also called CROMWELL VI, or CRUISER MARK VIII, British medium tank that was used in the later stages of World War II. The Cromwell was ordered in 1941 in order to replace the lightweight Crusader "cruiser" tank with a more heavily armoured, and therefore more survivable, vehicle. Its greater weight was to be driven by a 600-horsepower Rolls Royce Meteor engine, a derivative of Rolls Royce’s line of aircraft engines. Initial models, however, were powered by other engines and were
- CENTAUR AT HERMANVILLE
designated Cavaliers and Centaurs when they entered service in mid-1942. The first genuine Cromwells with Meteor engines entered service in early 1943.The Cromwell tank weighed about 27 tons and had a top speed of 38 miles (61 kilometres) per hour and a range of between 80 and 170 miles, depending on the terrain.
It was initially armed with a 75-millimetre gun and two 7.92-millimetre machine guns. The Cromwell’s main assets were its speed, maneuverability, and ease of repair. The tank first entered battle in large numbers in mid-1944, during the Normandy Invasion and the ensuing campaign across northern France. From Normandy on, Cromwells and American Sherman tanks formed the backbone of British armoured divisions. Like the Shermans, however, most Cromwells were outgunned by German Panther and Tiger tanks. Cromwell tanks served in British armies until the war ended in Europe in mid-1945.