The "Churchill" Heavy Tank in the USSR

Churchill Mk.VII Heavy Infantry Tank

Churchill Mk.IV of the 49th Guard Heavy Tank Regiment of the 18th Guard Tank Corps of the 5th Guard Tank Army passes a destroyed SdKfz 232. Kharkov area. July 1943.

Churchill Mk.III of the 36th Guard Heavy Tank Regiment of the 18th Guard Tank Corps of the 5th Guard Tank Army destroyed at Prokhorovka area. July 1943.

Mk IV Churchill heavy tanks in liberated* Vyborg. 1944.

The heavy infantry tank Mk.IV "Churchill" is known on a phrase ostensibly told English prime-minister: "this tank carrying my name has more drawbacks than me". Yes, it had obsolete design: to increase room for the tank crew, the designers of the "Vauxhall Motors" corporation have mounted some elements of transmission under the hull so the track was bent around it, as a tanks of the World War One. The tank had a 12-cylinder petrol engine of 350 h.p. that provided it with 27 km/h speed. First models (Churchill I and Churchill II) were armed with 40 mm gun - too weak for a heavy tank. Further tanks were armed with either 76 mm gun or 57 mm gun. The tank had 152 mm frontal armor.

Tank's transmission was quite reliable, however tank had two major disadvantages: first, the tracks were too vulnerable from shells and shell's fragments because they were too high. And second - the track often jammed the tank's turret. However, 5400 vehicles (all models) have been built and in British Army this tank served to 1952.

Western Allies delivered to the Soviet Union 301 of both Churchill Mk.III and Mk.IV. These two models were very similar and distinguished only a minimal changes- some changes in turret design. Probably, USSR had received some flamethrower Churchills VII (one of those tank showing in Kubinka museum). Interesting fact - during the Kursk battle, the 5th Guard Tank Army had 35 Churchills. They were the only heavy tanks in this army.

* Time to time I get emails from people who're disagree with this "liberate" term. They claim Vyborg was Finnish and was captured by Soviet troops in 1944. However these gentlemen forget the fact Vyborg was found in 12th century by the Russians (Novgorod's settlers). In 1293 it was captured by the Swedes. In 1710 it was taken back (or liberated) by the tsar Peter the First and till 1918 (i.e. over 200 years) it was Russian city. I want to note that all this time (over 800 years) nobody heard about "Finland country" this country din't exist. In 1918 Finland got independance due to V.I.Lenin's pact. Vyborg passed to Finland and was until 1944. Therefore, along its 850-year history it was really "finnish" only 26 years. This give me a right to claim it Russian city, not Finnish city. The fact many citizens in Vyborg are Finss means nothing since a city is rather belong to a country, not a nation. For example, there are many Jewish living in Moscow, but it doesn't mean Moscow belongs to Israel. While Kaliningrad was captured, it was really German city Koenigsberd. Lets get back to history, not politic!
Anyway, please, don't send me emails with your opinions, I won't reply.

Parameter Value
Crew, men 5
Weight, kg 39 574
Armor, mm 19-152
Armament 1 x 6 pdr
2 x 7.92 mm "Besa" TMG
1 x .303 (7.71 mm) "Bren" AAMG
Ammo 6 pdr: 84 rounds
7.92 mm: 4950 rounds
7.71 mm: 600 rounds
Engine Bedford "Twin-Six", 12-cylinder petrol, 350 h.p.
Range, km 144
Max. speed, km/h 27


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