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Britain's Infantry Tank Mk II, A12, Matilda Mk II, Matilda II Infantry Tank

Photos

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Infantry Mk II, Matilda A12
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum

Cruiser Mk IIAs, Valentine, and Matilda IIs
Great Britain's Cruiser Mk IIAs, Valentine, and Matilda IIs
Imperial War Museum

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II
Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Image: Matilda II (18K)
Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12, in training in 1942:
Great Britain's Matilda II

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II
Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12. A member of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment.
Great Britain's Matilda II

Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda II
Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II Baron, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda Baron
Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II Baron, A12:
Great Britain's Matilda Baron
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum
Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II Carrot, A12:
Matilda Carrot

Design

In 1936, while the Matilda I was still in pre-production phases, it was decided an infantry tank would need to be able to withstand anti-tank fire from enemy guns and tanks.5 A tank that could carry more than just a machine gun was decided upon.15 The Matilda I couldn't have a larger turret installed so a new design was started in November 1936 and completed in 1937.13 The Design Department at Woolwich Arsenal was given the task.

During trials improvements were made to the gearbox, suspension, and air cleaners.

The Matilda II was the first British tank to have diesel engines. It was difficult to mass produce due to the size and shape of the armor castings. The side skirts were one piece and cause production to slow down. The mud chutes were reduced from 6 to 512,15 to help speed up production.

The Matilda couldn't be up-gunned as the turret ring was too small.1,15

Crew

The driver sat in the middle behind the nose armor plate.10 There was a cupola for the commander but it didn't have good visibility. The Frazer Nash Company developed the hydraulic power for the turret.

Prototype

The Vulcan Foundry made wooden prototypes in April 1937. It was another year before a mock-steel prototype was produced.

Production

An order for 65 was placed in December 1937 and was shortly increased into 165.

Initially produced by the Vulcan Foundry in Warrington12, Lancashire.1,8 In June 1938 contracts for production were placed with Fowler, Ruston and Hornsby, and later LMS, Harland and Wolff and North British Locomotive Co.1

  • Infantry Tank Mk II, A12, Matilda Mk II: 2,9871,8,13
    • Production: December 1937 - August 19431,8
    • Manufacturer: Vulcan Foundry at Warrington9,15; William Fowler; Ruston & Hornsby; London, Midland & Scottish Railway; Harland & Wolff; North British Locomotive Works7

Variants

  • Matilda II, Mk IIA: Besa machine gun replacing Vickers. Had No. 11 radio installed.8
  • Matilda III, Mk IIA*: Used Leyland engines. Had No. 11 radio installed.8
  • Matilda III CS: 3" howitzer.
  • Matilda IV, Mk IIA**: Like Mk III but with improved Leyland engines. Had No. 19 radio installed.8
  • Matilda V: Improved gear box and gear shift. Had No. 19 radio installed.8
  • Matilda II CDL12 and Matilda V CDL: Canal Defense Light.5,12,14,15 Replaced turrets with searchlight.15 Used at Rhine crossing in 1945.
  • Baron I, II, III, IIIA:12 Mine clearing.5,12,15 Developed in Britain.
  • Matilda Scorpion: Created by Major A.S.J. du Toit, South African engineer.5 A drum, with chains with weights on the ends, mounted on the end of arms rotated to explode mines in the ground.5,15 The drum was powered by an engine mounted on the right of the tank.5 Used at El Alamein in October 1942.5
  • Matilda Scorpion I:12 Mine clearing5,12, developed in Middle East.4
  • Matilda Scorpion II: Used on October 23, 1942, at El Alamein to clear Afrika Korps minefields.1
  • Matilda Baron: Turret removed and two engines powering the flail.5
  • Matilda with AMRA Mk Ia: Fowler rollers mine clearing device.12,15 Used in small numbers in Western Desert.
  • Matilda with Carrot:12 600lb HE demolition charge.12,15 Used for blowing gaps in obstacles.
  • Matilda Murray: Improved flame thrower. Produced in 1945.
  • Matilda with Inglis Bridge: Light bridge on a track pushed ahead of Matilda. Used only in training.
  • Matilda with Trench Crossing Device: Device pushed ahead on tracked bogies for spanning gaps for infantry and light vehicles to cross.

