The Mark IX Tank was the first purpose built armoured troop carrier, but only three had been completed before the end of the First World War and it didn’t reach combat.
Work on the Mark IX began in September 1917. It was designed by Tennyson D’Eyncourt and J.G. Rackham, and was originally meant to have been a multi-purpose vehicle, capable of being used as a combat tank, troop transport or supply carrier. However this proved to be too complex and it was turned into a transport tank, armed only with two machine guns.
The Mark IX had a different shape to the standard British rhomboid tank, and was basically a long box, with a steeply sloped rear and a slightly raised nose at the front. It had no sponsons, but instead had two oval doors on each side. It carried one machine gun next to the drive and one machine gun in a rear door carried between the tracks. The commander had a small armoured lookout turret above his seat.
The Mark IX could carry thirty standing soldiers. There were loopholes along both sides to allow some of them to fire from within the tank, although that wouldn’t have been at all accurate if the tank was moving. Alternatively it could carry ten tons of stores, with some inside and some in a tray on the roof. It could also two up to three loaded sledges.
The Mark IX needed a crew of 4. The engine was moved forward and the epicyclic gears back to create an empty space 3ft 6in by 5ft 4in in the centre of the tank (this was the largest space, not the entire cargo space). It could carry 50 troops or 10 tons of supplies.
While the Mark IX was being developed, surplus Mark I, Mark II and Mark IV tanks were all converted into supply tanks.
The first of two prototypes was completed by Armstrong Whitworth in June 1918. An order for 200 Mk IXs was placed with Marshalls of Gainsborough, but only 3 had been completed by the end of the war. A total of 34 were produced in the end.
One Mk IX was used in experiments with amphibious tanks. Flotation chambers were placed alongside either side, a raised cab was added on top of the fuselage and the exhaust was modified.
Hull Length: 31.95ft
Hull Width: 8.25ft
Weight: 27 tons
Engine: 150hp Ricardo gasoline engine
Max Speed: 3.35mph