The Vickers Mk. I was first used in a Tank with the Mk. I Heavy Tank from 1916 – the first true production Tank. These were crewed by men of the Machine Gun Corps. They were subsequently used in most Tanks up to the Second World War, particularly those built by the Vickers Company.


Great War

Mk. I Heavy Tank

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Early tanks came in both ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ versions. The Male was fitted with 6-pounder quick-firing guns, and four Hotchkiss Light Machine Guns. The Female Tank was fitted with 4 Mk. I Vickers MGs in sponsons on each side (two per side), as well as two Hotckiss MGs in the front and rear doors.

Specification
Date first in service June 1916
Type Mark I, Female
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 27
Overall Height 8 ft ½ in
Width 14 ft 4 in
Length (inc. gun) 26 ft 5 in
Crew 8
Armament 4x .303in. Vickers MGs
1 x .303-in. Hotchkiss MG
Ammunition 31,232
Engine Daimler, 105 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 23
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 3.7
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 12 to 6 mm
Remarks Originally provided with a tail to assist in crossing obstacles and steering, which increased overall length to 32 ft 6 in. The first tank to go into action (Sept. 1916).

Mk. II Heavy Tank

The Mk. II was a development of the Mk. I but, for several reasons, was relegated to training purposes only. The weapons arrangements were as for the Mk. I (4 Vickers MGs on the Female variant).

All subsequent Marks of Tank used only Hotchkiss and Lewis guns. It wasn’t until post-Great War Tank developments that the Vickers was reintroduced into Tank use and specific AFV variants were produced.


Inter-war period

Medium, Mark I

Specification
Date first in service 1924
Type Medium, Mark I
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 11¾
Overall Height 9 ft 3 in
Width 9 ft 1½ in
Length (inc. gun) 17 ft 6 in
Crew 5
Armament Main 1 x 3-pdr.
Secondary 2 x .303-in. Vickers MGs. Four mountings for Hotchkiss MGs.
Ammunition Main 90
Secondary 5,000
Engine Armstrong Siddeley 90 b.h.p. (air-cooled)
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 150
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 18
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 6.5 mm
Remarks Commonly called the Vickers Medium – and originally designated the Light Tank Mark I. The Mark IA differed mainly in its armour thickness of 8 to 6.5mm. Close support versions of the tanks were armed with a 3.7-in. mortar instead of a 3-pdr. gun.

Medium, Mark II

Specification
Date first in service 1926
Type Medium, Mark II
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 12½
Overall Height 8 ft 10 in
Width 9 ft 3 in
Length (inc. gun) 17 ft 6 in
Crew 5
Armament Main 1 x 3-pdr.
Secondary 2 x .303-in. Vickers MGs. Four mountings for Hotchkiss MGs.
Ammunition Main 90
Secondary 5,000
Engine Armstrong Siddeley 90 b.h.p. (air-cooled)
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 150
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 18
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 8 mm
Remarks Close support versions of the tanks were armed with a 3.7-in. mortar instead of a 3-pdr. gun.

Independent

Specification
Date first in service 1926
Type Independent
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 31½
Overall Height 8 ft 10 in
Width 10 ft 6 in
Length (inc. gun) 25 ft 5 in
Crew 8
Armament Main 1 x 3-pdr.
Secondary 4 x .303-in. Vickers MGs.
Ammunition Main 200
Secondary 7,000
Engine Armstrong Siddeley 398 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 200
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 20
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 29 – 13 mm.
Remarks The first multi-turret tank; only one built. The A1E1 specification.

Medium, Mk. III

Specification
Date first in service 1930
Type Medium, Mark III
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 18¾
Overall Height 9 ft 9 in
Width 9 ft 0 in
Length (inc. gun) 21 ft 5 in
Crew 6
Armament Main 1 x 3-pdr.
Secondary 3 x .303-in. Vickers MGs.
Ammunition Main 180
Secondary 5,000
Engine Armstrong Siddeley 180 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 100
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 30
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 14 mm.
Remarks The original version, known as the ’16 tonner’ had twin machine guns in the auxiliary turrets. Only three of these machines were built.

Vickers Light Tank Mk. II

KID_000030

Specification
Date first in service 1931
Type Light Tank, Mk. IIA & IIB
Weight in Tons (fully laden)
Overall Height 6 ft 7½ in
Width 6 ft 3½ in
Length (inc. gun) 11 ft 9 in
Crew 2
Armament 1 x .303-in. Vickers MGs.
Ammunition 4,000
Engine Rolls-Royce 66 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 150
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 30
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 10 – 4 mm.
Remarks These were typical vehicles of the light tank series evolved from the Carden-Loyd tankettes. Used in operations in India 1935 – 1939.

