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You are here:Home arrow Blog! arrow World of Tanks Guide to playing the Crusader
World of Tanks Guide to playing the Crusader PDF Print
(6 votes)

Horrible bad Crusader? You must be a bad player if you think that.

Unlike the rather bad Covenanter the Crusader is a potential 55% plus tank, a game changer even - just learn to play it. Some say WoT IS biased against the Brits and I would agree with them in general, however, it is still possible to play very well in one or two types. The trouble is that the Brits are a skill line and if you are not exhibiting general skill, you may do badly with the Crusader. Knowing how to play the Crusader is the key, some tanks just carry you, the Crusader won't.

History - It should also be stated that tanks were not Britain's priority. In fact the army was always the poor relation right up to the war's start. The security of Britain itself always depended upon the Navy and from the 1930s the brand new Royal Air Force. Both had access to the Lion's share of the budget as Britain could not survive without them. The army just had to be good enough to protect the Empire and to act as a potential force strong enough to form a cadre in case a European war ever occurred. The end result is an under-funded tank arm always trying to catch up. In 1940 after Dunkirk the army was asked how many tanks it needed to prosecute the war in all theatres, they stated 8,000 new tanks were required but at that time there were only a hundred and twenty or so tanks in the whole of Great Britain.

crusader-500.jpgWhen you look at Britain's tank designs in this light it is clear that the armoured corps could never receive what material they actually wanted as production was always struggling just to catch up. Aero engines, the best engines for tanks were in short supply, all those lovely Merlins had to go in Lancaster bombers, four apiece or Spitfires and Hurricanes just for essential defence. Gun lathes were required to make gun tubes for the biggest Navy in the world, welders were busy welding hulls for destroyers and other ships just to allow Britain to survive the U-boat blockade. Tank design and production was just another expenditure on the balance sheet while Britain was building other costly war-winning weapons elsewhere, the invention, deployment and intelligent use of radar, the development of electro-mechanical computing (Bombes, Colossus) for code-breaking &c. By 1941 Britain was fighting three first class nations and all its foreign allies had been defeated. With these elements in mind it is almost surprising that Britain came up with any good tank designs at all.

-oOo-

The one thing you learn in WoT is that you have to adapt to a poor tank's characteristics to find the best from it. In real life, the same. The Brits adapted, it took time and effort but it was possible to win battles with sheer guts, determination, a reasonable gun and a little armour. They proved it time and again in the desert then again in Italy and in Normandy. It has to be said though, if there had been a real-life win rate it might have been closer to 40% for the first few years until all the new weapons and more importantly new methods came on stream.

The Germans had a tank nut on their side, Hitler. It is so much easier to get what you want when you are the supreme ruler.

In WoT the British line suffers from the same amount of neglect and misunderstanding by WoT's development team, as being Russian, they won't buff those tanks as much as they would do if they were Soviet (Cromwell is the only tank to provide an exception to that rule). Some British tanks that are available in the game are still not even in the British tech tree. Other nationalities get regular and numerous HD buffs and well distributed 'unobtanium', the Brits will receive an occasional HD remodel but the Russkis just aren't interested in the line. To them it is the Great Patriotic War and it is the battle between the Nazis and the Soviets that moves them. The fact that the Brits invented the tank and had hundreds of real-life, paper and non-paper designs from all over the commonwealth means nothing to them. They don't even understand what the commonwealth of nations means in the context of WWII, see RAM.

The Crusader was a Cruiser and took its mantle from the Cruiser MkIV which it was designed to replace. Cruisers were conceived as breakthrough or exploitative tanks designed to wreak havoc in the enemies' rear when a penetration had been achieved. Think of them as the tank form of cavalry. The Crusader was a development of the Cruiser MkIII/IV utilising an upgraded Christie suspension in a much modified and longer hull with an extra road wheel and an entirely new turret whose design was shared with the Covenanter - a tank that was designed and built at the same time to a similar specification.

