Light Tank AA Mark II

The Light Tank AA Mark II was an improved version of the AA Mark I, and featured better sights and a larger turret.

The Light Tank AA Mark I was based on the obsolete Light Tank Mk VI. Early experiments were carried out using two Light Tank Mk Vs, which were converted into prototypes anti-aircraft tanks in 1940. One had two 15mm Besa machine guns in place of the turret, with ammo boxes jutting out to the sides of the turret. The second was given a Boulton & Paul quadruple Browning power-operated aircraft turret, with the guns arranged in a square.

Neither of these turret designed was used on the production Mk I. Instead a new turret was designed, armed with four 7.92mm Besa guns in a horizontal row. The turret was mounted on top of a low rectangular box which was installed on top of the original superstructure. The normal light tank carried a crew of three, but on the anti-aircraft version that was reduced to two. 

The Light Tank AA Mark II was given better gin sights, an external ammo bin on the rear of the hull, a larger and more accessible turret, and used the Light Tank Mk VIB chassis. This was designed to be easier to produce than earlier models, and included a number of detailed differences, including using a one piece armoured lourve over the radiator.

The Mk II had a redesigned turret. A low rectangular box was built on top of the existing superstructure of the Light Tank Mk VIB, and the rotating turret was placed on top of that. The guns were in a horizontal row at the front. On the Mk I the turret sides were level, but on the Mk II they sloped up towards the back to give more space - the main part of the turret was twice as high at the back as at the front. An open topped vertical extension was built into the back-rear of the turret, with the improved gun sights mounted on a metal frame that was attached to the sides of the turret, allowing the sights to be carried directly in front of the open topped extension. All pictures show the sights and guns at the same elevation, and they must have been linked.

The Mk II also had an external ammo bin that was built onto the hull rear, between the sloping rear face of the original tank and the back of the rectangular base for the AA turret.

About fifty Mk VIs were converted into anti-aircraft tanks, and the plan was to give a troop of four to each regimental HQ squadron, although the numbers produced suggests that this didn't happen. 

Hull Length: 13ft 2in
Hull Width: 6ft 10in
Crew: 2
Engine: Meadows six cylinder 88bhp
Max Speed: 35mph
Armament: Four 7.62mm Besa machine guns
Armour: 15-4mm

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 May 2017), Light Tank AA Mark II , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_light_tank_AA_mk_II.html

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