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(AFV Weapons Profiles No.5) Light Tanks I-V

(AFV Weapons Profiles No.5) Light Tanks I-V

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Published by Inveteratus
Written by Major-General N.W. Duncan.
Written by Major-General N.W. Duncan.

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Published by: Inveteratus on Aug 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

 
iLIG.HT
TANKSMAIRKS1-V-1.~()'
LINGS
--
..
 
Thh
d.
if
thelighllank-aLightMk.
v
(right)followedbyfourMk.VIBsleadsthelightandmediumtanksoftheTankBrigade
all
~UI;:n:!::wnoeuvres,SalisburyPlain,August
23,1938.(ChamberlainCollection)
LightTanksMarksI-VI
ByMajor-GeneralN.W.Duncan
THEORIGINOFTHELIGHTTANK
THEancestorsoftheBritishlighttanksMarksItoVIarethemediumtanksofWorldWarIalthoughthereasonswhichcalledthemintobeingarenotthosethatbroughtthelaterversionstolight.BritishmediumtanksA,BandCwereintendedtotakeadvantageoftheopportunitiescreatedbytheheavytanksforthedislocationandexploitationofadefeatedorpartiallydefeatedenemy.Onlyoneofthesetanks,theMediumA,waseverinactionand,despitemanybrilliantactionsontheirown,theyfailedtoliveuptoexpecta-tionssincetheirspeedof8mphwasinsufficientongoodgoingtokeepupwiththecavalryonthefewoccasionswhentheywereabletoadvancemounted;equally8mphwastoofastinfaceofenemyoppositionforhorsestotakeadvantageoftheopportunitieswhicharmourcouldcreate.OnlytheprototypeMediumDwasintendedtocarryoutthedutieswhichlighttankswerelatercalledontoperform.Itwasfastenoughtopursuearetreatingenemy,tocarryoutindependentactionsintheformofraids,andtounder-takereconnaissancedutiesforthemainmassofheavytankswhichitwasintendedtouseinindependentoperationsin1919..AftertheArmisticein1918tankdevelopmentwas
in
astateofflux:tankswerebuiltundervariousdesig-nationstofiJIdifferingrolesandasthemilitarymindchangeditsthinkingonthesubject-whichwasprettyofteninthosedays-sotanknomenclaturechangedtoo:tankswhichstartedlifeasmediumsfoundthem-selvessuccessivelylightandheavybeforerevertingagaintothemediumcategory.In1925,MajorG.Ie
Q.
Martel,anengineerofficerwhohadbeenonthestaffofTank
HQ
inFrance,electrifiedthemilitaryworldbybuildinginhisgardenaone-mantank,whichworked.Demonstratingithesuggestedthatamassofthesemachinescouldmateriallyhelptheinfantryinanadvance.Onfurtherreflectionitwasconsideredthatonemanwouldhavehishandstoofulltocarryouthisdutieseffectivelyandin1926atwo-manversionappeared.EightofthismodelwerebuiltbyMorrisMotorsfortheExperi-mentalMechanisedForcein1927whileeightofan-otherversionofthetwo-manmachinebuiltbyCardenandLoydwerealsoorderedatthesametime.NoclearGeneralStaffrequirementforalighttankwaseverissuedbutafterthe1927trialsitwasdecidedthattwotypesoflightarmouredvehiclewereneeded;anopenoneforusewiththeinfantryasamachine-guncarrier,andonewithaturretforusebythebattalionsoftheRoyalTankCorps.AsaninfantryweapontheCardenLoydMachine-gunCarrierwasproduced,weighingatonandahalf,capableofaspeedof25mphandabletoconveytwomenandamachine-guninextremediscomfort.ItwasusedasalighttankpendingthearrivalofthepropervehiclesandfromitwasdescendedtheBrenguncarrierofWorldWarII.TomeettheRTCrequirement,CardenLoydpro-ducedaseriesofexperimentallighttankswithturretsandtheirMarkVIIIbecametheprototypeLightTankMark
I.
TheseexperimentalvehicleswereproducedbySirJohnCarden,oneofthemosttalentedtankdesign-
Morris-Martelone-mantank.Thesteering-wheelisvisiblethroughtheloop-holes.Thispictureemphasisestheheightoftheenginecompartmentandturretcompared
10
thenarrowtrack.
(RAe
TankMuseum)
 
