- Matilda Mk I
name=Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11)
caption=A11E1 pilot model
length=4.85 m (18 ft 5 in)
width=2.28 m (8 ft 6 in)
height=1.86 m (8 ft 3 in)
suspension= Sprung bogie
speed=8 mph (12.87 km/h),
off road: 5.6 mph (9 km/h)
vehicle_range=80 miles (128.7 km)
primary_armament= .303 or .50 inch Vickers MG
armour= 10–60 mm
engine_power=70 hp (52 kW)
crew=2 (commander/gunner, driver)
The Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11) was a British
infantry tankof the Second World War. It is not to be confused with the later model Tank, Infantry Mk II (A12), also known as the "Matilda II" which took over the "Matilda" name after the early part of the war when the first Matilda was withdrawn from combat service. They were of totally different design and did not share components, but did have some similar traits because they were both designed to be infantry tanks, a type of tank that tended to sacrifice speed and firepower for increased armor protection.
The development, by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd, began in 1935. It resulted in small two-man vehicle with low hull and small cast
turretin which its only weapon, a Vickers machine gun, was mounted. Designed for quick delivery, the A11 used many stock parts from other vehicles: a Ford V8 engine, Fordsongearbox, steering mechanism similar to the one used in Vickers light tanks, suspension adapted from the Mk IV Dragon artillery tractor that was based on the Six Ton Tank Model E.
Although the hull and turret were well protected against contemporary anti-tank weapons, the tracks and running gear were completely exposed and more vulnerable than on tanks that had protected tracks.
The machine gun was either a .303 or .50 inch
Hugh Elles, the Master-General of the Ordnance, watching the vehicle, commented that it 'waddled like a duck'. The name of a popular cartoon duck 'Matilda' was naturally applied.
The first order of 60 Matilda tanks was placed in April 1937, and the tank remained in production until August 1940. 140 were produced, some of them with heavier .50 inch Vickers machine gun instead of the .303 inch Vickers machine gun. Either way, under-arming such a large, heavy tank with nothing more powerful than a machine gun illustrates the lack of theoretical clarity on tank doctrine that was prevalent at the time.
Matilda I (55) and Matilda II tanks fought together in France as part of the 1st Army Tank Brigade of the
British Expeditionary Forcein the Battle of France. They participated in the defense and counter-attack operation at Arras against the invasion by Nazi Germanyin May 1940, temporarily discomfiting the 7th Panzer Division under Rommel.
When the BEF returned to the
United Kingdom, nearly all their armour was left behind. Matilda Mk Is left in the United Kingdom were withdrawn for training purposes.
List of UK tanks
* Fletcher, David, and Peter Sarson. "Matilda Infantry Tank 1938–45" (New Vanguard 8). Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85532-457-1.
* [http://www.wwiivehicles.com/unitedkingdom/infantry/matilda.asp Britain's Matilda Tanks] at World War II Tanks and Vehicles / Advanced Squad Leader
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