Inside The British Cromwell Tank With James Holland

Excellent around views of a restored Cromwell, which in my humble opinion was the overall BEST medium tank of WWII.


Yes, it’s an excellent tank, but better than the Panther G? Also a medium tank.

My opinions are open to change as new information comes along as I’m just an armchair enthusiast with no hands on experience with AFV’s.

Big Panther G fan here for sure.

Breaking a mass armor assault as a fire brigade, tank vs tank shoot outs, at range the Panther still looks great and like the best medium…but that’s not the whole picture of armor warfare…just the most glamorous to read in the books and games etc.

However, I think the engine, driveline, mobility (21 hp per ton almost on par with modern MBT’s !!!), being logistics friendly and reliability of the Cromwell gives it the edge in moble warfare. I don’t recall the exact numbers but the fastest armor exploitation in history was with Cromwell’s, something like ~360 to ~380 miles in 4 or 5 days with the available supplies. That level of fast exploitation carries the Cromwell to the top to me.

The Sherman would probably come close but need more fuel and not achieve same gains. The thirsty Panther likewise even with no final drive issues over for the same four or five day’s. The T-34 (LOL!) WW2 era Soviet engines & Transmissions, it’s not happening. Pz IV has the overall reliability but lacks the mobility to cover that much ground in four or five days.


Tank vs tank combat, Cromwell - I wouldn’t want to be in one. Would much prefer something like a US Pershing. Folks familiar with my parade of German WW2 builds possibly surprised by that…

…however the US doctrine of wearing your helmet when in the tank greatly reduced head injuries which were like ~35 to 40% of fatal injuries in AFV’s in WW2. US crew casualties in Shermans were ~ half of what British casualties were in Shermans…the only real difference I’m aware of seems to be the US doctrine of wearing helmets in the tank.


Some sound reasoning. Good points.

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Vertical armor in 1944? Foolish.

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Dan, theory & philosophy wise I agree with you but pragmatically not sure it’s really that much of an issue for Cromwell.

Reasoning goes like this:

  1. At 26 tons the 65mm frontal armor will be too thin to withstand being hit by a Panther’s L70 7.5 cm, Tiger 1’s L56 8.8 cm, Pz IV’s L48 7.5 cm, or panzerfaust (heat) at normal combat ranges regardless of if it’s sloped or not. The armor is adequate level of protection for the most commonly encountered splinters, fragments, shrapnel etc.

  2. On the western front in 1944-1945, seeing the other guy first, shooting first and hitting first appeared to be far more critical to winning a tank duel than armor protection. The Cromwell has the lowest silhouette of all the MBT’s on western front…its even a few inches lower than a Panzer IV, which has an excellent small low silhouette compared to similar tanks. Having a high profile greatly increased chances of being hit, making for a much easier target with the optics of that era. So Cromwell gains a lot of survivability by being harder to hit. Plus with 21 hp per ton is a very lively highly mobile target.

  3. Post WW2, the German Leopard 1, looks a lot like a Panther but is it’s specifications look like a German version of the Cromwell. Leopard I’s 14.5 Kw/tonne power to weight isn’t quite as good as Cromwell’s 16 Kw/tonne but its close. In Cold War era Leo 1’s survivability was based on splinter protection & high mobility. The Leo 1 does have sloped armor but we all know 70mm of sloped armor isn’t stopping an anti tank round from at T55/T62/T64/T/72 of the Cold War era.

  4. A skilled driver can often position a boxy vertical armor tank like Cromwell, Tiger 1 or Pz IV so that the front of the tank is at an angle to the enemy :flushed:. This defacto angling provides additional protection from a frontal hit but the vehicle needs decent side protection.


Ideally, a Tiger I is effectively sporting ~160mm of effective frontal armor and ~140mm of side armor when properly positioned at good angle to the enemy gun. Say ~30 to 45 degrees or whatever is ideal for said vehicle.

A Cromwell probably ~ 110 mm front , side 90mm properly angled vs enemy gun.

Basically, the Rolls-Royce Meteor later renamed the Rover Meteor did the same thing for the Cromwell the supercharged version did for Spitfire.


Anyway, that’s my thoughts, very happy to listen to other thoughts.


This was a deliberate design decision based on the observation of late-war and post-war advances in tank guns. The reasoning was that it would be impossible to make the tank armor impervious to the main guns being fielded in tanks, with all of the advances to increase penetration, without making the tank unreasonably heavy, so reducing the armor values to only what was needed to protect against light incoming fire and taking advantage of the resultant reduction in weight to increase the tank’s mobility, making it harder to hit, gave better results for improving survival. And this was true until advances in armor made it possible to put sufficient armor on a vehicle without turning it into a somewhat mobile pillbox – at which point the meta of tank design changed again, resulting in the Leopard 2. It’s always a tradeoff, and at certain points in history, more ‘extreme’ examples of those tradeoffs became viable, then outdated, as the technology advanced.


In reference to casualties, could the disparity between British and American tank crew casualties in Sherman’s be possibly due to the Brit’s facing more and/ or heavier German tanks like Panthers, Tigers etc.? Curious….

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The information I saw was based on casualties per KO’d tank. IIRC the US Sherman’s averaging not quite one fatality per KO and British Sherman’s averaging roughly double.

Sorry, I can’t recall the source saw it a few years ago. Maybe on one of Cheiftain’s video’s that was a serious lecture than the tank reviews.

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Tales of Cromwell Tanks by Lindbeige

It’s interesting video, based on Troop Leader by Bill Bellamy. Shares the story of three Cromwell’s jumping a ~twenty foot wide canal. :flushed:

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Myths of America Armor. Tank Fest Northwest 2015 by Chieftain

At approximately 38:45 to 39:45 Chieftain discusses crew casualties rate in Allied tanks based on several studies.

British tank crew fatalities were roughly double the American crew fatality rate. The key difference being US crews wore helmets that reduced head injuries.

Please see video for specific details.

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Model club meeting attire.

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Cromwell - Best British Crusier Tank?

Love the picture…

More reliable than the Sherman…

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