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Crusader

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 |History= |History=
 +Crusader tank
 +
 +Cruiser Mk VI or A15 Crusader was one of the primary British cruiser tanks of the early part Second World War and perhaps the most important British tank of the North African Campaign. The Crusader's mobility made it a favourite of British tank crews and its Ordnance QF 6 pounder main gun made it more than a match for the early Panzer III andPanzer IV tanks it faced in combat. Retained in service because of delays with its replacement, by late 1942 the lack of armament upgrade combined with the presence of Tiger I Tanks among the Afrika Korps and overheating problems caused by the high temperatures of the desert, led to the design being phased out in favour of the new US-supplied Shermanmedium tank. The next British cruiser in combat would be the Cromwell heavy cruiser.
 +
 +==Development history==
 +
 +In 1938, Nuffield Mechanization & Aero Limited produced their A16 design for a heavy cruiser tank based on Christie suspension. Looking for a lighter and cheaper tank to build, the General Staff requested alternatives. To this end the A13 Mk III cruiser tank design which would enter service as the "Tank, Cruiser Mk V" and known in service as "Covenanter" was designed. Nuffield were, in 1939, offered the opportunity to take part in the production of Covenanter. Nuffield, however, preferred to work on its own version of the A13—though they still provided design work for the Covenanter's turret. This new tank was adopted as "Tank, Cruiser, Mk VI Crusader", under General Staff specification A15. Although Crusader is often referred to as an improved version of the Covenanter, in fact it was a parallel design.Both tanks were ordered "off the drawing board" without building prototypes first. Despite a later start, the pilot model of the Crusader was ready six weeks before the first Covenanter.
 +
 +Unlike earlier "Christie cruisers"( A13, Marks III and IV and the Mark V Covenanter ) that were built with 4 road wheels, Crusader had five road wheels each side to improve weight distribution in a tank that weighed almost 20 tons instead of the 14 tons of the previous cruisers. The 32 in (810 mm)-diameter wheels were of pressed steel with solid rubber tyres. The hull sides were built up of two separated plates with the suspension arms between them.It had a different engine from the Covenanter, different steering system and a conventional cooling system with radiators in the engine compartment. At the left hand side of the front hull—a place occupied by the engine radiator in the Covenanter—was mounted a small hand-traversed auxiliary turret armed with a Besa machine gun. The auxiliary turret was awkward to use and was often removed in the field or remained unoccupied.
 +
 +Both the A13 Mk III and the A15 designs used the same main turret. The turret was polygonal—with sides that sloped out then in again—to give maximum turret space on the limited turret diameter. Early production vehicles had a "semi-internal" cast gun mantlet, which was quickly replaced in production by a better protected big cast mantlet with three vertical slits—for the main gun, for a coaxial Besa machine gun and for the sighting telescope. There was no cupola for the commander who had instead a flat hatch with the periscope mounted through it. The main armament, as in other British tanks of the period, was balanced so the gunner could control its elevation through a padded shaft against his right shoulder rather than using a geared mechanism. This fitted well with the British doctrine of firing accurately on the move. When it was understood that there would be delays in the introduction of successor heavy cruiser tanks—what would become the Cavalier, Centaur and Cromwell—the Crusader was adapted to use the 6 pounder gun.
 +
 +
 +==Combat history==
 +
 +'''North Africa'''
 +
 +With the Axis forces in North Africa having pushed the British back to the Egyptian border and the remaining British armour being a mixed force of older tanks with a few Matildas, tanks were hurriedly shipped via the Mediterranean arriving on 12 May 1941. There were sufficient Crusaders to equip the 6th Royal Tank Regiment which with the 2nd RTR (with older cruiser tanks) formed the 7th Armoured Brigade. The rest of the tanks were Matildas for the 4th Armoured Brigade giving the 7th Armoured division only four tank regiments. Although there was pressure from London for the reconstituted Desert Rats to go into action, outfitting for the desert and training delayed their first use until Operation Battleaxe, an attempt to relieve the siege of Tobruk in June. As the brigade swept round the flank, the Crusaders were caught by concealed anti-tank guns and lost 11 tanks. The 6th RTR lost more tanks, to action and defects, in the fighting withdrawal of the next two days. The 7th Brigade was re-equipped with further Crusaders, but as the brigade had been expanded by the addition of 7th Hussars there were not sufficient to replace the older cruiser tanks. The 22nd Armoured Brigade, effectively an advance force of the 1st Armoured Division, which was three inexperienced Yeomanry units equipped with Crusaders transferred to North Africa to bring the 7th Armoured up to three-brigade strength. The 8th Hussars was added to the 4th Armoured Brigade but these had to be equipped with M3 Stuart light tanks as there were still insufficient cruisers. The 22nd was able to take part in Operation Crusader of November 1941 which was named after it.
 +
 +In Operation Crusader the two British Corps were disposed such that they could not support each other, but it was expected that as the British outnumbered the German and Italian forces in tanks, the tank against tank battles would be decided in their favour. However in the resulting encounters, Rommel did not put his tanks en masse into action against the British ones and the large numbers of German anti-tank guns working offensively with the tanks and infantry proved effective.The Germans had a few 88 mm guns but were mostly equipped with the Pak 38, a long-barreled 50 mm gun, with a range of 1,000 yards. This superiority in quality and tactical deployment of AT guns was to be a feature of the Afrika Korps throughout the Desert War. The Crusader's 2 pdr (40 mm) gun was as effective as the short-barreled 50 mm of the Panzer III although it was outranged by the short-barreled 75 mm of the Panzer IV.
