The Churchill infantry tank has been used by British forces during the Second World War as a close support heavy tank. It was heavily armored, but slow and often with not enough firepower to face its enemy counterparts.
The "infantry tank" was a concept derived by the experience of trench warfare during First World War. Its main purpose was to advance together with the infantry during the main attack phase and provide fire support. For this reason, it didn't need to be too fast, having to keep the pace with foot soldiers, thus it could weight more and be more heavily armoured.
Its main feature were the track running around side "panniers": they gave excellent performances when clearing obstacles but made it vulnerable to side shots.
The model Mk. IV was 7.44 m (24 ft 5 in) long, 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) high and 3.25 m (10 ft 8 in) wide. It had a crew of 5 members. The overall weight was around 40 t, limiting the vehicle speed to only 20 km/h (12.4 mph) on road. It was propelled by a 6-cylinder 350 hp petrol engine, whereas its maximum autonomy was 145 km (90 miles).
The armament was a 6 pdr. (57 mm, 2.24 in) main gun, two 7.92 mm (0.312 in) machine guns —one coaxial to the gun, the other in the front hull. The turret was cast, unlike the previous models. The armor was quite thick, varying from 102 mm (4 in) in the frontal hull to 51 mm (2 in) in the rear hull.
The Churchill tanks were built since June 1941, and were first used during the failed Dieppe raid in August 1942; later they saw combat in North Africa, Italy, Soviet Union (given to the Red Army under the lend-lease program) and in the Western Front.
They were the base for several special-purpose vehicles: recovery tanks, assault mortars, bridge-layers, mine-clearers and flamethrower tanks.
The last combat use of the Churchill was during the Korean War; it was struck from active service in 1952.
Churchill Mk. IV during Tankfest 2012
The Tank Museum, Bovington, United Kingdom