Then it examines how the Army might improve its ability to facilitate the rapid-deployment initiation of joint, mission-tailored packages of capabilities. In essence, there are two problems: initiating deployment of the right force capabilities and then getting these capabilities where they need to be as quickly as possible. Specific opportunities examined in the report include forward basing, new concepts in prepositioning, significant but often underappreciated opportunities in process improvement, and speeding the delivery of initial operating capabilities through deployment phasing and improved planning.
Further, the research offers an approach for leveraging force modularity concepts to transition to a capabilities-based rapid mission force-tailoring construct. Piecemeal attacks against concentrated German forces were bound to fail. Reliability was a major concern, with many tanks breaking down on long road marches. Most vital of all was the need for better protection and hitting power: 'We must have thicker armour on our fighting tanks and every tank must carry a cannon. The 2-pdr is good enough now, but only just.
We must mount something better and put it behind 40 to 80mm of armour'. A fundamental problem was that the width of British tanks had to keep within the limits of the standard railway gauge for transportation.
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And unlike those of Germany and other nations, British designs kept the fighting compartment slung between the tracks and suspension to give the tank a lower overall profile. This constrained the diameter of the turret ring, which in turn affected the size of the turret and gun that could be fitted. Weight was an issue too, and tanks had to be light enough to be shipped overseas and use standard military bridges. All of this meant that there was no way of easily upgrading existing tanks, or improving those still on the drawing board.
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Another wider factor was the complex and bureaucratic organisation behind tank design and production. The old Tank Design Department of the War Office, set up in , had never had much say over the designs offered by Vickers. Its task had been to issue specifications and suggest improvements to the final products, a situation which continued as Britain re-armed and other firms were brought into tank production. In August the new Ministry of Supply took over responsibility for the supply of weapons to the army. Its key objective was to galvanise production, especially the supply of tanks, but it meant even less collaboration between producers and end users.
A new Directorate of Tank Design was established, but once again, it was to act as consultant and had only limited influence over the what the manufacturers came up with. In an attempt to co-ordinate tank development and production, a new committee — the 'Tank Board' — was set up in On it were representatives from the Ministry of Supply, the War Office and the manufacturers.
At first it served only to advise and report, and there were frequent changes of chairmen, members and terms of reference.
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle - Wikipedia
Only slowly was it given more executive powers over design and procurement. Not until the end of was tank policy properly synchronised between the War Office, Ministry of Supply and the manufacturers. Tank supply continued to be affected by the artificial division between infantry tanks and cruisers, and the imposition of changing War Office requirements. In December , in anticipation of re-fighting the First World War, the General Staff had demanded that two-thirds of production be given over to infantry tanks.
A year later, after experiences in France, priority was given to the development of cruiser tanks. Light tank production had been quickly terminated and the divisional reconnaissance role taken over by armoured cars. Cruisers would equip the armoured divisions or independent armoured brigades for mobile operations, while infantry tanks were grouped in separate tank brigades for infantry support. This basic division remained in place for the rest of the war. Whatever the Army's operational requirements, production took precedence over design in the early years of the war. A massive increase in production was needed to make good the losses suffered in France and to provide for Britain's defence.
One unfortunate consequence was that development of a more powerful tank gun was also delayed. Design of the new 6-pdr was already complete, but production of the 2-pdr could not be interrupted. The 6-pdr would not be fitted into a British tank until May It entered service in but was so unreliable it had to be relegated to training duties. This focus on quantity over quality was the main reason the next two cruiser tanks, which entered service in , were built in such large numbers despite very obvious flaws. The A13 Covenanter was a low-profile, 'heavy cruiser' derivative of the original A Ordered off the drawing board in April , it was nothing less than a spectacular failure.
The tank was plagued by engine cooling problems that were never resolved and it had to be relegated to training duties.
The A15 Crusader was another development of the A Rushed into production without adequate development trials or quality control, it quickly gained a reputation for unreliability. A total of 5, were built. Initial success against the Italians was encouraging. The cruisers did well at first too, racing across the desert in pursuit of fleeing Italians.
But in later battles against the Germans they were decimated while making suicidal attacks against anti-tank gun screens without infantry support. The British tanks were unable to respond to this threat effectively because the 2-pdr couldn't fire a powerful enough high-explosive HE round. Trying to fire accurately on the move, in accordance with British doctrine, also proved impossible. German tanks wisely preferred to fire while stationary.
However, its turret was too small to mount the 6-pdr gun, and it was retired from service in The standard German tanks of the time were not significantly better, but had more effective optics and crew layouts. They could also be more easily up-gunned to keep them effective. The Crusader's failure in particular led to Britain requesting supplies of American tanks, of which the M3 Grant and later the M4 Sherman were the most effective.
Both were equipped with a dual purpose 75mm gun, which significantly increased hitting power against German tanks, and also gave British crews the chance to knock out dug-in anti-tank guns and other 'soft' targets. Despite the General Staff's preference for cruisers, production of infantry tanks continued in the early years of the war, and two major new designs came into service.
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The Valentine was a private venture by Vickers and ordered into production as war loomed. The Valentine was used both as an infantry tank and cruiser, and unusually for a British tank, was very reliable. It was built in greater numbers than any other British design, with many of these being shipped to the Soviet Union.
The most famous infantry tank of the war was the A22 Churchill, which stemmed from a specification for a large First World War-type tank suitable for another bout of trench warfare. In the design was refined by Vauxhall Motors and ordered into production as urgently as possible. But the Churchill suffered reliability problems at first and needed a major programme of modifications before it was ready for action. Improved versions went on to perform valuable service in the second half of the war. It also formed the basis of a range of specialised armoured vehicles. By the later stages of the North African campaign the infantry tank concept had fallen from favour.
Mobility was now prioritised over protection. However, the need to keep production running at full tilt meant that Matildas, Valentines and Churchills were churned out in large numbers, at the cost of other more promising tanks then in development. The Churchill — due for retirement in — gained a reprieve after proving its ability to cope with the hilly terrain of Tunisia.
Its thick armour also gave it an advantage and it soldiered on for the rest of the war. Meanwhile, the search for a more effective cruiser tank continued.
After the Battle of France, the War Office had issued a specification for a new tank with thicker armour and a turret big enough to take the 6-pdr gun. It was to be in production by the spring of Unsurprisingly, given its parentage, the Cavalier was a disaster. It was afflicted by the same lubrication and cooling problems that blighted the earlier tank, and development was eventually abandoned.
It was powered by a new engine, the hp Meteor, which was derived from the famous Merlin aircraft engine. The Meteor promised much greater power and reliability, but the Ministry of Aircraft Production refused to make them available before its own demands had been met.
It was not until late that supplies were assured. The shortage of Meteor engines meant that Leyland Motors was tasked to provide a third variant of the new tank, the A27L Centaur, fitted with an upgraded Liberty engine. The Centaur's development ran parallel to that of the Cromwell, but reliability issues meant it continually struggled in service trials.
Like the Cavalier, it was never accepted as a front-line tank. Ingenuity Ingenuity Festival. The Innovative Spirit. Travel Taiwan. American South.