Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II

The Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II, was the definitive version of a medium tank based on the American M3, but produced in Canada and armed with a 6 pounder anti-tank gun in a cast turret.

The Ram was designed in an attempt to get a more flexible tank than the Medium Tank M3, which carried its main 75mm gun in the hull and only a 37mm anti tank gun in the turret. The British Tank Mission was allowed to order a modified M3 that had a larger turret without the normal machine gun cupola, but this was an interim design, to fill the gap before the arrival of the M4 Sherman, which was to carry a 75mm gun in the turret.

Ram Mk.II training with Canadian Infantry
Ram Mk.II training with Canadian Infantry

The British Tank Mission and the Canadian General Staff agreed to produce their own medium tank in Canada. This would use a new cast upper hull and turret, carry the British 6-pounder (57mm) anti-tank gun in the turret, but use the engine, drive train and suspension of the M3. Work on the hull and turret progressed quickly, and a pilot tank armed with a 2-pounder gun was ready by June 1941. Work on the 6-pounder was slower, and so the first 50 tanks were completed as the Ram Mk I, and were armed with the 2-pounder gun used in the Valentine tank.

The 6-pounder mount was ready to enter production in January 1942. Tanks that carried this gun were designated as the Ram II in Canadian and British service. It was something of an interim design, sitting between the M3 and M4. When a pilot tank armed with the 2-pounder gun was sent to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in July 1941 it was known as the Medium Tank M3 (Canadian). A possible version using a riveted hull was almost given the designation M3A6, but in February 1942 the Ram II was given the US designation Medium Tank M4A5.

Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II from the front
Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II from the front

Although the Ram II carried a more powerful anti-tank gun in its turret than the M3, the 6-pounder lacked a good high explosive shell, a flaw with most British designed tanks until quite late in the war. Although 1,899 Rams were built between January 1942 and the summer of 1943, it was never used in combat, but it did play a major part in the training of Canadian armoured units.

A number of changes were made to the design during the production run of the Ram II. The auxiliary machine gun turret was replaced with a more standard ball mount. The R975 EC2 engine was replaced with an R975 C1 that could use 80 octane fuel. The heavier suspension bogies developed for the M3 were also used on later Rams.

The Ram II was used as the basis of a number of special vehicles.

Ram Kangaroo Armoured Personnel Carrier
Ram Kangaroo
Armoured Personnel

The Command or Observation Post Tank had the turret guns removed and replaced with a dummy gun, the hydraulic traversing gear and turret basket were removed, two radio sets were installed along with seating and a map table. The rotating turret hatch could be used as a direction finder, and the tank was equipped to operate as an artillery fire control vehicle. The Command/ Observation Post Tank was used by the Canadian Armoured Divisions during the campaign in north-western Europe in 1944-45.

One of the most influential versions was the Ram Kangaroo Armoured Personnel Carrier. This had the turret removed to make space for troops to be carried, and inspired copies based on the Sherman and the M7 Priest.

Hull Length: 228in
Hull Width: 109in
Height: 105in
Crew: 5
Weight: 65,000lb combat loaded
Engine: Continental R975 C1 9-cylinder air cooled radial engine
Hp: 350hp at 2,400rpm
Max Speed: 21mph sustained, 24mph max
Max Range: 120 miles cruising range, road
Armament: 6pdr Mk III or V and .30in coaxial machine gun in turret, .30in machine gun on AA mount on turret hatch, .30in MG in bow ball mount, 2in Mortar Mk I (smoke) in turret






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 August 2016), Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II ,

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