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Britain's Infantry Tank Mk I, A11, Matilda Mk I, Matilda I Infantry Tank

Design

In April 1934 the British General Staff discussed a proposal put forth by General Sir Hugh Elles of the Royal Tank Corps that covered the specs for an "Infantry" tank, well protected, with a machine gun as armament and go as fast as infantry on foot.13 Sir John Carden led the design team.13

Named after a cartoon duck.8,13 Another source says that Matilda was the original code word for the tank that was in the proposal created by John Carden.12,13

The steering, brake and clutches were adapted from the Vickers light tanks.1,13

Engine

Costs were kept down by using a commercial Ford engine and transmission.12

Engine was at rear which drove sprockets that were also at the rear of the tank.8

Turret

The turret was cast.13

The crew was limited to 2 because of severe cost restrictions, and thus there wasn't enough in the budget for 2 in the cast turret.

Body

The body of the Matilda was riveted.13

Prototype

Prototypes were given to the army for trials in September 1936.8

Production

Production order for 60 was placed in April 1937.12,13 The order was later increased to 140.13

  • Infantry Mk I, A11, Matilda Mk I: 1408,12,13
    • Production: April 1937 - August 194012,13
    • Manufacturer: Vickers13, Vickers-Armstrong Ltd7

Variants

  • Matilda I, Mk II: First production type with AEC engines.
  • Matilda I, with Fowler Coulter Plough: Designed with a plough attached to the front to help uproot mines.4 Designed in 1937.4

Usage

The first models were delivered in 1938 to the 1st Army Tank Brigade.

There were 65 available in September 1939 when the war started.8

The 1st Army Tank Brigade had 77 Matilda Is by May 1940.6 Went with 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiment, and 1st Army Tank Brigade to France in 1940 and took part in battle of Arras. At the Battle of Arras there were 58 Matilda Is.6

After Dunkirk remaining vehicles used for training.1,13

97 lost in France with the British Expedition Force.

Specifications

  Infantry Tank Mk I, A11, Matilda Mk I
Crew Commander-gunner, driver.3
21,2,3,4,6,7,8,12,13
Radio Wireless Set No. 96
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 24,640 lb3
10.98 tons1,7, 11 tons4,6,8,11,12,13, 12 tons2
11,160 kg1,7,12,13
Length 15' 1"7, 15' 11"1,3,4,6,8,11,12,13
4.85 m1,6,7,12,13, 4.95 m2
Height 6' 1"1,6,12,13, 6' 1.5"3,4,8, 6' 2"7, 7' 8"11
1.85 m6,12,13, 1.86 m7, 1.867 m1, 1.9 m2
Width 7' 6"1,3,4,6,7,8,12,13, 7' 8"11
2.28 m7, 2.286 m1, 2.29 m6,12,13, 2.31 m2
Ground clearance 1' 3"
0.38 m2
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 10.8 psi
0.76 (kg/cm2)2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: .50 cal (12.7 mm)1,3,8,11,12,13
1: 12.7 mm Vickers HMG6
MG2,4
.50 cal Vickers MG (later models)7
OR 1: .303 cal (7.7 mm) Vickers MG1,3,5,6,7,8,11,12,13
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 4,0003, 4,4002
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 601,4,7, 103, 603,12,13, 658
0.4"-2.34"7
Front: 6511
Side: 6011
Hull Front, Upper 602
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 602
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 602
Hull Top 302
Hull Bottom 102
Turret Front 652
Turret Sides 652
Turret Rear 652
Turret Top 102
Engine (Make / Model) Ford1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,12,13
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-85,6,7,8,11,12,13
Net HP 706,8,11,13, 70 @ 3,500 rpm7
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 4 forward2, 1 reverse2
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline6,13
Octane  
Quantity 42 gallons11, 50 gallons
190 liters2
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°3
Speed - Road 8 mph3,4,6,7,8,11,12,13, 7.95 mph1
11.2 kph2, 12.8 kph1, 13 kph6,7,12,13
Speed - Cross Country 4 mph, 5.6 mph3
Range - Road 78 miles7, 80 miles3,6,11,12,13, 80.11 miles1
125 kph7, 129 km1,6,12,13, 135 km2
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius 18'
5.5 m2
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 3'3
0.76 m2
Trench crossing 6' 6"11, 7'3
Vertical obstacle 2' 1"3, 2' 6"11
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Box bogie and leaf spring.2,3
Wheels each side 82
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 11.5"3
292 mm2
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6' 4"3

Sources:

  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. Panzer Truppen The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  3. 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
  4. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Western Allied Tanks 1939-45, David Porter, 2009
  7. Allied Armour of World War Two, Ian V. Hogg, 2000
  8. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  9. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  10. Battle Winning Tanks, Aircraft & Warships of World War II, David Miller, 2000
  11. The Royal Armoured Corps Tank Museum, Tanks 1919-1939 The Inter War Period, 1966
  12. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  13. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site