Gents, I built this girl in May, 2009 and and I would like to show the project to you:
Matilda II Infantry tank with A24/27 turret (6pdr. gun):
|Matilda with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5|
|The real and big problem with Matildas...|
But let's know the full story of this impressive vehicle ...
The Infantry Tank Mark II (sometimes referred to as Matilda II, Matilda senior, by General Staff Specification A12) was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It served from the start of the war to its end and became particularly associated with the North Africa Campaign. It was replaced in service by the Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine. With its heavy armour the Matilda II was an excellent infantry support tank, but with somewhat limited speed and armament.
When the earlier Infantry Tank Mark I which was also known as "Matilda" was removed from service the Infantry Tank Mk II became known simply as the "Matilda".
|Matilda Mk I - british tank|
The Infantry Tank Mk II was designed at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich to General Staff specification A.12 and built by the Vulcan Foundry. The design was based on the A7 (which had started development in 1929) rather than on the Infantry Tank Mk I, which was a two-man tank with a single machine gun for armament. When war was recognised as imminent, production of the Matilda II was ordered and that of the Matilda I curtailed. The first order was placed shortly after trials were completed with 140 ordered from Vulcan Foundry in mid 1938.
The Matilda II weighed around 27 tons, more than twice as much as its predecessor, and was armed with a QF 2 pounder (40 mm) tank gun in a three-man turret. The turret traversed by hydraulic motor or by hand through 360 degrees; the gun itself could be elevated through an arc from -15 to +20 degrees. One of the most serious weaknesses of the Matilda II was the lack of a high-explosive round for its main gun. A high-explosive shell was designed for the 2 pounder but for reasons never explained it was never placed in production. Tank's best weapon against un-armoured targets was thus its single machine gun.
Like many other British infantry tanks, it was heavily armoured; from 20 mm at the thinnest it was 78 mm at the front, much more than most contemporaries. The turret armour was 75 mm all round, the hull side armour was 65 to 70 millimetres and the rear armour, protecting the engine to sides and rear, was 55 millimetres. The frontal armour was 75 millimetres, although the nose plates top and bottom were thinner but angled. The turret roof was the same thickness as the hull roof and engine deck: 20 millimetres. The German Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks, of the same period, had 30 to 50 millimetres thick hull armour. The shape of the nose armour was based on Christie's designs, and came to a narrow point with storage lockers added on either side. The heavy armour of the Matilda's cast turret became legendary; for a time in 1940–41 the Matilda earned the nickname "Queen of the Desert". The sheer thickness of its armour made the tank impervious to the 37 mm and 50 mm calibre anti-tank guns that were then commonly used by the Germans, as well as the 47 mm used by the Italians in North Africa; only the 75 mm PAK 40 anti-tank gun and 88 mm anti-aircraft gun could penetrate its armour reliably.
While the Matilda possessed a degree of protection that was then unmatched in the North African theatre, the sheer weight of the armour mounted on the vehicle contributed to a very low average speed of about 9.7 km/h on desert terrain. At the time, this was not thought to be a problem since British infantry tank doctrine prioritized heavy armour and trench-crossing ability over speed and cross-country mobility (which was considered to be characteristic of cruiser tanks such as the Crusader. The slow speed of the Matilda was further exacerbated by a troublesome suspension and a comparatively weak power unit, the latter of which was actually created using two bus engines linked to a single shaft. This arrangement was both complicated and time-consuming to maintain, as it required technician crews had to work on each engine separately and subjected automotive components to uneven wear-and-tear. It did however, provide some mechanical redundancy, since failure in one engine would not prevent the Matilda from travelling under its own power using the other.
The tank's suspension system was that which had been developed by Vickers for their Medium C prototype in the mid-1920s. The tank was carried by five double wheel bogies on each side. Four of the bogies were on bellcranks in pairs with a common horizontal coil spring. The fifth, rearmost, bogie was sprung against a hull bracket. Between the first bogie and the idler wheel was a larger diameter vertically sprung "jockey wheel". The first Matildas had return rollers; these were replaced in later models by track skids, which were far easier to manufacture and to service in the field.
The turret carried the main armament with the machine gun to the right in a rotating internal mantlet. Traverse was by a hydraulic system. As the gun was balanced for ease of movement by the gunner much of the breech end was behind the trunnions. Two smoke grenade launchers were carried on the right side of the turret. The grenade launcher mechanisms were cut down Lee-Enfield rifles, each firing a single smoke grenade.
- Infantry Tank Mark II Matilda II: First production model armed with a Vickers machine gun.
- Infantry Tank Mark II.A. Matilda II Mk II: Vickers machine gun replaced by Besa machine gun. The "A" denoted a change in armament.
- Infantry Tank Mark II.A.* Matilda II Mk III: New Leyland diesel engine used in place of AEC engines.
- Infantry Tank Mark II Matilda II Mk IV: With improved engines, rigid mounting and no turret lamp
- Infantry Tank Mark II Matilda II Mk V: Improved gear box. Westinghouse air servo used.
