Matilda Mk III, Infantry Tank Mk IIA*

The Matilda Mk III Infantry Tank Mk IIA* saw the introduction of more powerful Leyland diesel engines in place of the AEC engines used in the original Matilda II.

Soon after the appearance of the Matilda Mk II, with the Besa MG, work began on finding a more powerful engine. Once again a bus diesel engine was chosen, in this case a 95 horse-power Leyland model. Once again two were installed, and special right and left handed versions were developed.

The second prototype, A12E2, was used as the basis for the new design. It was also give a Wilson gearbox and steering system in place of the mix of Wilson gearbox and Rackham steering system used in the production tanks. In this configuration it was known as the Mark IIB, with the change of letter indicating the change to the drive system.  

The first Leyland powered Matildas were given the designation Matilda Mark III or Infantry Tank Mk IIA*, with the * indicating the change of engine (this was the reverse of the normal system, where letters indicated chassis or engine changes and stars armament changes).

The Leyland engine replaced the AEC engine at each manufacturer involved in Matilda construction.

The Matilda had always been designed with the potential to carry a 3in howitzer in place of the normal 2-pounder anti tank gun. No AEC powered Matildas were built in this configuration, but the howitzer was installed in a number of Leyland powered Matilda Mk IIIs. In this configuration it was given the designation Matilda Mk IIICS, or Close Support.

The 3in howitzer was an almost useless weapon, only really capable of firing a smoke shell to provide cover for the gun tanks.

The various versions of the Matilda are hard to identify visually. The Leyland versions can be identified from the rear as they had two exhaust pipes, one on each side of the engine deck. The Mk III had a No.19 wireless set, with two aerials in place of the single aerial used on the Mk I and Mk II, and retained the turret signalling lamp, but this isn't always visible even when installed.

The Mk III entered production quite quickly, with even some of the first batch of 140 tanks being completed as Mk IIIs.

Stats
Production:
Hull Length: 18ft 5in
Hull Width: 8ft 6in
Height: 8ft 3in
Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)
Weight: 59,360lb (battle weight)
Engine: Twin 95hp Leyland 6 cylinder engine
Max Speed: 15mph
Max Cross-country speed: 8mph
Max Range: 160 miles on road
Armament: One 2pdr OQF gun or 3in howitzer, 7.92mm Besa MG in others
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 III, Infantry Tank Mk IIA* , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_matilda_mk_III.html

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