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Weapons of World War Two

The Raid on Dieppe (Aug 1942)

Churchill infantry tank

Version depicted: Mark 2

Churchill Mark 2 infantry tank

In September 1939 the High Staff of the British Army finally realized that England did not have a heavy tank able to effectively support the infantry against fortified targets, or to oppose the action of the German tanks of the latest types. An Irish company was put in charge of designing an armored vehicle which put a remedy to the situation. The investigations were carried out with praiseworthy speed but, despite the year being already 1939, all of the models which were studied were strongly influenced by the theories and concepts from the First World War about tanks and their utilization. This is something that, in respect of the Allied tanks, we have reiterated many times. Weapons installed in sideward nacelles, tanks with the main cannon installed in a fixed emplacement, huge armors and other formulas of this genre were considered. Just one year after the order the company was ready to present a prototype which was accepted for serial production. Albeit it was not really a return to the old schemes, it was still a strange tank. Fitted with hull-enveloping tracks, it had a good maneuverability and a modest speed on road. The armor granted a good protection, but the speed was rather low and the main weapon, a 76.2-millimeter howitzer, was installed in a fixed position, whereas a 40-millimeter anti-tank cannon and a 7.92-millimeter machine gun were installed in the turret. A Bren 7.7-millimeter anti-aircraft machine gun could be installed in the top of the turret. This type, denominated Mk 1, was very soon modified by replacing the howitzer on the hull by another 7.92-millimeter machine gun. This way the Mk 2 was born. But the 40-millimeter cannon was no longer effective against the armor of the new tanks, so it was quickly replaced by a 57-millimeter one, which was more suitable for the situation, in the Mk 3 type. The subsequent Mk 4 had a turret made of cast steel as well as welded plates. The Mk 5 had, instead of the 57-millimeter cannon, a 95-millimeter mortar for being used at close ranges against fortifications. Finally there would be the Mk 6, armed with a 75-millimeter cannon in the turret, and the Mk 7, of modified silhouette, which would remain in service many years after the war. Special versions, such as the bridgelayer or the flamethrower types, were built as well. Albeit it cannot be defined as the best of the British tanks, also the "Churchill" was appreciated by its crews, both for the protection and the sufficient reliability. This tank, which would fight practically in every front of the European and North African theaters, would be used as well as a special element in the venturesome enterprise of Dieppe. There thirty Mk 1, Mk 2 and Mk 3 tanks from the 14th Canadian Armored Regiment, fitted with special exhaust tubes and air intakes which rendered them amphibious tanks (like that in the illustration), should have entered action against the German positions soon after the landing. It did not happen like that, and at the end of the battle the soldiers of the Wehrmacht could retrieve a good number of them which were almost intact, whereas only a small part of the landing force hardly managed to return to the ships which would return it to England.

Year: 1941

Weight: 36 tonnes

Length: 7.44 meters

Width: 3.25 meters

Height: 2.48 meters

Ground clearance: 51 centimeters

Maximum armor: 100 millimeters

Engine: Bedford of 12 cylinders and 350 horsepower

Maximum speed: 27 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 203 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 40-millimeter cannon; two 7.92-millimeter machine guns; one 7.7-millimeter machine gun

Ammunitions: 150 of 40 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 3.65 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 1.21 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 30 degrees

Fording: 91 centimeters

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