The TOG II Heavy Tank was the second design produced by a group of First World War tank experts in 1940-41, and was a more modern looking vehicle than the TOG I, carrying its main gun in a large turret.
In September 1939 Sir Albert Stern, secretary of the Landships Committee during the First World War, and a key figure in the development of the tank, was asked to form a committee to examine Britain's tank requirements in the Second World War. He convinced a number of his former colleagues to join, and the committee soon became known as 'The Old Gang', and their two tank designs at the TOG I and TOG II.
The TOG II was developed alongside the TOG I, which was a rather old fashioned looking rhomboid tank, with its main gun in the hull front and a Matilda II turret on top.
The production of the TOG II was authorised on 6 May 1940. A wooden mockup was produced, showing the tank armed with a 3-in howitzer in the hull front, and a 3-in howitzer, 2-pounder anti-tank gun and Besa machine gun in the low profile turret, as well as machine guns in sponsons on each side.
The TOG II was give recessed tracks, with the return track running on top of the small road wheels. This allowed the height of the superstructure to be lowered, but more importantly left space for a much larger turret ring.
The only prototype of the TOG II was completed in March 1941. It differed significantly from the design, in that the low profile turret never appears and the sponsons weren't installed. Instead it was completed with a mock-up of a rather tall and blocky turret, probably intended for the TOG IIR (Revised), a shorter version of the TOG II, with torsion bar suspension and no sponsons. The tall turrets rather wasted the effort that had gone into the new tracks. In April 1943 the torsion bar suspension was actually fitted to the existing TOG II*.
The TOG II made its first run on 16 March 1941 without the hull gun, sponsons, armour and with a wooden turret, but still weighed an impressive 48 tons.
The TOG II did eventually get its own turret in the summer of 1941, armed with a 77mm gun, but this was soon replaced. In December 1941, when the Tank Board first discussed the idea of mounting the excellent 17-pounder anti-tank gun in a tank, the TOG II was the only British design with a turret ring big enough to take it. Stothert & Pitt of Bath were asked to design a turret for the upcoming Challenger A30, which was being designed expressly to carry the 17-pounder, but in order to speed up development of the turret early in 1942 it was installed on the TOG II, which became the TOG II*. This made it the first British tank to carry the 17-pounder.
Work on the TOG II continued well into 1943 and it became a reliable vehicle. The Old Gang assembled to watch a late trial on 27 May 1943, but by this point the project had been left behind by more advanced designs.
The TOG II* at least looked the part, but it still suffered from the basic problems of the design. There was no suspension, the vehicle was very heavy (179,200lb or 81 tonnes), and it was three times longer than wide, making it very difficult to steer.
Stats (TOG II*)
Crew: 6 (driver, commander, gunner, two loaders, co-driver)
Weight: 179,200lb (81 tonnes)
Engine: 600hp Paxman-Ricardo V12 diesel
Max Speed: 8.5mph road, 4mph cross country
Max Range: 50 miles road radius
Armament: One 17pdr OQF