In this second part of my tank primer series, we cover the St. Glorianna team, which fields a Churchill and 4 Matilda mk. II’s.
Starting with the team’s lead tank, the Churchill Mk IV. The Churchill is an infantry support tank, originally designed with WWI specifications in mind. Even though the IV is slightly improved towards the WWII anti-tank doctrine, there is still evidence of its original specifications in the design.
As per the usual design of infantry tanks, it had to be able to cross trenches and shell crates, and destroy small fortifications (like barbed wire). Also, being able to withstand most fire was a must. Accordingly, it sacrificed speed (which was unneeded as the British had the fast cruiser line of tanks) as well as armament in order to achieve these things. The end result was a very long tank with all encompassing tracks that was heavier armored than even the german Tiger I tank.
Although extremely slow and thus with rather limited use against the fast panzers, the Churchill did come with the upside of being able to cross over more difficult terrain than almost any other tank, thus making it perfectly suitable to support infantry.
The mk. IV itself has over 100mm of front armor, over 80mm side armor, and has the (upgunned form the 2pdr), a 6 pounder gun, thus making it more effective in anti-tank battles. Overall, the Churchill mk. IV is a tank to be feared by less armored tanks, as it can bully you around all day, if it can catch you. Which is why terrain is so important.
As a side note, according to the name, the 6 pounder gun’s rounds were 6 pounds, making it really easy, and thus fast, to reload. Also, the Churchill’s large tracks made use of a large amount of road wheels, meaning that even if it lost a few, it would usually be fine (it’s too bad they didn’t show this in battle).
The Churchill in Girls und Panzer, though, seems to be on turbo as many times its speed seems to far exceed the speed limit of 26kph. Aside from that, though, Assam and her crew manage to use this tank very well, throwing its weight around when it needs to and staying calm when the faster PzIV was buzzing around her. I really do want to see these girls vs. off against the Russians.
*Edit: It has been brought to my attention that the Churchill shown in the show is the Mk. VII and not the Mk. IV. I admit that I’m terrible at spotting tank models on sight and I have to research a bit before I write about it. Unfortunately this time I’m just terrible at it.
>In any case (while the history is still mostly correct) the Mk. VII, sometimes called the “heavy churchill” has much more armor and a 75mm gun instead of a 6pdr. With up to 140mm of armor (instead of about 100) in the front, and similar upgrades to the side/rear armor, this tank is even more slow and impenetrable. Which only confuses me more as to how fast they were going.
The rest of the St. Glorianna team is composed of Matilda II medium tank. Although for a medium, it has the same top speed (only on roads) as the Churchill. Unfortunately for me, I can’t tell what model the Matilda in the show is as most of the (possible) models differ only internally.
*Edit: Watching 5.5 has specified their Matildas as a hybrid mk. III/IV. biggest difference from earlier matildas is a slightly improved engine.
The Matilda II was also given two a large amount of armor, being from the infantry tank line as well. However, its smaller size meant it had less room for what would be an appropriately sized engine (It was driven under the power of two bus engines), thus its speed issues. This arrangement did, however, have the interesting benefit of not rendering the matilda immobile even if one of the engines were to be knocked out.
Although being as slow as sin, the Matilda’s heavy armor made it proof to nearly all forms of early WWII era anti-tank guns. This imperviousness earned it a fearsome reputation in the African theater, and cemented its place in history.
Specifically, the Matilda II manages up to 78mm of armor in the front, 75mm in the turret, 70mm in the side, and even 55 in the rear. In addition, its high velocity 2 pounder gun proved to be more than sufficient to take down most early war tanks. In numbers, Matilda II’s are not to be messed with, unless if you manage to pull out something more recent than a PzIV ausf. G.
Although proof to most forms of fire, the Matilda II is not invincible, and is certainly more vulnerable than a Churchill. Although the St. Glorianna team exhibits great discipline and competence crewing their respective tanks, their overconfidence (in their armor or otherwise) will (or actually, was) be their downfall.
Overall, the St. Glorianna team has a very complimentary makeup. Having tanks of great armor and similar speed, when coupled with their great discipline and overall competence in tactical battle, this school is to be feared. However, the addition of a few fast cruiser tanks to act as forward scouts and mobile flankers would definitely not be a bad thing.
This concludes the primer on the british tanks of St. Glorianna. Next up (when I watch it) is the American school, Saunders and its M4 Shermans! (both the tactics analysis post and the primer) Please look forward to it.