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Great Britain's A39 Heavy Assault Tank Tortoise


The Tortoise was developed by Nuffield Mechanization & Aero.

Design work first started in 1942. With the Germans introducing the King Tiger development was rushed, but the six prototypes weren't ready until 1946 and 1947.

Had a cast one piece superstructure.


A junior minister at the Ministry of Supply, Duncan Sandy, pushed forward the development of a heavy tank capable of carrying a 94 mm gun. It was going to be able to use a discarding sabot ammunition, which could penetrate any tank of the time.

Two of the Besa machine guns were in a cupola for anti-aircraft defense.


Two of the prototypes were scrapped and two went to museums.


  A39 Heavy Assault Tank Tortoise
Crew Commander, driver, co-driver, gunner, machine gunner, loader (2).
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 174,720 lb
78 tons
79,250 kg, 79,252 kg
Length w/gun 33'
10.05 m, 10.06 m
Length w/o gun 23' 9"
Height 10'
3.05 m
Width 12' 10"
3.91 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Main 1: 94 mm (32 pdr.)
1: 32 pdr. OQF
1: 32 pdr
MG 3: 7.7 mm or 7.92 mm Besa MG
3: 7.92 mm Besa MG
1: 7.92 mm Besa MG
2: MG
1: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG
MG - anti-aircraft 2: 7.92 mm Besa MG
2: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG
Side arms  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 35 - 225, 35 - 228, 35, 225
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Rolls Royce Meteor
Bore / stroke  
Cylinders V-12
Net HP 650
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering ratio  
Electrical system  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Traverse 20° left, 20° right
Speed - Road 12 mph
19 kph, 20 kph
Speed - Cross Country 4 mph
Range - Road 50 miles
80.4 km, 81 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Bogies
Box bogie.
Wheels each side 16 pairs
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Number of links  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  


  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. British and American Tanks of World War Two, The Complete Illustrated History of British, American, and Commonwealth Tanks 1933-1945, Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, 1969
  3. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  4. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  5. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site