The Cruiser Tank Mk VI Crusader (A15) was designed as an alternative to the Cruiser Tank Mk V Covenanter by Nuffield Mechanisation and Aero (who also worked on the Covenanter's turret). It won over competing designs to enter service as a medium cruiser tank, mainly due to it using components already in production, and because it was both more heavily armoured and had better mobility than competing designs.
The Crusader was longer than previous cruiser tanks, and had an additional roadwheel in its Christie suspension. Combined with the its thicker armour, this made the Crusader heavier than the Covenanter. This was, however, to made up for by using the lighter but more powerful Liberty engine, over the Meadows engine, making it only marginally slower.
Pressed into service in, the Crusader was mechanically unreliable. As the Germans introduced the 50 mm gun in the Pz Kpfw III, the Crusader was out-gunned and out-armoured, even after its 2 pdr was replaced by the 6 pdr. Nevertheless, it was still the principal British tank in North Africa, and its characteristic design remains an icon of the desert war.
A total of about 5 200 Crusaders were build, including a number of variants. Some of the variants build were three anti-aircraft versions armed with a 40 mm Bofors, two 20 mm Oerlikons and three 20 mm Oerlikons respectively, a recovery version and two dozer versions.
|I||I CS||II||II CS||III|
|Weight||19.1 t||20.1 t|
|Armour (range)||7-40 mm||7-49 mm||7-51 mm|
|Speed (max)||42 km/h|
|Primary weapon||QF 2 pdr (1)||QF 3 inch howitzer (1)||QF 2 pdr (1)||QF 3 inch howitzer (1)||QF 6 pdr (1)|
|Secondary weapon||Besa 7.92 mm machine gun (2)||Besa 7.92 mm machine gun (1)|