 +Although the Crusader was faster than any tanks it opposed, its potential was limited by a relatively light QF 2-pounder gun, thin armour and mechanical problems. A particular tactical limitation was the lack of a high explosive shell for the main armament—these existed but were never supplied. Axis tank forces developed an extremely effective method of dealing with attacking tank forces by retiring behind a screen of concealed anti-tank guns. The pursuing tanks could then be engaged by the artillery. With the German anti-tank guns out of range of the tanks' machine guns and without a high explosive shell to return fire, the tanks were left with the equally unpalatable options of withdrawing under fire or trying to overrun the gun screen.
 +
 +The Crusader proved prone to catch fire when hit, a problem that was identified as due to the ammunition being ignited by hot metal penetrating the unprotected racks. The angled underside of the turret created "shell pockets" that acted as a lever for lifting the turret from its mounting when struck by a shell. The Crusader proved unreliable in the desert due to a number of issues. These started with their transport from the UK to North Africa. Poor preparation and handling caused problems that had to be rectified before they could be passed to the regiments, and ate into the supply of spare parts. Once in use the sand caused erosion in the cooling system and the stresses of hard cross-country travel caused oil leaks in the engine blocks. Since there were few tank transporters or railways in the desert, the tanks had to travel long distances on their tracks causing further wear.
 +
 +By the end of 1941, there was only one brigade, the 2nd, which was operating only Crusaders. In March 1942, US-built Grant medium tanks arrived: these replaced one in three Crusader squadrons. While the inclusion of the Grant with its effective 75 mm gun gave better firepower against anti-tank guns and infantry they were slower, limiting the Crusaders when they had to operate together. From May 1942, the Mark III were delivered. Of the 840 tanks available to the British, 260 were Crusaders. The German tanks they were facing were improved types with improved frontal armour which caused the Crusaders' 2-pounder shot to shatter rather than penetrate.
 +
 +As part of British deception operations, Crusaders could be issued with "Sunshade" which was a metal framework with canvas covering that disguised the tank as a lorry to German aerial reconnaissance. Similarly dummy tanks were deployed. Later in the campaign shipping was improved, Nuffields had put an engineering team in Egypt, and crews were better at preventing problems, but the reputation of the Crusader could not recover. After Montgomery took over command, the imbalance between British armour and German was redressed by better control and the addition of more American-supplied Grant andSherman tanks. The Crusader was replaced in the main line of battle and used for "light squadrons" trying to flank the enemy when it engaged the heavier units. The Australian 9th Infantry Division operated Crusaders for reconnaissance and liaison.
 +The British 1st Army landed as part of the Allied operations in Tunisia; some of its units were using the Crusader and these saw action from 24 November. These were not solely Crusader regiments but mixed Crusader and Valentine tanks; within each squadron two troops were Crusader IIIs and there were Crusader II CS attached to the Squadron HQ. These units of the 26th Armoured Brigade were used as an independent armoured column, "Blade Force", with the 78th Infantry Division. The operations of Blade Force were on terrain different from the desert of the earlier campaigns and the fighting took place with smaller numbers of vehicles. These actions were similar to what would be seen later in Europe. The 1st Army converted to Shermans during Tunisia, but Crusaders remained in use with the 8th for longer. The last major action for Crusaders was the Battle of Mareth. The North Africa campaign finished shortly after.
 +
 +'''Other use'''
 +After the completion of the North African Campaign, the availability of better tanks such as the Sherman and Cromwell relegated the Crusader to secondary duties such as anti-aircraft mounts or gun tractors. In these roles it served for the remainder of the war. The Crusader, along with the Covenanter, equipped regiments at home particularly those of the 11th Armoured Division.
 +
 +A Crusader bulldozer was developed but not used operationally. One of these bulldozer tanks was converted for removing munitions following a fire at Royal Ordnance Factory Kirkby.
 +
 +The Crusader anti-aircraft guns were designed for use in North West Europe. However with the Allied domination of the air they were largely unneeded and the AA troops were disbanded. The Crusader gun tractors operated with the Armoured Divisions, but were supplanted in part by the 17 pdr Archer self-propelled gun.
 +
 +==Operators==
 +
 +- Argentina - converted gun tractors
 +
 +- Canada
 +
 +- Free French
 +
 +- United Kingdom
 +
 +- Kingdom of Italy - Littorio Armoured Division
 +
 +- Nazi Germany - 15th Panzer Division
 +
 +- Netherlands
 +
 +- South Africa
 +
 +==Surviving vehicles==
 +
 +Around 21 tanks survive in various degrees of preservation, ranging from running-condition museum vehicles to wrecks. Eight survive in various collections in South Africa.
 +
 +Notable examples include the Crusader III in running condition at the Bovington Tank Museum in the United Kingdom. The Musée des Blindés in France preserves a Mk III anti-aircraft Crusader and the Overloon War Museum in the Netherlands owns a gun-tractor variant.
  
