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Woolwich Arsenal/Vulcan Foundry - A12 Matilda Mk II Tank

Discussion in 'Allied Motorised Weapons' started by Spitfire XIV-E, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. Spitfire XIV-E

    Spitfire XIV-E New Member

    Jul 26, 2007
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    via War44
    The Tank, Infantry, Mk II was designed by the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich and built by Vulcan Foundry (Later part of English Electric). Based on the earlier Mk I Matilda it was a bigger Tank with better Armament in the shape of a QF 2 pounder gun, and also housed a bigger turret of 2 man capacity. Once enough Mk II Matildas were produced the earlier Mk I's were withdrawn from service. They first saw action in France in 1940 and for a while held their own due to the thickness of their Frontal Armour (78mm) which was more than most contemporary designs of the time. The Germans could only use the deadly 88mm Gun to knock out a Matilda as most of their Tank Guns could not at the time. Unfortunately the design suffered from poor mechanical reliability in it's steering mechanism, Suspension problems & was underpowered for it's weight, taking it's twin engined layout from a bus design. It was also very slow because it was designed as an Infantry Support Tank and thus only required to travel at a man's walking pace. In the North African Deserts it could only average about 9.5 kmh for example. In the early part of the Desert Campaign however the Matilda came in to it's own. When pitted against the Italian L3 Tankettes and M11/39 Medium Tanks it wreaked havoc. The thickness of Armour of it's Cast Turret became legendary and it was nicknamed "The Queen of the Desert" in late 1940 & early 1941. However once the Deutsches Afrika Korps entered the battle the tables were turned once again as the Germans turned once again to their 88mm guns to take on the Matilda. It gradually became less & less effective and as better German Tanks became available it's 2 pounder gun was unable to compete, it was phased out of British Army service by 1942 to be replaced by the Vickers designed Valentine, American M3 Lee/Grant and M4 Sherman. In the Pacific though the Matilda served right through to the end of the war with Australian Tank Units of the 4th Australian Tank Brigade, these would see service in the South West Pacific on Bougainville, The Huon Peninsula Campaign and Borneo. The Japanese lacked heavy Anti-Tank Guns so the Matilda was able to carry on virtually unhindered. About 1000 Matildas were also supplied to the Soviet Union although they were maligned by Russian Tank Crews as too slow and unreliable and most were expended by 1942 although a few soldiered on until 1944. Some special variants were also produced such as the Matilda Scorpion Flail Tank, Matilda Frog Flame thrower Tank and Matilda Hedge Hog with a Mortar mounted on top.


    Left to Right - Matilda Mk II in the Desert carrying a captured Italian Flag, Matilda Mk IIa, Matilda Scorpion, Matilda Frog & Matilda Hedge Hog.

    Armour Max thickness - 78mm

    Pimary Armament - QF 2 Pounder Gun (93 Rounds)

    Secondary Armament - BESA 7.92mm Machine Gun (2,925 Rounds)

    Engines - 2 x AEC or Leyland 180 hp Diesel

    Suspension - Horizontal Coil Spring

    Operational Range - 80 km

    Speed - 15 mph (Road), 9 mph (Off-Road)

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