Australia

  • Matilda Frog:12 Flame thrower version.1,5,12,14,15 25 vehicles in late 1944. Used in Borneo in 1945.8
  • Matilda Murray FT: Flame thrower.15 Modified Frog with cordite operated flame thrower instead of gas-pressure.4 Produced in 1945.4 Carried 50 gallons of flame fuel.4
  • Matilda Dozer: Developed box shaped blade dozer.5
  • Matilda Hedgehog: A seven barrel Naval Hedgehog was mounted on the rear of the Matilda.4 They could be fired individually or all at once.4

Usage

At the outbreak of the war in September 1939 only 2 were in service.8

Only British tank to server throughout entire war.1

France

Used by the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments1 in France at Battle of Arras1, on May 21, 1940, against the German 7th Panzer Division and SS Totenkopf.8

North Africa

Used in Africa and the Mediterranean. Fought the Italians at Sidi Barrani, Tobruk, Bardia, Keren (Eritrea).1 Its last battle was at Alamein in July 1942.

Was used by the 42nd and 44th Royal Tank Regiments in Egypt and Cyrenaica.8

A squadron of the 4th Royal Tank Regiment was used in Eritrea with the 4th Indian Division.8

Half a squadron's worth of Matildas of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment was lost on Crete.8

At the Second Battle of Alamein in October 1942, the 6th, 42nd, and 44th Royal Tank Regiments contained detachments of the Matildas and some Scorpions.8

While fighting in Libya in 1940 and 1941 it was nearly invulnerable to antitank fire.15 Became known as the Queen of the Battlefield. However, once the Germans brought 88 mm Flak guns this dominance was over.15