  
 |HistoricalGallery= |HistoricalGallery=
 +image:A_Crusader_II.jpg{{!}}A Crusader II tank in the Western Desert 2 October 1942.
 +image:Crusader-a1.jpg{{!}}Cleaning the barrel of the 6-pdr in Tunisia
 +image:Crusader_AA.jpg{{!}}Crusader AA comes ashore from an LST on to the pierhead at the Mulberry artificial harbour at Arromanches, August 1944
 +Crusader_AA_tank.jpg{{!}}Crusader AA tank mounting a triple Oerlikon gun in a hull-down position, 19 July 1944
 +image:Crusader_AA-1.jpg{{!}}Crusader AA with 40 mm Bofors gun, at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School, Gunnery Wing at Lulworth in Dorset, 25 March 1943
 +image:Crusader_ARV.jpg{{!}}Crusader ARV
 +image:Crusader_gun_tractor.jpg{{!}}Crusader gun tractor
 +image:Crusader_I.jpg{{!}}Crusader I. This vehicle has the auxiliary turret in place
  
  

Revision as of 14:59, 4 December 2012










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Crusader

Crusader_render_1.jpg
Battle Tier
1234567891011
Overview
Mouse over "
Well, the ones further down, of course.
" for more information
[Client Values; Actual values in
Specifically, the mismatch in crew values caused by commander's 10% crew skill bonus. Outside of a crew of 1 commander only, 100% crew is a fiction. The client values, given for 100% crew, will normally be taken into battle with 110% crew skill members aside from specific functions, causing their actual performance to deviate from the expected client value. These differences are taken into account in tooltip boxes.
]
380,000  Credits Cost
410450 HP Hit Points
19/19.319.75/21 t Weight Limit
Crew
  1. Commander (Radio Operator)
  2. Gunner (Loader)
  3. Driver
Mobility
395410 hp Engine Power
44/22 km/h Speed Limit
3840 deg/s Traverse
20.7920.76 hp/t Power/Wt Ratio
NoNo Pivot
Armor
40.2/28.3/28.3 mm Hull Armor
39.1/19.5/24.750.8/23.5/29.7 mm Turret Armor
Armament







{{#ifeq:ARMOR_PIERCING_CR|ARMOR_PIERCING||



{{#ifeq:HIGH_EXPLOSIVE|ARMOR_PIERCING||


AP/APCR/HE







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AP/APCR/HE
Shells




















30/1200/15




















45/2400/32
Shell Cost
50/50/6075/75/100 HP Damage
78/121/23110/180/30 mm Penetration



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28.57 r/m 

Standard Gun

Reload Times
Nominal: 2.1 s
50% Crew: 2.67 s
75% Crew: 2.35 s
100% Crew: 2.1 s
Rammer: 1.89 s
Vents: 2.05 s
Both: 1.85 s
Both and BiA: 1.81 s
Both and Max Crew %: 1.74 s

See Crew, Consumables, or Equipment for more information.



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27.27 r/m 

Standard Gun

Reload Times
Nominal: 2.2 s
50% Crew: 2.8 s
75% Crew: 2.46 s
100% Crew: 2.2 s
Rammer: 1.98 s
Vents: 2.15 s
Both: 1.93 s
Both and BiA: 1.9 s
Both and Max Crew %: 1.82 s

See Crew, Consumables, or Equipment for more information.
Rate of Fire






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1428.5

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 1 (50 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1428.5
50% Crew: 1122.5
75% Crew: 1275.5
100% Crew: 1428.5
100% Crew
Vents: 1462
Rammer: 1587
Both: 1624.5
Both and BiA: 1655.5
Both and Max Crew %: 1726.5

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1478.5
50% Crew: 1172.5
75% Crew: 1325.5
100% Crew: 1478.5
100% Crew
Rammer: 1637
Vents: 1512
Both: 1674.5
Both and BiA: 1705.5
Both and Max Crew %: 1776.5

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 2 (50 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1428.5
50% Crew: 1122.5
75% Crew: 1275.5
100% Crew: 1428.5
100% Crew
Vents: 1462
Rammer: 1587
Both: 1624.5
Both and BiA: 1655.5
Both and Max Crew %: 1726.5

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1478.5
50% Crew: 1172.5
75% Crew: 1325.5
100% Crew: 1478.5
100% Crew
Rammer: 1637
Vents: 1512
Both: 1674.5
Both and BiA: 1705.5
Both and Max Crew %: 1776.5

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 3 (60 Damage):
With wholly penetrating hits

Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1714.2
50% Crew: 1347
75% Crew: 1530.6
100% Crew: 1714.2
100% Crew
Vents: 1754.4
Rammer: 1904.4
Both: 1949.4
Both and BiA: 1986.6
Both and Max Crew %: 2071.8

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1774.2
50% Crew: 1407
75% Crew: 1590.6
100% Crew: 1774.2
100% Crew
Rammer: 1964.4
Vents: 1814.4
Both: 2009.4
Both and BiA: 2046.6
Both and Max Crew %: 2131.8

See here, here, or here for more information.