Left:
TheMorris-Marteltwo-mantank,shownfromthereartorevealthemodeofsteeringviathebackwheel.
(Imp.WarMuseum.)
Right:
Martel-Crossleytwo-malltankwithKegressepattern
trade.
(RAe
TankMuseum)
erstheU.K.haseverhad,asaprivateventure.
It
couldalmostbesaidthatlighttankdesignevolveditself.NomilitaryspecificationhadbeendrawnupbuttheproductofevolutionappealedtotheGeneralStaff:itwasatank,itwascheap,itwaseasilypro-ducedanddidlittledamage.HoweverasnoclearconceptionoflighttankdutiesexistedoutsidetheRoyalTankCorpsBritishlighttankswereunder-gunnedbycomparisonwiththoseofothercountrieswhoseequivalentmachineswerebetterarmedandmorethicklyarmouredthanBritishcontemporarymediumtanks.Thelikelihoodoftankhavingtofighttankwasoutsidetheofficialview:atworstlighttankwouldonlyeverhavetofightlighttankandpowerfulanti-tankweaponswerenotneededbecausethedestructionofhostiletankswasprimarilythetaskoftheanti-tankgun.Themeleeandconfusionofanarmouredbattlewasnotappreciatedexceptinarmouredcircle's:inconsequencemanycasualtieswerelatersustainedbyBritishlighttanksagainstamoreheavilyarmedandbetterprotectedenemy.OnthecreditsideitmustbesaidthatinoverseasoperationsagainstalightlyarmedenemytheymorethanprovedtheirworthinIndiaandPalestinebeforeWorldWarII,andthattheywereexcellenttrainingmachines.
It
wasonlywhentheycameupagainstthemassofGermantanksinFrancein1940thattheyfinallydisposedoftheideathatitwasnotthetaskofatanktofightanothertankanddisprovedthefallaciousideathatnumbersofundergunnedvehiclescouldsuc-cessfullyopposefewerenemytanksofsuperiorgunpower-anideathatwastocostusverydearinallourtanksuntilthe17-pdr.Shermancouldfaceitsenemiesonvirtuallyequalguntermsin1944.
THEEVOLUTIONOFTHELIGHTTANK
TheMorrisMarteltwo-manlighttankwasdroppedafterthedisbandmentoftheArmouredForcein1929.Whilethesevehicleshadprovedtheirtacticalvalue,continualtroublewasexperiencedwiththeirlightconstructionandparticularlywiththerearwheelsteeringmechanismwhichwasoftendamagedinroughgoing.Thecentreofgravitywastoohighandthecross-countryperformancewasindifferent.CardenLoyddevelopedtheirmachine-guncarriersandarangeoflighttanksfromtheirversionofaone-mantrackedvehiclewhichwasproducedaboutthesametimeastheMartelmachine.Thisturnedintoatwo-manversionwhichfirstappearedin1926/27:itwassmallandlight,givingonlycrampedaccommo-dationforitscrewbutitdidprovidequickandspeedytransportacrossreasonablegoingforamachine-gunandammunition.Alaterversionhadoverheadcover,twonon-rotatingturretsforthecrew,andalthoughthiswasdiscardedinfavourofanopenversionforinfantryuseitprobablyplayedsomepartinthetankdevelopment.
It
isinterestingtonotethatsomeoftheCardenLoydcarriersmadeprovisionfortraveloneitherwheelsortracksinanendeavourtoreducetrackwearwhichwasalwayssuchabugbearandledinWorldWarIItotheextensiveuseoftanktransporters.By1929CardenLoyd,whoearlyin1928weretakenoverbyVickers-Armstrong,hadproducedtheirMarkVIIlighttank:thiswasatwo-manmachinearmedwitha.303ins.Vickersmachine-gunmountedinalowbevel-sidedrotatingturretwhichwascrampedanddifficulttooperatefrom.A59hpMeadowsenginegaveitatopspeedof35mph.Foursuspensionwheelseitherside,groupedintwoleaf-sprungbogies,wereusedwithanexternalgirderconnectingtheoutsidebogiepivots.Theoutsidegirderhasbeenusedbyal-mostalltankdesignersinallcountriesinearlyver-sionsofcomparativelyspeedytanks.Ithasalwaysbeenrapidlydiscardedprobablyduetotheadditionaldragimposedbyunfavourablegoing,bogiepivotsandhullsupportsbeingincreasedinstrengthtotaketheadditionalloadcausedbytheabsenceofexternalsupport.
TheCardenLoydMk.I"one-malltank,or"Iankette",earlieststageofVickerslighttankdevelopment.
(ImperialWarMuseum)

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