Cruiser Mk I
|Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9)|
Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9)
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|In service||- 1941|
|Used by||British Army|
|Wars||Second World War|
|Designer||Sir John Carden|
|Mass||12 tons 12 tonnes|
|Length||19 ft (5.8 m)|
|Width||8 ft 4 in (2.5 m)|
|Height||8 ft 8 in (2.65 m)|
|Crew||6 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, 2x MG gunners)|
|Armour||6 - 14 mm|
|3 x 0.303 Vickers machine gun |
|Engine||AEC 179 6 cylinder petrol|
|Suspension||sprung triple wheel bogie|
|150 miles (241 km)|
|Speed||25 mph (40 km/h)|
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9) was a British tank of the interwar period. It was the first cruiser tank: a fast tank designed to bypass the main enemy lines and engage the enemy's lines of communication, along with enemy tanks. The Cruiser Mk II was a heavier armoured adaption of the Mark I developed at much the same time.
Design and development
The A9 was developed by Sir John Carden of Vickers in 1934, intended to succeed the Vickers Medium Mark II. However, this was still in the time of the Great depression and the tank had a number of cost-cutting measures applied. It was the first British tank to have a centrally-located turret. It was poorly armoured, however, with a maximum of 14 mm thickness, many faces were vertical, and there were numerous shot traps.
The driver's compartment and the fighting compartments were not separated. As well as the turret armament, which consisted of a 2-pounder (40 mm) gun and a coaxial Vickers machine gun, there were two small turrets either side of the driver's compartment, each sporting one more machine-gun. Both these smaller turrets were permanently manned, which gave the tank a total crew of 6 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver and two machine-gunners).
The tank entered testing in 1936 and 125 were ordered in the summer of 1937, 75 were built by Harland and Wolff, and the other 50 were built by Vickers. Originally a Rolls-Royce car engine was used, but this proved underpowered and was replaced by an AEC bus engine.
The A9 weighed 12 tons, was 5.8 metres long, 2.65 metres high, 2.5 metres wide, and had a top speed of 25 mph on road and 15mph off. Its maximum road range was 150 miles. The ammunition load was 100 2-pounder rounds and a total of 3,000 rounds for the three Vickers machineguns.
The Cruiser was an effective tank in the French, Greek and early North African campaigns. The 2 pdr gun was perfectly capable against German tanks. However the minimal armour meant it was easily shot to pieces. Also problematic was the lack of High Explosive shells for the 2 pdr gun and even worse the lack of HE for the 95 mm gun on the Close Support version.
The mechanical unreliability of the Cruiser was also a disadvantage. In particular, tracks were easily slewed causing difficulties.
- Mark I (A9)
- Used by the 1st Armoured Division in the Battle of France (1940). Used by the 2nd and 7th Armoured Divisions in North Africa until 1941.
- Mark I CS
- Had a 3.7 inch (94 mm) /L15 howitzer installed in the turret. This gun only fired smoke rounds, 40 of which were carried.