The tank had inherent weaknesses in its design, the use of bolted armour plate instead of welded armour, a weak front idler wheel mounting, a turret ring precluding the mounting of any gun giving more than the recoil experienced when firing the 6pdr, the vertical box over the driver's position presented a useful target for enemy guns that abrogated the use of well-sloped armour elsewhere. The sloped turret armour, although useful to enhance the armour thickness, did cause a shot trap and increased vulnerability to the turret ring. The Liberty engine showed a tendency for the engine to overheat in desert conditions whilst careful maintenance, keeping the cooling fins and chain cleared of blocking sand was required to prevent this. The cooling fans were chain-driven and both the cooling fan drive shaft and the chain itself had a tendency to break. Poorly-sited oil-bath type air filters were easily clogged by the fine desert sand thrown up from the rear drive sprocket and so regular daily cleaning was required, if the oil bath filter became clogged, poor engine performance would result and some fine particles of sand might then enter the engine cylinders causing premature engine wear. The engine itself was not designed for use in tanks and its separate bolted cylinder construction meant that the engine could be shaken to bits by the long desert miles that the Crusader tanks were asked (but never designed) to undertake. The tank's fast speed and long track run coupled with an absence of return rollers and small track guides could cause the tank to throw its track during high speed turns. The tracks themselves were not particularly wide resulting in a higher ground pressure meaning that some types of soft shifting ground would slow the Crusader's off-road performance. It also contributed to track-shedding.

The tank's design sacrificed armour for mobility in order to satisfy a cruiser requirement that was by itself a tactical mistake. Despite having a well-performing AP round in both the 2pdr and 6pdr guns that it subsequently mounted, the tank was not the equal of its contemporary adversaries in multi-role combat having an insufficient weight of shell precluding firing a useful high explosive round from either gun. Please read the section regarding buffs for the possibility of mounting a 75mm QF gun capable of firing a 12lb HE shell in this turret...

crusader-garage-650.jpg

 fig 2.0 A four-skilled crew and two stripes, showing it is possible to make the Crusader into a good fighter if you know how.

In reality, the tank saw plenty of combat in the North African desert. It held its own against superior designs and was used to great effect in flanking movements. The 6pdr gun was effective against the armour it encountered in the desert as was the earlier 2pdr. Its low profile and fast speed allowed it to be used in the desert as part of a mobile flanking force. The Italians in particular rated the tank as it was superior to anything that their army fielded, they liked it so much that they copied the design and planned to create their own Christie-based, low profile, fast tanks.

However, British tank crews were unimpressed with the Crusader's reliability in the North African Campaign but it has to be said that the tank was not designed to operate whilst driving many hundreds of miles on its own tracks in hot, sandy and rocky deserts. These sorts of conditions wore out even the hardiest of tanks in short order so some of Crusader's faults were exacerbated and exaggerated by the terrible conditions.

liberty12-300.pngNevertheless, when the Crusader was fitted with the 6pdr gun it was a clear upgrade over its predecessor in all departments except for the engine/gearbox. That configuration was retained from the Cruiser III/IV with some small improvements in power output. The Crusader does have other improvements over its predecessors, thicker armour, uprated suspension, a harder-hitting gun, lower silhouette, bigger escape hatches for the crew  and improved communications using the longer range and more reliable WS 18 radio. The tank was a good gun platform, the Christie suspension soaked up bad terrain without undue stress on the crew and allowed fast progression through the desert. It also allowed that speed to be maintained. The engine was a known-quantity and despite being inferior to German designs could be manufactured in sufficient numbers to allow a tank force to be created. It shared the same V-12 format and size as the Meteor so future engines could be 'dropped in' to the hull for later testing. The Liberty engine could be un-governed allowing the engine to achieve higher engine revolutions achieving more power and even more acceleration/speed. The tank's low profile stood it in good stead when used in the recon. role allowing it to operate in a stealthy, hull down fashion. With regard to protection, British tank armour was composite, ie. hardened exterior armour on an inner softer plate, this reduced spalling and crew injury on non-penetrations. Hits on comparable German hardened armour, even on non-penetrations, could injure the crew, razor sharp shards being ejected on the underside, not so on the Brits. The use of greatly sloping armour (except on the driver's compartment) allowed the armour to perform to its maximum extent. The angling of the turret armour sides and rear could optimise the armour's effectiveness and increased the space within the turret beyond that which the narrow ring could normally provide.

