For the first Tankbyte article we'll look at my personal favourite - with looks that only a mother could love - the Infantry Tank, MkIV - popularly known as the Churchill tank. Weighing in at around 35 tons the Churchill tank truly was a behemoth. It was the heaviest tank in use by the Western Allies. It also helps they are pretty popular vehicles in WoT and WT and have recently appeared in the Anime 'Girls und Panzer', which makes the Churchill pretty much an ideal starting place. Unfortunately the real story of the Churchill is not so clean cut, for a long time it was a story of repeated failure, before a great deal of redevelopment - the astonishing Rework Scheme - and field modifications by Regiments created an excellent, versatile tank.
Much like Cromwell, the Churchill resembles 5 year old's drawing of an imagined tank. Much like the current troubles with the F-35 stealth fighter... being unable to take off, needing 'cold' fuel, major parts failures... the Churchill offered much, but initially failed to deliver. The story of its development is chequered with extreme meddling from all parties and is almost stands as a metaphor for Britain's wartime evolution.
By 1945 the Churchill was a tried and tested infantry tank, which had fought from North Africa all the way to Berlin. Although it did not see operational service in Burma, its legendary climbing suggested it could have caused the Japanese great problems in any attack.
Hunk of Junk
Dieppe to Kingforce
Up to 400 Churchills were supplied to Russia, but compared to Matilda and Valentine they were not particularly popular as they fell outside the raw brutish power of home made Russian designs. How could you compare it to the KV series, let alone the T-34? They fell outside Russian norms by quite a long way and details - at least in English - of their use are sketchy. It is presumed a number were lost in transit during the Arctic Convoys and several must have seen action in Kursk - thanks to photos.
Ultimately it was the turret ring that constrained Churchill. Extensive modification would create an entirely new tank able of taking the 17 Pounder, Black Prince, but this was already obsolete thanks to the introduction of the first 'Capital' tank, the first proper Main Battle Tank, Centurion.