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Churchill Mk I CS - Close Support (Reversed) - case report

      If there a tank with so many options as the Sherman, this vehicle is the Churchill Infantry tank. I have plans to build all (main) versions of the Churchill. Therefore, let's talk about a version which was built in very few units, in response to requests of the tankers on the battlefield. Let's meet the rare Churchill Mk I CS - Close Support (Reversed).

The only known photo (so far) of a Churchill Mk I CS Reversed
      The Churchill Mk I was the first of the great line of heavy tanks that sported the name of the famous Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill:
Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill
30 November 1874 - Woodstock, Oxfordshire
24 January 1965 (aged 90) Kensington, London, England
       The legend says that when presented to the prototype tank (then unnamed) Sir Winston Churchill reportedly said: "He's a tough guy, just like me ..."
Churchill Mk I early
      But leaving the story (and the legends) aside, the main feature of this model of tank is the a high-speed gun in the turret and a howitzer in the front hull, following the "fashion" of the tanks at the time ...
Churchill Mk I with howitzer in the front hull
      ...such as the French Char B-1 heavy tank:
Char B1 bis "VERCORS"
and the american M3 Lee:
Medium M3 LEE
      But in the particular case of Churchill, this arrangement of armament generated a deficiency that would only be detected later on the battlefield: the howitzer had a small elevation capacity. Due to the initial low velocity of the projectile (180m/s), this weapon would need to have a high degree of elevation to allow for a parabolic shooting trajectory. But as the howitzer was installed in the front portion of the tank and as Churchill had a much lower hull than his contemporaries,, the weapon was not effective enough, generating a tactical disadvantage in the use of that vehicle (effective firing range: only 1,800 m). In an attempt to remedy this defect, the version we studied in this article was proposed.
Churchill Mk I - Notice the exposed tracks and the air filters in the side of the hull.
      The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) was a heavy British infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war. The origins of the design lay in the expectation that war in Europe might be fought under similar conditions to that of the First World War and emphasised ability to cross difficult ground. The Churchill was rushed into production in order to build up British defences against an possible German invasion and the first vehicles built had flaws that had to be overcome before the Churchill was accepted for wide use. After several Marks had been built a better armoured version - the Mark VII - entered service.
      The Churchill was used by British and Commonwealth in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe. In addition many were supplied to the USSR and used on the Eastern Front.

The predecessor: A20
    Initially specified before the outbreak of the Second World War the (General Staff designation) A20 was to be the replacement for the Matilda II and Valentine infantry tanks.

British Infantry Tank - Matilda Mk II A12 - Canadian training - 1941.
Valentine Mark VI tank at Base Borden Military Museum
      In accordance with British infantry tank doctrine and based on the expected needs of World War I-style trench warfare, the tank was required to be capable of navigating shell-cratered ground, demolishing infantry obstacles such as barbed wire, and attacking fixed enemy defences; for these purposes, great speed and heavy armament was not required.
        The vehicle was specified initially to be armed with two QF 2 pounder guns each located in a side sponson, with a coaxial BESA machine gun. A third BESA and a smoke projector would be fitted in the front hull.
     The specification was revised to prefer a turret with 60 mm of armour to protect against ordinary shells from the German 37 mm gun. Outline drawings were produced based on using the A12 Matilda turret and the engine of the Covenanter tank. Detail design and construction of the A20 was given to the Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff who completed four prototypes by June 1940. During the construction period the armament was reconsidered which including fitting either a 6 pounder or a French 75 mm gun in the forward hull. In the end a 3-inch howitzer was chosen.
A20 prototype (draw) - Notice the hull armament
      The A20 designs were short-lived however, as at roughly the same time the emergency evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk occurred.
A20 prototype with Matilda type turret
        At 43 tons, with a 300 hp flat-12 Meadows engine, the A20 had limited power compared to the 18 ton Covenanter.
Covenanter tank
     This was a less serious limitation than it might appear, owing to the British distinction between the high-speed cruiser tanks and the slow-speed infantry tanks. Vauxhall were approached to see if they could build the A20 and one example was sent to Vauxhall at Luton to see if they could provide an alternative engine. To this end they developed a flat-12 petrol engine. For speed of production, this engine was based on a Bedford six-cylinder lorry engine, giving rise to its name of "Twin-Six". Although still a sidevalve engine, the engine was developed with high squish pistons, dual ignition and sodium-cooled exhaust valves in Stellite seats to give 350 bhp.