Soviet Union

Some were sent to Russia.8

Australia

Many were supplied to Australia.4

Specifications

  Matilda II (A12), Matilda II Infantry Tank
Crew Commander, gunner, loader, driver.3,8,10,11
41,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15
Radio No. 118
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 59,237 lb14, 59,360 lb3,5,10
26,924 kg12,15, 29,925 kg1,7, 29,926 kg5,10,14
25 tons13, 26 tons2, 26.5 tons1,4,6,7,8,11,12,15, 29.7 tons9
Length 18.25'9, 18.4'10, 18' 5"1,3,4,5,6,7,8,12,14,15, 19' 5"11
5.6 m10, 5.61 m6,7,12,15, 5.613 m1,5,14, 5.72 m2, 6 m13
Height 7.8'9, 7' 10"11, 8'4,8, 8.3'10,14, 8' 3"1,3,5,6,7,12,15
2.5 m10, 2.515 m1, 2.51 m5,7,14, 2.52 m6,12,15, 2.56 m2
Width 8.25'9, 8' 3"11, 8' 6"1,3,4,5,6,7,8,10,12,14,15
2.59 m1,5,6,7,12,14,15, 2.51 m2, 2.6 m10
Ground clearance 1' 2"9, 1' 7"
0.4 m, 0.48 m2
Ground contact length 11' 4"9
Ground pressure 15.8 psi9, 15.9 psi, 16.2 psi
1.12 (kg/cm2)2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 2 pdr (40 mm)1,4,5,8,10,11,13,14
1: 40 mm L/522
1: 2 pdr OQF3,6,12,15
1: 2 pdr QF and SA Mk IX, L/529
Secondary  
MG 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG3
1: MG2,4
1: Vickers .303 MG8
Mk I: Vickers3
1: .303 MG9
1: 7.92 mm MG13
OR 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG8
MG - coaxial 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG1,6,10,12,14,15
1: .303" MG11
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 672,9,10, 933
Secondary  
MG 2,00010, 2,9252,3, 4,0009
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 133, 13 - 781, 14 - 787,10, 20 - 784,5,13,14, 6011, 783,8,12,15
0.55" - 3"7
Front: 2.94 - 3.15"9
Side: 2.75"9
Turret front: 3.1"9
Turret side: 3"9
Hull Front, Upper 45-782, 47@67°
Hull Front, Lower 78@0°
Hull Sides, Upper 65-702, 70@30°
Hull Sides, Lower 40@0° + 25@0° (side skirting)
Hull Rear 55@25°, 552
Hull Top 20@90°, 202
Hull Bottom 13-20@90°, 13-202
Turret Front 75@11°, 752
Turret Sides 75@0°, 752
Turret Rear 75@0°, 752
Turret Top 20@90°, 202
Engine (Make / Model) 2 x Leyland3,5,7,14
2 x AEC5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,15
Mk I/II: Twin AEC3,4
AEC2
OR 2: AEC14
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water2,9
Cylinders 2x62,3,5
AEC: 2x66,7,9,10,12,15
Leyland: 2x67,14
Net HP 2 x 942 @ 2,000 rpm2
Leyland: 2 x 965, 2 x 957,14
AEC: 2 x 875,6,7,11,12,14,15, 174@2,000 RPM each9
Mk I/II:2 x  873,4
Power to weight ratio 7.2 hp/ton10
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wilson epicyclic12, 6 forward, 1 reverse9
6 forward2, 1 reverse2
Steering Clutch brake9
Steering ratio  
Starter Electric9
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel2,4
Leyland: Gasoline5,14, Diesel7
AEC: Diesel5,6,7,9,10,11,12,14,15
Mk I/II: Diesel3
Octane  
Quantity 50 gallons9, 56 gallons11, 112 gallons,
181.8 liters + 163.6 liters in auxiliary tank
423 liters2
Road consumption 1.8 mpg9
Cross country consumption 1.1 mpg9
Performance  
Traverse 360°3,12, hydraulic9,10
360°/14 seconds12,15
Speed - Road 8 mph6,12,15, 15 mph1,3,4,5,9,10,11,14, 15.5 mph7, 16 mph13
13 kph6,12,15, 24 kph1,5,10,14, 24.1 kph2, 25 kph7, 26 kph13
Speed - Cross Country 8 mph3,5,10,14, 9 mph13
12.9 kph5,14, 13 kph10, 14 kph13
Range - Road 60 miles11, 90 miles9, 155 miles7, 160 miles1,3,5,6,10,12,14,15
112 km2, 250 km7, 256 km10, 257 km1,5,14, 258 km6,12,15
Range - Cross Country 56 miles9
Turning radius 27'
8.3 m2
Elevation limits -15° to +20°, -20° to +20°
Fording depth 3'3,5,14, 3' 6.4"9
0.91 m2, 0.914 m5,14
Trench crossing 7'3,5,9,10,11,14
2.1 m10, 2.133 m5,14
Vertical obstacle 2'3,5,9,11,14
0.609 m5,14
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Bell crank.3
Coil Springs2
10 pairs of bogies on bell cranks9
Wheels each side 11, 102
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type) Dry pin9
Length  
Width 13.75"9, 14"3
355 mm2
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.8'9, 6' 9.5"3
  Matilda IIA
Crew  
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight  
Length  
Height  
Width  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 2 pdr11
Secondary  
MG 7.92 mm Besa MG5,11
MG - coaxial 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG10
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
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) 2 x AEC8,11
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Net HP 2 x 8711
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel11
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road  
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  Matilda III,
Matilda IV
Crew  
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight  
Length  
Height  
Width  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 2 pdr11
Secondary  
MG 7.92 mm Besa MG11
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
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) 2: Leyland4,8
III: Leyland E148/14911, E164/16511
IV: Leyland E170/17111
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Net HP 1904
III: 2 x 9511
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel4
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road  
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  Matilda III CS,
Matilda IV CS
Crew  
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight  
Length  
Height  
Width  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 3" howitzer4,8,11
Secondary  
MG 7.92 Besa MG11
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
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) III CS: Leyland E148/149, E164/16511
IV CS: Leyland E170/17111
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Net HP III: 2 x 9511
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road  
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  

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. Atlas of Tank Warfare From 1916 to the Present Day, Dr. Stephen Hart, 2012
  14. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  15. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site

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