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British Covenantor in North Africa


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#26 Sheldrake

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:22 AM

Could you give me a reference for your assertion that the "Centeurs" were reduced to a battery of 8 within two weeks?  Considering that they were still being used in mid-August and all that.....

 

 

I don't have time to dig through the files and pull together the references.  The  the story can be pieced together from the War diaries and correspondence in HQRA 2 Army, unit histories and the report on their effectiveness by the OR Group (report no 2).  

 

The RMASG was established as an assault unit purely for D Day.  It consisted of 20 troops @ of 4 x Centaur CS and 1 x Sherman organised into two regiments and an independent battery.  These evolved from the plans to have 17 Pdr turrets fitted to landing craft to provide fire support during the last stages of the D Day assault.  The detachments were formed from RM gunners, from the artillerymen made available through the disbandment of the RM Division together with RA commanders and RAC drivers from the reinforcement pools.    It was a disposable SP Brigade and intended to be disbanded as soon as the landings were complete.  The Navy were very sensitive to the risk of their marines becoming absorbed into 2nd Army by default and the enthusiasm of their detachments and tried to impose restrictions on how far they were to be used inland.  The unit had no administrative or maintenance staff or even any B vehicles as it was not intended to exist after the assault landing succeeded. 

 

After the assault landing several of these troops attached themselves to RA units and became "extra guns" for some days after D day.  During the following weeks the majority of the manpower and reusable equipment was returned to  the UK or the relevant reinforcement pools.   A minority was retained and re-organised as an SP battery, with command posts and enough B vehicles to sustain themselves and deployed in support of 6th Airborne Division East of the Orne.   it's initial use in a counter mortar capacity was hampered by the low trajectory of its armament.  The unit was disbanded shortly before the break out from Normandy and IIRC did not take  part in the advance by 6th AB Division to the Seine.   

 

The limiting factor on the reduced size of the RMASG  was manpower and supporting infrastructure..  The unit was engaged in a largely static role after D Day and had no integral REME support. No one seems to have been interested in recording the mechanical reliable of this obsolete equipment per ce.    

 

The story of the RMASG does not tell us much about the reliability  of the Centaur as a tank, apart from the fact that the vehicles were considered disposable in mid 1944.  



#27 Don Juan

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 10:19 AM

Sheldrake - thanks for the info. Weren't some also passed on the the Canadians?
 
I would say that the usage of the RMASG Centaurs may not have been a long enough trial to prove reliability beyond question, but they don't prove the vehicle was notably unreliable either.
 
So to me it's still an open question, not one of proven unreliability (at least by mid-'44)

Oof!


#28 Sheldrake

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 11:49 AM

Sheldrake - thanks for the info. Weren't some also passed on the the Canadians?
 
I would say that the usage of the RMASG Centaurs may not have been a long enough trial to prove reliability beyond question, but they don't prove the vehicle was notably unreliable either.
 
So to me it's still an open question, not one of proven unreliability (at least by mid-'44)

 

 

The RMASG Regiment under the command of Lt Col Johnson supported 3rd Canadian Division on D Day.  26 Centaurs and 7 Shermans landed on Juno Beach on D Day. one troop at H+10 and the remainder at H+120.  

 

A little more delving: http://www.1canpara....6_sept_1944.pdf  paras 49-52 ish

 

On 6th August 1944, the remaining RMASG detachments were withdrawn from the 12 gun "X  SP Battery" RA which had supported  6 AB Division.  1st Canadian Army then took over the guns as 1st Canadian SP Battery.  In Op Paddle, the advance to the Seine this, US battalion sized, battery was attached to 53 AL Regiment RA and  then 1st Belgian Battery. It supported 1st NL Brigade as part of 6 AB Division.   In the 16 mile move from Varaville to Deauville 20-22 August the battery lost two Shermans to mines, and five out of twelve Centaurs to steering and brake problems.  By 24 Aug  the battery was reduced to one Sherman, a borrowed Cromwell and two Centaurs.  The remaining ten had broken down. 

