Infantry Tank A22
The Churchill Tank’s unique look was inherited from its development before the beginning of World War II. It was based on the needs of the First World War; the tank was designed to cross shell-cratered ground and trenches, and to destroy barbed wire and parapets.The experiences of the German’s invasions of Poland and France persuaded Vauxhall Motors to modify the design of the Churchill. When it eventually appeared in 1940 ready for service it weighed 39 tons and its 350hp engine enabled it to move at mere 15mph in good conditions. It was armed with a 2-pounder gun, supplemented by a 3-inch howitzer mounted on the hull (Churchill I).
The British Army only had 100 tanks left after Dunkirk and Vauxhall Motors were quickly pressed to produce tanks. A result of this haste was some early reliability issues with the first Churchills.
The Churchill I/II’s armament was a 2-pdr gun in the turret with a co-axial machine gun and a 3-inch howitzer or 7.92-mm machine-gun in the hull (The version with the hull mounted machine-gun is usually referred to as a Mark II).
There were also some versions with two 3-inch Howitzers and others with the 2-pdr and 3-inch guns swapped over. The 2pdr armament proved inadequate from experience in the desert and in March 1942 a model armed with the excellent new 6-pdr gun was released (Churchill III). In 1942, the Churchill was the heaviest armoured British tank in service and its movement crosscountry was considered to be excellent. The Churchills I, II and III first saw active service at Dieppe in 1942. The Churchill Tank performed badly during the Dieppe Raid, its small road wheels and weight proving a bad combination on the loose shingle beach. The stones from the beach became worked into the tracks causing the Churchills to throw tracks, while others dug themselves trenches in the loose stones.
Despite the bloody start to combat at Dieppe the tanks proved more successful in North Africa and a reliable design for the rest of the war.
As the Churchill I/II continued in service they were retrofitted with mud-guards and improved air intake boxes.