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Infantry Tank Mk I "Matilda I"


The first infantry tank, the Infantry Tank Mk I "Matilda I", was designed during the mid-thirties as an infantry support vehicle. It was intended to advance alongside the infantry, and engage enemy strongpoints and infantry. Since it would only need to drive at a walking pace, speed was sacrificed for armor protection.

The Matilda I was only armed with a heavy machine gun, which was considered insufficient even when production began in 1937. As a result, the Matilda II was designed. Nevertheless, the order of 140 tanks was completed, and the Matilda I saw action in France in 1940. Despite its heavy armour, however, its slow speed and weak armament made it unsuited for modern tank warfare.

Technical Details

Infantry Tank Mk I "Matilda I"
  • Commander/gunner
  • Driver
Physical Characteristics
Weight 11.18 t
Length 4.85 m
Width 2.29 m
Height 1.87 m
Armour (range) 10-60 mm
Speed (max) 12.9 km/h
Engine Ford V8
Net h.p. 70
Primary weapon .50 cal. Vickers Machine Gun (1)


Drawing of a Infantry Tank Mk I "Matilda"
The photograph from which the above drawing was made
Matilda I with British infantry
Matilda I with British infantry
Matilda I at the Bovington museum
Matilda I at the Bovington museum

Further Reading


  1. CHAMBERLAIN, Peter & ELLIS, Chris. British and American Tanks of World War II : The Complete Illustrated History of British, American and Commonwealth Tanks, 1939-45. Weidenfield : Cassell, 2000. 224p. ISBN: 03-0435-529-1.