Military Wiki
Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11)
Matilda Mk I

A11E1 pilot model
Type Infantry tank
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Production history
Designer Vickers-Armstrongs
Manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs
Number built 140
Weight 11 Long tons
Length 18 ft 5 in (4.85 m )
Width 8 ft 6 in (2.28 m)
Height 8 ft 3 in( 1.86 m)
Crew 2 (commander/gunner, driver)

Armour 10–60 mm
.303 or .50 inch Vickers machine gun
4,000 rounds
Engine Ford V8 petrol,
70 hp (52 kW)
Power/weight 6.36 hp/ton
Suspension Sprung bogie
80 miles (130 km)
Speed 8 mph (12.87 km/h),
off road: 5.6 mph (9 km/h)

The Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11)[1] was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It is not to be confused with the later model Tank, Infantry Mk II (A12), also known as the "Matilda II" which took over the "Matilda" name after the early part of the war when the first Matilda was withdrawn from combat service. They were of totally different design and did not share components, but did have some similar traits because they were both designed to be infantry tanks, a type of tank that tended to sacrifice speed for increased armour protection.

Development history

The development, by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd, began in 1935. It resulted in a small two-man vehicle with a low hull and a small cast turret in which its only weapon, a Vickers machine gun, was mounted. Designed for quick delivery, the A11 used many stock parts from other vehicles: a Ford V8 engine, a Fordson gearbox, a steering mechanism similar to the one used in Vickers light tanks, and suspension adapted from the Mk IV Dragon artillery tractor that was based on the Vickers 6-Ton Tank Model E.

Although the hull and turret were well protected against contemporary anti-tank weapons, the tracks and running gear were completely exposed and more vulnerable than on tanks that had protected tracks. In addition, the lack of a cannon severely limited its utility on the battlefield.

The machine gun was either a .303 or .50 inch calibre Vickers machine gun.

General Hugh Elles, the Master-General of the Ordnance, gave the tank the name Matilda "due to the vehicle's diminutive size and duck-like shape and gait." [2]

Production history

The first order of 60 Matilda tanks was placed in April 1937, and the tank remained in production until August 1940. One hundred and forty were produced, some of them with the heavier .50 inch Vickers machine gun instead of the .303 inch Vickers machine gun.

Combat history

The Matilda I (55) and Matilda II tanks fought together in France as part of the 1st Army Tank Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force in the Battle of France. They participated in the defence and counter-attack operation at Arras against the invasion by Nazi Germany in May 1940, temporarily discomfiting the 7th Panzer Division under Rommel.

When the BEF returned to the United Kingdom, nearly all their armour was left behind. Matilda Mk Is left in the United Kingdom were withdrawn for training purposes.


Three tanks are preserved at the Bovington Tank Museum. One (T-3447) is in running condition, one is on display in the museum and the third is a severely damaged wreck that was used as a gunnery range target.

See also

  • List of UK tanks


  1. A11 was the General Staff number
  2. Chamberlain, Peter; Ellis, Chris (1975). British and American tanks of World War II; the complete illustrated history of British, American and Commonwealth tanks, gun motor carriages and special purpose vehicles, 1939-1945. New York, Arco Pub. Co. [1969]. pp. 54. ISBN 0-668-01867-4. 


  • Fletcher, David, and Peter Sarson. Matilda Infantry Tank 1938–45 (New Vanguard 8). Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85532-457-1.

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).