
Royal Arsenal
The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, originally known as the Woolwich Warren, carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces. It was sited on the south bank of the River Thames in Woolwich in south-east London, England.-Early history:The Warren...

, based on the combat witnessed in Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 and France. These new specifications, for the A22 or Infantry Tank Mark IV, were given to Vauxhall
Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors is a British automotive company owned by General Motors and headquartered in Luton. It was founded in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, began manufacturing cars in 1903 and was acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for...

 in June 1940.

With German invasion looking imminent and the United Kingdom having lost most of its military vehicles in the evacuation from France, the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

 specified that the A22 had to enter production within the year. By July 1940 the design was complete and by December of that year the first prototypes were completed; in June 1941, almost exactly a year as specified, the first Churchill tanks began rolling off the production line.

A leaflet from the manufacturer was added to the User Handbook which stated that it had great confidence in the fundamental design of the tank but that the model had been put into production without time for proper honing and that improvements would be made in time.
The document then covered for each area of the tank affected, the fault, precautions to avoid the fault and what was being done to correct the problem.

This hasty development had not come without cost though, as there had been little in the way of testing and the Churchill was plagued with mechanical faults. Most apparent was that the Churchill's engine was underpowered and unreliable, and difficult to access for servicing. Another serious shortcoming was the tank's weak armament, the 2 pounder (40 mm) gun, which was improved by the addition of a 3 inch
Ordnance QF 3 inch howitzer
Ordnance QF 3 inch howitzer was a howitzer fitted to British tanks of the Second World War so they could fire a HE shell in "close support" of infantry....

 howitzer
Howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

 in the hull (the Mk IICS had the howitzer in the turret) to deliver an HE shell albeit not on a howitzer's usual high trajectory. These flaws contributed to the tank's poor performance in its first use in combat, the disastrous Dieppe Raid
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 in August, 1942.

Production of a turret to carry the QF 6 pounder gun began in 1941 but problems with the plate used in an all-welded design led to an alternative cast turret also being produced. These formed the distinction between Mark III and Mark IV.

The poor performance of the Churchill nearly caused production to be ceased in favour of the upcoming Cromwell tank
Cromwell tank
Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell ,The designation as the eighth Cruiser tank design, its name given for ease of reference and its General Staff specification number respectively and the related Centaur tank, were one of the most successful series of cruiser tanks fielded by Britain in the Second...

; it was saved by the successful use of the Mk III at the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

 in October 1942.

The second major improvement in the Churchill's design, the Mk VII saw first used in the Battle of Normandy
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 in 1944. The Mk VII improved on the already heavy armour of the Churchill with a wider chassis and the 75 mm
Ordnance QF 75 mm
The Ordnance QF 75 mm, abbreviated to OQF 75 mm, was a British tank-gun of the Second World War. It was used instead of the Ordnance QF 6 pounder , an anti-tank gun, to give better performance against infantry targets in a similar fashion to the 75 mm gun fitted to the American...

 gun which had been introduced on the Mk VI. It was primarily this variant, the A22F, which served through the remainder of war and was re-designated as A42 in 1945.

The Churchill was notable for its versatility and was utilized in numerous specialist roles.

Design

The hull was made up of simple flat plates which were initially bolted together and welded in later models. The hull was split into four compartments: the driver's position at the front, then the fighting compartment including the turret, the engine compartment, and the gearbox compartment. The suspension was fitted under the two large "panniers" on either side of the hull, the track running over the top. There were eleven bogies either side, each carrying two 10-inch wheels. Only nine of the bogies were taking the vehicle weight normally, the front coming into play when the vehicle nosed into the ground or against an obstacle, the rear acting in part as a track tensioner. Due to the number of wheels, the tank could survive losing several without much in the way of adverse affects as well as traversing steeper terrain obstacles. As the tracks ran around the panniers, escape hatches in the side could be incorporated into the design. These were retained throughout the revisions of the Churchill and were of particular use when the Churchill was adopted as the AVRE.

