British Cruiser Tank Mk VI (A15) Crusader of World War II.
History, development, service, specifications, statistics, pictures and 3D model.

Crusader tank with 6-pounder
British Crusader tank with 6-pounder (5.7 cm) gun at test shooting.

Crusader (A15)
Type: British cruiser tank Mk VI


The genuine A15 model as a ‘1938 Class Medium Tank’ had been postponed in the preparation phase because of concerns regarding specifications, and it was re-designated. The authorization to go forward for the A15 was provided in July 1939 having a primary acquire for Two hundred tanks as well as the pilot unit. The pilot model had been available by March 1940. In mid-1940 the request for A15s was raised to four hundred, after that to 1062, and Nuffields took over as ‘parent’ enterprise to a number of 9 firms involved in A15 manufacturing. The new tank was designated Crusader at the end of 1940. Total output till 1943 was 5,300 tanks.

However, the majority of the original flaws had been fixed to a degree, the Crusader constantly been hit by unreliability and the tempo and emergency with which it had been hurried into manufacturing didn’t enable extended development trials, especially for desert operations, where the Crusader took over as primary British tank from Spring 1941 onwards. It initials saw combat near Capuzzo in June 1941, was notable in all the significant North African desert battles which followed, and was still operating, in its later 6pdr-armed variety during the time of the Battle of Alamein in October 1942, however at that time in the process of being replaced by American-built M3 Grant and M4 Sherman medium tanks. The final Crusaders in North Africa were ultimately removed from first line use in May 1943.

The Germans regarded the Crusader because of its speed, but it was no match for the Panzer III with 50 mm gun, its primary desert adversary, in striking power, armor thickness, or serviceability. The German 50 mm, 75 mm and 88 mm anti-tank guns furthermore didn’t have any difficulty in destroying the Crusaders during the desert battles.


Main versions:

Crusader I (Cruiser Mk VI): Initial production type with 2-pounder gun as well as auxiliary front machine gun turret, which was later eliminated on some tanks operating.

Crusader I CS (Cruiser Mk VI CS): As above however with 3in howitzer (76.2 mm) exchanging 2-pounder gun for close support actions.

Crusader II (Cruiser Mk VIA): As Crusader I however with front machine gun turret removed in the course of the manufacturing process. Additional frontal armor on turret and hull.

Crusader II CS (Cruiser Mk VIA CS): As Cruiser I CS with upgrades as for typical Mk II.

Crusader III: Ultimate manufacturing model with 6-pounder gun exchanging 2pdr weapon, and improved armor on hull and turret along with other areas of hull. Prototype tested November-December 1941. In manufacturing from May 1942 and 144 finished by July 1942.

Users: UK (for all variants).

Animated 3D model Crusader Mk I

Specifications for Crusader Mk II (Cruiser Mk VIA)


Crusader Mk IISpecification
Typemedium tank
EngineNuffield Liberty V12 with 340hp
Crew total4
Turret crew3
Length19 ft 8 in (5.99 m)
Width8 ft 8 in (2.64 m)
Height7 ft 4 in (2.23 m)
Weight 42,560 lb
Maximum speed 27 mph (43 km/hr)
Cross-country speed 15 mph (24 km/hr)
Petrol consumption per 100 km?
Road radius 100 miles (160 km); 127 miles (204 km) with extra fuel tank
Cross-country radius?
Vertical obstacle2 ft 3 in (0.69 m)
Trench crossing8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Fording depth3 ft 3 in (0.99 m)
Turning circle?
Gradient60 %


Crusader Mk Immangle
Turret front49?
Turret side24?
Turret rear30?
Turret top12?
Superstructure front20 (driver 40)?
Superstructure side28?
Superstructure rear28?
Superstructure top7?
Hull front33?
Hull side10-28?
Hull rear28?
Hull bottom??
Gun mantlet??

Armament and Equipment:

Crusader Mk IISpecification
Main armament 2pdr QQF (Mks IX or X)
Rounds110 (HE only available from May 1942)
Traverse 360°
Max effective range 200 yds (APCBC)
Secondary armament one or two 7.92 cal BESA MG with maximum of 5,000 rounds
Radio ?
Telescopic sight ?

Penetration mm at 30° armor plates of the gun:

RangeAPAPCBC (May 1942)SV (Jan 1943)
100 yds???
500 yds57 mm53 mm88 mm
1000 yds40 mm49 mm72 mm
1500 yds-44 mm60 mm
2000 yds-40 mm48 mm
Muzzle velocity 2,800 ft/s (919 m/s) 2,600 ft/s (853 m/s) 4,200 ft/s (1,280 m/s)
Shell weight 2.6 lbs (1.1 kg) 2.11 lbs (1.2 kg) 1.0 lbs (0.453 kg)


Cruiser Tank Mk VI (A15) figures
Production1940-1943 (all variants)
Combat delivery Spring 1941 (North Africa), first combat action June 1941
Price per tank?
Total production figure 5,300 (all variants)

Service statistics of all Cruiser Tank Mk VI (A15) variants:

before 1939---
1940- 5,300 (1940-43) -
1942153 (30.6); 294 (23.10) with 8th Army...?
Total- 5,300 ?

References and literature

Panzer und andere Kampffahrzeuge von 1916 bis heute (Christopher F. Foss, John F. Milsom, Colonel John Stafford Weeks, Captain Georffrey Tillotson, Richard M. Ogorkiewicz)
Krieg der Panzer (Piekalkiewicz)
British and American Tanks of World War II (Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis)
The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)

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