Tank Infantry Mark IV A22F, Churchill VII (E1949.339)

Tank Infantry Mark IV A22F,  Churchill VII
Tank Infantry Mark IV A22F,  Churchill VII
Tank Infantry Mark IV A22F,  Churchill VII
Tank Infantry Mark IV A22F,  Churchill VII
vehicle info
Precise Name
Tank Infantry Mark IV A22F, Churchill VII
Main Utility Type
Infantry Tank
Country of Use
U.K.
production
Manufactured
1945, Vauxhall Motors Ltd., United Kingdom
Era
World War 2
Nationality
British
location in the museum
North West Europe
TYPE HISTORY: Within days of taking the premiership (10 May 1940), Winston Churchill requested from the Ministry of Supply the specifications of the Infantry Tank Mark IV, whose development was proceeding under the code “A20” as an enlarged Matilda II (see E1949.349). On 20 May 1940, he chaired a meeting of the War Cabinet Defence Committee (Supply), which revised the specifications. On 11 June 1940, Churchill chaired another meeting, when he specified the tank in general, for the General Staff to detail, after which the Mechanization Board started “preliminary work” on A21, based on A20. The A21 scheme did not find favour with the General Staff, so a shortened and simplified version of A20 became the A22. As of November 1940, the A22’s name was “Victoria.” On 22 September 1941, it was officially renamed as the “Churchill” tank.

The Mechanization Board, when it was abolished at the end of June 1940, passed general layouts and drawings of A20 to Vauxhall Motors, along with 12 draughtsmen from the Board’s design section. Vauxhall had started development of the A20’s running gear in autumn 1939, and its engine in March 1940.

The War Office approved Vauxhall’s wooden mock-up in September. Vauxhall delivered a welded steel vehicle in November 1940, but without an automotive line until just after Christmas, 1940.

On 26 February 1941, the Ministry reported to the Defence Committee that one pilot A22 had nearly finished its trials, another two pilots were in trials, and an improved version would enter full production without need for trials. The first production vehicles (Mark I) were produced to the design of an untested fourth pilot, but none of the automotive assemblies was proven. Automotive “reworks” continued into 1943, even though Vauxhall started production of Churchill Mark Is in May/June of 1941. On 11 June 1940, the prime minister had required 500 vehicles by 31 March 1941.

The Mark II’s main external difference was a machine-gun in place of the howitzer in the hull.

Late in 1940, the Ministry started consideration of a mounting for the six-pounder gun and coaxial machine-gun. The Churchill Mark III carried the six-pounder in a welded turret, the Mark IV in a cast turret (which was cheaper to produce), each with 84 rounds. These two marks predominated from first use in Egypt in October 1942, across North Africa, and up Italy into 1945.

In England, 79th Armoured Division converted some Mark IIIs and Mark IVs into AVREs (“Armoured Vehicles, Royal Engineers”) (see E1988.88).

In mid-1943, 48 Churchill Mark IVs of the 21st Army Tank Brigade were re-armed with US 75mm tank guns taken from disabled M4 medium (Sherman) tanks. Further conversions continued near Bone, Algeria. By June, 200 conversions, known as “North Africa 75s” or “NA-75s”, had been delivered, although none deployed in Italy until May 1944. Meanwhile, British authorities developed the Churchill Mark V with a 95mm howitzer in a welded or cast turret, and the Churchill Mark VI with a 75mm gun in a welded turret.

In April 1943, the government agreed a requirement for a “heavy Churchill” as a stop-gap assault tank. With thicker armor, this was designated Mark VII with 75-mm gun, or Mark VIII with 95-mm howitzer. Earlier marks were reworked to the same specifications, and designated Marks IX, X, XI, XII, and XIII.

Three brigades of Churchills landed in Normandy in 1944, most with 75 mm guns, some with 6-pounders, a few with 95 mm howitzers.

Production ran out in October 1945 after 5,640 tanks, of which 3,091 had been reworked.

THIS VEHICLE: is the last Churchill Mark VII to be produced by Vauxhall, in October 1945. It was sent directly to the School of Tank Technology, which transferred it to the Tank Museum in 1949, with practically no mileage beyond its acceptance test. The Mark VII was the first of the factory-assembled marks with thicker armour in fulfilment of the “heavy Churchill” requirement of May 1943. The Mark VIII is differentiated by the 95mm howitzer. The Mark IX and later marks were all reworks of earlier marks to heavy Churchill specifications. This vehicle is shown with the flamethrower system known as “Crocodile,” a conversion that was optimized for the Mark VII. It has been painted to resemble a vehicle in Normandy, in June 1944. Only one British unit (141st Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps) was equipped with Crocodiles in time to land in Normandy in June 1944. In September, 79th Armoured Division (the home for specialist armoured vehicles of all kinds) absorbed 31st Tank Brigade as 31st Armoured Brigade, which took back 141st RAC from 30th Armoured Brigade. In October, 31st Armoured Brigade absorbed 1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry from 28th Armoured Brigade as its second flamethrower tank battalion. In February 1945, 31st Armoured absorbed 7th RTR too, which went on to see action with Corcodiles during the Korean War (1950-1953).

LABEL: The Churchill tank started in May 1940 when the Prime Minister demanded quicker development of the Infantry Tank Mark IV than planned under the existing project (A20). Vauxhall started production of the A22 in May 1941. Production ran out in October 1945 after 5,640 tanks, of which 3,091 had been reworked, some as thicker armoured “heavy Churchills” that predominated in north-western Europe, but not Italy. This vehicle is Vauxhall’s last delivered Mark VII – a heavy Churchill with a 75mm gun, sometimes converted to a Crocodile flamethrower, as here.

Bruce Newsome, Ph.D.
VEHICLES Features
Full Tracked
Tracks/Wheels
Gun - 75 mm Gun, Mark 5
Armament - Main Weapon Type
2 x 7.92 Besa Machine Guns
Armament - Secondary Weapon Type
Bedford Twin-Six - 12 cylinder, 21 litre, 350 bhp, Horizontally opposed
Engine
4 Forward, 1 Reverse
Transmission
Independent coil springs
Suspension
8.7 bhp/ton
Power to Weight Ratio
Vehicle Statistics
5
Number (Crew)
41tonnes
Weight (Overall)
12.5mph
Maximum (Speed - Road)
152mm
Maximum (Armour Thickness)
75mm
Calibre (Main Gun)
350bhp
Power (Engine Output)
150gall
Volume (Fuel)
84
Number (Projectile)
7.67m
Length (Overall - Gun Forward)
3.25m
Width (Overall)
2.49m
Height (Overall)
Petrol
Type (Fuel)
0.6mpg
Consumption (Fuel)