- "All of it... shall be pierced through by this Black Prince."
- ―Kiri Shiratori
Tank, Infantry, Black Prince (A43) was the name assigned to an experimental development of the Churchill tank with a larger, wider hull and a QF 17-pounder (76.2 mm) gun. It was named after Edward, the Black Prince, a famous 14th century military leader.
As a development from the Churchill, the Black Prince was a continuation of the line of Infantry tanks, that is slower, heavier tanks intended to operate in close support of infantry.The parallel development in British tank design were the Cruiser tanks, which were intended for more mobile operations. A43 was the General Staff Specification number issued in 1943, for an interim tank that would eventually be superseded by a "Universal tank" that would replace both Infantry and Cruiser tanks.
The cruiser one led to the Cromwell tank (and the 17 pounder armed Challenger variant) and then the Comet tank, (which had a variant of the 17 pounder gun) entering service during the war. While not as heavily protected as the Churchill, the Comet showed the way tank development was going. This led to the last of the cruiser line and the first of the Universal tanks, the very successful Centurion tank.
A larger gun than what was mangable in the Churchill required a larger turret on a wider turret ring and consequently a widening of the tank hull to carry such a turret. The Black Prince weighed around ten tons more than the Churchill so the suspension was modified and the tracks widened by 10 inches to carry the extra load. However, the Churchill's 350-horsepower (260 kW) engine was retained, leading to the tank being underpowered and slow, with maximum speeds of 10.5 mph (16.9 km/h) on roads and 7.5 mph (12.1 km/h) cross country. This was so slow that the tank's tactical usefulness would have been limited. Consideration was given to the use of the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine; this would have increased the available power to 600 hp (450 kW), but the idea never left the drawing–board. Likewise, plans to fit the Black Prince with the turret from the Centurion were never carried out.
By the time the Black Prince appeared in May 1945, the Sherman Firefly had acquired a proven combat record, the Comet tank was in service and the introduction of Centurion was imminent. All these tanks carried the QF 17-pounder or a derivative; all had better mobility than the Black Prince and the Centurion had frontal armour of comparable effectiveness. The Black Prince had become redundant and the project was abandoned.
The Black Prince marked the end of the development of the Churchill tank, and the end of the Infantry tank concept in British tank design.
In Girls und Panzer
West Kureouji Grona vs. Bellwall
A Black Prince is utilized by West Kureouji Grona Academy, crewed by Kiri Shiratori (Kilimanjaro) and her gunner, the Assam look-alike.
It is then seen in the match against Bellwall Academy. Kiri spent most of her time using her subordinates as her shield (specifically a Churchill) but her gunner was able to eliminate Bellwall's T-44 and damage their Panzer II in a single shot. Despite Bellwall's attempts to counterattack, the Black Prince was able to send their flag tank, a Tiger I commanded by Emi Nakasuga, down a steep ledge, immobilizing it.
It later circled around the mountainside in order to finish off the Tiger I flag tank. After spotting the silhouette of a tank, they fired: believing it to be the Tiger I. After the smoke cleared however, it became apparent that they had been tricked, for the silhouette was actually that of Bellwall's Panzer II. The Black Prince was then struck in the side by rounds fired from the Tiger I's 88mm cannon, immobilizing it and preventing them from fleeing. They were then finished off by Emi's tank: resulting in a defeat for Seiguro and a victory for Bellwall.
Originally in the Monthly Comic Alive magazine version Kilimanjaro landed in Bellwall Academy's ground with a Centurion tank but during the match she uses a Black Prince, it has been corrected in the paper version as the Centurion has been replaced by the Black Prince.