The mechanical characteristics of the Crusader tank are important to understanding the fighting in the Western Desert in World War II. For better or worse, the Crusader was the most numerous British tank in the desert fighting, and served during the heaviest fighting, from mid-1941 through the Tunisian campaign in early 1943.
This title gives some background on the Crusader, but I wanted more. Part of the problem is that the book gives equal attention to the Covenanter, a tank with severe cooling problems that kept it on training duties in Britain's mild climate through the war. To my mind, the Covenanter warrants a page or two at most; the Crusader should be the primary subject. There is also a bizarre typo that claims about 17,000 Covenanters were built; other sources put the total at a more realistic-sounding 1,700.
The author points out that some of the Crusader's notorious reliability problems stemmed from lengthy shipping time. Improper stowage, and attendant exposure to salt water, worsened the tank's problems once it arrived in North Africa's searing heat and ubiquitous dust. In fact, this much-maligned tank had some strengths, including good speed and a tough suspension. Reliability problems were reduced as crews learned the tank's servicing needs. The Crusader III mounted the highly effective 6-pounder gun, although this version did not arrive in North Africa until late summer, 1942, and was hampered by a two-man turret.
Text is readable, albeit in a techno/British style that may seem stilted to some casual American readers. I also would have liked a little more attention to the tanks' predecessors, including the A-13 Mk III and IV series that preceded both designs, and the flawed "cruiser tank" concept. A little more discussion of the two-pounder gun and its tank mounting would have helped, too. Note to Osprey publishers: the Crusader was important enough to warrant a title in the new "duel" series, perhaps up against the Panzer IIIh.
If you know little about the Crusader, this title will give you new information. Illustrations are of good quality. If, like me, you have encountered this tank in many readings, you will add a little to your knowledge, but still have a lot of questions.