Matilda - A12 Matilda Mk 2 Infantry Tank WW2

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Matilda - A12 Matilda Mk II Infantry Tank
Specs
Length 6.0 m
Width 2.6 m
Height 3.5 m
Weight 27 t
Suspension  
Speed 24 km/h road
15 km/h off-road
Range 80 km
Primary armament QF 2 pdr (37 mm)
Secondary armament 7.92 mm BESA mg
Maximum armour 78 mm
Power plant 2 x diesel, AEC or Leyland
180 hp, ( kW)
Crew 4


The A12 Infantry Tank Matilda II was a British tank of World War II. In a somewhat unorthodox move, it shared the same name as the A11 Infantry Tank I. The name Matilda itself comes from a cartoon duck.

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Contents
1 History
2 Production
2.1 Variants
3 Combat History

History
The Infantry Tank Mk 2 was designed at the Woolwich Arsenal as an improvement on the Mk 1 which only had a machine gun for armament. The Matilda weighed 27 tons and was armed with a 2-pounder QF tank gun. In the deserts of the North African campaigns, the Matilda could average about 9.5km per hour. Like other Infantry class tanks it was heavily armoured; the armour thickness at the front was about ~7.5cm, much more than most contemporaries.

Production
The Matilda was first produced in 1937 but only two were in service when war broke out in September 1939. Production was by Fowler, Ruston and Hornsby, and later LMS, Harland and Wolff and the North British Locomotive Co. Some 2,987 were produced from 1937 to 1943.

Variants
Matilda I - First production model.
Matilda II - Vickers machine gun replaced by Besa MG.
Matilda III - New Leyland diesel engine.
Matilda III CS (for Close Support) - Variant with 3 inch howitzer.
Matilda IV - With improved engines.
Matilda V - Improved gear box and gear shift.
Scorpion Mk 1, Mk 2 - Matilda chassis with mine flail.
Murray, and Murray FT (Australian) - flamethrower
Frog - Australian Flamethrower
Matilda Hedgehog - Naval Hedgehog (7 barrel launcher) on rear of Matilda
Matilda CDL - Canal Defense Light, a searchlight instead of turret

Combat History
The Matilda was first used in combat by the 4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments in France in 1940. Due to the thickness of its armour, it was largely immune to the guns of the German tanks in France. In some desperation, the famous 88 mm anti-aircraft guns were pressed into the anti-tank role as the only effective counter.

In the early days of the conflict in the African Front, the Matilda again proved highly effective against the Italian and German tanks. Its 2-pounder gun had the best armour penetration of any tank weapon in use in the desert. It had no high-explosive capability, however (the appropiate shell existed but was not issued) and was vulnerable to the larger calibre anti-tank guns which outranged its machine guns.

As the German army received new tanks with more powerful guns, the Matilda proved less and less effective. Due to the small size of its turret ring, it could not be up-gunned sufficiently. With the arrival of the American Lee/Grant and Sherman tanks, the Matilda was phased out by the British Army.

However, Japanese forces were lacking in heavy anti-tank guns and the Matilda remained in service with the Australian 2/4th and 2/9th Armoured Regiments, part of the Australian 1st Armoured Division, in the South West Pacific Area. They first saw active service in the fierce fighting of the Bougainville campaign, and were also in action until the last day of the war, in the Borneo campaign of 1945.

Text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 

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