Second World War

Vickers Light Tank Mk. VI

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Mk. VIB

KID_000195

Specification
Date first in service 1938
Type Light Tank, Mk. VIA & VIB
Weight in Tons (fully laden)
Overall Height 6 ft 9 in
Width 6 ft 9 in
Length (inc. gun) 13 ft 0 in
Crew 3
Armament Main 1 x .5-in. Vickers MG.
Secondary 1 x .303-in. Vickers MGs.
Ammunition Main 400
Secondary 2,500
Engine Meadows 89 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 130
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 35
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 14 – 4 mm.
Remarks Mark VI tanks were used in France and the Middle East in 1940-1941. A later Mark of tank, the Mark VI C differed in having Besa machine-guns, instead of Vickers.

Cruiser, Mark I (A9, Mark I)

Specification
Date first in service 1938
Type Cruiser, Mark I (A9, Mark I)
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 12
Overall Height 8 ft 4 in
Width 8 ft 4 in
Length (inc. gun) 19 ft 3 in
Crew 6
Armament Main 1 x 2-pdr.
Secondary 3 x .303-in. Vickers MGs. (one coaxial and two in auxiliary turrets)
Ammunition Main 100
Secondary 3,000
Engine A.E.C. 6-cyl. 150 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 100
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 25
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 14 – 6 mm.
Remarks First tank to be fitted with hydraulic traversing gear. Close support version armed with 3.7-in. mortar instead of 2-pdr. gun.

Infantry Tank, Mark I

Specification
Date first in service 1938
Type Infantry Tank, Mark I
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 11
Overall Height 6 ft 1½ in
Width 7 ft 6 in
Length (inc. gun) 15 ft 11 in
Crew 2
Armament 1 x .303-in. Vickers MG.
Ammunition 4,000
Engine Ford V8 70 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 80
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 8
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 60 – 10 mm.
Remarks The first post-Great War vehicle specifically designed as an infantry tank. Heavily armoured for its day.

Cruiser, Mark II (A10, Mark I)

Specification
Date first in service 1939
Type Cruiser, Mark II (A10, Mark I)
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 13¾
Overall Height 8 ft 6 in
Width 8 ft 3½ in
Length (inc. gun) 18 ft 1 in
Crew 4
Armament Main 1 x 2-pdr.
Secondary 1 x .303-in. Vickers MG. (coaxial)
Ammunition Main 100
Secondary 4,050
Engine A.E.C. 6-cyl. 150 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 100
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 16
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 30 mm.
Remarks Close support version of the tank was armed with a 3.7-in. mortar instead of 2-pdr. gun. The cruiser tank Mark IIA was the firt tank to be armed with the Besa machine-gun and had a crew of 5, and a second Besa machine-gun.

Cruiser, Mark III (A13, Mark I)

Specification
Date first in service 1939
Type Cruiser, Mark III (A13, Mark I)
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 14¾
Overall Height 8 ft 6 in
Width 8 ft 4 in
Length (inc. gun) 19 ft 9 in
Crew 4
Armament Main 1 x 2-pdr.
Secondary 1 x .303-in. Vickers MG. (coaxial)
Ammunition Main 87
Secondary 3,750
Engine Nuffield Liberty I 340 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 90
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 30
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 14 – 6 mm.
Remarks The first Cruiser with Christie suspension. The Marks IV and IVA were almost identical, the main difference being an increase to 30 mm. max in the armour protection of the turret and frontal plating of the hull.

Infantry Tank, Mark II (Matilda)

Specification
Date first in service 1939
Type Infantry Tank, Mark II (Matilda)
Weight in Tons (fully laden) 26½
Overall Height 8 ft 0 in
Width 8 ft 6 in
Length (inc. gun) 18 ft 5 in
Crew 4
Armament Main 1 x 2-pdr.
Secondary 1 x .303-in. Vickers MG. (coaxial)
Ammunition Main 93
Secondary 2,925
Engine A.E.C. 2 x 87 b.h.p.
Fuel Endurance (road miles) 70
Max. Road Speed (m.p.h.) 15
Armour (max. or max.-min.) 78 – 20 mm.
Remarks Other models of the tank had a 7.92-mm. Besa MG. which superceded the Vickers. There were five marks of Matilda differing mainly in engine type. It was the first diesel-engined British tank. Close support version with 3-in. howitzer.

The Matilda was the last tank in British service to be armed with the Vickers MG. After this, they were replaced with the 7.92-mm Besa, and subsequently .30-in. Browning MGs.


Sources