Ram tank

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Tank, Cruiser, Ram Mk II
Ram cfb borden 2.JPG
Early production Ram Mk II at CFB Borden
Type Medium tank
Place of origin  Canada
Service history
Used by Canada
Wars Second World War
Production history
Designed 1941
Manufacturer Montreal Locomotive Works
Produced 1941–43
Number built approx 2,000
Specifications
Weight 65,000 lb (29 t)
Length 19 ft (5.8 m)
Width 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Height 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m)
Crew 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver/hull gunner)

Armour 87 mm
Main
armament
QF 6 pdr Mk III
92 rounds
Secondary
armament
3 × .30 in (7.62 mm) machineguns (Ram I 4,715 rounds, Ram II 4,440 rounds.[1])
Engine Continental R-975 9-cyl radial gasoline engine
400 (298 kW)
Power/weight 12.3 hp/ton
Transmission Borg-Warner clutch, controlled differential
Suspension Vertical volute spring
Operational
range
232 km (144 mi)
Speed 25 mph (40 km/h)

The Tank, Cruiser, Ram was a cruiser tank designed and built by Canada in the Second World War, based on the U.S. M3 Medium tank. Due to standardization on the American Sherman tank for frontline units, it was used exclusively for training purposes and was never used in combat as a gun tank. The chassis was used for several other combat roles however, such as a flamethrower tank, observation post, and armoured personnel carrier.

Development[edit]

Ram Mk.II (early production) tanks during the war

Even before the loss of the majority of the United Kingdom's tank force in France in 1940 after Dunkirk, it was recognised that tank production in the UK at the start of the war was insufficient and capacity in the US was taken for British needs.[2] So it was necessary that if Canada was to equip with tanks they would have to be manufactured locally.[3] In June 1940 the Canadian Pacific Railway's Angus Shops in Montreal - as the only large firm with spare capacity - had received a contract to produce 300 partially fitted out Valentine tanks for the British; this was followed later with one for 488 complete tanks for Canada.[4] However the Valentine was an infantry tank and Canada required a cruiser tank for its recently formed armoured division. In the end 1,940 Valentines were produced by CPR most of which were supplied to the USSR. Although the Valentine used a number of American produced parts, its reliance on British components, difficulties in adapting its manufacture to North American methods, and other problems such as limitations to the availability of the right type of armour plate affected Valentine production. The Canadian Joint Committee on Tank Development concluded, in September 1940, that its cruiser tank should be based on a US rather than a British design.[5]

The Canadians were interested in production of the M3 Medium. However the M3 was an interim design and lacked a turret for its main armament. In early 1941 the Canadian Interdepartmental Tank Committee adopted a compromise - to develop a superior design locally but using the M3 chassis.[6] The British Tank Mission which was involved in the modifications of the M3 for British use contributed a tank expert - L.E.Carr - to design a new hull and turret for the Canadian tank, which could take a 6-pounder (57 mm) or 75mm gun while retaining the lower hull of the US M3 Medium.[7]

The new hull was cast rather than welded or riveted and lower than that of the M3. The pilot model's casting was produced in the US by General Steel Castings and later they aided the set up of Canadian production.[3] Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW) was chosen to make the new Canadian M.3 Cruiser Tank (as it was then known)and was given the funding to set up the Canadian Tank Arsenal at Lonque Pointe. MLW was a subsidiary of the American Locomotive Company, which had experience in producing large castings and another ALCO subsidiary was producing cast hulls for the M3 Medium.

Canadian engineers ran into many challenges when developing the tank as Canada had never produced a tank before. Along with the lack of knowledge, it took time for Canadian factories to gear up for the production of many of the Ram's components. Initially Canada relied heavily on United States and British materials to complete the construction of the Ram. Most critically the Ram's Continental engine and transmissions were available only in the USA and these were always in short supply. The Ram tank was developed with a turret which unlike the US M3 could traverse the main armament 360 degrees. Its fully cast armoured steel hull gave reinforced protection and - with the driver's seat repositioned to meet British requirements for right-hand drive[3] - lower height while the US designed chassis and power train ensured its overall reliability.[8]

Although it could mount a US 75 mm gun, the preferred armament for the Ram was the QF 6 pounder which had superior armour-piercing capability. As it was not immediately available, early production (50 tanks) were fitted with the 40 mm 2-pounder gun.[7]

A prototype Ram was completed in June 1941 and general production of the Ram I began in November of the same year. The Ram I and early Ram IIs were fitted with side doors in the hull and an auxiliary machine gun turret in the front. The former weakened the hull and complicated production and the doors and the machine gun turret would be discarded in later modifications. By February 1942, production had switched to the Ram II model with a 6-pounder gun and continued until July 1943. In March 1942 a decision had been made to change production over to the automotively-similar M4A1 Sherman tank for all British and Canadian units. Ram production continued due to delay in starting the new M4 production lines and a reluctance to let the plant lie idle.[3] By July 1943 1,948 vehicles, plus 84 artillery observation post (OP) vehicles, had been completed.