Buffs - The Crusader could do with a general little buff in the speed department as the genuine article was known to be a real mover (with governor detached). This sort of improvement will never happen as the Russkis that control the game give the Brits very little attention. The Crusader shares its DNA with a series of Russian tanks but despite this commonality the Russki equipment all seem to exhibit better general handling qualities. We have to accept then that speed is not the Crusader's main ability unlike its real-life counterpart in the desert. The tank shares its engine with the Cruiser MKIII/IV but boosted slightly in performance, however, this boost is absorbed by the Crusader's heavier armour and lengthened hull and it does not result in a speed increase.

Q. Could the Crusader mount a bigger gun?

To answer that question let us have a look at another vehicle. The Staghound was an armoured car that stands as a good example. It originally had a small calibre 37mm gun in a small Rock Arsenal-style cast turret. Then someone in the British Army had the novel idea of using cast-off Crusader turrets (that had been designed knowing that one day the turret might have to take the 57mm 6pdr gun)  - on the Staghound. That meant the Staghound A/Cs could all be upgraded fairly easily to carry the 6pdr or an even bigger gun. The idea was that British heavy armoured cars would mount a 3" gun capable of dispensing high explosive. The gun available to the British was the OQF 75mm which was a development of the 6pdr and used the same breech, was the same size as the 6pdr as it used the same lathes to cut the barrels, had similar recoil characteristics (heavier shells but lower pressure) and as a result fitted perfectly in that turret. Unfortunately, only by reducing the crew in the turret to two.

This conversion proved that the Crusader turret is definitely capable of taking the recoil of a gun that fires a 12-13lb projectile at medium velocities without falling to bits. It has the space at the rear of the breech to take the recoil. It has the strength to handle the recoil forces, it has the space to store long case 75mm single piece shells, it also has the ability to hold the gun in a large cradle incorporating an internal mantlet just as per the 6pdr. There is also space in the turret for enough crew to operate the gun.

stag-iii-650.jpg

 fig 3.0  Staghound armoured car with Crusader turret and 75mm gun.


It gave the Crusader turret a gun good enough to deal out some significant damage. The Crusader in WoT could easily take the same gun and it would add some spice to its gun selection and could change its gameplay.

That's the history over. Now to gameplay. 

Gameplay - When utilising the Crusader flanking is not just a word nor a concept, nor is camo... you need to use/have them both in order to control this tank properly. Don't shoot at all until you know that it will be a definite penetration and even then only when you are in absolutely no danger from a return shot.

An important tip: Do NOT bring this tank into battle until you have researched all its modules and have earnt enough credits to equip the tank with a few modules. You must have the best gun, tracks, turret and radio before you ever take this tank into battle. Use the tank below, the Covenanter, to earn the necessary credits. Without all these significant buffs the tank is largely useless.

The Crusader has some fine points though which mark it out as an all-round better tank than its predecessor the Covenanter . The Crusader has the hard hitting 6pdr. It will penetrate most tanks armour although gold rounds will be needed for the heavy tanks, take a lot of them into battle with you but try not to use them for anything other than heavies or you'll lose credits heavily.

The Crusader is a stealthy tank, not a true scout due to its size but stealthy enough to stay hidden when it is required. Use folds in the ground, ridge lines to conceal your progression. Flanking is the Crusader's true forte. As a sniper it has its moments but when sniping from flanks, this tank is a killer. Always go for a flank.