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2045.25

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 1 (75 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 2045.25
50% Crew: 1607.25
75% Crew: 1826.25
100% Crew: 2045.25
100% Crew
Vents: 2093.25
Rammer: 2272.5
Both: 2325.75
Both and BiA: 2370
Both and Max Crew %: 2472

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 2120.25
50% Crew: 1682.25
75% Crew: 1901.25
100% Crew: 2120.25
100% Crew
Rammer: 2347.5
Vents: 2168.25
Both: 2400.75
Both and BiA: 2445
Both and Max Crew %: 2547

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 2 (75 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 2045.25
50% Crew: 1607.25
75% Crew: 1826.25
100% Crew: 2045.25
100% Crew
Vents: 2093.25
Rammer: 2272.5
Both: 2325.75
Both and BiA: 2370
Both and Max Crew %: 2472

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 2120.25
50% Crew: 1682.25
75% Crew: 1901.25
100% Crew: 2120.25
100% Crew
Rammer: 2347.5
Vents: 2168.25
Both: 2400.75
Both and BiA: 2445
Both and Max Crew %: 2547

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 3 (100 Damage):
With wholly penetrating hits

Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 2727
50% Crew: 2143
75% Crew: 2435
100% Crew: 2727
100% Crew
Vents: 2791
Rammer: 3030
Both: 3101
Both and BiA: 3160
Both and Max Crew %: 3296

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 2827
50% Crew: 2243
75% Crew: 2535
100% Crew: 2827
100% Crew
Rammer: 3130
Vents: 2891
Both: 3201
Both and BiA: 3260
Both and Max Crew %: 3396

See here, here, or here for more information.
Damage Per Minute


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0.36 m 

With 50% Crew: 0.446 m
With 75% Crew: 0.389 m
With 100% Crew: 0.345 m
With BiA: 0.338 m
With BiA and Vents: 0.33 m
Maximum possible: 0.317 m

For more details, see Crew


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0.41 m 

With 50% Crew: 0.508 m
With 75% Crew: 0.443 m
With 100% Crew: 0.393 m
With BiA: 0.384 m
With BiA and Vents: 0.376 m
Maximum possible: 0.361 m

For more details, see Crew
Accuracy


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1.7 s 

With 50% Crew: 2.106 s
With 75% Crew: 1.839 s
With 100% Crew: 1.63 s
With GLD: 1.482 s
With BiA: 1.594 s
With BiA and Vents: 1.559 s
With both and GLD: 1.418 s
Maximum possible: 1.359 s

For more details, see Crew or Equipment


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2.3 s 

With 50% Crew: 2.849 s
With 75% Crew: 2.488 s
With 100% Crew: 2.205 s
With GLD: 2.005 s
With BiA: 2.157 s
With BiA and Vents: 2.11 s
With both and GLD: 1.918 s
Maximum possible: 1.839 s

For more details, see Crew or Equipment
Aim time
4846 deg/s Turret Traverse
360° Gun Arc
-15°/+20°-12°/+20° Elevation Arc
18065 rounds Ammo Capacity
General
2020 % Chance of Fire






340 m 

With 50% Crew: 267.1 m
With 75% Crew: 303.6 m
With 100% Crew: 340 m
With Recon and Situational Awareness: 357.2 m
With Coated Optics: 374 m
With Binocular Telescope: 425 m
Maximum possible: 486.7 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment






360 m 

With 50% Crew: 282.8 m
With 75% Crew: 321.5 m
With 100% Crew: 360 m
With Recon and Situational Awareness: 378.2 m
With Coated Optics: 396 m
With Binocular Telescope: 450 m
Maximum possible: 515.4 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment
View Range


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375 m 

With 50% Crew: 294.6 m
With 75% Crew: 334.8 m
With 100% Crew: 375 m
With 100% Signal Boost: 450 m
When affected by 100% Relaying: 412.5 m
Maximum possible: 539.6 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment


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550 m 

With 50% Crew: 432.1 m
With 75% Crew: 491.1 m
With 100% Crew: 550 m
With 100% Signal Boost: 660 m
When affected by 100% Relaying: 605 m
Maximum possible: 791.4 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment
Signal Range
Values are Stock - click for Top


V

AnnoGB20_Crusader.png

380000

The Crusader is a British tier 5 medium tank.

The Crusader was developed by Nuffield Mechanizations Ltd. from 1938 through 1940. More than 5,300 vehicles were mass-produced from 1941 through 1943. They were most extensively used in the North African сampaign in 1941–1942.

A much needed boost from the Covenanter, the Crusader is basically a "power-up" from its predecessor, as it now has an enhanced maneuverability, acceleration, and capable guns. With that, the Crusader is able to perform aggressive flanking and assist other tanks in dealing with enemies. Despite being a scout, the Crusader is still ill suited to do solo scouting and has to rely on quick retreats should it encounter enemies on its own. It now faces tanks capable of destroying it with 2 shots or less. Still, another advantage is the small silhouette that allows for excellent passive scouting and the sloped turret can surprisingly bounce some shots.