 

I think this corroborates the view of the official historian David Fletcher that the British Army considered the Centaur to be unreliable on account of their 1918 vintage liberty engines and design flaws.  The RMASG only used the 80 CS variant for a one way mission on D Day. The hundreds of 75mm Centaurs built before meteor production seem to have simply been used for crew training and then scrapped along with the Covenentor fleet. There is a good reason why Volume one of the official history of British armour in WW2 is titled  "The Great Tank Scandal." 

 

Anyone seeking to argue that the flaws had been eliminated by 1944 faces the burden of proof.



#29 Don Juan

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 05:07 PM

 

I think this corroborates the view of the official historian David Fletcher that the British Army considered the Centaur to be unreliable on account of their 1918 vintage liberty engines and design flaws.  The RMASG only used the 80 CS variant for a one way mission on D Day. The hundreds of 75mm Centaurs built before meteor production seem to have simply been used for crew training and then scrapped along with the Covenentor fleet. There is a good reason why Volume one of the official history of British armour in WW2 is titled  "The Great Tank Scandal." 
 
Anyone seeking to argue that the flaws had been eliminated by 1944 faces the burden of proof.


Well, history is always open to re-assessment and re-evaluation. That's what makes it interesting. I'm not making the point that Covenanters or Centaurs were great tanks that were unfairly maligned. I'm asking whether the risible reputation that they labour under is really an accurate one.

I think the big problem is that many people have great difficulty dealing with ambiguity. They want to make a binary judgement that something is entirely good or bad, which in the assessment of tanks for some reason equates to brilliant or awful, with very little middle ground.

Fletcher's judgement has been questioned by David Edgerton and John Buckley, who are both professional academic historians, so whatever his virtues he's not untouchable as regards critical examinations of his work.

I would personally suggest that Buckley's "British Armour In The Normandy Campaign" is a far superior book to "The Great Tank Scandal". But that's only my opinion, of course.

Oof!


#30 Sheldrake

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 10:31 PM

Buckleys

 

 

I would personally suggest that Buckley's "British Armour In The Normandy Campaign" is a far superior book to "The Great Tank Scandal". But that's only my opinion, of course.

 

 Buckley's book is good. I am a fan and admire his analysis of the role of  21 AG armour. I would feel proud to do half as good a job for the RA in Normandy.   However, his book is a history of the use of armour in Normandy and cannot be compared with the two HMSO volumes written by Fletcher.  

 

There are lots of books about tanks, soldiers who use tanks and the generals who command them. There are far fewer on the story of how the tanks were designed and built  and the successes and failures of the relationship between the military, government and industry.   David Fletcher's two volume work is the official history of the development of British AFVs.  Fletcher's is in many ways more remarkable because few government publications can ever match his work in its critical analysis of the failings of the government directed defence industry to equip the country which invented tanks, with a decent main battle tank until May 1945.  



#31 Belasar

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 12:18 AM

It does seem though that the Covenantor has the rather dubious distinction of being one of the most heavily produced tanks, 1,700 units I believe, that almost never got into battle as it was originally designed. Granted alot of bad tanks went into battle, but so many being built and no combat record during wartime boggles the mind.


Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

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#32 Don Juan

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:31 AM

 

It does seem though that the Covenantor has the rather dubious distinction of being one of the most heavily produced tanks, 1,700 units I believe, that almost never got into battle as it was originally designed. Granted alot of bad tanks went into battle, but so many being built and no combat record during wartime boggles the mind.


IIRC there were about 2000 Canadian Ram tanks built, and none of these saw battle, although they were mechanically sound as far as I know.

I think that US production of the M3 and M4 was so vast it drowned out the production of other vehicles. If it wasn't for this, I think certainly the Ram, and possibly the Covenanter, would have seen action. Not that they would have been as good as the US tanks, but they may have been adequate.

Oof!


#33 Don Juan

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:32 AM

 

There are lots of books about tanks, soldiers who use tanks and the generals who command them. There are far fewer on the story of how the tanks were designed and built  and the successes and failures of the relationship between the military, government and industry.   David Fletcher's two volume work is the official history of the development of British AFVs.  Fletcher's is in many ways more remarkable because few government publications can ever match his work in its critical analysis of the failings of the government directed defence industry to equip the country which invented tanks, with a decent main battle tank until May 1945.

