The Canadian Ram Cruiser Tank

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The Canadian Ram Cruiser Tank was a unique Canadian evolution of the American M3 Medium (Grant/Lee). It had been acknowledged as early as August 1940 that the British would be unable to meet our requirements for cruiser tanks, and Montreal Locomotive Works (a subsidiary of American Locomotive Co., which was already building tanks) was designated as the Canadian Tank Arsenal. It was judged that the excessive height and inferior armament configuration of the M3 series could be improved upon locally, and a new tank was designed around the excellent M3 engine and drivetrain.
Unfortunately, during the process of design, the British specification for cruiser tanks mounting a 2 pdr gun was adhered to, and the 60-inch turret ring of the Grant was retained, thus restricting the Ram from ever being upgunned beyond 6 pdr. [then] Colonel Worthington himself had argued for the minimum of a 75mm main gun, but was overrulled by the Interdepartmental Tank Committee under the influence of the British Tank Mission. While this was happening, however, British experience on the battlefield was already dictating the necessity for a heavier main gun, and the early 2 pdr Ram did at least get a turret with a readily detachable frontpiece, which could be removed with gun in place and replaced by a 6pdr assembly.
The prototype Ram rolled off the assembly line in June 1941, and general production of the Ram I began that November. Within three months the line had been changed to Ram II production, which continued until July 1943, at which point the decision had been taken to re-equip British and Canadian units with the abundant and better-armed U.S. Sherman. A total of 1948 Rams of all marques were produced, the last 84 of which were the O.P. variant carrying a dummy gun and two No. 19 Wireless sets for use by the FOOs (Forward Observation Officers) of the Sexton-mounted artillery regiments then being formed.
In its cruiser configuration, and limited by its small turret ring and 6 pdr gun, the Ram never saw combat, but was used instead for the training of armour crews in Great Britain. By late-summer 1944, with the war raging in Northern Europe, even that function had all but ceased, but the Ram found new life, and went on to do yeoman service, in a number of variants including the Kangaroo armoured personnel carrier, Badger flame tank, Wallaby ammunition tank, armoured gun tower (for the 17 pdr towed AT gun) and ARV. Sadly, most of the Rams which survived the European war ended their time as hard targets on a variety of tank ranges, and few examples remain.

Ram I Left Side Shown here is an early production Ram II sitting in Worthington Tank Park at Canadian Forces Base Borden. Note the sponson door, and the early, short-barrelled Mk.III 6 pdr gun; the Ram I sported a 2 pdr main gun and a pistol port/vision block (protectoscope) in the door. Details of the early M3 chassis are readily visible here. All Rams carried variations of the Wright Continental R-975 air-cooled 9-cylinder radial engine, the same engine equipping early Shermans, M7 Priests and the Canadian Sexton S.P. Gun. Running on aviation octane, this engine could carry the 32-ton Ram and its crew of five to a maximum of 25 m.p.h.

Ram I M.G. Cupola This close-in shot of the same vehicle shows details of the auxillary turret and fender-mounted tool box, as well as the removeable 6 pdr mantlet.  Note that on this model, the protectoscope and port on the sponson door had been eliminated in favour of a ventilator; this appears to have been cut off and plated over in this example. Later production eliminated the side door (and auxillary turret) altogether. 

Ram II Elsewhere at Worthington Park rests this late-production Ram II. Note that the auxillary turret is gone, with the left-hand front hull redesigned to match the right (driver's) side and a ball mount incorporated for the Browning .30 machinegun. The gun here is a Mk.V 6 pdr with muzzle counterweight. The track shown here is CDP (Canadian Dry Pin), but the Ram usually used any number of variations of U.S. track as delineated on Hanno Spoelstra's excellent site The Sherman Register.

Ram II Another view of the same example. Unfortunately, weather has taken its toll of the vehicles displayed outside at Worthington Park, and all such vehicles have been formly welded shut, thus preventing any kind of interior exploration or documentation. It is interesting to note that the designation 'Ram' is taken directly from the centrepiece of the Worthington family crest - truly honour given where deserved. This was a tank before its time, but ultimately doomed by the same shortsightedness which plagued British and Commonweath armies so badly in the early years of the war. That it was able to serve well nonetheless in its variant roles is a positive testament indeed.

Ram O.P. Tank This photo shows a Ram OP tank somewhere in Normandy; 84 of these were manufactured at the very end of Ram production. It was a Ram II which had a dummy gun in place on the exterior, and two No. 19 Wireless sets inside. These tanks accompanied the Sexton S.P. gun regiments as mobile observation posts for their FOOs, who up until this time had a fairly high attrition rate when travelling on foot or by carrier with the infantry. We will endeavour to present more information on this and other Ram variants as photographs become available; in the meantime, please visit our section on the Ram Kangaroo!

Source: AFV #13 - RAM AND SEXTON, by Chris Ellis and Peter Chamberlain, Profile Publications, England.

12 Feb 00 Back to Canadian Armoured Corps
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