The Light Tank Mk VIII 'Harry Hopkins' (A25) was an improved version of the Light Tank Mk VII Tetrarch, but entered production after light tanks had gone out of favour and never saw combat.
The Mk VIII began life as a modified version of the older tank, with the designation Tank, Light Mk VII revised. Work on it began in 1941, soon after the first of the Mk VIIs had been completed.
The Harry Hopkins had a revised hull and turret shape. The hull had a more steeply sloping front, while the turret resembled the standard British cruiser tank type, with 'V' shaped sides, giving it a diamond profile when seen from the front. The Harry Hopkins also had thicker armour (up to 38mm) and a larger hull with more internal space. It used the same suspension and steering as the Mk VII, which had four large road wheels on each side. At high speed the tank could be steered like a car by turning the wheels and thus flexing the tracks. At slower speeds a more standard 'skid' steering system had to be used (stopping or braking the track on the side you want to turn towards). The Mk VIII got hydraulically assisted steering.
The Mk VIII was named after Harry Hopkins, one of President Roosevelt's key advisors who acted as an emissary between Churchill and Roosevelt, played a major part in Lend-Lease and was the senior American official dealing with the Soviet Union, despite suffering from terrible health problems caused originally by stomach cancer.
Three prototypes of the Mk VIII were approved in April 1941, using the chassis and mechanical components from the Mk VII, but with the new hull and turret. As with the Tetrarch, the Harry Hopkins was designed by Vickers , but built by Metropolitan-Cammell. An order was placed for 99 tanks and the last tank was delivered in 1944.
By the time the Harry Hopkins was being delivered, the British Army no longer needed light tanks. Their reconnaissance role had gone to armoured cars, while the airborne forces had enough Mk VII Tetrarchs and didn't require the Harry Hopkins.
The chassis of the Harry Hopkins was used as the basis of the Alecto self propelled gun.
Production: 100 (1943-September 1945) (or 99, completed in 1944)
Hull Length: 14ft
Hull Width: 8ft 10.5in
Height: 6ft 11in
Crew: 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
Engine: Meadows 12 cylinder 148hp
Max Speed: 30mph (road), 20mph (cross-country)
Max Range: 125 miles road radius
Armament: One 2pdr OQF gun, one 7.92mm Besa Machine Gun
Armour: 6mm min, 38mm max