 
I've got both of Fletcher's books. I find them a bit too polemical for my taste, tbh.

Oof!


#34 Sheldrake

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 09:46 AM

 

IIRC there were about 2000 Canadian Ram tanks built, and none of these saw battle, although they were mechanically sound as far as I know.

I think that US production of the M3 and M4 was so vast it drowned out the production of other vehicles. If it wasn't for this, I think certainly the Ram, and possibly the Covenanter, would have seen action. Not that they would have been as good as the US tanks, but they may have been adequate.

 

 

1.   Re the Ram.  The RAM  was a very sound vehicle, though under gunned with a 6 Pdr and by the time it could be upgunned to 75mm large numbers of M4s were available via lease lend.  The RAM did  become the basis for the Sexton SP gun and the Kangaroo APC.

 

2. Re the Covenentor (and Crusader).  I admire your touching faith in British tank design and manufacturing quality.    However, you may be young to have owned a car made by the British motor industry that existed pre 1980s. As a result you may not be familiar with the mediocre designs, poor manufacturing quality and  unreliable vehicles that the British motor industry was capable of turning out.  The firm that made the Crusader tank went on to make the Austin Allegro and the Morris Marina.   The Covenentor appears to have been in a class of its own; designed and built by a railway engineering firm with no prior experience of AFV manufacture.  Hot coolant pipes routed through the fighting compartment and air brakes which faded with frequent use says enough to me.  Only desperation and a national emergency could have  justified producing this AFV in the numbers manufactured.   Thank god no one had to use one in battle. 

  



#35 Don Juan

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:51 AM

 

Re the Covenentor (and Crusader).  I admire your touching faith in British tank design and manufacturing quality.    However, you may be young to have owned a car made by the British motor industry that existed pre 1980s. As a result you may not be familiar with the mediocre designs, poor manufacturing quality and  unreliable vehicles that the British motor industry was capable of turning out.  The firm that made the Crusader tank went on to make the Austin Allegro and the Morris Marina.   The Covenentor appears to have been in a class of its own; designed and built by a railway engineering firm with no prior experience of AFV manufacture.  Hot coolant pipes routed through the fighting compartment and air brakes which faded with frequent use says enough to me.  Only desperation and a national emergency could have  justified producing this AFV in the numbers manufactured.   Thank god no one had to use one in battle. 
  


Well, it's funny, but I made a post on another thread that said that I think the high reputation that WW2 German tanks have is partly due to the post war reputation of Mercedes, BMW etc.

I don't think it's possible to use the reputation of 1980's British cars as a case against 1940's British tanks, even if they were made by the same company. The same applies to their Japanese equivalents, for example.

As for the Covenanter, the article I posted upthread showed the results of a trial it took part in against its peers in July 1942. Its reliability seems to have been comparable to the other types, with the exception of the Churchill, which was notably the worst. Now, this trial may have given erroneous results and found the only two reliable Covenanters in the British Isles, but if we're going to argue against it, let's find some relevant data and statistics.

Oof!


#36 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 01:31 PM

I think this corroborates the view of the official historian David Fletcher that the British Army considered the Centaur to be unreliable on account of their 1918 vintage liberty engines and design flaws.

 

There was actually a hiccup in the middle of the process; the Centaurs early trials...as a tank, not a howitzer armed "CS" equivalent, the Centaur IV...revealed the need for more power and more reliability - so Leylands developed yet another version of the Liberty!

 

This version - the old BT White guide doesn't specify the "mark" number...was 15 h.p. DOWN on the 410 h.p. version fitted to the Cavalier!

 

Thus, tuning across several successive marks had boosted the Liberty's power output from 340 h.p. at the outbreak of war to 410....and BACK to 395. In other words - a jump of 18% in the Liberty's maximum power output!

 

And most commentators like Fletcher note concomitant fragility creeping into the design as they were tuned to within an inch of their mechanical life...no wonder, with THAT degree of tuning - and of course, with the poor thing being teased way beyond what had ever been expected of it originally, reliable and sufficient cooling would have become ever MORE vital with each version!

 

 

Only desperation and a national emergency could have justified producing this AFV in the numbers manufactured. Thank god no one had to use one in battle.

