Land Weapons

Vickers-Armstrong

Matilda I

The Matilda I (A11) was the first of a series of infantry tanks. According to pre-war British Army doctrine, infantry tanks were to support the infantry while the faster cruiser tanks would engage enemy armor. As such, infantry tanks focused on heavy armor protection at the expense of armament and speed as it was deemed unnecessary to be faster than infantry on foot. The the Matilda, designed by Sir John Carden, was also developed with a limited budget in mind, and cut many corners such as using a commercially-available engine and transmission, as well as other mechanical features from existing light tanks. This affected reliability and effectiveness, not least by having just two crew members. Armament, however, was the Matilda's main weak point as its 12.7-mm machine guns made it all but worthless as a tank killer even though it was mostly invulnerable to the early Panzers as well as anti-tank guns. Matildas were in widespread use with the British Expeditionary Force in France but most were lost during the campaign or left behind at Dunkirk. After the defeat, they were retired from service and replaced by the more powerfully armed Matilda II.

The prototype of the A11 Infantry Tank Mark I, Matilda I was developed as early as 1936 and first ordered in April 1937, with deliveries beginning the year after. No variants were produced.

Matilda I (British Army)
Matilda I

Preceded by:

None

Succeeded by:

Matilda II (1939)

Datafile

DesignMatilda I
Code NameA11
TypeMedium Tank
Year1938
Crew2
Dimensions
Length (w/Gun)4.85 m
Width2.29 m
Height1.87 m
Weight
Loaded11,177 kg
Ground Pressure0.76 kg/cm²
SuspensionLeaf spring
Performance
Speed (Off-Road)13 km/h (8 km/h)
Range (Off-Road)129 km
AmphibiousNo
Fording0.91 m
Vertical Obstacle0.64 m
Trench2.13 m
Gradient60%
Powerplant
Engine1 x 70-hp
Ford
FuelGasoline
Power/Weight6.26 hp/t
Armament
Main1 x 12.7-mm L/62.2
Vickers .50 MG
Machine Gun (4000)
↑ 25° / ↓ -15° / ↔ 360°

Secondary-
Armor
TypeSteel
Thickness10 - 65 mm
Max Effective60 - 65 mm RHAe
Hull Upper Front60 mm
Hull Lower Front60 mm
Hull Upper Sides60 mm
Hull Lower Sides60 mm
Hull Lower Rear60 mm
Hull Top30 mm
Hull Bottom10 mm
Turret Front65 mm
Turret Sides65 mm
Turret Rear65 mm
Turret Top10 mm
Production
Built139
Total139

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