The Crusader leads to the Cromwell.

Modules / Available Equipment and Consumables

Modules

Ico_gun_alpha.png

Guns

Tier Gun Penetration
(mm)
Damage
(HP)
Rate of fire
(rounds/minute)
Dispersion
(m/100m)
Aiming time
(s)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

IV OQF 3-inch Howitzer Mk. I 38/100/23 175/110/60 15 0.55 1.9 116 30000
IV QF 6-pdr Mk. III 105/170/30 75/75/100 27.27 0.43 2.3 400 27000
V QF 6-pdr Gun Mk. V 110/180/30 75/75/100 27.27 0.41 2.3 450 35000
IV QF 2-pdr Mk. X 78/121/23 50/50/60 28.57 0.36 1.5 130 6000

Ico_turret_alpha.png

Turrets

Tier Turret Turret Armor (front/sides/rear)
(mm)
Turret Traverse Speed
(deg/s)
View Range
(m)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

IV Crusader Mk. I 39.1/19.5/24.7 48 340 2953 3980
V Crusader Mk. III 50.8/23.5/29.7 46 360 3390 11000

Ico_engine_alpha.png

Engines

Tier Engine Engine Power
(hp)
Chance of Fire on Impact
(%)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

IV Nuffield Liberty Mk. III 395 20 383 11500
V Nuffield Liberty Mk. V 410 20 383 12500

Ico_suspension_alpha.png

Suspensions

Tier Suspension Load Limit
(т)
Traverse Speed
(gr/sec)
Rmin Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

IV Crusader Mk. I 19.3 38 B/2 6200 2000
V Crusader Mk. III 21 40 B/2 6200 9500

Ico_radio_alpha.png

Radios

Tier Radio Signal Range
(m)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

VII WS No. 19 Mk. II 450 40 21000
VI WS No. 19 Mk. I 400 40 15000
V WS No. 9 375 40 3600
VIII WS No. 19 Mk. III 550 40 22000

Compatible Equipment

Medium Spall Liner Camouflage Net Coated Optics Experimental Optics Wear-Resistant Gun Laying Drive Venting System Innovative Loading System Extended Spare Parts Kit Enhanced Gun Laying Drive Enhanced Christie Suspension Improved Ventilation Class 2 Medium-Caliber Tank Gun Rammer Binocular Telescope Toolbox "Wet" Ammo Rack Class 1 

Compatible Consumables

Automatic Fire Extinguisher Natural Cover Optical Calibration Aim Tuning Experienced Firefighters 100-octane Gasoline 105-octane Gasoline Manual Fire Extinguisher Vent Purge Large First Aid Kit Large Repair Kit Duty Comes First Shell Organizer Orderly Ammo Rack Focus on Target Pudding and Tea Increased Focus Small First Aid Kit Small Repair Kit Gearbox Intricacy Steady Hand Pre-Battle Maintenance Combat Course 


Player Opinion

Pros and Cons

Pros:


  • Good acceleration
  • Good gun selection
  • Fast traverse speed


Cons:


  • Weak armor
  • Low top speed


Performance

Unlike other tier V light tanks, Crusader is not meant for scouting role. Despite virtually nonexistent armour Crusader is more like a medium tank.

Crusader's best gun may seem weak, but its ROF makes for the lack of damage. Despite not very good top speed you can outmaneuver heavier tanks thanks to the nice traverse speed, and with the good penetration of your 6-pounder finish them off without taking any damage.

The best way of playing Crusader is staying in constant motion, supporting your teammates and ocasionally wreaking havoc while playing as a skirmisher. Just take your chances carefully and remember, that everything on the battlefield will penetrate your armour.


Gallery

Historical Info

Crusader tank

Cruiser Mk VI or A15 Crusader was one of the primary British cruiser tanks of the early part Second World War and perhaps the most important British tank of the North African Campaign. The Crusader's mobility made it a favourite of British tank crews and its Ordnance QF 6 pounder main gun made it more than a match for the early Panzer III andPanzer IV tanks it faced in combat. Retained in service because of delays with its replacement, by late 1942 the lack of armament upgrade combined with the presence of Tiger I Tanks among the Afrika Korps and overheating problems caused by the high temperatures of the desert, led to the design being phased out in favour of the new US-supplied Shermanmedium tank. The next British cruiser in combat would be the Cromwell heavy cruiser.

Development history

In 1938, Nuffield Mechanization & Aero Limited produced their A16 design for a heavy cruiser tank based on Christie suspension. Looking for a lighter and cheaper tank to build, the General Staff requested alternatives. To this end the A13 Mk III cruiser tank design which would enter service as the "Tank, Cruiser Mk V" and known in service as "Covenanter" was designed. Nuffield were, in 1939, offered the opportunity to take part in the production of Covenanter. Nuffield, however, preferred to work on its own version of the A13—though they still provided design work for the Covenanter's turret. This new tank was adopted as "Tank, Cruiser, Mk VI Crusader", under General Staff specification A15. Although Crusader is often referred to as an improved version of the Covenanter, in fact it was a parallel design.Both tanks were ordered "off the drawing board" without building prototypes first. Despite a later start, the pilot model of the Crusader was ready six weeks before the first Covenanter.