 

Well, I tend to think their crews would have been happier to go into battle in a Covenanter if we had been invaded in 1941, than any of the amorphous conglomeration of old training tanks we were intending to field in 1940 if necessary! Vickers "Dutchmen"...India pattern Lights...even the tiny (sub-) handful of A.6s were dusted off and repainted in 1940 IIRC!

 

Also - there's THIS aspect; for every Covenanter kept in the UK for training purposes 1941-43 and to be at the disposal of C-in-C Home Forces in an emergency...we could send a Valentine or Crusader abroad! ;)

 

 

Granted alot of bad tanks went into battle, but so many being built and no combat record during wartime boggles the mind.

 

Think of it THIS way - how many single- and multi-engined trainer aircraft did we produce during WWII to field how many combat aircraft? ;)


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#37 Belasar

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 01:51 PM

Almost want to give you a salute for that one phylo! 

 

The thing is it was built for combat rather than training and in large numbers. Many less than ideal weapon designs found use in less aggressive fronts but not this one.

 

The people who knew the vehicle best had no faith in it as a combat vehicle, and in the absence of relevant facts and statistics (paid for in blood) this is a good enough reason to call it a failure as a battle tank. 

 

Producing it when newer and better designs were waiting for production room and resources could indeed be called a scandal


Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)


#38 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 02:24 PM

Producing it when newer and better designs were waiting for production room and resources could indeed be called a scandal

 

Question is - could the LMSR have built anything else? ;) I've got pics of the Covenanter production line up on the AHF thread - it was just an old LMS engine shed with the chassis being pushed along the tracks inside where Locos had been built alongside each other....the overhead boiler crane was used to manouver turrets...and by some ingenious kludges, heavy tooling etc. was brought TO the tanks. 

 

As far as I can see, its the same story as French aircraft production - right THEN, when work was started on various tanks for the british Army in 1938-39...we had Vickers Armstong....and a lot of SMALL heavy engineering companies that COULD conceivably build tanks ;) The "Vulcan Foundry" conglomerate that produced the Matilda II and others was the same - a group of railway engineering facilites and companies rammed together by contract/subcontract to produce tanks....but at least THEIRS worked!

 

There were other failures ;) The abortive work on the A.20 by Harland & Wolff comes to mind; H&W could build or modify other peoples' designs - but weren't so hot at generating their own! 

 

But at least LMSR made the Covenanter...so we HAD them for training purposes; think again of the aero industry comparison...and all trhe small concerns and sub-factories of larger concerns that could turn out trainers but couldn't have designed or built competitive combat aircraft...but did that while the larger concerns produced the stuff for the pointy end! ;)

 

 

..., and in the absence of relevant facts and statistics (paid for in blood) this is a good enough reason to call it a failure as a battle tank

 

At best - I'd call it "unproven"...for unless someone turns up the relevant war diary entries for North Africa, we don't actually indeed KNOW how the Covenanter would have done...

 

 

The people who knew the vehicle best had no faith in it as a combat vehicle...

 

I wonder how many crews said the same of the first Churchills in 1941...or after Dieppe!!! Certainly the Germans didn't rate them.....THEN!

 


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#39 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 03:15 PM

Just as an aside - is anyone aware of a good study - academic, pamphlet or book - of the Liberty tank engine??? There's certainly very VERY little on the Net, and what there is usually buried in among tank stories :(

 

CMV were doing an occasional series on iconic engines, and it ran for a couple of months...but the series seems to have halted after just four or five articles, including a very informative four pages on the Matilda II's twinned diesel fitment....

 

Of course, and as usual - BEFORE the Liberty could be covered!!!


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#40 Sheldrake

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 05:04 PM

 

Well, I tend to think their crews would have been happier to go into battle in a Covenanter if we had been invaded in 1941, than any of the amorphous conglomeration of old training tanks we were intending to field in 1940 if necessary! Vickers "Dutchmen"...India pattern Lights...even the tiny (sub-) handful of A.6s were dusted off and repainted in 1940 IIRC!

