|Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11)|
A11E1 pilot model
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Weight||11 Long tons|
|Length||18 ft 5 in (4.85 m )|
|Width||8 ft 6 in (2.28 m)|
|Height||8 ft 3 in( 1.86 m)|
|Crew||2 (commander/gunner, driver)|
|.303 or .50 inch Vickers machine gun |
|Engine||Ford V8 petrol,|
70 hp (52 kW)
|80 miles (130 km)|
|Speed||8 mph (12.87 km/h), |
off road: 5.6 mph (9 km/h)
The Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11) was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It is not to be confused with the later model Tank, Infantry Mk II (A12), also known as the "Matilda II" which took over the "Matilda" name after the early part of the war when the first Matilda was withdrawn from combat service. They were of totally different design and did not share components, but did have some similar traits because they were both designed to be infantry tanks, a type of tank that tended to sacrifice speed for increased armour protection.
Development history[edit | edit source]
The development, by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd, began in 1935. It resulted in a small two-man vehicle with a low hull and a small cast turret in which its only weapon, a Vickers machine gun, was mounted. Designed for quick delivery, the A11 used many stock parts from other vehicles: a Ford V8 engine, a Fordson gearbox, a steering mechanism similar to the one used in Vickers light tanks, and suspension adapted from the Mk IV Dragon artillery tractor that was based on the Vickers 6-Ton Tank Model E.
Although the hull and turret were well protected against contemporary anti-tank weapons, the tracks and running gear were completely exposed and more vulnerable than on tanks that had protected tracks. In addition, the lack of a cannon severely limited its utility on the battlefield.
Production history[edit | edit source]
The first order of 60 Matilda tanks was placed in April 1937, and the tank remained in production until August 1940. One hundred and forty were produced, some of them with the heavier .50 inch Vickers machine gun instead of the .303 inch Vickers machine gun.
Combat history[edit | edit source]
The Matilda I (55) and Matilda II tanks fought together in France as part of the 1st Army Tank Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force in the Battle of France. They participated in the defence and counter-attack operation at Arras against the invasion by Nazi Germany in May 1940, temporarily discomfiting the 7th Panzer Division under Rommel.
When the BEF returned to the United Kingdom, nearly all their armour was left behind. Matilda Mk Is left in the United Kingdom were withdrawn for training purposes.
Survivors[edit | edit source]
Three tanks are preserved at the Bovington Tank Museum. One (T-3447) is in running condition, one is on display in the museum and the third is a severely damaged wreck that was used as a gunnery range target.
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- A11 was the General Staff number
- Chamberlain, Peter; Ellis, Chris (1975). British and American tanks of World War II; the complete illustrated history of British, American and Commonwealth tanks, gun motor carriages and special purpose vehicles, 1939-1945. New York, Arco Pub. Co. . pp. 54. ISBN 0-668-01867-4.
References[edit | edit source]
- Fletcher, David, and Peter Sarson. Matilda Infantry Tank 1938–45 (New Vanguard 8). Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85532-457-1.
[edit | edit source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Matilda I tank.|
- Britain's Matilda Tanks at World War II Tanks and Vehicles / Advanced Squad Leader
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