The Matilda II was the successor of the earlier Infantry Tank Mk. I which was also named Matilda, but when it was replaced, the Mk. II, was just referred to as Matilda.
The Mk. II was fitted with two diesel-powered 87 hp AEC engines and it was capable of traveling at speeds of up to 24 km/h. The Mk. II also had a crew of four men and No. 11 model radio for communication. The length of the Mk. II was 6.02 meters, the width was 2.59 meters, and the total height was 2.36 meters while its total weight was around 22,842.9 kg. The armament of the Matilda consisted of a single Ordnance QF 2-pounder (40 mm) gun as its main weaponry with a 7.7 mm Besa machine gun to attack infantry.
The Mk. II had 6 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission and it had up to 76 mm of armor protection in the front of the tank and a further 65 mm to 70 mm of armor in the sides. This incredibly thick armor meant that the Matilda was a very formidable foe on the early 1941 to 1942 battlefields of North Africa where only the most powerful German anti-tank guns could pierce it at distance. The reliability of the Matilda was good up to a point as Soviet troops found out, the Matilda was not well suited for mud and snow.
The next version of the Matilda was the A12 Infantry Tank Mk. IIA; the only difference between it and the original being that it had a Vickers machine gun instead of the typical Besa. It was followed by the Matilda III which had little difference besides a new diesel-powered, Leyland engine and a No. 11 radio. Again, this was followed by the Matilda IV which had improved engines and a No. 19 radio installed.
The final improved Matilda was the Matilda V which had an improved gearbox and the same radio as the Matilda IV. The next variants were not improvements to the original Matilda, but rather variants made for special purposes. The Infantry Tank Mk. II CS (Close-Support) had a 3" (76 mm) howitzer and it could fire either smoke rounds or HE (High Explosive) rounds. Another variant was the Infantry Tank Mk. II Matilda CDL (Canal Defense Light) which had the turret replaced with a searchlight and an machine gun.
The Baron was an experimental mine clearing vehicle based on the Matilda Chasis, but it never reached production. However the Matilda Scorpion was used in combat in places like North Africa. Along with the Scorpion, there was the Matilda Frog which was used by Australia and it used a flamethrower and the Matilda Tank Dozer which was a bull dozer. The Matilda Hedgehog used many different Hedgehog mortars, but it was not used in combat as the war ended a couple months after trials had ended.
The Matilda was created in 1937 and first used in 1939. British use of the Matilda in Europe and North Africa definitively ended in 1943 and over 1,000 models were sent to the Soviet Union. However, the Matilda was used until the end of the war in the Pacific by Australian forces. These Matildas fought the Japanese on islands like Bougainville and Borneo. In total, nearly 3,000 examples of Matilda Mk. IIs were built during World War II.
- ↑ The World's Greatest Tanks - Page 67
- ↑ http://www.wwiivehicles.com/unitedkingdom/infantry/matilda.asp
- ↑ http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=217