- For the Steel Division II unit see SD2:Cromwell V (UK)
Cromwell V (UK) is a British Tank unit. It was the first British cruiser tank that was on par with the ubiquitous sherman tank and the Panzer IV. Fulfilling a similar role as the Sherman, the Cromwell first saw action in Normandy, where its speed and reliability was well-liked, but suffered against the heavier German tanks.
It is good at dealing with soft targets and lighter vehicles, but its armour is inadequately protected against enemy anti-tank guns and enemy tanks. In effect, the Cromwell is a cheaper, quicker but more weakly armoured Sherman tank.
One of the cruiser tanks developed and employed by Great Britain, named after Oliver Cromwell, the A27M Cruiser entered service in 1944. The result of a long and complicated development history starting in 1940, the Cromwell was intended to be a replacement for the then-new Crusader as the A24 Cromwell. By 1942, different design ideas by the major British tank designers culminated in three different variants: The Nuffield A24 Cromwell I (eventually renamed Cavalier), Leyland A27L Cromwell II (Centaur), and the BRC&W A27M Cromwell III.
The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon eventually became the Cromwell tank as it came to be known. Changing production circumstances and tactical requirements burther modified the design, leading to the inclusion of dual-purpose 75mm tank guns based on the performance of Lend-Lease M4 Shermans. Further improvements and modifications of the Cromwell until the first production variant, Cromwell IV, entered service. The distinguishing feature was the 600 HP Rolls-Royse Meteor aircraft engine, which gave the Cromwell an excellent power-to-weight ratio and made it the fastest tank in British service.
The V was a finalized production model, built in accordance with the Leyland Battle Cromwell model. The Final Specification from 2 February 1944 introduced a host of minor changes, including better armoring for the floor of the crew compartment, a 360 degree vision cupola for the commander, seam welding, and a standardized Meteor Engine and Merritt-Brown transmission. It still mounted the Royal Ordnance Quick Firing 75mm tank gun (a 6-pounder gun bored out to accommodate rounds for the M4 Sherman) with a coaxial 7.92mm BESA machine gun and another in the hull, and the usual armor of the IV (76mm max on the front, although the weight savings made with seam welding allowed for extra applique armor).
Finally the British forces possessed a medium tank that could measure up to other medium tanks of the period, though it was still outclassed by the later German tanks, such as the Panther, by the time it arrived. Its significance was also diminished because large quantities of the similarly performing Sherman tanks had become available thanks to US industrial might, and for reasons of logistical simplicity the British chose the Sherman over the Cromwell tank. Nonetheless, the Cromwell would see much action in Normandy and its chassis would serve as the basis for the Challenger tank and the Comet tank.
In the Guards Armoured Cromwell were used by 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards who served as the Armored Reconnaissance Regiment for the Division. With concept of the Armored Reconnaissance Regiment not being successful in the Normandy Campaign, 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards served as the fourth Armored Regiment of the Guards Armoured. 2nd Household Cavalry a Armored Car Regiment replaced the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards as the reconnaissance element of the Guard Armored Division.
A squadron of 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of 6th Airborne which landed in Normandy with Tetrarch had replaced them with Cromwell Tanks after the linkup with the Seaborne elements of the division.
22nd Armored Brigade of the 7th Armoured had all of the Regiments equipped with Cromwell Tanks.
The Cromwell tank is in most respects a mediocre tank. Its gun is very similar to the gun mounted on Sherman tanks, but the tank itself is rather poorly armoured. Limited numbers can be fielded in phase A by some Commonwealth divisions, where they can let their presence be felt. But in phase B, the Cromwell tank faces more powerful enemy untits, most of whom can reliably turn the cromwell into a smoldering wreck if improperly managed. A slightly up-armoured variant, the Cromwell VII tank, is available to the Guards Armoured division.
The Cromwell tank plays somewhat like the Panzer IV tank. It acts as a good infantry support tank and deters enemy halftracks, but is more vulnerable to enemy tank & anti-tank units than its American counterpart, the Sherman tank. The Cromwell should best be employed in a supporting role alongside more beefy tank units or in hit-and-run attacks, leveraging its impressive speed on roads (just 2 km/h slower than infantry mounted in a Bedford, GMC, or any of the M3/M5 halftracks).