“Old Noll” was the affectionate nickname given to Oliver Cromwell the great Parliamentarian leader of the English Civil War by his troops. They changed their minds a bit after their calls for greater equality and freedoms were ignored but before those facts he is still regarded as a brilliant military tactician. What better way to commemorate his legacy then, thought Morris Motors, than to provide the British Army with a fast light tank in his name? Thus the TANK CRUISER MARK VIII A27M, CROMWELL IV was born. You can’t drive a Cromwell now but you can get pretty close to it with some Tank Driving Days like those available from a specialist company like armourgeddon.
The tank was supposed to be a cruiser but there was no end of problems with it and the Army were getting a little impatient for a new tank considering they had the rather pressing issue of the Second World War to deal with. A fast tank similar to the North American’s Shermans would not go amiss as everything the British had at the time was constantly being outclassed by the Panzer II and the Tiger. Morris Motors took the bold approach of just giving up on it and it was Rolls Royce who then came up with a solution. The first of these was to stick a V12 meteor engine, not too dissimilar to the Merlin in a Spitfire, in it and add a super suspension and transmission system. The tank was designed in 1942, by June 1944 it was finally ready.
It’s timing was perfect. June 1944 was the month of D-Day, the biggest invasion of another Landmass by Air, Sea and Land that the world has ever seen. Once the bridgeheads at Juno and Sword beaches had been established the plucky Cromwell’s were sent out into France to see what was out there and to try and link up to support the many parachute regiments already out in the field.
It proved to be perfect at this job. It was easily the fastest tank around and superbly maneuverable. Although it was not the most powerfully gunned tank compared to the Germans their Panzers and Tigers lumbered about unable to hit them and the nippy Cromwells could get round the back and blast them in their less armoured rears or mount well drilled hit and run surprise attacks. This was very much in keeping with the spirit of Old Noll’s New Model Army. So, a well named tank indeed.