The A22 tank:
      With France conquered, the scenario of trench warfare in Northern Europe was no longer applicable and the design was revised by Dr. H.E. Merritt, Director of Tank Design at Woolwich Arsenal, based on the combat witnessed in Poland and France. These new specifications, for the A22 or Infantry Tank Mark IV, were given to Vauxhall in June 1940.
     With German invasion looking imminent and the United Kingdom having lost most of its military vehicles in the evacuation from France, the War Office specified that the A22 had to enter production within the year. By July 1940 the design was complete and by December of that year the first prototypes were completed; in June 1941, almost exactly a year as specified, the first Churchill tanks began rolling off the production line.
A22 prototype
      This hasty development had not come without cost though, as there had been little in the way of testing and the Churchill was plagued with mechanical faults. Most apparent was that the Churchill's engine was underpowered and unreliable, and difficult to access for servicing. Another serious shortcoming was the tank's weak armament, the 2 pounder (40 mm) gun, which was improved by the addition of a 3 inch (76,2mm) howitzer in the hull  to deliver an HE shell albeit not on a howitzer's usual high trajectory.
Churchill Mk I (early)
    These flaws contributed to the tank's poor performance in its first use in combat, the disastrous Dieppe Raid in August, 1942.
      Production of a turret to carry the QF 6 pounder gun began in 1941 but problems with the plate used in an all-welded design led to an alternative cast turret also being produced. These formed the distinction between Mark III and Mark IV.
      The poor performance of the Churchill nearly caused production to be ceased in favour of the upcoming Cromwell tank; it was saved by the successful use of the Mk III at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942.
Churchill Mk III (early) 
      The second major improvement in the Churchill's design, the Mk VII saw first used in the Battle of Normandy in 1944. The Mk VII improved on the already heavy armour of the Churchill with a wider chassis and the 75 mm gun which had been introduced on the Mk VI.
Churchill Mk VII in trials
       It was primarily this variant, the A22F, which served through the remainder of war and was re-designated as A42 in 1945. The Churchill was notable for its versatility and was utilized in numerous specialist roles.

The Churchill Mk I CS Reversed:
      Churchill tanks took part in containing the German offensive of Operation Ochsenkopf in February – March 1943. At a place called Steamroller Farm, two Churchill Mk III tanks of 51 RTR, commandad by  Captain E.D.Hollands and Lieutenant J.G.Renton got ahead of their squadron. They came across an entire German transport column, which they ambushed and completely shot up before they rejoined. The end result was the destruction of two 88 mm, two 75 mm and two 50 mm, four lesser anti-tank guns, 25 wheeled vehicles, two 3-inch mortars, two Panzer III tanks and infliction of nearly 200 casualties.
     Notes compiled shortly after the action recorded the damage sustained by ten Churchills at Steamroller Farm. It seems that 75mm rounds were penetrating on a regular basis, especially through the turrets, and there is evidence of internal scabs of armour breaking off and injuring the crew. However one major problem highlighted by the battle was that of close support. 
      Since the new Churchill Mk V 95mm was not ready, a number of Mark I tanks had been supplied to each regiment for the purpose of using the 76.2mm howitzer in close support actions
Churchill Mk V CS
     However at Steamroller Farm the Mk I tanks were unable to help because they did not have the appropriate range. The 51st RTR (Leeds Rifles) also pointed out that with the howitzer low down at the front it was impossible for the tank to go into a hull down position since it masked the gun. They recommended that the guns were swapped over, the 3 inch howitzer being placed in the turret and the 2-pounder in the hull.
Churchill Mk I CS reversed - artistic view
    This was certainly done, but just how many tanks were involved is not clear. The regiment also put in a strong plea for high explosive rounds for their Churchills Mk III 6-pounder guns, pointing out that the majority of their targets were anti-tank guns or infantry which were difficult to hit with armour piercing rounds Indeed a question still hangs over the logic of fitting tanks that were intended to support infantry with a gun only suited to combating tanks. Their wish was granted. A note in the war diary, dated 13 April 1943, notes that two lorry loads of 6-pounder HE (high Explosive) shells had arrived so in future all tanks would carry 20 HE and just four High Velocity Armour Piercing in the turn-table bins.
      The Churchill Mk I CS (reversed) was built in few numbers, and this picture shows an Mk I with early characteristics showing the guns in reversed positions:
      The production of the Churchill MKI CS was not continued by the arrival of the best armed Churchill Mk V CS.


Churchill Mk I CS (reversed)
TypeInfantry tank
Place of origin                                                                                                                     United Kingdom
Service history
In service1943 (British Empire)
Used by           
  • United Kingdom
Production history
ManufacturerVauxhall Motors
No. builtFew ?
  • 39.1 t (38.5 long tons) 
Length7.44 m
Width3.25 m
Height2.49 m
Crew5 (commander, gunner, loader/radio operator, driver, co-driver/hull gunner)

  • 102 mm hull front, 89 mm hull side, 51 mm hull rear, 89 mm turret front, 76 mm turret side and rear
EngineBedford 12-cylinder, 4 stroke, water-cooled, horizontally opposed, L-head petrol engine
350 hp (261 kW) at 2,200 rpm
Power/weight9.1 hp (6.7 kW) / tonne
TransmissionMerritt-Brown 4-speed constant-mesh epicyclic gearbox
SuspensionCoiled spring
90 km
Speed24 km/h
Triple differential steering in gearbox

The kits:
      For this project, I'll use:
Ingredients for the cake recipe !!
An image worth a thousand words !!
     Gentleman, start your engines!! 
As you may have noticed in other articles, I love multiple buildings ... This greatly reduces the time spent in repetitive steps ... This time, I will build two Close Support girls: The Churchill Mk I reversed and his successor, the Churchill Mk V CS 95mm...
Starting the building: sponsons and suspensions...