 

Also - there's THIS aspect; for every Covenanter kept in the UK for training purposes 1941-43 and to be at the disposal of C-in-C Home Forces in an emergency...we could send a Valentine or Crusader abroad! ;)

 

Think of it THIS way - how many single- and multi-engined trainer aircraft did we produce during WWII to field how many combat aircraft? ;)

 

I can understand the issue while there was an imminent threat of invasion.  However, after June 1941 there was little likelihood of invasion.  There was no excuse to continue Covenentor production until 1942. There is no point in clogging production lines with un-battle worthy tanks given that there were better designs waiting to be built. 

 

Nor is it really a good idea to train soldiers on unreliable equipment. There is no training value in waiting for REME and the maintenance cost is high.

German obsolete tanks such as the Pz 38T and Pz II could be used  for a range of SP guns after they had been  rendered obsolete as tanks.  The Covenentor was too unrelaible to be the good chasis for anything. (Though the Australians used the Bridgelayer)



#41 Don Juan

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 05:42 PM

 

I can understand the issue while there was an imminent threat of invasion.  However, after June 1941 there was little likelihood of invasion.  There was no excuse to continue Covenentor production until 1942. There is no point in clogging production lines with un-battle worthy tanks given that there were better designs waiting to be built.


From mid-1942, the Detroit Arsenal was going to flood Britain, and everywhere else, with tanks. I don't understand the argument about better tanks waiting to be built, when from this point onwards Britain didn't really need to build another tank.

Nor is it really a good idea to train soldiers on unreliable equipment. There is no training value in waiting for REME and the maintenance cost is high.
German obsolete tanks such as the Pz 38T and Pz II could be used  for a range of SP guns after they had been  rendered obsolete as tanks.  The Covenentor was too unrelaible to be the good chasis for anything. (Though the Australians used the Bridgelayer)


Well, it's better than not having any equipment to train on at all. Soviet crews were lucky to have had even a couple of hours in a tank prior to allocation during the Battle Of Moscow, according to some articles I've read.

And again, was it as unreliable as its reputation suggests? Some solid availability data would be useful, I would suggest.

Oof!


#42 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 06:52 PM

I can understand the issue while there was an imminent threat of invasion. However, after June 1941 there was little likelihood of invasion.

 

Nevertheless - the British continued developing their full anti-invasion preparations on into the Spring of 1942 in case the Germans should attempt a rapid invasion.

 

There is no point in clogging production lines with un-battle worthy tanks given that there were better designs waiting to be built.

 

Ah, but WAS there? For LMS??? What tanks did THEY build after the Covenantor? ;)

 


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#43 Sheldrake

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 07:00 PM

1.  Question is - could the LMSR have built anything else? ;)

 

2.  But at least LMSR made the Covenanter...so we HAD them for training purposes; think again of the aero industry comparison...and all trhe small concerns and sub-factories of larger concerns that could turn out trainers but couldn't have designed or built competitive combat aircraft...but did that while the larger concerns produced the stuff for the pointy end! ;)

 

3.  At best - I'd call it "unproven"...for unless someone turns up the relevant war diary entries for North Africa, we don't actually indeed KNOW how the Covenanter would have done...

 

4.  I wonder how many crews said the same of the first Churchills in 1941...or after Dieppe!!! Certainly the Germans didn't rate them.....THEN!

 

Re 1 . The LMS were good at making railway engines. If they had stuck to making railway engines Britain might not needed to have imported 800 railway engines lease lend from the US.   

 

Re 2.  No one should have made the Covenanter, certainly not in the numbers built. It was a poor design based on a pre war specification to find a cheaper and lighter cruiser tank.  It crept into production at a time of emergency and was mass produced at a time when production figures were all important.   After the immediate emergency passed, i.e. June 1941,  production should have been closed down and the capacity used for something else, perhaps for tanks capable of fitting the 100+ 6 Pdr tank guns in production in 1941 which were subsequently fitted to field carriages for want of tanks capable of mounting them.   

 

Re 3 it is only unproven if you choose to ignore the evidence presented.  a) the verdict of the official historian, David Fletcher, drawing on official source material documents and in his role as curator of the RAC Centre Bovington access to a good collection of British WW2 AFVs.  b  ) The historic fact that no one ever seems to have asked for the vehicle.  c) On a good day a Covenentor might have performed as well as a Crusader Mk II.  Almost as good as a mediocre, under armed and armoured unreliable tank doesn't promise success.   If you feel strongly about the matter come and visit the national Archives or the records held at Bovington. 

