- "It looks like a crab!"
- "I'm removing the speed limiter!"
The A15 Cruiser Tank Mk VI Crusader (or just Crusader) was one of the primary British cruiser tanks during the early stages of the Second World War.
In 1938, Nuffield Mechanizations and 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, which would enter service as the "Cruiser Tank Mk V Covenanter", was designed. Nuffield was, in 1939, offered the opportunity to take part in the production of the Covenanter.
Nuffield, however, preferred to work on its own version of the A13—though it 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 the previous Cruiser Tanks (A13, Marks III and IV and the Mark V Covenanter) that were built with four road wheels, the 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 Crusader also had a different engine, steering system and also a conventional cooling system with radiators in the engine compartment compared to its predecessor.
The first version, the Crusader Mk.I used the same turret as the Covenanter fitted with a 2-pdr gun, it also featured on the left side of the hull an additional turret with a BESA machine-gun which was often removed by the crew. The Crusader Mk.II had its front armour increased and the auxiliary turret was removed. The last version was the Crusader Mk.III was upgunned with a 6-pdr gun with its turret remodeled to carry the gun and was equipped with the Mk.IV Liberty engine. Some Crusaders were converted as AA tanks (with a 40mm Bofors for the AA Mk.I or a twin 20mm Oerlikon gun for the AA Mk.II) some were equipped with 3-inch howitzer for close support and others were converted into utility tanks such as armored recovery vehicles or gun tractor.
The Crusader has only served during the North African campaign where it was send to replace older tank like the Matilda or its predecessors, they first took part in Operation Crusader where it proved to be faster than it German counterpart, but its potential was limited by its unreliability in desert environnement, a relatively light 2-pdr gun (which was as effective as the Panzer III's short-barrel 50mm gun but was outgunned by the Panzer IV), thin armour, mechanical problems and its potential to "brew up" when hit. By 1942, some Crusaders were forced to operate alongside the slower but better armored and armed M3 Grant. After Montgomery took command, the Crusaders were taken off the main line and replaced by Grant and Shermans tanks relegate them into light squadrons. They last served during the Tunisian Campaign in the Battle of the Mareth Line and the Battle of Wadi Akarit.
After the North African Campaign, the Crusaders were relagated to secondary duties such as anti-aircraft tanks in North West Europe, however, with the Allied domination of the air, they were largely unneeded and the AA troops were disbanded.
During the North African Campaign, the 15th Panzer Division captured and used Crusader tanks under the designation Kreuzer Panzerkampfwagen Mk VI 746(e).
In Girls und Panzer
The Crusader was meant to participate in the training match against Ooarai but it was scrapped by Darjeeling due to Rosehip's lack of gracefulness.
Gekkan Senshado Magazine
St. Gloriana Girls College fielded two Crusaders Mk.III during the tournament semi-finals match against Kuromorimine Girls Academy. They were used as scouts after Nilgiri's Cromwell caught the attention and were likely destroyed as all St. Gloriana were destroyed in the match.
Girls und Panzer: Der Film
During the exihibition match against Ooarai Girls Academy and Chi-Ha-Tan Academy, St. Gloriana Girls College fielded four Crusaders Mk.III commanded by Rosehip. Three of them were destroyed by Miho, Rosehip's one is accidentaly responsible of the destruction of Klara's T-34/85 by ramming her and making her outers fuel tanks exploding. Rosehip's Crusader was ultimately destroyed by a lucky shot from Momo (she was aiming at the Churchill).
The Crusader was among the reinforcements from St. Gloriana to Ooarai alongside the Matilda and the Churchill. It was part of Dandelion Company under the command of Miho and Darjeeling. It was often saw during the Karl bombardment avoiding massive explosions. After the retreat to the Amusement Park, the Crusader was assigned to the Eastern Utility Gate. When their opponent break in the park Rosehip and her Crusader rush the enemy thinking it was a Chaffee only to face the T28 Super-Heavy Tank, she narrowly dodge the shell. During Ooarai's disarray, the Crusader with the most of their tanks were trapped in the amphitheater, they were saved from destruction by Rabbit Team and the ferris wheel. The Crusader also act as a bait with B1 Bis to lure Pershings to Hippo Team and ultimately Rosehip remove the speed limiter of the Crusader and jumps over a little canal to shoot a Chaffee only to crush herself on a wall.
Erika commanded one Crusader Mk.I during a match during her time in Hitoyoshi Elementary School fighting an unknown opponent that she managed to destroy.
Saga of Pravda
St. Gloriana Girls College fielded at eight Crusaders Mk.III during the 61st Sensha-dō Tournament match against Pravda Girls High School. They were first used to make hit & run attacks on Pravda tanks to put them on nerve and they finally act as a diversion alongside Earl Grey's allowing the Churchill to snipe down their flag tank.
St. Gloriana Girls College fielded at least two Crusaders Mk.III (one surely commanded by Rosehip) during the Winter Continuous Track Cup first round match against Waffle Academy. It is unknown if they scored any hit but they were destroyed by Waffle's AMC-35 or T-15.
- The Crusader tank, like most other British cruiser tanks, has a name traditionally beginning with a C. This tradition most likely began due to the British similarly naming classes of destroyers after a specific letter.
- Speed limiters were introduced in North Africa as the dust kicked up and ingested made the engine unreliable. Sometimes the crew removed to speed limiter causing the engine to break down.
- Main article: Crusader/Gallery
|Light Tanks and Tankettes||7TP • AMR-35 • BT-42 • Crusader • CV.33 • FT-17 • Harry Hopkins • M22 Locust • M24 Chaffee • Mark VI • Panzer II • Panzer 38(t) • R35 • T-60 • T-70 • Tetrarch • TK Tankette • Type 94 Tankette • Type 95 Ha-Go • Type 97 Te-Ke|
|Medium Tanks||Centurion • M3 Lee • M4 Sherman • M13/40 • Matilda II • P26/40 • Panzer III • Panzer IV • Panzer V "Panther" • SOMUA S35 • T-34 • T-44 • Type 89B • Type 3 Chi-Nu • Type 97 Chi-Ha|
|Heavy Tanks||ARL 44 • B1 Bis • Black Prince • Churchill • IS-2 • KV-2 • M26 Pershing • Mark IV • Panzer VI "Tiger" • Panzer VI Ausf. B "Tiger II" • Panzer VIII "Maus" • VK45.01 Porsche Tiger|
|Tank Destroyers||Elefant • Hetzer • ISU-152 • Jagdpanzer IV • Jagdpanther • Jagdtiger • Mareșal • Semovente da 75/18 • StuG III • T28 Super-Heavy Tank|
|Self-Propelled Artillery||Karl-Gerät 040|
|Main Battle Tank||Type 10|