|Tank, Light, Mk VI|
Tank, Light, Mk IVB
|Type||Basic Light Tank|
|Place of origin||UK|
|In service||1936 - 1942 (frontline)|
|Number built||about 1,000|
|Weight||5 (long) tons (4.87 tonnes)|
|Length||13 ft (4 m)|
|Width||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)|
|Height||7 ft 3 in (2.26 m)|
|Crew||3 (commander, gunner, driver)|
|Armour||4 - 14 mm|
| .50 in Vickers MG |
(Mk VIC - 15 mm Besa MG)
| .303 in Vickers MG |
(Mk VIC - 7.92 mm Besa MG)
|Engine|| Meadows 6 cylinder petrol|
|Transmission||Wilson pre-selector gearbox|
|Suspension||Horstmann inclined springs|
|Ground clearance||10 inches|
|Fuel capacity||30 gallons|
|Speed||35 mph (25 mph off road)|
The Vickers design was ready for production when the United Kingdom began its large rearmament program. The tank was mass produced to fill the ranks of both the Royal Tank Regiment and the mechanized cavalry regiments. It was a machinegun armed tank designed as a scout and reconnaissance tank, and not intended to engage enemy tanks.
The armament was twin Vickers machine guns, one .50 inch and one .303 inch in the same mount in the turret. The turret was hand cranked with a full 360 degree traverse, while the weapons could elevate to 37° and depress to -10°. 200 rounds of .50 in and 2,500 rounds of .303 inch ammunition were carried. In addition to the armament, a No. 9 W/T radio was fitted in an extension to the rear of the turret.
The armour of the Mark VI series was designed to prevent penetration by .303 inch and smaller rounds. To that end 14 mm plate (to British Official Armour Specification I.T.70) was fitted on most surfaces, although at its thinnest protection was only 4 mm.
Power plant Edit
Power was provided by a Meadows ESTB six cylinder water-cooled gasoline engine producing 88 bhp at 3,000 rpm. A transmission was through a pre-selector gearbox with five forward gears plus reverse. Top speed was 30 mph. Total weight reached 5.12 Long tons.
Tank, Light, Mk VIAEdit
Only 91 Mk VI tanks were produced before the improved Mark VIA was started. The most important improvements were to the suspension and cooling systems, although minor improvements to both driver and commander stations were made as well. Tracks were widened and lengthened, improving comfort without degrading performance. The original Mk VI had an inadequate cooling system for some of the hotter locations of the British Empire, and the new cooling system of the Mk VIA was tested extensively in Egypt, where it performed well. Eighty-five Mark VIA tanks were built, from November 1935 to January 1936.
The Tank, Light AA Mk I was built on the Mk VIA chassis, it featured four 7.92 BESA machineguns, a small number were produced before production was changed to the Tank, Light AA Mk II.
Tank, Light, Mk VIBEdit
With the remedies to the mechanical problems, it was decided to equip the Indian Army with the tank. However, despite adequate engine cooling, the crew compartment was not adequate for the tropical conditions of the sub-continent. Further improvements to the engine cooling were also to be made. The result was to be a standard version for use both by British and Indian forces, the Mark VIB. The Mk VIB served with British armoured forces universally and was the most common of the Marks at 850 produced, from April 1937 to January 1940
The Tank, Light AA Mk II was built on the Mk VIB chassis, it improved upon the turret and sights of the previous model.
Tank, Light, Mk VICEdit
The final design of the Mark VI involved changes to the armament, replacing the Vickers machine guns with the equivalent Besa machine guns. The Vickers .50 in (12.7 mm) for a heavier 15 mm Besa and the .303 for the near equivalent 7.92 mm. The 15 mm was capable of single shot and therefore only 175 rounds for it were carried along with 2,700 rounds for the 7.92 mm. The commander's cupola was removed and replaced by a simple split hatch. Production was 130 vehicles, from December 1939 to June 1940.
Operational history Edit
The Tank, Light, Mk VI filled a major role with battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment and as a tank for the Indian Army on the eve of the Second World War. Many were deployed with the British Expeditionary Force to France in 1939, and most were lost/abandoned during Operation Dynamo in 1940.
Many also served the British in Egypt, where they were heavily involved in the early campaigns in North Africa. The majority of these were Mark VIB, although a few Mark VIA models remained, as well as the some of the heavier armed Mark VIC. Most of the VIA models served in the Infantry Tank Battalions. In combat against the Italian forces, it was revealed that the tank was useful only in a light reconnaissance role, but that even there it was limited by its poor off-road mobility and was deemed less useful than a wheeled vehicle. As of March 1 1941, official reported strength for the Mark VI in Egypt was 36 Mark VI, 55 Mark VIA, 276 Mark VIB, and 1 Mark VIC with 6 more Mark VIC in transit and due to arrive. 149 of these tanks were assigned to the British 7th Armoured Division and 168 (all Mark VIB) were from the British 2nd Armoured Division. 21 Mark VIC models were shipped on the Tiger convoy which arrived on 12 May 1941.