 

Re 4.  The Churchill was rushed into service before its teething problems were resolved.  It was designed to take a 6 pdr gun and offered a 3" Howitzer/75mm gun option in the hull and potential for development.  The Covenentor was designed to be as small as possible was  already at the weight limit of its suspension.  Its flaws were not teething problems but fundamental to the design, probably as a result of designing for minimum cost and entrusting the job to a firm with no experience in AFV manufacture!


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#44 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 07:14 PM

a) the verdict of the official historian, David Fletcher, drawing on official source material documents and in his role as curator of the RAC Centre Bovington access to a good collection of British WW2 AFVs.

 

...who is not infallible, and has been known to correct his own earlier mistakes and opinions. HOW old is The Great Tank Scandal now?

 

Does it for example mention the dozen or so Covenanters that saw service in North Africa?

 

 

Re 1 . The LMS were good at making railway engines. If they had stuck to making railway engines Britain might not needed to have imported 800 railway engines lease lend from the US.  

 

My point wasn't about locomotives - it was about was the Covenantor the best tank that LMSR could have built? ;)

 

Also, it's worth remembering that... "It crept into production at a time of emergency and was mass produced at a time when production figures were all important"...tanks weren't actually included in the Emergency Production period ;) See Postan's British War Production. Tank production just went on at its "normal" pace at that time.

 

 

Re 3 it is only unproven if you choose to ignore the evidence presented. a) the verdict of the official historian, David Fletcher, drawing on official source material documents and in his role as curator of the RAC Centre Bovington access to a good collection of British WW2 AFVs. b ) The historic fact that no one ever seems to have asked for the vehicle. c) On a good day a Covenentor might have performed as well as a Crusader Mk II. Almost as good as a mediocre, under armed and armoured unreliable tank doesn't promise success. If you feel strongly about the matter come and visit the national Archives or the records held at Bovington.

 

Much as I'd like to I'm on the wrong side of the Irish Sea. But my point about "unproven" was that it now appears that a small number might have seen combat in North Africa - and it would be interesting to see what the unit war diary says about the event...


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#45 Don Juan

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 07:26 PM

 

The Covenentor was designed to be as small as possible was  already at the weight limit of its suspension.  Its flaws were not teething problems but fundamental to the design, probably as a result of designing for minimum cost and entrusting the job to a firm with no experience in AFV manufacture!

 
Well, this isn't really true. If it was built to design it would have had aluminium wheels, an all-welded turret, and a larger cooling fan due to a more compact drivetrain and steering mechanism.

Unfortunately, aluminium was prioritised to the aircraft industry, welders were prioritised to shipbuilding, and the urgent need for production led to the use of a more conventional drivetrain.

All these things could have been amended if totally reliable tanks were the top priority. But they weren't, and the Mk.I Covenanter reflected this.

Oof!


#46 Sheldrake

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 09:31 PM

.Much as I'd like to I'm on the wrong side of the Irish Sea. But my point about "unproven" was that it now appears that a small number might have seen combat in North Africa - and it would be interesting to see what the unit war diary says about the event...

 

 

Really?  What is the evidence that any  tank crews ever went into battle in the Covenentor in the Middle East?  

 

The well-known picture of the North African vehicle in the Osprey old series Vanguard 'British Tanks in North Africa' and Perrett's 'Valentine in North Africa' is IWM E22739, taken at a training camp at Abbassia near Cairo in March 1943, and depicts, according to its official caption, newly-arrived crews during acclimatisation.
 http://www.missing-l.../covenanter.htm

 

The Covenentor's chronic cooling and ventilation problems resulted it deemed unsuitable for overseas use.  Who in their right mind would consider  asking tank crews to risk their lives in this vehicle in the Middle east?  What would be the purpose of taking a battlefield trial of a vehicle known to be inferior to the Crusader?  If such a trial existed, where is the report? Or for that matter the court martial documentation for the eejitt who order it? 

 

If you want to look at War Diaries you need to identify the unit which might have used them. It could not have been issued without the appropriate spares. 