Two girls under construction...
The Panzerserra method be happy with AFV Churchill's suspensions ...



...and two different sponsons for two different girls...

The Mk I growing first...
IMA turret, front hull, drop fuel tank  and air filters

The two "heavy weapons" girls...

The Reversed girl: 2 pounder gun (Jordi Rubio) in the hull...
3 inches (76mm) ( 3.2mm Plastruct styrene tubing) in the IMA turret

Churchill Mk I CS reversed...
Notice the use of AFV plastic parts with resin ones...
The best of both worlds...

Two 3 inches Close Support girls: Churchill Mk I CS BUSHMILLS was a field adaptation (background)
and the Churchill Mk I CS reversed was made in England...

A true multimedia kit...
The coaxial 7.92mm coaxial Besa is RB Model metal barrel (35B64)

Churchill Mk V 95mm and Churchill Mk I 76mm side by side...
And now, something that I hate with all my guts: tracks link-by-link ... Unfortunately, my only option for this model ... Good thing this is not the worst, but still ... I hate this crap! !!

AFV Club Churchill LBL tracks Heavy Cast Steel Box Section - AF35183
 Well, first of all, cut and organize the parts:
Let the torture begin !!!
      And one hour later the thing was ready ... I have to admit that of all the LBL I've ever built in my life, those of the AFV are the easiest and fastest, but still, I hate them with passion !! They look beautiful, but ... uff ... There's no way ... it's pure dislike anyway !!
The girl with early shoes...
      My first intention would be to reproduce a vehicle as the only existing photo of this tank, with the tracks exposed...but after read the report of the 51st RTR Leeds Rifles, I imagined a Churchill Mk I that had gone through the rebuilding work, but that presented the complete set of fenders, as this was a necessity in the desert. The Churchills tracks without this set threw a huge amount of sand in the driver's eyes and the "careen" of the tracks was a necessity of the campaign. My tank would be a response to combat needs with the Churchill "rework" fairings but still with the old air filters ... Almost a "hybrid" type.
Notice the complet set of fenders
 with the early model of air filters in the Churchill.

The girl is almost ready

      Now, it's time to put the vehicle in the time and space. Again with the request for improvements signed by the 51st RTR in my mind, I decided to make a profile with the markings of this glorious unit. Meet CRUDE, a "refined" girl fully prepared for action in the Tunisian Front in 1943.

Base-color with AK primer and green...

Tonal variation... I'm old guy!!!

And choosing stuff for my girl does not go through tight in Tunisia. Value Gear Details is great !!!
Weathering the exhaust system...
       After a shower with pledge, let's to the markings:
The markings profile...

CRUDE in the house!!!

Front view

Right side...

Rear view...
       Well...Noew is time for a layer of Pledge to seal all decals; after, a new layer of matt varnish and, finally weathering!!
Glossy sealing...

And matte finish!!  Kojak is a very busy guy!!

      The final choice for the Value Gear stuff:

Gents, start your engines!!!


And the Churchill Mk.I CS and Churchill Mk.V CS under weathering...  I'm a fan of Old School !!
Shep Paine rules !!
Rollbags and tarps for this and other projects...
Painting in final stages...

Weathering in course...

And the crew's stuff in the rear deck of the tank

CRUDE is a busy girl...

Rear view!!!
      Gents, meet "CRUDE", a Churchill Mk.I CS (reversed) belonged of C Squadron, 25th Army Tank Brigade, 51st Royal Tank Regiment (Leeds Rifles) in action at Tunisian Front, 1943.

 Churchill Mk.I CS (reversed) "CRUDE" -  C Squadron
25th Army Tank Brigade, 51st Royal Tank Regiment (Leeds Rifles)
Tunisian Front, 1943.

Churchill Mk.I CS (reversed) "CRUDE" with Kojak
and Rover, the dog.

Two Churchills Mk.I CS: BUSHMILLS (field adaptation) and CRUDE (reversed0

Churchill Mk.I CS (reversed) "CRUDE" -  C Squadron
25th Army Tank Brigade, 51st Royal Tank Regiment (Leeds Rifles)
Tunisian Front, 1943.

See you soon, Lads!!

2 comentários:

  1. Hello Marcos, your articles are very well documented, and you produce as fast as niebelungen werke !!

    1. KKkkkkk...Hi Hubert!! My secret about speed is Kojak and his will to work. Work gets easier this way ... Thanks for the incentive!!!