Infantry Tank Mk II, Matilda Mk II Baron, A12: Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum
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
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.
The Vulcan Foundry made wooden prototypes in April 1937. It was another year before a mock-steel prototype was produced.
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
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.
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
At the outbreak of the war in September 1939 only 2 were in service.8
Only British tank to server throughout entire war.1
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
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