Tank Craft #9: Cromwell and Centaur Tanks

Author/Artists: Dennis Oliver


Pen & Sword


$24.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, softcover, 200 illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-526725417

While this series has apparently been around for a few years, it is new to me. This is #9 and is dated 2018 so it isn't that ancient. The focus of this book is on the Cromwell and the Centaur tanks. British tanks, for the most part, were fairly mediocre compared to the armor of other nations during WWII. There were several reasons for this and it basically comes down to poor engines/suspension and less than powerful guns. True that most tanks were destroyed by anti-tank guns and not in tank to tank battles, but still, it is nice to have something that hold its own when met with enemy tanks.

This was eventually realized by the powers to be in Britain's tank production hierarchy and the result was the Cromwell tank. It had the real benefit of an engine that was finally powerful enough in the form of a detuned Rolls Royce Merlin that was adapted for tanks. This was the Meteor and it suffered from a fairly long (for the time) gestation period. Up until that time, versions of the WWI-era Liberty engine were used. To hedge their bets, the new tank was produced in two versions. The Cromwell had the Meteor and the Centaur had the Liberty version. Few Centaurs made into battle in NW Europe. Several were converted to AA platforms and you could find some with howitzer armament for troop support. Note that this is a very simplified explanation as the reality of the situation is quite a bit more complex and the book does a rather good job of helping one to understand things.

Based on this single example, this series has an interesting way of providing information. It gives us a brief history of the development of the tanks and then goes into its use unit by unit. Within this portion of the book we are provided with photos of specific tanks. At the end of the book is a breakdown of the different variants so you can figure out what tank had what equipment.

In the middle of the book we have a section on camouflage and markings as well as a fairly large section on kits, accessories, and some kit builds and features. There are a lot of profiles provided which I know that I found useful and are the sort of thing that inspires folks.

There sorts of books where you have a mixture of history, camouflage and models are becoming more and more the norm. This one is well done, though I found that plunking the color portions of the book in the middle a bit confusing. I am sure that was done to cut down on production costs and once you get used to it, it works out well.

January 2019

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