Excelsior tank

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Tank, Heavy Assault, A33 (Excelsior)
A33 Excelsior.jpg
Type Heavy tank
Place of origin United Kingdom
Production history
Manufacturer English Electric
Specifications (Second pilot)
Weight 40 tons
Length 22 ft 8 in (6.9 m)
Width 11 ft 2 in (3.4 m)
Height 7 ft 11 in (2.4 m)
Crew 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)

Armour 20 to 114 mm (0.79 to 4.49 in)
Ordnance QF 75 mm
64 rounds
2 x 7.92 mm Besa machine gun
Engine Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 petrol
620 bhp
Suspension Improved Christie
99 mi (160 km)
Speed 24 mph (39 km/h)
off-road: 12 mph

The Tank, Heavy Assault, A33 (Excelsior) was a British experimental heavy tank based on the Cromwell (A27) design developed in the Second World War when there were concerns as to performance of the Churchill tank.


After the Dieppe Raid in August 1942, there was concern that the Churchill infantry tank was slow and too unreliable and it was suggested that production of the Churchill stop in 1943 in order to manufacture more of the A27 (Cromwell) design which was performing well in trials.[1]

While two lines of tanks were still policy, there was interest in a "universal tank chassis" from which infantry tanks, cruiser tanks, and other vehicles could be built. Until then an interim design based on the A27 to replace the Churchill as an infantry tank was considered.[1]

Rolls-Royce proposed an up-armoured A27 (Cromwell) and a more thorough redesign of the A27 with stronger suspension and armour equivalent to the Churchill. English Electric proposed using the A27 hull and turret with extra armour[2] and the track and suspension of the 50-ton US M6 Heavy Tank which had been developed for both US and British use.[1]

English Electric built two prototypes on a Cromwell tank hull the first with the suspension of the M6 tank in 1943 though with a 6-pounder gun. The second was built with a widened Cromwell track and different armoured skirts. The design included extra armour and an Ordnance QF 75 mm gun. When the problems of the early Churchill models were worked out, the A33 was no longer required and the project was dropped.[3]


The second pilot vehicle is on display at The Tank Museum in Bovington, UK.

See also[edit]

  • A38 Valiant - a heavily-armoured lightweight assault tank
  • Comet - a fast cruiser tank also developed from the Cromwell

Tanks of comparable role, performance, and era[edit]

  • British Churchill - heavy tank, entered service in 1941
  • American-British T14 - another prototype heavy assault tank with similar specifications to Excelsior
  • American M6 - heavy tank, saw trials but never entered service
  • Soviet KV-1 - heavy tank, entered service in 1939


  1. ^ a b c Chamberlain & Ellis (1969) p80
  2. ^ The armour on the Cromwell was bolted to the outside of the turret
  3. ^ Fletcher, David (1993). The Universal Tank. HMSO, for REME Museum. p. 87. ISBN 0-11-290534-X. 
  • White BT, British Tanks 1915-1945 Ian Allen p68-69