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Great Britain's Light Tank Mk VI, Mk VIA, Mk VIB, Mk VIC

Photos

Light Tank Mk VI AA Mk II:
Great Britain's Vickers Mk II AA Light Tank
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum

Design

The Light Tank Mk VI was similar to the Light Tank Mk V but it had a redesigned engine clutch that proved troublesome until it was fixed.

Crew

The driver sat on the left.

Turret

The turret was circular with the rear being extended to fit a No. 7 radio.

The gunner and the commander stood on a platform that revolved with the turret.

Engine

The engine was on the right side of the hull, with the transmission going forward to the front drive sprockets.

Suspension

There were two 2-wheeled bogies on each side that were sprung on angled coil springs. The rear most road wheel also was used as the idler wheel.

The center of gravity was moved forward which provided a much smoother ride than any of the prior Light Tanks.

Armor

The armor on the Light Tank Mk VI was very thin and made it very vulnerable to enemy fire.

Production

Production ended in 1940.

  • Light Tank Mk VI: 1,320 (?)
    • Production: 1936 - ?, 1936 - 1942

Variants

  • Light Tank Mk VI: The engine was in the front beside the driver. Had a Number 7 radio set installed. The cupola had a hexagonal shape.
  • Light Tank Mk VIA: Moved the return roller to be mounted on the hull. The turret was octagonal.
  • Light Tank Mk VIB: The cupola had a cylindrical shape. Had a mounting for a Bren AA gun on the turret. Was the most numerous and widely used. Had a single piece louvre over the radiator. The cupola was plainer to simplify production. Had a 5-speed gearbox, and was steered through clutches and annular spur reduction on the final drive.
  • Light Tank Mk VIB India Pattern: Single periscope for the commander, located in the turret hatch.
  • Light Tank Mk VIC: Suspension wheels and track were wider. The cupola was removed and replaced by 2 domed hatches with a periscope for the commander. The engine cover only had one inlet louvers and many had a deflector plate in from of the driver's vision block to reduce bullet splash.
    Entered service in 1936.
  • Light Tank AA Mark I: Mounted four Besa 7.92 mm machine guns or two Besa 15 mm guns in an antiaircraft mount. Crew of two with no powered traverse. Was not very useful.
  • 2 pdr Light Tank: In 1938 a Light Tank VI chassis had an open top turret with a 2 pdr gun installed. Project was abandoned.
  • Vickers Light Tank Mk VI AA Mk II:

Usage

By September 1939 there were approximately 1,000 in service.

Defense of France

When the 1st Armored Division was sent to France in May 1940, 108 of 321 of its tanks were Light Tank Mk VIs.

Around 550 Light Tank Mk VIAs were sent to France, and only six made it out before France surrendered.

Approximately 200 Light Tank Mk VIBs were with the British Expeditionary Forces.

Some of the Light Tank Mk VIs didn't have their machine guns as they were packed separately and even shipped on a different ship.

Mediterranean Theater

Considered mechanically reliable so was popular in North Africa.

The Light Tank Mk VI provided the bulk of British tank strength in France and Western Desert in 1940. Used in first line units until 1942.

Used in France, Greece, Crete, Malta, Persia, and with the South Africans in Abyssinian, and Australians in Syria ( July 1941). On Malta it was used to tow wrecked aircraft off the runways.

Some in Egypt were converted to artillery observation posts. At the first siege of Tobruk the 1st Royal Tank Regiment used 16 of the Light Tank Mk VIs to deceive the Germans into thinking there were more tanks in the garrison.

Australia Usage

Australia purchased some Light Mk VIs in 1939, and were used for training. Australian forces took over some from the British Army in the Western Desert in 1940.

Canadian Usage

Canada obtained Light Mk VIs from Britain in 1939 and used for training.

