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|UK||Heavy Tank||Tier VII|
The Black Prince was developed from 1943 through 1945 on the basis of the Churchill tank. It featured a wider hull to carry the upgraded turret with a 17-pounder gun. A total of six Black Prince prototypes were produced from 1944 through 1945. A few vehicles underwent trials but never saw action.
The last of the "Infantry tanks", the Black Prince is an overhauled Churchill equipped with a much better gun. Unfortunately, while the powerful engine makes it respectably agile during maneuvering, the tank retains the terrible cruising speed of its predecessors. Still, even being the slowest of all tier 7 tanks, its a worthy opponent thanks to its quick rate of fire, excellent accuracy, and great armor that can surprisingly bounce even a T34 shot sometimes.
When first acquired, the lumbering mobility will be absolutely inadequate for its tier, and only after researching the superb Meteor engine does it gain its ability to perform a stalwart role in battle. Like the Mark VII, it boasts an excellent front and side armor, but under no circumstance should it be driven into the open as it is an easy artillery target.
The Black Prince leads to the Caernarvon.
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Pros and Cons
- Front turret armour can bounce most tier 7-8 guns with ease
- Tracks absorb a lot of damage
- Thick hull armour
- High Rate of Fire
- Good accuracy
- Good terrain passability makes traverse speed faster than expected
- Worthless rear hull armor of 25mm, easiliy penetrated by Tier I's
- Easy target for artillery
- Comparatively low penetration for its tier, however its penetration is a definite upgrade from Churchill VII
- Very low alpha damage
- Low top speed
- Nearly nowhere sloped armor
Once you're set in a direction, it will be rather difficult to backtrack as your top speed won't get you there in time; instead, you should consider where your allies are going and where you can be of most use. If you are close to the middle or bottom tier, stick to the second line and provide support with the excellent 17 pounder, which can penetrate weak spots on most high tier tanks easily thanks to it's great accuracy and aim time and good penetration. The damage will seem lacking but the rate of fire is impressive and the gun will drain all but the largest health pools in a short time.
If you are top tier, you can have a lot of fun. Unlike the first two UK heavies, the Black Prince has better agility than it seems on paper, and when used tactically it can make a brawler in a pinch, though it is generally a better idea to avoid close combat in order to fully utilize the advantages of your gun. It is vital especially in close quarters to angle your armor, preferably slightly to the right. Aside from the hatch and machine gun on the unsloped face of your driver's compartment and your very shallow commander's cupola, you are extremely difficult to penetrate from the front. Use your decent turning speed to your advantage and make those weak points harder to hit, and you will survive for a long time. If you can jam your front end against a rock or other cover with just your sharply angled side and your turret exposed to enemy fire, you can also become a frustrating blockade for any tank at your tier with the possible exception of the fearsome T-29, which with a suitable driver can reliably penetrate you and empty your health in just a few shots if you fight it from the front.
No matter what the fight, don't stray too far from your support. The BP can fight a lot of things and win head to head, but if you enter combat with more than one agile, well-armed tank in close quarters your chances of victory plummet. Shots to your exposed sides and rear carry a high chance of injuring a crew member or worse, destroying your ammo rack. This will more than double your reload time and make your cannon far less potent due to its low alpha damage.
Take note that when cornering or making tight turns your sides will be exposed long before your turret and gun, allowing enemies to potentially cause extensive damage to your exposed hull. Instead of making tight turns, you should take corners from far off the edge and angle yourself diagonally. This makes it harder for enemies hiding around the corner to penetrate you due to the shallow angle of your sides, and will leave your gun clear to fire at the enemy. This tactic is valid on all Churchill Tank Models.
The tank doesn't have many research options, and those don't make any big differences, including the unrequired suspension. The choices will depend if you favour fire-power over mobility, but once again, no change will have outlandish results. The upgrade to suspension IS necessary to support heavier equipment, such as the Large-caliber Tank Gun Rammer. The upgrade to your gun seems small on paper but the performance in battle is noticeably improved, especially against thick armor.
As a development from the Churchill, the Black Prince was a continuation of the line of Infantry tanks, that is slower, heavier tanks intended to operate in close support of infantry. The parallel development in British tank design were the Cruiser tanks, which were intended for more mobile operations. A43 was the General Staff Specification number issued in 1943, for an interim tank that would eventually be superseded by a "Universal tank" that would replace both Infantry and Cruiser tanks.
The cruiser line led to the Cromwell tank (and the 17 pounder armed Challenger variant) and then the Comet tank, (which had a variant of the 17 pounder gun) entering service during the war. While not as heavily protected as the Churchill, the Comet showed the way tank development was going. This led to the last of the cruiser line and the first of the Universal tanks, the very successful Centurion tank.
A larger gun than a conventional Churchill required a larger turret on a wider turret ring and consequently a widening of the tank hull to carry this. The Black Prince weighed around ten tons more than the Churchill so the suspension was modified and the tracks widened by 10 inches to carry the extra load. However, the Churchill's 350-horsepower (260 kW) engine was retained, leading to the tank being underpowered and slow, with maximum speeds of 10.5 mph (16.9 km/h) on roads and 7.5 mph (12.1 km/h) cross country. This was so slow that the tank's tactical usefulness would have been limited. Consideration was given to the use of the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine; this would have increased the available power to 600 hp (450 kW), but the idea never left the drawing–board. Likewise, plans to fit the Black Prince with the turret from the Centurion were never carried out.
By the time the Black Prince prototypes had appeared in May 1945, the Sherman Firefly had acquired a proven combat record, the Comet tank was in service and the introduction of Centurion was imminent. All these tanks carried the QF 17-pounder or a derivative; all had better mobility than the Black Prince and the Centurion had frontal armour of comparable effectiveness. The Black Prince had become redundant and the project was abandoned.
The Black Prince marked the end of the development of the Churchill tank, and the end of the Infantry tank concept in British tank design.
SurvivorsThe only surviving Black Prince tank is held by the Bovington Tank Museum in Bovington, UK; it is the fourth of the six prototypes that were built. It has recently been restored to running condition.