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.
This post was updated with Peter Brown’s input as per comment below, 5 June 2018
Italian M13/40 tank near Agedabia, January 1942. Colourised by Painting the Past.
- Cruiser A9 (only Tobruk garrison and HQ tanks)
- Cruiser A9 close support tank with 3″ howitzer
- Cruiser A10 (only in Tobruk garrison and 7 Armoured Brigade or HQ tanks)
- Cruiser A13 (Called Mark IV by the Germans, only in 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 and IIa+ (known as Mark II to the Germans)
- 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
- 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)
- 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 only (75L24)
- 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 , 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.
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 –
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi Ken, that’s helpful. It would be outside the CRUSADER timeframe then, so not necessary to include them here.
A bit late but FWIW pretty sure this is a reference to the Marder III 76.2mm PzJgr – I can’t quote source(s) as not handy but I recall reference to a small platoon (3 vehicles?) being in the 15th Panzer Recce Battalion (or similar – possibly Div HQ Defence Company) during 2nd El Alamein and the initial retreat – they were not part of the PzJgr Battalion. My memory may be wrong but 66 in total were shipped and (on paper at least) 30 went to each PzDiv’s PzJgr Abteilung; and the remaining 6 were assigned as a platoon of 3 elsewhere in each of the 2 Pz.Divs (or may have been to the Panzer Armee HQ Defence Kampfgruppe) – but either way certain that’s what any Pz.38(t) reference in later 1942 will be as I have seen them referred that way myself when its clearly the Marder III being described. I think there is an alternate official designation something like Pz.38(t) auf 7.62cm PaK36(r) or similar and its misquoted (abbreviated) to just Pz.38(t) or similar. Anyway just my 2 cents FWIW.
Thanks for that. It’s a photo caption on a picture of Italian M13 tanks, so just shows the author doesn’t know enough to be qualified to produce the book. Nice pictures though.
All the best
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.
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.
I think I see where the issue may stem from. There’s a picture in ‘Images of War – Afrikakorps’ by Ian Baxter with the caption ‘Panzer 35(t) in North Africa’ or somesuch nonsense. Those are Italian M13/41s, or Maybe M14/41s.
All the best
I think there is an error when referring to pz 38 or pz 35 with the abbreviation I think that said abbreviation came from the use of Russian cannons captured and mounted on jadpanzer.?
Hola Juan, that’s quite possible, but there were none of these in 1941, during CRUSADER. The only SP/AT was the PzJg I on the Panzer I chassis.
I am practically sure that during the operation crusader the Afrikacorps only operated with the Panzerjager I (Pak36) Czech Skoda because the 7.62cm Pak 36 – PzIID Mader II I think they arrived before May possible error (wheels) and the 7.62 cm Pak 36 – Pz 38 Mader III also arrived after the Crusader operation. I think the important thing would be to clarify the use of the 7.62cm PaK 36 only as a cannon in the style of 88 mm. during the Crusader operation.
Hola Juan. That is correct for the PzJg I. The SP 7.62cm on the Dianas arrived in January 1942, as did the towed 7.62cm, and they participated in the counter-offensive. They were not present in North Africa in 1941.
Andreas, I was interested to hear from your podcast your involvement with Combat Mission. I also play CM and Command Ops 2. In that, there is a sidi rezeg battle scenario in the Cauldron DLC that inlcudes a few german captured KV2!…have you came across anything about this?