Unlike earlier "Christie cruisers"( A13, Marks III and IV and the Mark V Covenanter ) that were built with 4 road wheels, Crusader had five road wheels each side to improve weight distribution in a tank that weighed almost 20 tons instead of the 14 tons of the previous cruisers. The 32 in (810 mm)-diameter wheels were of pressed steel with solid rubber tyres. The hull sides were built up of two separated plates with the suspension arms between them.It had a different engine from the Covenanter, different steering system and a conventional cooling system with radiators in the engine compartment. At the left hand side of the front hull—a place occupied by the engine radiator in the Covenanter—was mounted a small hand-traversed auxiliary turret armed with a Besa machine gun. The auxiliary turret was awkward to use and was often removed in the field or remained unoccupied.

Both the A13 Mk III and the A15 designs used the same main turret. The turret was polygonal—with sides that sloped out then in again—to give maximum turret space on the limited turret diameter. Early production vehicles had a "semi-internal" cast gun mantlet, which was quickly replaced in production by a better protected big cast mantlet with three vertical slits—for the main gun, for a coaxial Besa machine gun and for the sighting telescope. There was no cupola for the commander who had instead a flat hatch with the periscope mounted through it. The main armament, as in other British tanks of the period, was balanced so the gunner could control its elevation through a padded shaft against his right shoulder rather than using a geared mechanism. This fitted well with the British doctrine of firing accurately on the move. When it was understood that there would be delays in the introduction of successor heavy cruiser tanks—what would become the Cavalier, Centaur and Cromwell—the Crusader was adapted to use the 6 pounder gun.


Combat history

North Africa

With the Axis forces in North Africa having pushed the British back to the Egyptian border and the remaining British armour being a mixed force of older tanks with a few Matildas, tanks were hurriedly shipped via the Mediterranean arriving on 12 May 1941. There were sufficient Crusaders to equip the 6th Royal Tank Regiment which with the 2nd RTR (with older cruiser tanks) formed the 7th Armoured Brigade. The rest of the tanks were Matildas for the 4th Armoured Brigade giving the 7th Armoured division only four tank regiments. Although there was pressure from London for the reconstituted Desert Rats to go into action, outfitting for the desert and training delayed their first use until Operation Battleaxe, an attempt to relieve the siege of Tobruk in June. As the brigade swept round the flank, the Crusaders were caught by concealed anti-tank guns and lost 11 tanks. The 6th RTR lost more tanks, to action and defects, in the fighting withdrawal of the next two days. The 7th Brigade was re-equipped with further Crusaders, but as the brigade had been expanded by the addition of 7th Hussars there were not sufficient to replace the older cruiser tanks. The 22nd Armoured Brigade, effectively an advance force of the 1st Armoured Division, which was three inexperienced Yeomanry units equipped with Crusaders transferred to North Africa to bring the 7th Armoured up to three-brigade strength. The 8th Hussars was added to the 4th Armoured Brigade but these had to be equipped with M3 Stuart light tanks as there were still insufficient cruisers. The 22nd was able to take part in Operation Crusader of November 1941 which was named after it.

In Operation Crusader the two British Corps were disposed such that they could not support each other, but it was expected that as the British outnumbered the German and Italian forces in tanks, the tank against tank battles would be decided in their favour. However in the resulting encounters, Rommel did not put his tanks en masse into action against the British ones and the large numbers of German anti-tank guns working offensively with the tanks and infantry proved effective.The Germans had a few 88 mm guns but were mostly equipped with the Pak 38, a long-barreled 50 mm gun, with a range of 1,000 yards. This superiority in quality and tactical deployment of AT guns was to be a feature of the Afrika Korps throughout the Desert War. The Crusader's 2 pdr (40 mm) gun was as effective as the short-barreled 50 mm of the Panzer III although it was outranged by the short-barreled 75 mm of the Panzer IV. Although the Crusader was faster than any tanks it opposed, its potential was limited by a relatively light QF 2-pounder gun, thin armour and mechanical problems. A particular tactical limitation was the lack of a high explosive shell for the main armament—these existed but were never supplied. Axis tank forces developed an extremely effective method of dealing with attacking tank forces by retiring behind a screen of concealed anti-tank guns. The pursuing tanks could then be engaged by the artillery. With the German anti-tank guns out of range of the tanks' machine guns and without a high explosive shell to return fire, the tanks were left with the equally unpalatable options of withdrawing under fire or trying to overrun the gun screen.

