- "It looks like a crab!"
- "I'm removing the speed limiter!"
In 1938, Nuffield Mechanizations and Aero Limited produced their A16 design for a heavy cruiser tank based on Christie suspension. Looking for a lighter and cheaper tank to build, the General Staff requested alternatives. To this end, the A13 Mk III cruiser tank, which would enter service as the "Tank, Cruiser Mk V"(and known in service as "Covenanter"), was designed. Nuffield was, in 1939, offered the opportunity to take part in the production of the Covenanter.
Nuffield, however, preferred to work on its own version of the A13—though it still provided design work for the Covenanter's turret. This new tank was adopted as "Tank, Cruiser, Mk VI Crusader", under General Staff specification A15. Although Crusader is often referred to as an improved version of the Covenanter, in fact it was a parallel design. Both tanks were ordered "off the drawing board" without building prototypes first. Despite a later start, the pilot model of the Crusader was ready six weeks before the first Covenanter.
Unlike earlier "Christie cruisers" (A13, Marks III and IV and the Mark V Covenanter) that were built with four road wheels, Crusader had five road wheels each side to improve weight distribution in a tank that weighed almost 20 tons instead of the 14 tons of the previous cruisers. The 32 in (810 mm)-diameter wheels were of pressed steel with solid rubber tyres. The hull sides were built up of two separated plates, with the suspension arms between them.
It had a different engine from the Covenanter, different steering system and a conventional cooling system with radiators in the engine compartment. At the left side of the front hull—a place occupied by the engine radiator in the Covenanter—was mounted a small hand-traversed auxiliary turret armed with a Besa machine gun. The auxiliary turret was awkward to use and was often removed in the field or remained unoccupied.
Both the A13 Mk III and the A15 designs used the same main turret. The turret was polygonal—with sides that sloped out then in again—to give maximum space on the limited turret ring diameter. Early production vehicles had a "semi-internal" cast gun mantlet, which was quickly replaced in production by a better protected larger cast mantlet with three vertical slits for the main gun, a coaxial Besa machine gun and for the sighting telescope. There was no cupola for the commander who instead had a flat hatch with the periscope mounted through it.
The main armament, as in other British tanks of the period, was balanced so that the gunner could control its elevation through a padded shaft against his right shoulder rather than using a geared mechanism. This fitted well with the British doctrine of firing accurately on the move.
When it was understood that there would be delays in the introduction of successor heavy cruiser tanks (the Cavalier, Centaur and Cromwell), the Crusader was adapted with a six-pounder gun.
In Girls und Panzer
Can be seen behind Assam in the Episode 6 after the match St. Gloriana vs Ooarai. (According to Radio Drama Crusaders didn't participate in the battle due to Rosehip's lack of gracefulness.)
Girls und Panzer: Der Film
During the Girls und Panzer: Der Film, St. Gloriana Girls Academy fielded four crusader cruiser tanks against Ooarai Girls High School and Chi-Ha-Tan Academy during an exhibition match, with Rosehip being the Crusaders platoon commander, who also ends up being knocked out later on in the match (three by Miho and Rosehip's one by a lucky shot by Momo) and is seen again later on in the film where St Gloriana comes to help Ooarai by bringing their Matilda, a Churchill and a Crusader, with Rosehip crewing it.
It is found that the Crusader has a speed "limiter" which allows it to cruise at a specific speed and then if taken off that it can reach its top speed, this is shown later in the film when Rosehip decides to take off the speed limiter to get ahead of the M24 Chaffee that she's been chasing after the entire film and also wrongly charges against the Selection University's T28 with Darjeeling requesting her to retreat. Eventually Rosehip in her Crusader does manage to eliminate the M24 Chaffee, albeit at the cost of her own tank that smashes into a wall right after they knock out the Chaffee.
The Crusader is most likely named due to the crusades during the medieval period and also probably due to how St. Gloriana as a whole is themed upon, being chivalric and honorable during matches and fighting fair and not having a "clear" advantage against their opponents.