The Bedford Vehicles
Bedford Vehicles
Bedford Vehicles, usually shortened to just Bedford, was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors, itself the British subsidiary of General Motors , established in 1930; and constructing commercial vehicles. Bedford Vehicles was a leading international truck manufacturer, with substantial export sales of...

 engine was effectively two engines in horizontally opposed configuration ("flat twelve") on a common crankshaft. There were four Solex
Solex
Solex was a French manufacturer of carburetors and the powered bicycle VéloSoleX.The Solex company was founded by Marcel Mennesson and Maurice Goudard to manufacture vehicle radiators...

 carburettors each on a separate manifold that fed three cylinders formed as a single cylinder head. The elements of the engine and ancillary components were laid out so they could be reached for maintenance through the engine deck covers. Air for the engine was drawn from the fighting compartment through air cleaners. Cooling air was drawn into the engine compartment through louvres on the sides, across the radiators and through the engine compartment by a fan driven by the clutch. This fan blew the air over the gearbox and out the rear of the hull. By opening a flap between the fighting compartment and the engine compartment this airflow could be used to remove fumes produced by firing the armament. The 1,296 cubic inch capacity engine was rated at 350 bhp at 2,000 rpm delivering 960 lbft over a engine speed range from 800 to 1,600 rpm.

The gearbox featured a regenerative steering system that was controlled by a tiller bar instead of the more commonplace brake levers or a steering wheel. The tiller was connected with servo assistance, hydraulicly to the steering brakes. The Churchill was also the first tank to utilise the Merritt-Brown gearbox, which allowed the tank to be steered by changing the relative speeds of the two tracks; this effect became more pronounced with each lower gear, ultimately allowing the tank to perform a "neutral turn" when no gear was engaged where it could fully turn on its own axis. There were final reduction gears, of the planetary type, in the driving wheels.

The first turrets were of cast construction and were rounded in shape, providing sufficient space to accommodate the relatively small 2 pounder gun. To fulfil its role as an infantry support vehicle the first models were equipped with a 3 inch howitzer in the hull in a layout very similar to the French Char B. This enabled the tank to deliver a useful high-explosive capability while retaining the antitank capabilities of the 2 pounder. However, like other multi-gun tanks, it was limited by a poor fire arc - the entire tank had to be turned to change the aim of the hull gun. The Mk II dispensed with the howitzer and replaced it with a bow machine gun and on the Mk III, the 2 pounder was replaced with the 6 pounder, significantly increasing the tank's anti-tank capabilities. The tank underwent field modification in North Africa
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

 with several Churchills being fitted with the 75 mm gun of destroyed M4 Shermans. These "NA75" variants were used in Italy. The use of the 75 mm, which was inferior as an anti-tank weapon to the 6 pounder but better as an all-around gun was soon made standard on successive versions.

Churchills made use of the Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV
Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV
The Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV, invented by Polish engineer Rudolf Gundlach, was first patented in 1936 as Gundlach Peryskop obrotowy. It was the first device to allow the tank commander to have a 360-degree view from his turret, with a single periscope...

. In the Mark VII, the driver had two periscopes as well as a vision port in the hull front that could be opened. The hull gunner had a single periscope as well as the sighting telescope on the BESA mounting. In the turret the gunner and loader each had single periscope and the commander had two fitted in his hatch cupola.

The armour on the Churchill, often considered its most important trait, was originally specified to a minimum of 16 millimetre (0.62992125984252 in) and a maximum of 102 millimetres (4 in); this was increased with the Mk VII to a range from 25 millimetre (0.984251968503937 in) to 152 millimetres (6 in). Though this armour was considerably thicker than its rivals (including the German Tiger I
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

 tank, but not the Tiger II
Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. .The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf...

) it was not sloped, reducing its effectiveness. Earlier models were given extra armour by the expedient of welding extra plates on.

On the Mark VII, the hull front armour was made up of a lower angled piece of 5.5 in (139.7 mm), a nearly flat 2.25 in (57.2 mm) plate and a vertical 6 inch plate. The hull sides, were for the most part, 3.75 in (95.3 mm). The rear was 2 in (50.8 mm) and the hull top 0.525 in (13.3 mm). The turret of the Mark VII was 6 in (152.4 mm) to the front and 3.75 in (95.3 mm) for the other sides. The turret roof was 0.79 (20 mm) thick. Plate was specified as IT 80
British Official Armour Specification
The British Official Armour Specification is a set of standards for armour construction for armoured fighting vehicles prior to and into World War II.Standards applicable to British tanks of World War II are as follows:...

, the cast sections as IT 90.

