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Subject: British tank names
AussieEngineer    5/8/2005 9:18:10 AM
Most british tanks since the beginning of WW2 have names starting with C, crusader, cromwell, churchill, centurion, cheiftan and now challenger. Is this related to the idea of cruiser tanks, as cruiser begins with C? Also why the shift in names from leaders to "challenger"?
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shawn    RE:British tank names   5/8/2005 10:43:00 AM
'C' is for Cookie? ;) I had first thought that the 'C' was to signify 'Cruiser' type tanks, but then you'd have to discount the Churchill, which was an 'Infantry' type. In the end, I don't think there was any hard rule, but something that just became traditional to name British tanks with words starting with 'C' from around the time of the Churchill and Cromwell. There was also an earlier Challenger - a Cromwell with a 17 pounder. And it didn't have to be war leaders or military derived names, as there was also a Centaur (early Cromwell with a Liberty engine) and the Comet. You also left out Conqueror.
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AussieEngineer    RE:British tank names   5/9/2005 8:45:21 AM
I forgot about the centaur and the comet. I just thought it was interesting that they all started with C, they are much better names than American tanks.
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gf0012-aust    RE:British tank names   5/9/2005 8:53:57 AM
not all - remember the Matildas!
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RetiredCdnTanker    RE:British tank names   5/9/2005 11:25:59 AM
And don't forget the British tank produced in the largest numbers, the Valentine! I was under the impression as well that all of the "cruiser" tanks started with "C", and the Infantry tanks started with whatever. But the Churchill was designed as an Infantry tank. Things that make you go "hmmm".
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shawn    RE:British tank names   5/9/2005 3:17:13 PM
Ah... the Mathilda, the Queen of the Battlefield (at least until the 88's came into play). Up until the Mathilda 1, there were no British naming conventions - pre-war tanks had their manufactuer's identity, like the Vickers 6 ton Medium. Same went for German, Russian and French tanks (official names, not unofficial nicknames). Only later in the war did the Germans start calling their tanks Panther, Tiger, Hertzer, Marder. And it was the British that named the first American tanks that they used, after US generals - the M2 Stuart (nicknamed Honey), the M3 Lee/Grant (depending on coupla), the M4 Sherman. This naming convention was then adopted by the US Army, thus the Pershing and the Patton, etc. Same with aircraft - The Curtis P-36 Hawk was christened the Mohawk, the P-40 became the Warhawk/Tomahawk, the P-38 Lightning, the P-51 Mustang. These were subsequently adopted by the USAAF as official names. Only the Grumman F4F Wildcat, which was initially coined the Martlet in RNFAA service, reverted to its official USN name.
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Librarian    RE:British tank names   5/10/2005 10:47:58 AM
My impression was that the "C" for tank naming habit started with the Churchill. Ironically, I think Winston wasn't very happy with the idea. However, the practice stuck as it was easier to remember than the previous system. Incidentally, British SP guns are traditionally named for church positions. This started with the American M7 105mm self propelled howitzer. This had a .50 cal machine gun ring which looked like a pulpit. This lead to British troops nicknaming the vehicle "Priest". Subsequent SP guns included the Bishop, the Canadian-built Sexton (a 25-pounder on a Grant chassis), and the post-war Abbot. I have often felt that the British system of nomenclature has much to recommend it. After all, Centurion is at heart a Centurion almost no matter what you do to it. Compare this with say the Bradleys which are officially either M2, M3 or M6, and I am sure I've probably missed some variants.
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AlbanyRifles    British Naming American Tanks & aircraft? Not likely    5/10/2005 11:05:39 AM
Shawn, where did you get that idea? The British called the M3 Light Tank the Honey...the US called it a Stuart (After CSA cavalry leader JEB Stuart). The Brits didn't call it a Stuart. M3 medium tanks in British service were called Lees. The US Army had called theirs Grants and when they were modified for British service the Brits called them Lees. The US named the M4 the Sherman, not the Brits. The follow on of Pershing and Patton to Abrams was decidedly American, not British, influenced. BTW, an M2 was a tracked light vehicle with 2 machine gun turrets, not the light tank. And the P-40 was known as the Warhawk...from the long line of Hawk aircraft from Curtiss Aircraft. The British called it the Tomahawk...and it entered RAF service a year or more after USAAC service. The P-38 was in squadron service in the USAAC before Pearl Harbor and was named the Lightning BEFORE it was send to the RAF in early 1942...but then these 183 had to be returned since it viulated US law about exporting turbochargers. You are correct that North American and the RAF agreed on the name Mustang during its design.
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flamingknives    British Tank Nomenclature   5/12/2005 5:49:40 PM
A small piece of advice. If you can avoid going into British naming , or more accurately numbering, conventions prior to the Centurion, do so. It's a horrible morass that makes the current US system seem utterly sane and easy to understand. Most books I've read, most particularly Chaimberlain and Ellis' "British and American Tanks of World War Two", which I have to hand, US tanks were referred to by their numbered designation (i.e. M3 medium) while the names were a result of British service. Official and unofficial designations existed, such as the Stuart/Honey naming. Grants and Lees, AIUI, were both used in British Service. The aforementioned text has the Grant as the British modification and the Lee as the US design. As for the Sherman, British Designations are Sherman I to V, while US designations are M4 to M4A6
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AlbanyRifles    RE:British Tank Nomenclature   5/13/2005 11:38:04 AM
I got my info from the US Army Armor Museum.....and I admit I got the Grant and Lee backwards... but I stand by the US variants using US generals names as coming from US Army sources. I especially standby my comments on the naming of aircraft. I do have a question though, refer to a horrible morrass in our current namings.....what do you refer to for that? Seems logical to me.
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MERKAVAbestinworld    matilda, valentine, stuart.   5/14/2005 8:24:28 PM
You missed out the Covanenter. Matilda & Valentine were nor proper denominations but rather niknames. Both designs were aproved in 1938 before any british tank had a name. The denomination for the matilda was Infantry Tank MkII, and Infantry Tank Mk III for the Valentine. The Valentine was niknamed like that since it´s design was sent to the British War ministry one day before St. Valentine´s day 1938. I think the Matilda was named like that because of the Australian second national anthem "waltzing Matilda". I´m sure (I read it from a british source) american tank names in WW2 were originaly denominations the British made to clearly distinguish in paper from the M1, M2, M3... type of naming. Stuart was the denomination Brits gave to the american M3, and Honey was the nikname tank drivers gave to this tank since the first british soldier to drive it exclaimed "she´s a honey!"
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