The inability of the British to produce an advanced and truly competitive battle tank for Normandy has been blamed to a significant extent on a weak industrial and production base. Beale, Jarymowycz and Barnett all subscribe to this view, claiming that the technical effort invested in the design and production of tanks in Britain was much lower than that placed in other areas, and that consequently, by 1944 British armour was not up to the task of competing with the latest German models.1 In addition, Barnett and Jarymowycz are more critical of British industry generally and indeed argue that infrastructural deficiencies and weaknesses led to the failure of tank production, even as late as 1944.2

Particular criticism has been focused on the 1940-42 War Office policy known as ordering off the drawing board, in effect, by-passing pre-production tests in order to expedite output. This, it is argued, resulted in the manufacture of tanks of dubious worth. It is certainly the case that in the 1940-42 era a high percentage of British-built tanks were undermined by a series of flaws and faults. Some were even delivered with disclaimers from the manufacturers, apologising for shortcomings, a measure hardly likely to instil confidence in crews.3 Ultimately, it seems that during this period, quantity was considered more important than quality.