Matilda Mk II, Infantry Tank Mk IIA

The Matilda Mk II, Infantry Tank Mk IIA (A12) saw the Vickers machine gun of the original tank replaced with the Besa machine gun that had been adopted as standard for British tanks.

The change of gun required a number of changes to the turret. The mantlet had to be modified to make space for the Besa gun. An outlet that had been installed to discharge water vapour generated by the water-cooled Vickers gun had to be removed. The water pump to supply the gun also went, and the motor used to power it was instead used to power an extractor fan in the turret roof.

These changes caused a delay in production just when the Matilda was most urgently needed.

The Besa armed version of the Matilda was given the designation Matilda Mark II, while the Vickers armed versions became the Matilda Mark I. By this point the A11 Matilda I Infantry Tank Mk I had been retired (with most of them lost in France), so there was little chance of confusion at the time (although plenty since). The Matilda Mk II was also known as the Infantry Tank Mark IIA, with the A indicating a change of weapon (this was the reverse of the normal system, where letters indicated chassis or engine changes and stars armament changes).

The Matilda Mk II is rather difficult to identify visually. The AEC-powered models had a single exhaust pipe on the left rear, and the Mk II was the only version to combine this with the Besa machine gun, which lacked the armoured cover used on the Vickers gun of the Mk I. However it is rare for a picture to show both of these features.

The Mk II was produced small numbers, with even some of the original batch of 140 tanks being completed as Matilda Mk IIIs.

Stats
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
Radius of Action: 95 miles
Armament: One 2pdr OQF gun, 7.92mm Besa MG
Armour: 13-78mm

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

37.5m

75mm

75mm

20mm

Hull

78mm

40mm

55mm

20mm

Hull Skirt

 

25mm

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 March 2015), Matilda Mk II, Infantry Tank Mk IIA , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_matilda_mk_II.html

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