Matilda MK I / Mk II

The idea of the 'infantry tank' first arose in April 1934 when the idea for a tank that could work well with infantry was proposed. This was basically the role of World War I tanks - a vehicle slow enough for the infantry to keep up with and providing heavy firepower and protection. This concept was seriously flawed as later events would show. To keep down costs the A11 as the Matilda was first known was very simple with a Ford V8 engine and components adapted from Vickers light tanks. Some 140 of these had been built by the time production was stopped in 1940.

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Australian
Matilda Tank
leaves US LCT

This Mk I carried only a .50 cal machine gun and this limited armament led to the development of the MK II or A12 Infantry tank which had been designed in November 1936 with the mock up ready by April 1937. The total output of Matilda II's was 2,987 by the time production ceased in 1943. Although not easy to mass produce and very slow the MK II's very heavy armour made it virtually immune to anti tank weapons until the arrival of the German 88mm guns in mid 1941 and made the Matilda the Queen of the Desert in the Western Desert Campaigns in Libya in 1940.

(Data is for the MKII)
Weight; 26.5 tons
Maximum speed; 15mph (24km/h)
Crew; 4
Range 169 miles (256km)
Weapons; 1x 2 pdr, 1x Besa MG.

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (12 February 2001), Matilda MK I / Mk II, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_matilda.html

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