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


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. Sir John Carden led the design team.

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

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


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

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


The turret was cast.

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.


The body of the Matilda was riveted.


Prototypes were given to the army for trials in September 1936.


Production order for 60 was placed in April 1937. The order was later increased to 140.

  • Infantry Mk I, A11, Matilda Mk I: 140
    • Production: April 1937 - August 1940
    • Manufacturer: Vickers, Vickers-Armstrong Ltd


  • 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. Designed in 1937.


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

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

The 1st Army Tank Brigade had 77 Matilda Is by May 1940. 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.

After Dunkirk remaining vehicles used for training.

97 lost in France with the British Expedition Force.


  Infantry Tank Mk I, A11, Matilda Mk I
Crew Commander-gunner, driver.
Radio Wireless Set No. 9
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 24,640 lb
10.98 tons, 11 tons, 12 tons
11,160 kg
Length 15' 1", 15' 11"
4.85 m, 4.95 m
Height 6' 1", 6' 1.5", 6' 2", 7' 8"
1.85 m, 1.86 m, 1.867 m, 1.9 m
Width 7' 6", 7' 8"
2.28 m, 2.286 m, 2.29 m, 2.31 m
Ground clearance 1' 3"
0.38 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 10.8 psi
0.76 (kg/sq cm)
Turret ring diameter  
Main 1: .50 cal (12.7 mm)
1: 12.7 mm Vickers HMG
.50 cal Vickers MG (later models)
OR 1: .303 cal (7.7 mm) Vickers MG
Side arms  
Main 4,000, 4,400
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 60, 10, 60, 65
Front: 65
Side: 60
Hull Front, Upper 60
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 60
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 60
Hull Top 30
Hull Bottom 10
Turret Front 65
Turret Sides 65
Turret Rear 65
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) Ford
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-8
Net HP 70, 70 @ 3,500 rpm
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 4 forward, 1 reverse
Steering ratio  
Electrical system  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Quantity 42 gallons, 50 gallons
190 liters
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 8 mph, 7.95 mph
11.2 kph, 12.8 kph, 13 kph
Speed - Cross Country 4 mph, 5.6 mph
Range - Road 78 miles, 80 miles, 80.11 miles
125 kph, 129 km, 135 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius 18'
5.5 m
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 3'
0.76 m
Trench crossing 6' 6", 7'
Vertical obstacle 2' 1", 2' 6"
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Box bogie and leaf spring.
Wheels each side 8
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Width 11.5"
292 mm
Number of links  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6' 4"


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20th Century American Military History Crucial Site