Use it as a flanker then as a spotter and a sniper. Find a hull-down position in a depression, behind a bush and rip them to bits attacking their weakspots. Use the tank's low profile and use ridges to conceal your advance, don't shoot targets unless there is no risk to yourself. Passive scouting is really possible in this tank due to the light tank camo rating the Crusader receives. With enhanced camouflage skills for your crew passive (no shooting) spotting is really possible.

fig 4.0 A video to show a bit of gameplay, spotting and sniping on a map that has a couple of good spot points. It shows that it is possible to do some serious damage when the matchmaker and RNG is on your side and the enemy team is full of tomatoes.

 

The Crusader tank is not nimble, quick relocations are not one of its abilities but it can out-manouevre heavies and circle them using the 6pdr to ravage and wreak destruction. It also has a decent turn rate when turning while stationary using its tracks in a neutral steer. This can really help when circling. The Crusader is not a medium nor is it a light and this makes it hard to classify within WoT. It is a Cruiser, a breakthrough tank, the tank equivalent of cavalry. Being a light medium it has neither a big enough gun nor thick enough armour to deal with any mediums it meets. It is also definitely not a light tank not being fast nor nimble but having armour that can be damaged by light tank guns. It sits firmly in between as a light-medium tank that requires unique playstyle. Gun depression is not very good, adequate at best, you may need to angle your tank to obtain shots when sitting on ridge lines.

In the game, it plays like a light without the speed, so, as with all  lights plan your route with care as you don't want to come face-to-face with the enemy. Be doubly careful as quick reverse is not an option. Despite its weaknesses the Crusader is a good all round package, fast enough to be  considered mobile, a gun good enough to dish out pain, armour that can resist a shot or two but no more, camo. rating that will keep it hidden. Don't brawl with it, don't expect it to carry, collapsing teams will almost always take you with them.

When scouting, if you push too far ahead of the rest of your team do be aware that British radios are given limited range, therefore your spotting will not be relayed back to thsoe who are camping at the back furthest from you.

Modules? The medium tank gun rammer is a good addition as good DPM is always useful especially in close encounters. Binoculars and camouflage are necessary.

binos-rammer-and-camo.jpg

The basic visibility on this tank is not the best in class so you will want to mount the binoculars or the coated optics. I find that the tank is a good stationary spotter so I wait the extra two seconds for the binoculars to activate. Those who prefer to spot on the move will mount the coated optics.

Skills? 

Commander: sixth sense, camouflage, mentor, recon, jack of all trades.
Gunner: camouflage,  intuition, designated target, snapshot.
Driver: camouflage, clutch braking, off-road driving, preventative maintenance.

I always go for skills first as they work cumulatively as you progress toward 100%. The only exception to this, is the commander's perk, sixth sense, an essential attribute for the commander and the first you should aim for. Instead of selecting it immediately go for a skill such as camouflage first and as soon as you make it to 100% drop it instead for the  sixth sense perk, then go for camouflage again.

Image below shows the MkIII Crusader in action in Tunisia.

crusader-650.jpg

fig 5.0 The driver seems to be working out his position with the help of an Ipad...

Conclusion - Reasons for learning how to play the Crusader? Well, with regard to the progression from the Crusader to the Comet (ignoring the Cromwell), there is a need to get to grips with the Crusader if you want to master the style of the Comet and attain a good win rate from the very start. The Comet and Crusader play in a similar style, the Comet feels like an upgraded Crusader, slightly wanting in all departments but the mix of speed, armour and gun isn't bad at all. 

The Crusader is not one of the tanks that you retreat to when your account is being nerfed (remember all those bad teams during that losing streak? ). It is not a tank that you can carry a game in though a good WN8 is certainly achievable when things are going well and the Matchmaker smiles upon you... 

Remember, British tanks never receive the same love as the Soviets, so don't expect to rush in and win. You won't.



While the beginning of the above video starts describing the Cruiser MKIII it actually demonstrates the Crusader MKIII under power.
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Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 February 2017 )
 
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