Vickers Mk II (Light Tank, Mk II)
The Light Tank Mk II series was an interwar British light design that managed only sixty production models in all.
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During the interwar period that followed World War 1 (1914-1918) and preceded World War 2 (1939-1945), various light tank concepts were entertained by the British Army through the work conducted by the Experimental Mechanized Force brigade. Two Carden light concepts emerged - the infantry-minded Carden-Loyd Tankette (detailed elsewhere on this site) and a two-man variant fitted with an enclosed turret structure, the Mk VII, to serve the Royal Tank Corps. The Mk VII was chosen by the Army to form the pilot vehicle for a new line of light tanks to be powered b a Meadows 60 horsepower engine and armed with a single turreted .303 Vickers machine gun.
The Carden Mk VII, now becoming a Vickers-Armstrong product, was furthered into the Mk I Light Tank, and this carried over many qualities of the original design including a Meadows engine. A new cylindrical turret was used to house one of the two crew as well as the .303 armament and armor protection reached 14mm thickness. Maximum road speed was 30 miles per hour, a reduction from the original 35 mph speeds seen in the original Carden design. Production of the Mk I ended with five vehicles completed and the follow-up Mk IA was a slightly different offering, given an increased hull superstructure, revised turret structure, and new suspension. Only five of this model were completed as well.
With the Mk I design in the books, attention turned to a new related form centered on use of a Rolls-Royce engine of 66 horsepower. This was mated to a Wilson "preselector" transmission system. The total crew complement remained two - driver and commander/gunner. A revised turret superstructure was added that featured more of a rectangular shape. The .303 machine gun (4,000 rounds of ammunition) did away with its spade grips and added a more useful pistol grip function. The air louvers were removed from the turret sides and the roof hatch became a slide-type unit (instead of two folding doors).
Vickers-Armstrong began production of the Mk II in 1929 and some sixteen vehicles were ultimately delivered. There followed twenty-nine more under the Mk IIA guise that were constructed by the Royal Arsenal of Woolwich for hot weather service in India and showcased better cooling, a Meadows 85hp engine, and "crash" transmission system. Twenty-one more vehicles arrived under the Mk IIB designation and these were once again put together by Vickers-Armstrong. The vehicles held an additional cupola on the turret roof, dual-spring suspension, and anti-splash baffles to protect from bullet "spray".
Like the Mk I series before it, the Mk II tank held a short service life from 1931 to 1933. The newer Mk III models began arriving in 1934.