The A22F, also known as "Heavy Churchill" was a major revision of the design. The most significant part was the use of welding instead of rivetted construction. Welding had been considered earlier for the Churchill but until its future was assured this was no more than testing techniques and hulls at the firing ranges. What welding reduced in the overall weight (estimates were around 4%), the thicker armour of the A22F made up for. Welding was also required fewer man-hours in construction. The hull doors changed from square to round which reduced stresses. A new turret went with the new hull. The sides, which included a flared base to protect the turret ring, were a single casting while the roof which did not need to be so thick was a plate fitted to the top.

Since the engines on the Churchill were never upgraded, the tank became increasingly slower as additional armour and armament was equipped and weight increased; while the Mk I weighed 39118 kilogram and the Mk III weighed 39,626 kg, the Mk VII weighed 40,643 kg. This caused a reduction in maximum speed of the tank from its original 26 kilometres per hour (16.2 mph) down to 20.5 kilometres per hour (12.7 mph). The engines also suffered from many mechanical problems.

Another problem was the tank's relatively small turret that prevented the use of powerful weapons; definitive versions of the tank were armed with either the QF 6 pounder or the derivative QF 75 mm gun, both having reasonable powers against armoured and soft targets respectively but with limited performance against the other. Although earlier Churchills could out-gun many contemporary German medium tanks, like the Panzer IV
Panzer IV
The Panzerkampfwagen IV , commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz...

 with the short-barrel 75 mm gun and the Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III was the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III translating as "armoured battle vehicle". It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and...

's 50 mm gun, with its 6 pounder, and the thick armour of all Churchill models could usually withstand several hits from any German anti-tank gun, in late war Germans had 75 mm high-velocity cannons as their main armament and increased protection, against which the Churchills' own guns often lacked sufficient armour penetration to fight back effectively.

The Churchill had many variations, including many specialised modifications. The most significant change to the Churchill was that it was up-gunned from 2 pounder to 6 pounder and then 75 mm guns over the course of the war. By the war's end, the late model Churchill Mk VII had exceptional amounts of armour - considerably more than the German Tiger tank. However, the firepower weakness was never fully addressed. The Mark VII turret that was designed for the 75 mm gun was of composite construction - cast with top and bottom plates welded into position.

It is important to note that, despite its weaknesses, the Churchill had a significant advantage that was apparent throughout its career. Due to its multiple bogie suspension, it could cross terrain obstacles that most other tanks of its era could not. This feat served well, especially during the fighting in Normandy particularly the capture of Hill 309 between the 30 and 31 July 1944 in operation Bluecoat
Operation Bluecoat
Operation Bluecoat was an attack by the British Second Army at the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War, from 30 July – 7 August 1944. The geographical objectives of the attack were to secure the key road junction of Vire and the high ground of Mont Pinçon...

 conducted by VIII Corps
VIII Corps
List of military corps — List of military corps by numberA number of countries have Eighth, or VIII, Corps:* VIII Corps * VIII Corps * U.S. VIII Corps involvement in the American Civil War...

.

North Africa

A few Churchills were in use for the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

 in October 1942. The six Mk III tanks (with the 6 pounder gun) of "KingForce" went into battle in support of the 7th Motor Brigade. Although all were heavily shelled by German anti-tank guns, only one received more than light damage; one tank was said to have been hit up to 80 times.

Kingforce was disbanded afterwards - the Churchills had been sent to Africa to see if they could operate there - but a Tank Brigade ( three tank regimentsNorth Irish Horse
North Irish Horse
The North Irish Horse is a yeomanry unit of the British Territorial Army raised in the northern counties of Ireland in the aftermath of the Second Boer War...

, 51st Royal Tank Regiment and 142 (Suffolk) Regiment RAC
) was sent to Africa going into action in February.

In one encounter a Churchill tank got the better of a German heavy tank, Tiger I
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

, when a shot lodged between the Tiger's turret and turret ring. The crew abandoned the Tiger, which was subsequently captured by the British. As the first Tiger captured by the Western Allies it was particularly useful, and is now on display at Bovington Tank Museum in the United Kingdom.

Italy

As the mainstay of the Tank Brigades, which operated in support of the infantry, Churchill units were in operation more often than other tank units.

