Sunday, March 13, 2005
By early 1940, cruiser tank production was ramping up in Britain. The decision had been made to equip both brigades of armoured divisions with cruiser tanks, instead of one brigade with cruisers and the other brigade with light tanks. Three types were rolling off production lines: the A9 Cruiser Mk.I, the A10 Cruiser Mk.II, and the A13 Cruiser Mk.III, soon to be superceded by the A13 Cruiser Mk.IV. The A9 had adequate speed, but had only thin armour and the antiquated machine gun turrets. The A10 was too slow (15 mph), but had thicker armour and the Besa machine gun, rather than the older water-cooled model carried by the prototype. The A13 had very good mobility and thin armour. The Cruiser Mk.IV had better protection, including spaced armour on the turret. The cruiser tanks were so new and so few in number that almost no one had any experience with them and their capabilities. There were only a total of 284 tanks in the six tank units in May 1940. Of these, as I have previously written (I think), 134 were light tanks of various marks. The Queens Bays had an odd collection of equipment: 4-A9, 3-A10, and 22-A13, plus 21 Light Mk.VIC tanks. At least the Lt.Mk.VIC had the 15mm MG, rather than the 0.50in watercooled model.