Cruiser Mk III in a tank museum in Bovington, Dorset.
For example, it was he who wrote in his book "Mobile Defense" that the armor of tanks should have a slope that provides a ricochet of bullets and shells falling into it. That tanks should have such a speed as to "dodge" aircraft attacks from the air. Tanks BT-2,5,7, T-34, "English cruisers" and a number of other less significant vehicles became the direct successors of his design and the embodiment of his ideas. Moreover, although some of his ideas like the “flying tank” were initially rejected, there are no “contraindications” to the fact that they will not be returned to them again at a new round of development. For example, the "flying robot tank" delivered drone into enemy territory can be created today. But this is now, and then, in the same 30s, the level of technology, economics and ... politics forced the military and engineers to very carefully look for new ways in the field of military equipment.
However, it was in the 30's that the British military came to a truly revolutionary decision to divide the tanks into only three classes. Prior to this, the tanks were divided according to the ship principle. Tankettes (analogs of torpedo boats), light tanks (analogs of destroyers), medium tanks (analogs of cruisers), three-turbo tanks (analogs of heavy cruisers) and five-turbo tanks are analogs of battleships. From tankettes refused completely. Although at one time and set them up the most. They were too weak. Light tanks were maintained for reconnaissance. But on the other hand, a completely new class appeared: the “infantry tank”, with thick armor to accompany the infantry. But numerous medium tanks with a different number of towers should be unified into one type - cavalry or cruiser tank. The main task of which would be to move quickly around the battlefield and raids along the enemy’s rear. In accordance with the views of W. Christie, it was they who, due to their high speed and maneuverability, quickly went to the flank of the enemy tanks and occupied the most advantageous position for firing. That is, they also had to fight with enemy tanks. However, you can write anything on paper. However, for the developed English industry this was not a particular problem. As a result, the first tank of a new class of cruising tanks was the A9, or Cruiser Tank Mk.I, created by Vickers. Outwardly, it was a formidable car. Three towers! Three water-cooled Vickers machine guns are more than enough for any, even heavier tank. Her chassis was well developed and subsequently the Valentine tank was built on it. Two problems made him a worthless cruiser: armor and speed. The latter was only 40 km / h. But the armor ... Its maximum thickness was only 15-14 mm and it stood without tilting. The design of all this abundance of towers was such that it was enough to just get into the tank, and that was enough to defeat it. Anywhere - just to get there, and already there the projectile “will find a hole for itself”. It turned out like this, and nothing could be done about it. That is, the design could be changed and subsequently the English on the Valentine did, but the army tank was required as always immediately.
Cruiser Tank Mk 1 A9 at the landfill.
Cruiser Tank Mk 1 A9 in the tank museum in Bovington.
Cruiser, Mark ICS - version of "direct support" (English Close Support), armed with 94-mm howitzer. The German is surprised: "This is a caliber!"
And here it was possible to play a role in equipping the British army with new tanks to the assistant head of the mechanization department of the Military Ministry, Lieutenant Colonel Gifford Le Kvesne Martel. The one that in the 20s created one of the first tankettes and promoted it in every way. In 1936, as a military observer, he visited the USSR on the maneuvers of the Kiev Military District and ... hundreds of BT-5 tanks moving at full speed shocked him to the depths of his soul. Returning to England, he reported on what he saw and, with his characteristic energy, began to promote cruising tanks now. Just after his visit to the USSR, the A7 tank was adopted as a cruising tank, but everyone understood that it was seriously inferior to Soviet vehicles. And that "not inferior" ... Not inferior "source" - tank designer John Walter Christie. And the British, who did not boast of their glorious armored past, immediately went overseas and already 3 of October 1936 of the year signed an agreement between its own Wheel Track Layer Corporation and the British Morris Motor Company on the purchase of a single tank from the above-mentioned American company. Under the contract number 89, for it was paid 8000 pounds. Moreover, Christie personally went to England to bring his tank, and at the same time he also took with him his main tester.
Christie M1937 during a record-breaking race at Farnborough.
For some reason, many believe that the British bought his scandalous airborne tank M1932. But in fact, they got the same Christie M1931 tank as sold in the USSR. In the United States, this particular tank was the forerunner of the T3 Medium Tank (medium tank) machine for infantry with an 37-mm cannon and T1 Combat Car (battle machine-for a cavalry with an 12,7-mm machine gun). In June 1932, Christie tried to sell it to the US Department of Arms for $ 20 000. But the deal did not take place, because the US military had its own vision of a new tank, and U. Christie had his own.
For four years the tank stood in the courtyard of the US Department of Armaments. But being sold, M1931 repaired and quickly sent by sea to England. The car received the index A13E1, registration number T.2086, and according to the documents it was called a tractor. Everything, as in the case of the same tank, sold in the USSR. The A13E1 tank was extensively tested at the test site near the city of Aldershot, in the county of Hampshire for over a year, passed 1085 kilometers, of which off-road 523, and was eventually adopted.
Prototype tank A13E2. Note that the tracks are still from the Christie tank.
Meanwhile, with English money, Christie created the new Christie M1937 tank with the 430 engine horsepower, and in a purely tracked version. In the "candle suspension" added parallel installed shock absorbers. This immediately increased the smoothness of the course and made it possible, even on tracks, to develop the speed of 102,5 km / h.
But the British failed to sell it. The amount of $ 320 seemed too large to them. In addition, they already had the Cruiser Tank A000E13, in which the engineers of the multidisciplinary concern Nuffield Mechanization & Aero (which became the Morris Motor Company) took the chassis, engine, transmission and cooling system from the Christie tank. That is, almost all of its mechanics, and they themselves designed a turret with weapons and ... that's all. But it should be noted that the British, even before they got acquainted with the 2 Christie model of the year, abandoned the mixed wheeled-caterpillar drive and settled on a purely tracked type of propulsion device.
The tank even superficially turned out beautiful, functional and somehow impetuous.
One of the reasons was the high reliability of the new tracks. The fact is that by the end of 30-s, the resource of the tracked tracks could finally cross the boundary in 1000 kilometers, which deprived the wheel-tracked propulsion unit of one of its main competitive advantages. The maximum speed of the new tank exceeded 50 km / h, which, according to the British military, was quite enough for a tank cruiser.
Therefore, the power plant was not replaced, leaving a 12-cylinder V-shaped on the tank aviation Liberty L-12 engine. The licensed motor was given the double name Nuffield-Liberty.
Engine Nuffield-Liberty. The use of this powerful but whimsical engine was a necessary measure, since the British did not have special tank engines at that time.
First, the tracks on the tank tracks were used by the Americans, i.e. completely flat. They stood on the tank A13E2 without any changes and led to a fairly rapid wear rubber tires on the rollers. Therefore, according to the test results, the tracks A13E3 have already installed new trucks, and the caterpillar itself has become small-scale.
To be continued ...