Hobby Master HG3105 British Cruiser Tank, A27M Cromwell Mk. IV Artillery Observation Tank - 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, Villers Bocage, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Quo fas et gloria ducunt." ("Where Right and Glory Lead.")
- Motto of the Royal Artillery
The Cromwell tank was used by the British Army during the later stages of World War II. The Cromwell was ordered in 1941 and intended to replace the lightweight Crusader "cruiser" tank by being more heavily armoured, and, it was hoped, more survivable in battle. Its greater weight was to be driven by a 600-horsepower Rolls Royce Meteor engine, a derivative of Rolls Royce's line of aircraft engines. Initial models, however, were powered by other engines and were designated Cavaliers and Centaurs when they entered service in mid-1942. The first genuine Cromwells with Meteor engines entered service in early 1943.
The Cromwell tank weighed about 27 tons and had a top speed of 38 miles per hour and a range of between 80 and 170 miles, depending on the terrain. It was initially armed with a 75mm gun and two 7.92mm machine guns. The Cromwell's main assets were its speed, maneuverability, and ease of repair. It first entered battle in large numbers in mid-1944, during the Normandy Invasion and the ensuing campaign across northern France. From Normandy on, Cromwells and American Sherman tanks formed the backbone of British armored divisions. Like the Shermans, however, most Cromwells were outgunned by the more powerful German Panther and Tiger tanks. Cromwell tanks served in British armies until the war ended in Europe in mid-1945.
Shown here is a 1:72 scale replica of a British Cruiser Tank, A27M Cromwell Mk. IV artillery observation tank that was attached to the 5th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, then seeing action at Villers Bocage, France, during June 1944.
Release Date: March 2008
Historical Account: "Battle of the Brigade Box" - The Battle of Villers-Bocage, fought during the Second World War on June 13th, 1944, was part of the wider Battle of Normandy. While attempting to encircle and capture the German-occupied city of Caen, a Brigade group of the British 7th Armoured Division made an opportunistic thrust into the German flank through a gap that opened up in the front line. The British reached the town of Villers-Bocage without incident, but the Germans had foreseen the danger and correctly anticipated the likely direction of an attack. The unexpected intervention of German heavy armor caught the 7th Armoured Division's vanguard unprepared, and increasingly strong German counterattacks caused the British to abandon Villers-Bocage for a more defensible position outside the town. The Brigade group was withdrawn the following day.
Launched on the heels of D-Day, Operation Perch was a pincer attack aimed at capturing the major Allied objective of Caen. British XXX Corps, forming the western arm of the encirclement, pushed south before becoming embroiled with strong German forces in a contest for the town of Tilly-sur-Seulles. British I Corps's eastern thrust was launched from the Orne bridgehead, but made little progress in the face of determined resistance and constant counterattacks. With mounting casualties and no sign of an imminent German collapse, by June 13th the offensive east of Caen was called off. To the west, on XXX Corps's right flank, American pressure had opened up a wide gap in the German lines. In an effort to keep operations mobile, a Brigade group of the 7th Armoured Division was diverted from the combat around Tilly-sur-Seulles and ordered to advance through the gap towards the town of Villers-Bocage. It was hoped this flanking maneuver would force the German Panzer Lehr Division to fall back.
The 7th Armoured's Brigade group entered Villers-Bocage during the morning of June 13th, and its lead elements moved quickly to secure Point 213, a commanding area of high ground to the east. Unaware of any German presence, the British were ambushed by Tiger I tanks of the SS Heavy Panzer Battalion 101, which had been stationed in the area as a precautionary measure. In less than 15 minutes numerous tanks, anti-tank guns and transport vehicles fell victim to the German force, the vast majority being destroyed by SS-Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann's tank. Point 213's defenders were cut off and taken prisoner, and a German counterattack was launched against the town during the afternoon. Although this ran into a British ambush and suffered significant losses, after six hours the British commander decided to withdraw his force to a defensive position outside the town; a move that was accomplished, before nightfall, largely without interference.
Fighting resumed the next day in the Battle of the Brigade Box, following which the decision was taken to pull the Brigade group back from its salient. Villers-Bocage played no further role in Second Army's Battle for Caen, which was finally liberated on July 19th. A Royal Air Force bombing raid in support of Operation Epsom largely destroyed Villers-Bocage, which eventually fell to the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division on August 4th. Analyses of the battle have generally taken the view that, due to failures at the British divisional and corps command levels, an early opportunity to capture Caen was squandered.