The "NA75" conversions of Churchill Mark III to carry the US 75 mm gun were used in Italy. As the Churchill proved to be a better gun platform, the effective range of the 75 mm was increased.

North-West Europe

Churchills saw widespread action in Normandy as well as subsequent operations in the Low Countries and into Germany such as the fighting in
Reichwald during Operation Veritable
Operation Veritable
Operation Veritable was a Second World War pincer movement conducted by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group to clear and occupy the land between the Rhine and Maas rivers. It took place between 8 February and 11 March 1945. It was a part of General Dwight Eisenhower's "broad front"...

.

Other theatres

In tests conducted in the Madang
Madang
Madang is the capital of Madang Province and is a town with a population of 27,420 on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. It was first settled by the Germans in the 19th century....

 by the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

 in mid-1944, at the request of Britain's War Office, the Churchill was tested against the M4 Sherman
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

 and found it to be, overall, a superior tank for jungle warfare.
However the Churchill was not used in the Far East.

Korean War and after

In late 1950, a Churchill Crocodile squadron was sent to Korea. In action against the Chinese they mostly fought as gun tanks. These were the last use of the Churchill in action by the British. The tank remained in the service of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 until 1952 with one, a bridge-layer, remaining in service well into the 1970s.

USSR

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 received a total of 301 Churchill Mk III and Mk IV types as part of the Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 programme.

Irish Army Service

The Irish Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

 took delivery of three Churchill Mk VI tanks in 1948 and a fourth in 1949. They were rented from the British War Office as trials vehicles until 1954, when they were purchased outright. This purchase was despite the fact that the supply and transport corps workshops, who maintained them, had reported that spares had all but run out. Experiments were carried out involving replacing the existing Bedford
Bedford
Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, in the East of England. It is a large town and the administrative centre for the wider Borough of Bedford. According to the former Bedfordshire County Council's estimates, the town had a population of 79,190 in mid 2005, with 19,720 in the adjacent town...

 engine with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine salvaged from an Irish Air Corps
Irish Air Corps
The Air Corps is the air component of the Defence Forces of Ireland providing support to the Army and Naval Service, together with non-military air services such as search and rescue and the Ministerial Air Transport Service...

 Seafire
Supermarine Seafire
The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. The name Seafire was arrived at by collapsing the longer name Sea Spitfire.-Origins of the Seafire:...

 aircraft. The experiment was not a success, although the reasons are not recorded. By 1967 only one Churchill remained serviceable, and by 1969 all were retired. One remains preserved in the Curragh Camp
Curragh Camp
The Curragh Camp is an army base and military college located in The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland. It is the main training centre for the Irish Army.- Brief history of the Curragh's military heritage :...

.

Variants

Tanks

With number produced

Churchill I (303)
Equipped with a 2 pounder gun in the turret (150 rounds), and a coaxial Besa machine gun
Besa machine gun
The Besa Machine Gun was a British version of the Czechoslovak ZB-53 air-cooled, belt-fed machine-gun, which in the Czechoslovak army was marked as the TK vz. 37...

. There was a 3 inch howitzer
Ordnance QF 3 inch howitzer
Ordnance QF 3 inch howitzer was a howitzer fitted to British tanks of the Second World War so they could fire a HE shell in "close support" of infantry....

 in the hull (58 rounds). It was a tank that was noted for poor mechanical reliability. It was the main tank issued to the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 forces at Dieppe.


Churchill Mk II (1,127)
Replaced the hull howitzer for another machine gun to reduce cost and complexity. Sometimes referred to as Churchill Ia.


Churchill Mk IICS (Close Support)
Placed the gun in the hull and the howitzer in the turret, available in very limited numbers. Sometimes called Churchill II.


Churchill Mk III (675)
The III was the first major armament overhaul of the series, eliminating the hull howitzer and equipping the tank with a more powerful 6 pounder gun (84 rounds). Unlike early versions, it had a welded turret.


Churchill Mk IV (1,622)
The IV was the most numerous Churchill produced, and was virtually identical to the III, the largest change being a return to the less costly cast turret.


Churchill Mk V (241)
A Churchill III / IV which was equipped with a close support 95 mm howitzer
Ordnance QF 95 mm Howitzer
The Ordnance QF 95-mm Howitzer was a British Howitzer built in two versions during the Second World War. The Tank Howitzer version was accepted for service use, but an Infantry Howitzer version was not accepted for service use.-Design and development:...

 in place of the main gun (47 rounds).