The Crusader proved prone to catch fire when hit, a problem that was identified as due to the ammunition being ignited by hot metal penetrating the unprotected racks. The angled underside of the turret created "shell pockets" that acted as a lever for lifting the turret from its mounting when struck by a shell. The Crusader proved unreliable in the desert due to a number of issues. These started with their transport from the UK to North Africa. Poor preparation and handling caused problems that had to be rectified before they could be passed to the regiments, and ate into the supply of spare parts. Once in use the sand caused erosion in the cooling system and the stresses of hard cross-country travel caused oil leaks in the engine blocks. Since there were few tank transporters or railways in the desert, the tanks had to travel long distances on their tracks causing further wear.

By the end of 1941, there was only one brigade, the 2nd, which was operating only Crusaders. In March 1942, US-built Grant medium tanks arrived: these replaced one in three Crusader squadrons. While the inclusion of the Grant with its effective 75 mm gun gave better firepower against anti-tank guns and infantry they were slower, limiting the Crusaders when they had to operate together. From May 1942, the Mark III were delivered. Of the 840 tanks available to the British, 260 were Crusaders. The German tanks they were facing were improved types with improved frontal armour which caused the Crusaders' 2-pounder shot to shatter rather than penetrate.

As part of British deception operations, Crusaders could be issued with "Sunshade" which was a metal framework with canvas covering that disguised the tank as a lorry to German aerial reconnaissance. Similarly dummy tanks were deployed. Later in the campaign shipping was improved, Nuffields had put an engineering team in Egypt, and crews were better at preventing problems, but the reputation of the Crusader could not recover. After Montgomery took over command, the imbalance between British armour and German was redressed by better control and the addition of more American-supplied Grant andSherman tanks. The Crusader was replaced in the main line of battle and used for "light squadrons" trying to flank the enemy when it engaged the heavier units. The Australian 9th Infantry Division operated Crusaders for reconnaissance and liaison. The British 1st Army landed as part of the Allied operations in Tunisia; some of its units were using the Crusader and these saw action from 24 November. These were not solely Crusader regiments but mixed Crusader and Valentine tanks; within each squadron two troops were Crusader IIIs and there were Crusader II CS attached to the Squadron HQ. These units of the 26th Armoured Brigade were used as an independent armoured column, "Blade Force", with the 78th Infantry Division. The operations of Blade Force were on terrain different from the desert of the earlier campaigns and the fighting took place with smaller numbers of vehicles. These actions were similar to what would be seen later in Europe. The 1st Army converted to Shermans during Tunisia, but Crusaders remained in use with the 8th for longer. The last major action for Crusaders was the Battle of Mareth. The North Africa campaign finished shortly after.

Other use After the completion of the North African Campaign, the availability of better tanks such as the Sherman and Cromwell relegated the Crusader to secondary duties such as anti-aircraft mounts or gun tractors. In these roles it served for the remainder of the war. The Crusader, along with the Covenanter, equipped regiments at home particularly those of the 11th Armoured Division.

A Crusader bulldozer was developed but not used operationally. One of these bulldozer tanks was converted for removing munitions following a fire at Royal Ordnance Factory Kirkby.

The Crusader anti-aircraft guns were designed for use in North West Europe. However with the Allied domination of the air they were largely unneeded and the AA troops were disbanded. The Crusader gun tractors operated with the Armoured Divisions, but were supplanted in part by the 17 pdr Archer self-propelled gun.

Operators

- Argentina - converted gun tractors

- Canada

- Free French

- United Kingdom

- Kingdom of Italy - Littorio Armoured Division

- Nazi Germany - 15th Panzer Division

- Netherlands

- South Africa

Surviving vehicles

Around 21 tanks survive in various degrees of preservation, ranging from running-condition museum vehicles to wrecks. Eight survive in various collections in South Africa.

Notable examples include the Crusader III in running condition at the Bovington Tank Museum in the United Kingdom. The Musée des Blindés in France preserves a Mk III anti-aircraft Crusader and the Overloon War Museum in the Netherlands owns a gun-tractor variant.