- Matilda II Close Support (CS): Variant with QF 3 inch (76 mm) howitzer firing smoke shells. These were generally issued to HQ units.
- Matilda Baron I, II, III, IIIA: Experimental Matilda chassis with mine flail - never used operationally.
- Matilda Scorpion I / II: Matilda chassis with a mine flail. Used in North Africa, during and after the battle of El Alamain.
- Matilda II CDL / Matilda V CDL: The normal turret was replaced by a cylindrical one containing a searchlight (projected through a vertical slit) and a BESA machine gun. (Canal Defence Light)
- Matilda with 76mm Zis gun: Lend Lease Matilda supplied to the USSR, where an attempt to up-gun it with the T-34's 76.2mm F-34 gun was made. The design was most likely considered impractical due to the small size of the Matilda's turret.
- Matilda 6 pdr. with A27 turret: Matilda with modified chassis and Ordnance QF (OQF) 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5 in a A27 turret. One produced, no documentation other than photographs of it remain.
- Matilda Black Prince: Radio-controlled prototype produced in 1941 using A12E2 with Wilson transmission. Planned uses included use as a mobile target, for drawing fire and so reveal hidden anti-tank guns, or for demolition missions. Planned order for 60 cancelled as it would require conversion of Rackham clutch transmission to the Wilson type.
- Matilda Frog: Flame-thrower tank.
- Murray and Murray FT: Flame-thrower tank.
- Matilda Tank-Dozer: Bulldozer tank. A hydraulic operated bulldozer blade of similar design to those fitted to the American M3s.
- Matilda Hedgehog: Officially known as the Matilda Projector, Hedgehog, No. 1 Mark I, this fitted a Hedgehog 7-chambered spigot mortar in an armoured box on the rear hull of several Australian Matilda tanks. The projector was elevated by hydraulics adapted from the Logan traversing mechanism used in M3 Medium tank turrets and electrically fired either individually or in a salvo of six, from the 12 o'clock position; the fifth tube could not be fired until the turret was traversed to 1 o'clock, to move the radio antenna out of the bomb's flightpath. Each bomb weighed 29 kg and contained 14 to 16 kg of high explosive. The range was up to 400 m. Aiming was accomplished by pointing the entire tank; the mounting had no independent traverse, so accuracy was not spectacular, but adequate for the task. Trials at Southport, Queensland, in May 1945 were pronounced complete success, and the Projector would have been impressive against enemy bunkers, but the war ended before it was used operationally.
About Matilda 6 pdr. gun:
The size of the Matilda's turret was kept as small as possible in order to save weight. Coupled with the need to balance the gun, already explained, this meant that it was quite impossible to think of upgunning the tank, even though by 1942 this was highly desirable. The only alternative would be to fit a larger turret, and although there is photographic evidence to prove that this was done, no documents of any kind have been found to explain it.
|Matilda II with A24/A27 turret with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5 (unique pic of this beast)|
The tank is seen with a 6-pdr. turret of the type fitted to the A24/A27 series cruisers tanks, and an ugly combination it makes. But the turret ring on A27 was 57 inches in diameter, while that of A12 was only 54 inches.
It would have been a drastic measure, though by no means impossible, to enlarge the Matilda's turret ring. It is more likely that a larger ring was superimposed onto Ihe hull. Photographic evidence seems to support this. Yet the Churchill Mark III carried a similar 6-pdr. turret on a 54-inch turret ring and this might have been a better solution. Following experience in France there was a somewhat irrational reaction against turret cupolas, and many late production Matildas, including most of those supplied to Australia, appeared with a low profilecommander's hatch.
|Matilda Infantry Tank Mark III with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Used by||United Kingdom|
|Manufacturer||Vulcan Foundry and others|
|Crew||4 (driver, gunner, loader, commander)|
|Armour||20 to 78 mm max|
|OQF 6 pounder - L36,5 - 64 rounds|
|2x 7.92 mm Besa machine gun|
|Engine||2X Leyland 6 cyl. Diesel engines rated at 180 HP total|
|Transmission||Wilson epicyclic pre-selector gearbox, 6 speeds|
|Speed||26 km/h (on road)|
14 km/h (off road)
When I built this kit (May, 2009) I used an old Tamiya Matilda, a scraped turret from Centaur Tamiya and metal tracks from Friulmodels, to conform the vehicle to the original.
|The old Tamiya chassi with Friul drive sprockets, in metal...|
|The Centaur turret with metal gun barrel from RBModels (#35B17) 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5.|
Notice details in plastic...
|Notice the armoured collar in the turret base|
|Matilda II Infantry Tank with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5 - Done !!!|
|Matilda II Infantry Tank with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5 - left side|
|Matilda II Infantry Tank with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5 - right side|
|Matilda II Infantry Tank with 57mm OQF 6 Pdr Mk.III L/36.5 gun|
Another kit of a rare and real vehicle, for my collection ....
See you soon!!