Churchill Mk VI (200)
Along with several minor improvements, it was produced as standard with the 75 mm Mk V gun. Few were built due to the near release of the VII and current upgunning of the III / IV.


Churchill Mk VII (A22F) (1,600 with VIII)
The second major redesign from previous models, the VII used the 75 mm gun, was wider and had much more armour. It is sometimes called the Heavy Churchill. This version of the Churchill first saw service in the Battle of Normandy, and was re-designated A42 in 1945.


Churchill Mk VIII
A Churchill VII which replaced the main gun with a 95 mm howitzer (47 rounds).


Refitted previous versions:

Churchill Mk IX
Churchill III / IV upgraded with turret of the VII. Extra armour added along with gearbox and suspension modifications. If the old 6 pounder had been retained, it would have the additional designation of LT ("Light Turret").


Churchill Mk X
The same improvements as for the IX applied to a Mk VI.


Churchill Mk XI
Churchill V with extra armour and Mk VIII turret.


Churchill NA75 (200)
Churchill III / IV with upgraded weaponry using the turret and mantlet from a destroyed or scrapped Sherman (known as NA 75 from North Africa where the conversions took place), or having their current gun re-bored to 75 mm (III* / IV (75 mm) ) (84 rounds). More IVs were modified than IIIs, and their performance is virtually identical to the VI. To fit the Sherman mantlet required cutting away the front of the Churchill turret before it was welded in place, then the mantlet slot had to be cut away to give sufficient elevation. The Sherman 75 mm gun was designed for a left hand loader and the Churchill in common with British practice had a right hand loader. The gun was therefore turned upside down and the firing controls adapted. The conversion of about 200 tanks was carried out between March–June 1944 and the conversion project earned the officer in charge an MBE
MBE
MBE can stand for:* Mail Boxes Etc.* Management by exception* Master of Bioethics* Master of Bioscience Enterprise* Master of Business Engineering* Master of Business Economics* Mean Biased Error...

 as well as promotion.

Specialist vehicles

Churchill Oke (3)

A Churchill II or III with a flamethrower
Flamethrower
A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...

. The Oke flamethrowing tank was named after its designer, Major J.M. Oke. The design was basically for a Churchill tank fitted with the Ronson flamethrower equipment. A tank containing the flame fuel was fitted at the rear, with a pipe from it leading to the mounting on the front hull to the left, leaving the hull machine gun unobstructed. There were three (named "Boar", "Beetle" and "Bull") present, in the first wave, at Dieppe which were quickly lost, and abandoned.

Churchill AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers
Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers
Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers is the title given to a series of armoured vehicles operated by the Royal Engineers for the purpose of battlefield engineer support. These vehicles have been either purpose-built or post-production modifications of existing tank-based armoured vehicles...

)


A Churchill III or IV equipped with the Petard, a 290 mm Spigot mortar, throwing the 40 lb (18.1 kg) "Flying dustbin" with its 28 pound high explosive warhead; a weapon designed for the quick levelling of fortifications developed by MD1
MD1
Ministry of Defence 1 , also known as "Churchill's Toyshop" was a British weapon research and development organisation of the Second World War....

. The AVRE was designed after the Canadian defeat at Dieppe, and could also be equipped with numerous other attachments, such as mine flails, fascine
Fascine
A fascine is a rough bundle of brushwood used for strengthening an earthen structure, or making a path across uneven or wet terrain. Typical uses are protecting the banks of streams from erosion, covering marshy ground and so on.-Early military use:...

 rollers, explosive placers etc. Post war the Churchill AVRE was re-armed with a breech-loaded low velocity 165mm demolition gun which was less dangerous for the loader (the hull gunner) as he previously had to stick his head and torso out of the Spigot Mortar armed AVRE to load the Mortar. The crew of six were drawn from the Royal Engineers, except for the driver who came from the Royal Armoured Corps. One of the RE crew was a demolitions NCO sapper
Sapper
A sapper, pioneer or combat engineer is a combatant soldier who performs a wide variety of combat engineering duties, typically including, but not limited to, bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defences, general construction and building, as well as road and airfield...

 responsible for priming the "Flying dustbin" and who led the crew when they dismounted from the tank to place demolition charges ("Wade" charges).

