Hobby Master HG3102 British Centaur C.S. MK.IV Crusier Tank MK.VIII, with A27L 95mm Howitzer - Royal Marines Armored Support Group, Normandy, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
The Cromwell was the product of further development of British cruiser tanks, and was designed as the replacement for the Crusader tank, which was fast becoming obsolete. In late 1940, the General Staff set out the specifications for the new tank, and designs were submitted in early 1941.
Due to the typical rushed production and lack of components, the first of these tanks to be accepted, the Cavalier, had far too many problems to see active combat service. One of the key problems was that its Nuffield-built Liberty engine was simply not up to the task.
A new engine, based on the powerful Merlin engine used in aircraft such as the Spitfire, was designed and called the Meteor. Rolls-Royce, the makers of the Merlin, were already fully committed to its manufacture and could not spare the facilities for the Meteor, and manufacture was passed to the Rover Car Company. A modified tank design, the A27 Mk VIII, was then drawn up to take advantage of the new power available, approximately 600 hp (447 kW), double that of the Liberty.
It would take considerable time for Rover to make ready production lines for the Meteor, so the initial A27s were equipped with the antiquated Liberty engine. These became known as A27L Centaur. It was not until a few months later, in January 1943, that sufficient Meteor engines were available and the A27M Cromwell began production.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a British Centaur C.S. MK.IV Crusier Tank MK.VIII with A27L 95mm howitzer that was attached to the Royal Marines Armored Support Group, then deployed to Normandy, France, during 1944.
Length: 3.5 inches
Width: 1.5 inches
Release Date: June 2007
Historical Account: "The Old Tin Hat" - During the Second World War, a small party of Royal Marines were first ashore at Namsos in April 1940, seizing the approaches to the Norwegian town preparatory to a landing by the British Army two days later. The Royal Marines formed the Royal Marine Division as an amphibiously trained division, parts of which served at Dakar and in the capture of Madagascar. In addition the Royal Marines formed Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisations (MNBDOs) similar to the US Marine Corps Defense Battalions. One of these took part in the defence of Crete. Royal Marines also served in Malaya and in Singapore, where due to losses they were joined with remnants of the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the "Plymouth Argylls". The Royal Marines formed one Commando (A Commando) which served at Dieppe. One month after Dieppe, most of the 11th Royal Marine Battalion was killed or captured in an amphibious landing at Tobruk in Operation Daffodil, again the Marines were involved with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders this time the 1st Battalion. In 1943 the Infantry Battalions of the Royal Marine Division were reorganized as Commandos, joining the Army Commandos. The Division command structure became a Special Service Brigade command. The support troops became landing craft crew.
A total of four Special Service, later Commando, Brigades were raised during the war, and Royal Marines were represented in all of them. A total of nine RM Commandos (Battalions) were raised during the war, numbered from 40 to 48.
1 Commando Brigade had just one RM Battalion, No 45 Commando. 2 Commando Brigade had two RM battalions, Nos 40 and 43 Commandos. 3 Commando Brigade also had two, Nos 42 and 44 Commandos. 4 Commando Brigade was entirely Royal Marine after March 1944, comprising Nos 41, 46, 47 and 48 Commandos.
1 Commando Brigade took part in the assaults on Sicily and Normandy, campaigns in the Rhineland and crossing the Rhine. 2 Commando Brigade was involved in the Salerno landings, Anzio, Comacchio, and operations in the Argenta Gap. 3 Commando Brigade served in Sicily and Burma. 4 Commando Brigade served in Normandy and in the Battle of the Scheldt on the island of Walcheren during the clearing of Antwerp.
In January 1945, two further RM Brigades were formed, 116th Brigade and 117th Brigade. Both were conventional Infantry, rather than in the Commando role. 116th Brigade saw some action in the Netherlands, but 117th Brigade was hardly used operationally. In addition one Landing Craft Assault (LCA) unit was stationed in Australia late in the war as a training unit.
In 1946 the Army Commandos were disbanded, leaving the Royal Marines to continue the Commando role (with supporting Army elements).
A number of Royal Marines served as pilots during the Second World War. It was a Royal Marines officer who led the attack by a formation of Blackburn Skuas that sank the German cruiser Konigsberg. Eighteen Royal Marines commanded Fleet Air Arm squadrons during the course of the war, and with the formation of the British Pacific Fleet were well-represented in the final drive on Japan. Captains and Majors generally commanded squadrons, whilst in one case Lt. Colonel R.C.Hay on HMS Indefatigable was Air Group Coordinator from HMS Victorious of the entire British Pacific Fleet.
Only one Marine was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War for action at Lake Comacchio in Italy. The recipient was the last RM Commando to be awarded the medal. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)