Historical Gallery


UK
Light Tanks IICruiser Mk. I IIM2 IICruiser Mk. III IILight Mk. VIC IIIStuart I-IV IIICruiser Mk. IV IIICruiser Mk. II IVValentine IVCovenanter VIIGSR 3301 Setter VIIIFV1066 Senlac VIIILHMTV IXGSOR3301 AVR FS XManticore
Medium Tanks IVickers Medium Mk. I IIVickers Medium Mk. II IIIVickers Medium Mk. III IVMatilda IVGrant IVAC 1 Sentinel VCrusader VSherman III VMatilda Black Prince VISherman Firefly VICromwell VIAC 4 Experimental VICromwell B VISherman VC Firefly VIIComet VIIICenturion Mk. I VIIIFV4202 VIIIChieftain/T95 VIIICenturion Mk. 5/1 RAAC VIIIChimera IXCenturion Mk. 7/1 XCenturion Action X
Heavy Tanks VChurchill I VExcelsior VIChurchill VII VITOG II* VIIBlack Prince VIIFV201 (A45) VIIICaernarvon VIIICaernarvon Action X IXConqueror XFV215b XSuper Conqueror XT95/FV4201 Chieftain
Tank Destroyers IIUniversal Carrier 2-pdr IIIValentine AT IVAlecto VArcher VAT 2 VIChurchill Gun Carrier VIAchilles VIAT 8 VIExcalibur VIIChallenger VIIAT 15A VIIAT 7 VIIIAT 15 VIIICharioteer IXTortoise IXFV4004 Conway XFV215b (183) XFV4005 Stage II XFV217 Badger
Self-Propelled Artillery IILoyd Gun Carriage IIISexton II IIISexton I IVBirch Gun VBishop VIFV304 VIICrusader 5.5-in. SP VIIIFV207 IXFV3805 XConqueror Gun Carriage
Medium Tanks
USA IIT2 Medium Tank IIIM2 Medium Tank IVM3 Lee VM4 Improved VM4A2E4 Sherman VM4A1 Sherman VRam II VIM4A3E8 Fury VIM4A3E8 Thunderbolt VII VIM4A3E8 Sherman VIM4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo VIIT26E3 Eagle 7 VIIT20 VIIT23E3 VIIIT25 Pilot Number 1 VIIITL-1 LPC VIIIM46 Patton KR VIIIM26 Pershing VIIIT26E4 SuperPershing VIIIT69 VIIIT95E2 IXM46 Patton IXT54E1 XM48A5 Patton XM60 XT95E6
UK IVickers Medium Mk. I IIVickers Medium Mk. II IIIVickers Medium Mk. III IVMatilda IVGrant IVAC 1 Sentinel VCrusader VSherman III VMatilda Black Prince VISherman Firefly VICromwell VIAC 4 Experimental VICromwell B VISherman VC Firefly VIIComet VIIICenturion Mk. I VIIIFV4202 VIIIChieftain/T95 VIIICenturion Mk. 5/1 RAAC VIIIChimera IXCenturion Mk. 7/1 XCenturion Action X
Germany IIIGroßtraktor - Krupp IIIPz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. A IIIPz.Kpfw. S35 739 (f) IVPz.Kpfw. III Ausf. J IVPz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. D IVVK 20.01 (D) VPz.Kpfw. III Ausf. K VTurán III prototípus VPz.Kpfw. III/IV VPz.Kpfw. IV hydrostat. VPz.Kpfw. V/IV VPz.Kpfw. V/IV Alpha VPz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. H VPz.Kpfw. T 25 VIPz.Kpfw. IV Schmalturm VIVK 30.01 (P) VIVK 30.01 (D) VIVK 30.02 (M) VIIPanther/M10 VIIPanther VIIVK 30.02 (D) VIIIPanther mit 8,8 cm L/71 VIIIPanzer 58 Mutz VIIIIndien-Panzer VIIIPanther II IXE 50 IXT 55A IXLeopard Prototyp A XE 50 Ausf. M XLeopard 1
France IIID2 IIISomua S35 IVSARL 42 VRenault G1 VIIILorraine 40 t VIIIAMX Chasseur de chars VIIIM4A1 Revalorisé IXAMX 30 1er prototype IXBat.-Châtillon 25 t AP XBat.-Châtillon 25 t XAMX 30 B
USSR IIIT-29 IVA-32 IVT-28E with F-30 IVT-28 VMatilda IV VT-34 shielded VT-34 VIA-43 VIT-34-85M VIT-34-85 Rudy VILoza's M4-A2 Sherman VIT-34-85 VIIA-44 VIIKV-13 VIIT-43 VIIIObject 416 VIIIT-54 first prototype VIIIT-44-100 (B) VIIIT-44-100 (R) VIIIТ-44-100 (У) VIIISTG VIIISTG Guard VIIIT-44 IXObject 430 Version II IXObject 430 IXT-54 XObject 140 XObject 907 XT-22 medium XK-91 XObject 430U XT-62A
China VType T-34 VIType 58 VIIT-34-1 VIIIType 59 VIIIT-34-2 VIIIT-34-3 VIII59-Patton VIIIType 59 G IXWZ-120 X121 X121B
Japan IIChi-Ni IIType 89 I-Go/Chi-Ro IIIType 97 Chi-Ha IVType 1 Chi-He VType 3 Chi-Nu VType 3 Chi-Nu Kai VIType 4 Chi-To VIIType 5 Chi-Ri VIIISTA-1 VIIISTA-2 IXType 61 XSTB-1
Czechoslovakia IVST vz. 39 VŠkoda T 24 VIŠkoda T 40 VIŠkoda T 25 VIIKonštrukta T-34/100 VIIITVP VTU Koncept VIIIŠkoda T 27 IXŠkoda T 50 XTVP T 50/51
Sweden IVLago VStrv m/42 VIStrv m/42-57 Alt A.2 VIStrv 74 VIILeo VIIIPrimo Victoria VIIILansen C VIIIUDES 14 Alt 5 IXUDES 16 XUDES 15/16
Italy IIM14/41 IIIM15/42 IVP26/40 VP.43 VIP.43 bis VIIP.43 ter VIIIProgetto M35 mod. 46 VIIIP.44 Pantera IXPrototipo Standard B XProgetto M40 mod. 65
Poland V25TP KSUST II VIPudel VI40TP Habicha VIT-34-85 Rudy


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