Specifications

  Light Mk VI
Crew Commander, gunner, driver.
3
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 10,729 lb, 10,752 lb, 11,740 lb, 11,648 lb
4.8 tons, 5 tons
4,875 kg, 4,877 kg
Length 12' 11.5", 13', 13' 2"
3.96 m, 4.01 m
Height 7' 3.5", 7' 5", 7' 6"
2.235 m, 2.26 m
Width 6' 9", 6' 10"
2.08 m
Ground clearance 10.5"
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 7.54 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: .50 cal (12.7 mm) Vickers MG
1: .50 Vickers MG
1: 12.7 mm/.50 cal MG
Secondary 1: .303 (7.7 mm) Vickers MG
1: 7.7 mm (0.303") MG
OR 7.92 mm MG
MG - coaxial  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 400
Secondary 2,500
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 4, 14, 15, 4-14 or 15., 4 - 15, 10 - 15
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) Meadows, Meadows ESTL
Cooling  
Cylinders 6
Net HP 88, 88@2,800 rpm
Transmission (Type) 5 forward, 1 reverse, Wilson pre-selector gearbox
Horstmann inclined springs, parallel in bogies.
Steering  
Starter  
Ignition  
Fuel (type) Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity 74 gallons
Fuel Consumption - Road  
Fuel Consumption - Cross Country  
Power to weight ratio 18.3 hp/ton
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 32 mph, 35 mph
51.5 kph, 56 kph
Speed - Cross Country 25 mph
Range - Road 125 miles, 130 miles, 215 miles
200 km, 201 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits -10° to + 37°
Fording depth 2'
0.6 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type) Horstmann coil-spring.
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 9.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire Tread  
Track centers/tread 5' 8.5"
  Light Mk VI A
Crew 3
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 4.8 tons, 5 tons, 5.8 tons
Length 12.2', 13' 2"
Height 7.3', 7' 5"
Width 6.7', 6' 10"
Ground clearance 1' 2.2"
Ground contact length 7'
Ground pressure 6.9 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main .50 cal MG
.5" MG
.50 cal Vickers MG
2: .303 Vickers MGs
Secondary .303" MG
.303 MG
.303 Vickers MG
OR 7.92 mm MG
MG - coaxial  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 400
Secondary 2,500
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 15
4-14 or 15., 4 - 15
Front: 0.47"
Side: 0.47"
Turret Front: 0.59"
Turret Side: 0.59"
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) Meadows, Meadows ESTB
Cooling Water
Cylinders 6
Net HP 88, 88@2,800 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse
Steering Clutch Brake
Starter Electric
Ignition Magneto
Fuel type Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity 29 gallons
Fuel Consumption - Road 5.4 mpg
Fuel Consumption - Cross Country 3 mpg
Power to weight ratio 18.3 hp/ton
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 31 mph, 35 mph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 125 miles, 155 miles
Range - Cross Country 87 miles
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type) Horstmann, 2 sets of 2 wheel bogies with springs
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side 1
Tracks (Type) Dry pin
Length  
Width 10"
Number of links 158
Pitch 1.9"
Tire Tread  
Track centers/tread 5.7'
  Light Mk VIB
Crew 2, 3
Radio Wireless Set No. 9
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 5 tons, 5.2 tons
5,080 kg
Length

13' 2"
4.01 m

Height 7' 5"
2.26 m
Width 6' 10"
2.08 m
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: .50 cal (12.7 mm) MG
1: .50 cal MG
1: .5" MG
1: .5 Vickers MG
1: 12.7 mm Vickers MG
1: 12.7 mm / 0.5" MG
OR 1: 15 mm MG
1: 15 mm /0.59" MG
Secondary 1: .303 cal (7.7 mm) Vickers
1: .303 MG
1: .303" MG
1: .303 Vickers MG
OR 1: 7.92 mm MG
1: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG
1: 7.92 mm Besa MG
MG - coaxial 1: 7.62 mm Vickers MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 400
Secondary 2,500
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 4 - 14 or 15, 4 - 15 , 10, 15
Hull Front, Upper 16
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) Meadows, Meadows ESTB/A OR ESTB/B
Cooling  
Cylinders 6
Net HP 88, 88@2,800 rpm
Transmission  
Steering  
Starter  
Ignition  
Fuel type Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity  
Fuel Consumption - Road  
Fuel Consumption - Cross Country  
Power to weight ratio 16.9 hp/ton
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 34.78 mph, 35 mph
56 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 124.2 miles, 125 miles
200 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire Tread  
Track centers/tread  
  Light Mk VIC
Crew 3
Radio Wireless Set No. 9
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 5 tons, 5.2 tons, 5.25 tons
Length 13' 2"
3.94 m, 4.01 m
Height 6' 11", 7', 7' 5"
2.13 m
Width 6' 10"
2.06 m, 2.08 m
Ground clearance 0.27 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.53 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: Besa 15 mm MG
15 mm
.50 cal MG
15 mm Besa MG
Secondary MG
1: Besa 7.92 mm MG
.303 MG
.303 Besa MG
OR 7.92 mm MG
MG - coaxial 1: 7.92 Besa MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 175, 400
Secondary 2,500, 2,700
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 15
4-14 or 15.
4 - 15
Hull Front, Upper 11-14
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 11-13
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 4-6
Hull Top 4
Hull Bottom 3
Turret Front 14
Turret Sides 11-14
Turret Rear 11
Turret Top 3.5
Engine (Make / Model) Meadows
Cooling  
Cylinders 6
Net HP 88, 88@2,800 rpm
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse
Steering  
Starter  
Ignition  
Fuel type Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity 159 liters
Fuel Consumption - Road  
Fuel Consumption - Cross Country  
Power to weight ratio 16.9 hp/ton
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 35 mph
50.9 kph, 56 kph
Speed - Cross Country 25 mph
Range - Road 125 miles
280 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning Radius 6.4 m
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth 0.6 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type) Coil Spring
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire Tread  
Track centers/tread 241 mm

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. World War Two Tanks, George Forty, 1995
  5. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  7. Western Allied Tanks 1939-45, David Porter, 2009
  8. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  9. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  10. AFV #5: Light Tanks Marks I-VI, Major-General N. W. Duncan
  11. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  12. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site