Matilda Mk I, Infantry Tank Mk II

The Matilda Mk I, Infantry Tank Mk II (A12) was the first production version of the Matilda II, and would have been one of the most effective tanks in service in 1940 if it had been available in significant numbers.

The A12 Matilda Senior, Infantry Tank Mk II, was designed in 1937-38 to replace the A11 Matilda, Infantry Tank Mk I, a very small machine-gun armed tank. The A12 Matilda Senior or Matilda II was a much larger vehicle. It carried a crew of four, three in the turret and a driver, and was armed with the excellent 2-pounder anti-tank gun. The original version, which became the Mk I, was also armed with a coaxial Vickers water cooled machine gun, with a distinctive armoured sleeve around the barrel. It was powered by two AEC diesel engines, and protected by very thick armour for the day. It was designed to operate alongside the infantry, protecting them from enemy tanks and helping them overwhelm strong points.

Soon after the Matilda II entered production, the army decided to standardise on the Besa 7.92mm machine gun. The modified version was given the designation Matilda Mk II, Infantry Tank Mk IIA.

The different versions of the Matilda are rather hard to tell apart visually. The Mk I is perhaps the easiest, at least from the front, as the Vickers machine gun had a distinctive armoured sleeve. The Mk I also had a single exhaust pipe, on the rear side.

The Mk I was produced small numbers, with even some of the original batch of 140 tanks ordered in June 1938 being completed as Matilda Mk IIIs. When it was originally ordered it was known as the A12 Matilda II or Matilda Senior, but after the A11 Matilda I Infantry Tank Mk I was withdraw from service the A12 became the Matilda. When the Vickers gun of the original model was replaced by the Besa machine gun, the new version became the A12 Matilda Mk II and the original version became the A12 Matilda Mk I.

Hull Length: 18ft 5in
Hull Width: 8ft 6in
Height: 8ft 3in
Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)
Weight: 59,360lb (battle weight)
Engine: Twin 87hp AEC diesels
Max Speed: 15mph
Max Cross-country speed: 8mph
Max Range: 160 miles on road
Armament: One 2pdr OQF gun, Vickers MG
Armour: 13-78mm






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 February 2015), Matilda Mk I, Infantry Tank Mk II ,

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