#47 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 09:47 PM

Really? What is the evidence that any tank crews ever went into battle in the Covenentor in the Middle East?

 

How can we definitely declare they didn't without identifying any unit they could have been issued to and checking their war diary?

 

 

The Covenentor's chronic cooling and ventilation problems resulted it deemed unsuitable for overseas use. Who in their right mind would consider asking tank crews to risk their lives in this vehicle in the Middle east? What would be the purpose of taking a battlefield trial of a vehicle known to be inferior to the Crusader? If such a trial existed, where is the report? Or for that matter the court martial documentation for the eejitt who order it?

 

Yet up to a dozen WERE sent ;)

 

The well-known picture of the North African vehicle in the Osprey old series Vanguard 'British Tanks in North Africa' and Perrett's 'Valentine in North Africa' is IWM E22739, taken at a training camp at Abbassia near Cairo in March 1943, and depicts, according to its official caption, newly-arrived crews during acclimatisation

 

How many "official captions" actually noted that the Covenanter was crap??? :) It's not the kind of thing that official captions said - the blunt truth!


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#48 phylo_roadking

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 10:11 PM

In fact, that official caption MIGHT indeed be somewhat astray of the mark!

 

The well-known picture of the North African vehicle in the Osprey old series Vanguard 'British Tanks in North Africa' and Perrett's 'Valentine in North Africa' is IWM E22739, taken at a training camp at Abbassia near Cairo in March 1943, and depicts, according to its official caption, newly-arrived crews during acclimatisation

 

This is not actually the case! Because TWO COVENANTERS and a Crusader were actually issued to "A" Sqn of the embryonic New Zealand 19th Armoured Regiment, a unit that was converting over from infantry at Abbasia - Abbasia was actually the Armour School. It's "formation", training, and its sojourn at Abbasia and elsewhere in the Delta is detailed HERE - http://nzetc.victori...2-19Ba-c15.html It was formed with the 171 survivors of the NZ 4th Infantry Brigade's 19th Infantry battalion...

 

...and noone could say THEY were newly arrived in North Africa!...

 

...and it notes that the Squadron used the three tanks until they were completely worn out!  They only seem to have had these three plus one or more Shermans..see the text...until the whole unit was re-equiped with Shermans months later. By then, over those many months of training, the British tanks were completely worn out - and one of the three tanks was destroyed in a remarkable training incident!!!

 

Perhaps a coincidence that the Covenanter in the pic seems to be damaged???

 

The fact that Abbasia was the Armour School MIGHT also account for the multiplicity of types in that pic...going by that account, mechanics were trained there too...


"Et Dick tracy, il est mort? Et Guy LeClair?"


#49 Sheldrake

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 11:10 PM

We have an explanation.  The photo was taken at a training camp and the activity was sufficiently late in the war for shipping to send training vehicles were send for use there for conversion of NZ infantry to armour.  None of which supports the idea of this officially un-battleworthy tank being used in combat.  



#50 Don Juan

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 08:27 AM

...and it notes that the Squadron used the three tanks until they were completely worn out!  They only seem to have had these three plus one or more Shermans..see the text...until the whole unit was re-equiped with Shermans months later. By then, over those many months of training, the British tanks were completely worn out - and one of the three tanks was destroyed in a remarkable training incident!!!
 
Perhaps a coincidence that the Covenanter in the pic seems to be damaged???

 
It was the Crusader that got written off according to the blurb. And from the photo it looks as if they had a Valentine there as well.

From the text they were issued with the Covenanters in Dec '42, and the photo is dated March '43, so they got at least 3 months use out of them, despite whatever cooling problems they may have had. Note that the tanks were "worked overtime".
 
Edit: used until Sept '43 according to this source: http://antipodeanarm...covenanter.html
 
Don't know if they were running for all this time, but it's 9-10 months if they were.

Also a Dec '42 handover would tend to go along with the rumour that 6-10 were issued to make up the numbers for El Alamein. I doubt two would have been shipped just for the New Zealanders. I would guess a number were originally shipped along with either a batch of Crusaders, or with Kingforce, used for whatever they were going to be used for, and then handed over to the needy and desperate.

Oof!





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