Churchill ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle)

Mk I - A turretless Mk I with a jib. Mk II - A Churchill with a fixed turret/superstructure with a dummy gun. It was equipped for recovering other tanks from the battlefield. Mounted a front jib with a 7.5 ton capacity, a rear jib rated for 15 ton and winch that could pull 25 ton. Crew was 3 with enough room to carry the crew of the tank being recovered. Armament was single Besa machine gun.

Churchill ARK (Armoured Ramp Carrier)

A turretless Churchill with ramps at either end and along the body to form a mobile bridge. The Mark 1 had trackways over the tracks for vehicles to drive along. The Mark 2 was an improvised version and crossing vehicles drove directly on the Churchill's tracks. the Link Ark (or "Twin Ark") was two ARKs used side-by-side to give a wide crossing. The ramps on these were folding types giving a longer - 65 ft (19.8 m) - crossing. This was used for the post war Conqueror heavy tank.

Churchill Crocodile
Churchill Crocodile
The Churchill Crocodile was a British flame-throwing tank of late Second World War. It was a variant of the Tank, Infantry, Mk VI Churchill Mark VII, although the Churchill Mark IV was initially chosen to be the base vehicle....

(no more than 800)

The Crocodile was a Churchill VII which was converted by replacing the hull machine gun with a flamethrower. The fuel was in an armoured wheeled trailer towed behind. It could fire several 1 second bursts over 150 yards. The Crocodile was one of "Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during World War II by the United Kingdom's 79th Armoured Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the Dieppe Raid, so that the new...

" - another vehicle used by the 79th Armoured Division. A working example can still be seen at the Cobbaton Combat Collection in North Devon.
Gun Carrier, 3in, Mk I, Churchill (A22D) (50)

A fixed 88 mm (3.5 in) thick superstructure with the gun in a ball mount. The gun was an otherwise obsolete 3 inch anti-aircraft gun. Fifty were built in 1942 but none are known to have been used - the 17 pounder anti-tank gun gave the British the necessary firepower.

Churchill Flail FV3902 or Toad

A post-war (1950s) mine-clearing flail tank built on a Churchill chassis.

Churchill Goat

A chargelayer like the Double Onion device.

Churchill Great Eastern
A much larger longer ramp than the ARK for crossing 60 ft. The ramp was launched into position with rockets. Ten built and two delivered in 1945 but not used in action.
Churchill Kangaroo
Kangaroo (armoured personnel carrier)
A Kangaroo was a World War II Commonwealth or British armoured personnel carrier , created by conversion of a tank chassis. Created as an expedient measure by the Canadian Army, the Kangaroos were so successful that they were soon being used by British forces as well...



Churchill hull converted to an APC.

Designs based on chassis

In 1943 an attempt was made to up-gun the Churchill by using Heavy Churchill tanks modified to take a 17 pounder gun, as was done with the Sherman Firefly
Sherman Firefly
The Sherman Firefly was a World War II British variant of the American Sherman tank, fitted with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon...

. This resulted in the Tank, Infantry, Black Prince (A43)
Black Prince (tank)
The Tank, Infantry, Black Prince was the name assigned to an experimental development of the Churchill tank with a larger, wider hull and a QF 17-pounder gun...

 in May 1945. Six prototypes were built, but the project was cancelled due to the emergence of the new and less complicated Centurion Mk1
Centurion tank
The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. It was a successful tank design, with upgrades, for many decades...

 which offered the same armament and armour and had just entered production.

Operators

Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 retired, replaced with the Centurion tank
Centurion tank
The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. It was a successful tank design, with upgrades, for many decades...

 Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 retired, replaced with the Centurion tank Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 retired in 1969, replaced with the Comet tank
Comet tank
The Tank, Cruiser, Comet I was a British cruiser tank that first saw use near the end of World War II. It was designed to provide greater anti-tank capability to Cromwell tank squadrons. It was armed with a 77mm HV, a derivative of the 17 pounder, with the result it was one of the few British...

 Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 (Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish Armed Forces in the West refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies...

) retired in 1947, no replacement United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 retired, replaced with the Centurion tank Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

) retired, replaced with IS-3 and T-10 tanks Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

in use with the Royal Army of Iraq

External links

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