Let us visit the British tank barracks first and reveal a whole series of brand new models. Our modeler Nimrod6 presents his skills with four variants of the Crusader tank, showing what still can be achieved with the good old BF1942 engine. His models don´t need to fear a comparison with ones from newer games. Our renders as well as the ingame screenshots give impressive proof of that. The Crusader tank family was coded by Sarge31FR.
The Crusader belonged to the British category of so-called "Cruiser tanks". They were especially designed for fast attack operations and therefore traded heavy armour for speed
and mobility. Crusader tanks first appeared on the North African battlefields in June 1941 during Operation Battleaxe. The models of the first Mk.I series were armed with a QF 2pdr (40mm) gun which outperformed the German 37mm gun used in the Panzer III. It also had an auxiliary machine gun turret mounted on the left side of the front hull which was awkward to use and of little tactical value. Because of that it was often removed in the field or remained unoccupied. On the Mk.II this turret was left out, the engine replaced with a more reliable one and the amount of ammo increased. The next version, the Mk.III was a response to the new Panzer III and IV models with their stronger guns. The Mk.III got stronger armour and was armed with a QF 6 pounder (57mm) gun. It was the most battleworthy model of the Crusader series.
After the end of the desert war in May 1943 the British replaced the Crusader with tanks of American production which were better armed, better armoured and most of all much more reliable. Nevertheless, the time of the Crusader tanks was not over yet. Many of them were converted to gun tractors and did their duty as towing vehicles for the 17pdr anti-tank gun for example, until the end of the war. Another conversion was the Crusader Mk.III AA on which a new turret with a dual 20mm Oerlikon was mounted. Some of those tanks landed with the British forces on the D-Day beaches in June 1944 to provide the invasion troops with air defence against the expected German low level fighter attacks. They also proved themselves in ground combat, where the 20mm guns had an devastating effect against infantry, transport vehicles and lightly armoured vehicles.
Another tank especially designed for D-Day was the Centaur IV CS (Close Support). It was armed with a 95mm howitzer. The Centaur was the successor of the Crusader, but despite the lots of improvements it still suffered from the unreliable Liberty engine. Because of this the British regarded it as an interim solution until the new Meteor engine was available which was fitted to the Cromwell. Despite of the engine problems the Centaur proved its value quite well in the battles in Normandy where it provided important artillery support against enemy fortifications for the advancing troops. Some of those tanks saw action until late 1944 when they finally got replaced by Cromwell CS and Churchill CS variants.
Our new content for the German troops is also of very high quality. First to mention is the new Panzer IIF which replaces our old model in BG42. It was created by Koricus and comes with three different skins: Winter, Desert and Panzer-Grey. The Panzer II, alongside with the Panzer 38(t), was the most numerous tank of the German troops in the years 1939 and 1940. Although already obsolete at that time the Panzer II remained in the front regiments in Russia and Northern Africa until 1942 because of insufficient production numbers of better tanks. Many of them continued to stay in service until the end of the war, fighting partisans behind the front lines and acting as command tanks.
The last chapter of this news belongs to a truly unique vehicle: The Opel Blitz "Maultier". During the Battle of France, especially after Dunkirk, the Germans captured many Universal Carriers which have been left behind by the British. Many of them were disassembled and their Carden-Lloyd running gears fitted onto Opel Blitz trucks, replacing the rear wheels. The result was an extremely reliable all terrain half-track vehicle which was desperately needed by the German forces on the Eastern Front. It was widely used as transport, mobile field shop, ambulance, gun tractor and as weapon carrier armed with a 2cm anti-aircraft gun.
The reconstruction was done by Bommel, code and track animations were done by Sarge31FR. The Maultier is not the last new content we want to show you, but we´re finished with the news for today. So watch out for the next news. Battlegroup42 1.5 is in final beta phase and will soon be available for download.