Tank Cruiser Mark V** A13 (E1985.30)
Meadows agreed to develop a larger version of its flat twelve-cylinder engine, which was used in light tanks. The Mechanization Board completed the general hull design with the radiator in the front, next to the driver, which entailed fragile piping to the engine at the back.
Meanwhile, the Superintendent of Design, which had led the development of the satisfactory turrets on A13 Marks I and II (Cruisers III and IV), designed the A13 Mark III turret, which would prove satisfactory on both the Cruiser V (Covenanter) and Nuffield’s Cruiser VI (Crusader).
The General Staff approved all of this, except that they desired more armour, so the Board increased the thickness of the armour plates on the turret and front hull to 40 mm.
Nuffield had developed the A13 vehicle, but the Mechanization Board handed further design and development to London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company (LMSR) - a locomotive and rolling stock supplier.
The Mechanization Board’s escalated the risks by conniving in a production order before development. On 20 April 1939, LMSR contracted for the pilot and 100 production vehicles.
Yet in May, the Mechanization Board designed a larger derivative (A13 Mark IV, later A15, Cruiser VI, or Crusader), in cooperation with Nuffield, after Nuffield had refused to manufacture the Cruiser V, and suggested that it could develop a new tank from the Cruiser IV that it would find easier to manufacture. This started with some obviously superior design choices, such as five instead of four road wheels each side, a hull four inches higher and six inches longer, a promise to improve the Liberty engine, and a new transmission. The other specifications were identical across the Cruiser V and Cruiser VI.
The Mechanization Board could have written off about 2 months design work, and concentrated on Cruiser VI, but persisted with both projects.
Upon formation in August 1939, the Ministry of Supply procured the A13 Mark III as the Cruiser Tank Mark V, and procured the related A13 Mark IV (A15) as the Cruiser Tank Mark VI to the same requirement. (In January 1942, these were re-designated as Covenanter I and Crusader I respectively.) The general requirement was correct, but the continuing requirement for Cruiser Vs, after Nuffield had developed the superior Cruiser VI (Crusader), was scandalous.
On 21 May 1940, LMSR despatched the pilot A13 Mark III. The War Office rejected the pilot, but the Mechanization Board connived with the Ministry of Supply, which had taken control of the Board in September 1939, to produce the Cruiser V anyway.
LMSR delivered the first production vehicle in November 1940, in the same month as Nuffield delivered the first Crusader. Through February 1943, 1,770 Cruiser Vs (after the pilot) were delivered, none of which ever served overseas, except for four trialled in Egypt. The other 1,766 were retained in Britain for use as training tanks, or as experimental bridgelayers, but their unreliability interrupted use.
THIS VEHICLE: is a Cruiser Mark V**, or Covenanter Mark III, which was another attempt to improve reliability (production ran out with Covenanter Mark IVs). This vehicle was buried on a farm near Dorking, Surrey. In 1983, Lord Ashcombe, who owned the estate, donated it to the Tank Museum, on whose behalf 18th Command REME Workshops at Bovington dug it up and restored it by July 1985. It is shown in its original markings, of A Squadron, 13th/18th Hussars, 9th Armoured Division.
LABEL: This tank started as a project in February 1939 to make a version of the Cruiser IV with more robust running gear, but this was never improved satisfactorily, while the height was reduced to save weight, for which a flat twelve-cylinder engine was procured, entailing a radiator in the front, resulting in the most unreliable tank ever to be issued during the Second World War. From November 1940 to February 1943, 1,770 Cruiser Vs (after the pilot) were delivered, none of which ever served overseas, except for four trialled in Egypt.
Bruce Newsome, Ph.D.