Difference between revisions of "A22F Churchill Mk. VII"
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Revision as of 10:14, 23 May 2012
= A22F Churchill Mk. VII
The Churchill Mk. VII is the British "infantry" tank, armed with the same 75mm gun as the Cromwell but sacrificing speed for armor.
The Churchill design was born out of the aftermath of the Battle of France; fearful that a German invasion of the Home Islands was imminent the tank went from design in July 1940 to production in June 1941. The rushed production left numerous flaws in the initial design, which still mounted an inadequate 2-pounder gun in the turret but also had a hull-mounted 3-inch howitzer firing on a flat trajectory for infantry support. The tank's first action in the disastrous Dieppe Raid of August 1942 was unpromising, and the type was nearly cancelled. However, the improved Mk. III proved the type's worth; five Mk. III's operating as "King Force" participated in the Second Battle of El Alamein and shrugged off heavy fire from German antitank guns, with one unit taking 80 hits for only minor damage. The 6-pounder turret gun also gave it more antitank firepower; a Mk. III operating in Tunisia knocked out a Tiger I with a lucky hit that jammed the heavier tank's turret and forced the crew to abandon it. Tiger 131 is currently the only running example of a Tiger I still in existence.
In North Africa several Churchills had the 6-pounder replaced with the 75mm gun off of destroyed Sherman tanks; although inferior in antitank firepower the much-improved high-explosive capability was considered an upgrade. These "NA75" field conversions saw further service in the Italian Campaign and served as a basis for the Mk. VI and Mk. VII, the latter of which featured a wider chassis and even heavier armor. Although slow and lacking in firepower compared to German tanks, the Churchill had good cross-country capabilities and could take even more of a pounding than the vaunted Tiger I. Total Churchill production of all marks was 7,368, with some combat engineer variants remaining in British Army service until the 1960s.
Like the "Jumbo" Sherman, the Churchill is an immensely tough tank but has no better firepower than the standard US and British medium tanks. Since it lacks the speed or maneuverability to outflank German heavy armor it is not effective for taking on heavies like the Panther and the Tiger series; however its heavy armor can allow it to brave antitank fire while covering infantry advances. Like the Cromwell and the 75mm-armed Shermans, its main weapon is most effective against infantry, fortifications, and structures. In practice Churchill units were often assigned 17-pounder Achilles tank destroyers to provide covering fire against German tanks.