Famous for its skirmishing and advanced reconnaissance roles in the North African campaigns of the
Second World War, the Crusader III cruiser tank combined a modern (albeit poorly armored) hull
design with an obsolete short 57-millimeter gun. The result was that this tank was practically defenseless
against the Panzer IV F2 armed with a long 75-millimeter cannon and specially against the powerful 88-millimeter
Armed with a hard hitting 75-millimeter gun, the American M3 Lee tank proved a formidable fighting
machine in battles with the Germans in North Africa and the Japanese in the Pacific. Produced as a
stop-gap measure in 1940 prior to the introduction of a more battle-worthy tank, the Lee fought the
German Panzer IV and Tiger I in Tunisia and despite heavy losses turned the tide of battle in favour of
the Allies. This tank is clearly recognizable because of its outdated design, with the main armament
placed in the hull instead of the rotating turret.
The M3 Grant was a modified version of the M3 Lee that joined the British 8th Army in North
Africa in 1942, and for the first time the German Panzer IV units found themselves matched in both
firepower and armour. This was one of the few multi-turreted tanks to see successful combat in the
Second World War, despite of the fact that having the main gun mounted on the hull was certainly
a tactical disadvantage. Other disadvantages were a tall profile and poor cruising performance on
The PzKpfw III was the German main battle tank when the Second World War started, but halfway the
conflict this tank was completely obsolete, due to its weak armor and the reduced size of its hull, which rendered impossible
to allocate a rotating turret large enough to house a cannon of the required firepower. In the African Campaign the successive
versions of this tank could withstand the British Crusader tanks, but in the Russian Campaign the T-34 marked its
retirement from the battlefield. However, the chassis of these retired tanks was reused to built the Sturmgeschütz III tank
destroyers, which were so effective until the end of the conflict.
The PzKpfw VI Tiger was deployed on the battlefield for the first time during the
campaign in Tunisia; failure was not an option, since this tank had everything to oppose any tank existent in
the late 1942. The new tank was a German response to the T-34; in comparison with the monstrous Tiger, the Soviet tank
could only impose a higher mobility and mechanical reliability, for the L/56 88-millimeter cannon and the very heavy
armor of the German tank was clearly superior.
On the Tiger the Germans mounted the famous 88-millimeter cannon for the
first time in a tank, in a time when this cannon had greater firepower than any other cannon installed in a
tank. This allowed to engage targets at larger distances and, to fully take advantage of this, the Tiger had been
equipped with an advanced stereoscopic gunsight which granted improved vision over that of the monoscopic
gunsights found in Soviet tanks. However, the Tiger was not perfect; the vertical surfaces of its armor required
higher thickness than that of the sloped plates of the T-34. This rendered the Tiger too weighty and therefore
prone to mechanical failures and high fuel consumption.