For the gamers: Tank Variants Available during CRUSADER

I thought it might be useful to put up a list of tank types that I am aware of were available to the opposing forces during CRUSADER. Particularly in the German case, I am not 100% sure about the sub-variants, but the general capability is clear. Happy to be corrected on all this, as always.

Updated with Peter Brown’s input as per comment below, 5 June 2018

1) British

  • Cruiser A9 (only Tobruk garrison and HQ tanks)
  • Cruiser A9 close support tank with 3″ howitzer
  • Cruiser A10 (only Tobruk garrison and 7 Armoured Brigade or HQ tanks)
  • Cruiser A13 (Called Mark IV by the Germans, only Tobruk garrison and 7 Armoured Brigade
  • Cruiser A15 (Cruiser Mk. VI Crusader – not in the Tobruk garrison, called Mk.VI by the Germans)
  • Cruiser A15 close support tank with 3” howitzer
  • US M3 General Stuart (only 1 and 4 Armoured Brigade)
  • Matilda IIa (known as Mark II to the Germans)
  • Matilda IIa+
  • Matilda II close support tank with 3” howitzer
  • Valentine Mk. I (only 8 R.T.R.)
  • Light tank Mk.VIb
  • Light tank Mk.VIc
  • Light tank Mk.VI AA variant

2) Italian

  • M13/40 medium tank
  • M14/41 medium tank (from January 42)
  • Light tank L3/33 (CV-33)
  • Light tank L3/35 (CV-35)
  • Light tank CV-33 and CV-35 flamethrower variant
  • Semovente da 75/18 self-propelled gun on M13/40 chassis (from January 42)

3) Germans

  • Panzer Ia
  • Panzer Ia engineer support
  • Panzer Ib
  • Kleiner Befehlswagen (command tank based on Panzer I)
  • Panzerjaeger I
  • Panzer II
  • Panzer III F/G/H/J, short 50mm gun (50L42 only)
  • Grosser Befehlswagen (command tank based on Panzer III)
  • Panzer IV D/E/F, short 75mm gun (75L24 only)
  • Captured Matilda II
  • Captured US tank M3 General Stuart (for a short time during Sidi Rezegh)
On the German side, the long-barreled Panzer III with the 50L60 and the Panzer IV with the 75L42 guns did not arrive until March 1942 at the earliest, and first saw action in the Gazala battles starting at the end of May 1942.
On the British side, I do not see any A9, A10, and probably few if any A13 after CRUSADER. I am not aware of any A9 or A10 fighting with 2 Armoured Brigade in January 1942.

8 thoughts on “For the gamers: Tank Variants Available during CRUSADER

  1. As my main interest is British forces, I will leave the Axis ones for others.

    While this is a good attempt it is out in some areas.
    First, there was no “A13 CS”
    And as the Light Tank AA had a different turret from the VIB and VIC, calling it a “Mk VIc AA variant” makes no sense.
    But there was a wide variety of tanks in service. Some units were very precise as to what they had and included separate figures for CS tanks while others did not. Army Tank Regiments did not always list their Light Tanks. Strengths varied down as tanks were knocked out or broke down and up as they were repaired or replaced.
    The following comes from several sources both books and War Diaries –

    Tobruk Garrison
    32nd Army Tank Brigade
    Brigade HQ 2 A9, 2 Light Tank VIB and a Dorchester ACV
    4th and 7th RTR 68 Matildas with plus some Light Tank VIB and VIC
    1RTR had 12 A13, 16 A9 and A10 and about a dozen Light Tank VIB
    Also 29 Marmon Herrington armoured cars with 1st Kings Dragoon Guards

    7th Armoured Division
    Divisional HQ – 2 Crusader and 6 A9
    4th Armoured Brigade
    Brigade HQ – 10 Stuarts
    3rd Hussars – 51 Stuarts
    3RTR – 52 Stuarts
    5RTR – 52 Stuarts
    7th Armoured Brigade
    Brigade HQ – 10 A9 and A10
    7th Hussars – 20 Crusaders in A Squadron, 16 A13 in B Squadron and 21 A10 in C Squadron
    2RTR – 52 A13
    6RTR – 49 Crusaders
    22nd Armoured Brigade
    Brigade HQ – 8 Crusaders
    2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars – 51 Crusaders
    3rd County of London Yeomanry – 51 Crusaders
    4th County of London Yeomanry – 48 Crusaders

    1st Army Tank Brigade
    Brigade HQ 3 A13
    8RTR – 52 Valentines, 6 Matilda CS
    42RTR – 16 Matildas, one Light Tank
    44RTR – 50 Matilda, 7 Light Tanks

    Often left out are Armoured Cars. 11th Hussars had 50 Humbers while the two Squadrons of KDG not in Tobruk had Marmon Herringtons. Marmon Herringtons were also used by 3rd South African Reconnaissance Battalion and 4th and 6th South African Armoured Car Regiments.

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    • Hi Peter

      Thanks for the corrections. Danger of working from memory. Those should have been Mk. VI CS.

      The 7 Armoured Brigade number looks too high. The brigade itself reported that it started CRUSADER with 129 tanks. Yours add to 168.

      On the other hand the 42 RTR number is too low. They were only missing one squadron (C) at D-day, not two. C Squadron arrived on 25 November I believe.

      4th Armoured Brigade should be 8 Hussars, not 3 Hussars.

      Thanks a lot again for the comments!

      All the best

      Andreas

      On the light tank, my understanding is that the AA tanks were conversions off the Mk.VIc models, hence that short-hand. Happy to be corrected.

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  2. The Aufklarung Abteilung of the 15th Panzer Division had a Heavy Company which was equipped with Pz38(c) throughout the African campaign. I doubt that they would have seen much tank-fighting action except skirmishes with British MkVI recce tanks, but they were there.

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    • Hi Ken – this is complete news to me. Is there any picture or documentary confirmation of this? I have nothing in my documentation that would confirm this, e.g. in the loading lists.

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      • I wish that I could point you directly to the source, but I found it when I was looking for something else, thought “That’s interesting.” and carried on with my search. IIRC, it was about Second Alemein, but it was some time ago and my memory is hazy.

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  3. The comment I refer to did say “throughout the North Afrika campaign” which would include CRUSADER. While trying to find it again, I noted that the Heavy Company had a section of 37mm PAK. Is it possible that the NA units had these replaced with Pz.38 to improve mobility? I have no idea how to verify this, however.

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    • Hi Ken, I’m 100% certain no 38t tanks were in North Africa during CRUSADER and 99.9% that they weren’t there afterwards unless they were conversions (Marder maybe). Happy to be convinced otherwise, but I would need to see documentary evidence.

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