The official Canadian history of the war compares the Ram to the Ross rifle as examples of unsuccessful Canadian weapon designs. It states that given the Sherman's superiority, in retrospect it would probably have been better for the United States to produce more tanks, and for Canada to have focused on manufacturing more transport vehicles such as the successful Canadian Military Pattern truck designs. The Sexton self-propelled gun based on the Ram chassis, however, was very successful.[9]

Combat history[edit]

Ram Mk.II - late production

As built, the Ram was never used in combat as a tank, but for crew training in Great Britain up to mid 1944. The observation post vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carrier, gun tower, and munitions carrier of the Ram saw considerable active service in North West Europe. These tanks were mainly rebuilt by Canadian Army workshops in the United Kingdom. Conversions of Ram tanks with the Wasp II flamethrower gear were used by the 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade in the Netherlands in 1945.[10]

A Ram encased in the Dutch IJssel Line, still present in 2007

In 1945 the Royal Netherlands Army got permission from the Canadian government to take possession for free of all Ram tanks in army dumps on Dutch territory. Those not already converted into Kangaroos were used to equip the 1st and 2nd Tank Battalion (1e en 2e Bataljon Vechtwagens), the very first Dutch tank units. These had a nominal organic strength of 53 each. However it proved to be impossible to ready enough tanks to attain this strength because the vehicles were in a very poor state of maintenance. In 1947 the UK provided 44 Ram tanks from its stocks, that were in a better condition. Forty of these had been rebuilt with the British 75 mm gun; four were OP/Command vehicles with a dummy gun. This brought the operational total for that year to just 73, including two Mark Is. In 1950 only fifty of these were listed as present. The Ram tanks (together with the Sherman tanks of the three other tank battalions, in part simply taken without permission) were replaced by Centurion tanks leased by the U.S. Government in 1952.[citation needed] Some Ram tanks were used in the 1950s as static pillboxes in the IJssel Line, their hulls dug in and embedded within two feet of concrete.

Survivors[edit]

One Dutch Ram tank, an OP/Command vehicle, survives at the Dutch Cavalry Museum in Amersfoort.

A Ram tank modified as a Kangaroo serves as a memorial to the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment in Mill, Netherlands.

Ram tanks can also be seen at the Canadian War Museum, in Worthington Park at Canadian Forces Base Borden, in front of the Beatty Street Armoury in Vancouver, and at the Bovington Tank Museum (both a tank [11] and a Kangaroo[12])

Variants[edit]

Ram Mk I
Ram Mk II - early production
Ram Mk II - later production, with Mk III QF 6 pounder but still with auxiliary turret
Ram OP/Command tank at Amersfoort
Tank Cruiser, Ram Mk I
Ordnance QF 2 pounder / 40mm gun (171 rounds).
Tank Cruiser, Ram Mk II
Early production: Mk III QF 6 pounder / 57mm gun (92 rounds).
Late production: Mk V six-pounder. Auxiliary turret and sponson door removed. Browning .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun fitted in ball mount.
Badger
A flamethrower equipped tank. The first Badgers were Ram Kangaroos with the Wasp II flamethrowing equipment (as used on the Universal Carrier) installed in place of the bow MG. Later models were turret rams with the equipment in place of the main gun.
Ram Kangaroo
An armoured personnel carrier for 11 men plus 2 crew. See Kangaroo.
Ram OP/Command (84)
An armoured vehicle to function as a mobile observation posts for the Forward Observation Officers (FOO) of Sexton self-propelled gun units, based on Ram Mk II. The gun was replaced by a dummy, and two Wireless Set No. 19 radios were fitted with a No. 58 set. Crew of 6. They were built from the last 84 Rams off the production line in 1943.[3]
Ram GPO
Like OP but with special equipment for gun position officers of SP artillery regiments. Had Tannoy loudspeakers mounted.
Sexton "25-pdr, SP, Tracked"
Self-propelled artillery vehicle armed with QF 25 pounder gun in open-topped superstructure.
Wallaby
Armoured ammunition supply vehicle, carried 25 pdr ammunition for Sexton.
Ram ARV Mk I
Armoured recovery vehicle based on Ram Mk I. Winch added.
Ram ARV Mk II
ARV based on Ram Mk II. Jib and earth spade added, turret replaced by dummy.
Ram Gun Tower
Armoured artillery tractor for use with Ordnance QF 17 pounder towed Anti-tank gun.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hunnicutt, R.P. (1978). Sherman: A history of the American medium tank. Presidio Press. pp. 535–536. 
  2. ^ Ellis and Chamberlain p3
  3. ^ a b c d e Ellis and Chamberlain
  4. ^ Ellis & Chamberlain p5
  5. ^ Cameron, L.R.Tank Production in Canada AHQ Report 38, Department of National Defence Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH), 27 July 1950
  6. ^ Ellis and Chamberlain p6
  7. ^ a b Fletcher p94
  8. ^ Broad p27
  9. ^ Stacey, C. P. (1970). Arms, Men and Government: The War Policies of Canada, 1939 - 1945. The Queen's Printer by authority of the Minister of National Defence. pp. 513–514. 
  10. ^ Ellis and Chamberlain p18
  11. ^ Tank Cruiser, Ram Mark II (E1988.23), Tank Museum 
  12. ^ Ram Kangaroo, Armoured Personnel Carrier, Full Tracked (E1985.121), Tank Museum 

References[edit]

  • Chris Ellis, Peter Chamberlain - AFV No. 13 - Ram and Sexton, Profile Publications, England
  • Roberts, Paul - The Ram - Developments and Variants, Vol. 1, Service Publications, Ottawa, Canada 2002
  • Roberts, Paul - The Ram - Developments and Variants, Vol. 2, Service Publications, Ottawa, Canada 2004
  • Law, Clive - Making Tracks - Tank Production in Canada, Service Publications, Ottawa, Canada 2001
  • Fletcher, David The Great Tank Scandal: British Armour in the Second World War Part 1 1989 HMSO, UK
  • Broad, Graham - "Not competent to produce tanks" The Ram and Tank Production in Canada, 1939-1945, Canadian Military History Volume 11 Number 1, Beacon Herald Fine Printing Division, Stratford, Canada 2002
  • Wallace, John F. - Dragons of Steel: Canadian Armour in Two World Wars, The General Store Publishing House, Burnstown, Canada 1995

External links[edit]