Matilda I

The Tank, Infantry, Mk I, Matilda I (A11) was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. Despite being slow, cramped and armed with only a single machine gun, the Matilda I had some success in the Battle of France in 1940, owing to its heavy armour which was proof against the standard German anti-tank guns. However, it was essentially useless in an attacking sense, as its weak armament made it toothless in combat against enemy armour, and the tank was obsolete before it even came into service.

There are two Matilda I tanks at the Bovington Tank Museum. One is in running order, though it doesn’t have an authentic engine and gearbox.

The hull and turret were well protected against contemporary anti-tank weapons but the tracks and running gear were exposed and more vulnerable than on tanks that had protected tracks. The lack of a gun with anti-tank capability severely limited its utility on the battlefield.

The other is painted to represent T8106 a tank of the 4th Royal Tank Regiment in France in May 1940.

The Battle of France was the only time the Matilda I saw combat. The tank was cheaply built as the British government wanted each of the tanks to be built on a very restricted budget in the build-up to the Second World War.