History of the Crusader AA Mk III:
The arrival of the Sherman tank in the year 1942 in the Allied armies rings the death knell of the Crusader tank, yet widely used by British armies at the beginning of the Second World War, especially in North Africa. Removed from the front lines, its hull still remains useful to the Allies: military engineers are given the mission to turn some of the Crusader into an antiaircraft vehicle.
The armor turret is modified and the main armament of the Crusader Mk III (a QF 6 Pounder – 57 mm) is replaced. Several versions are thus produced, which differ according to the on-board armament or the positioning of the radio set. Thus, the Mk I version includes a 40 mm Bofors gun. The Mk II and Mk III versions have two 20mm Oerlikon twin guns and a .303 (7.7mm) Vickers K machine gun.
The aim of this tracked armored vehicle is to support the combat units at the rhythm of the mechanized units and/or to settle near a key point of the ground in order to fight against the enemy aircraft, in particular the fighters at low altitude.
The Crusader AA Mk III (AA meaning “anti-aircraft”) was used by British armored units during the Battle of Normandy, as well as by the 1st Polish Armored Division. The air assets of the Luftwaffe (German air force) not being massively engaged, the role of these tracked vehicles was not decisive in Normandy. In August 1944, however, Polish forces engaged in the Falaise area used Crusader AA weaponry in horizontal terrain to destroy land units.
Fiche technique du chenillé Crusader AA Mk III :
Creator/user: Great Britain / Free Poland
Denomination: Crusader III, AA Mk III
Length: 5,97 m
Width : 2,77 m
Weight: 19 600 kg
Maximum speed : 46 km/h
Maximum range: 322 km
Main armament: two 20 mm Oerlikon Mk II twin guns
Secondary armament: one machine gun .303 (7.7 mm) Vickers K (Gas Operated)
Engine: Nuffield Liberty Mark III, 27-litre V-12 petrol engine, 340 bhp (254 kW) at 1,500 rpm
Fuel capacity: 500 liters of fuel distributed in three different tanks, and 163 liters of auxiliary fuel
Crew: 4 (commander, driver, gunner and loader)
Turret front shield: 30 mm
Turret side shield: 14 mm
Turret rear shield: 17 mm
Hull front shield: 20 mm
Hull side shield: 14 mm
Hull rear shield: 14 mm