Saturday, March 21, 2015


Light Tank Mk II Indian Pattern.

The light tanks which originated at the same time as the Carden-Loyd Mark VI were a somewhat better proposition, particularly for reconnaissance and for fighting lightly armed enemy forces. But they were only small, two-man vehicles armed with machine guns. As fighting vehicles they represented, therefore, no advance on the Renault FT. except for being more mobile. In fact, they were capable of speeds of more than 50 km/h. They were also simple to operate, relatively reliable and, above all, less expensive than more effectively armed tanks. This led to them being acquired in considerable numbers by the major armies which did not, however, require them at the time for anything more serious than peacetime manoeuvres and training or, in a few cases, internal security operations. Their use also spread, in small batches, to smaller armies which through them were able to acquire token forces of tanks. The first of these light tanks was the Carden-Loyd Mark VII, which was built in 1929 and which was followed by a series of Vickers Carden Loyd light tanks produced for the British Army. Similar light tanks, some of them amphibious, were also built by Vickers-Armstrongs for a number of other armies and their lead was followed by the design and production of tanks of their type in a number of countries. These included the Russian T-33, T-37 and T-38, French AMR Renault Model 1935, German Pz.Kpfw.I and Japanese Type 94 tankette. From the Mark V of 1935 onwards, British light tanks were improved by being built with two-man turrets and armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun in addition to the customary, rifle-calibre machine gun. This gave them some antitank capability, although only against tanks as lightly armoured as themselves. In spite of this and their other limitations, 1002 of the 1148 tanks produced in Britain up to the outbreak of the Second World War were lights tanks.


The Light Tank Mk II was a production development of the "private venture" Carden-Loyd Mk VII and VIII tanks, which were supplied to the War Office A4 specification in 1929; these Carden-Loyd vehicles were built by Vickers (who absorbed the Carden-Loyd company in 1928) and were designated Light Tank Mk I by the British Army. Five vehicles were used for trials and various suspensions were tested. The Mk II, also built by Vickers, had a similar hull to the Mk I, but a larger turret and Rolls-Royce engine. Horstmann-type suspension was standard with horizontal coil springs (known as the "two pair" type). The Mks IIA and IIB had detail improvements, including better engine cooling and re-sited fuel tanks. The Mk III was a slightly modified version of the Mk II, built by the Royal Ordnance Factory at Woolwich and incorporating improvements suggested by experience. These included a higher roomier hull and the later type of Horstmann suspension with angled coil springs giving a longer "throw". These were known as "four pair" bogies. Only 36 of these tanks were built. The other variant in this early series of light tanks was the Mk II Indian Pattern, built for the Indian Army, which differed mainly in having a cupola on the turret. Production of the Mks II and III was completed in 1936 and these types were mainly replaced by later marks by 1939-40. Remaining vehicles were mostly used for training and instruction until 1942, but a few Mk IIA and IIB remained in service with tank battalions of the Western Desert Force in 1940. Mk IIAs and Mk IIIs were also used by a South African battalion in the Abyssinian campaign of 1941.

The Mk II-III series were two-man vehicles (driver and commander) with side-mounted engines and of light riveted construction. They were of negligible tactical value under World War II conditions.

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