The Churchill tank was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of World War II. Developed in the early 1940s, the Churchill was named after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had promoted the creation of the tank as a combat weapon during World War I.
The Churchill was created as an “infantry support tank,” designed to navigate shell holes and trenches, push through obstacles, and provide cover fire for soldiers on the ground. Over time, the tank’s role shifted. This improved version of the Churchill tank carried a bigger gun and thicker armor than previous models. Late Churchills are the best-armed, most-armored, and yet the slowest of the tanks Churchill series.
Many Churchills were modified for construction needs, such as bridge-layer, vehicle recovery, mine-clearing, and service with combat engineer units. Others became troop and gun carriers. This version of the Churchill carried a flame thrower in the place of its hull-mounted machine gun. The tank often towed a fuel trailer and could project a stream of burning fuel at 4 gallons a second. The flame thrower was effective to 120 yards or more. Flame thrower Churchills were dubbed “Crocodiles."
Over 7,300 tanks (all versions) were built, serving in Europe, North Africa, Russia, and Australia.