Light Tank Mk VIII 'Harry Hopkins' (A25)
The Light Tank Mk VIII 'Harry Hopkins' (A25) was an improved version of the Light Tank Mk VII Tetrarch, but entered production after light tanks had gone out of favour and never saw combat.
The Mk VIII began life as a modified version of the older tank, with the designation Tank, Light Mk VII revised. Work on it began in 1941, soon after the first of the Mk VIIs had been completed.
The Harry Hopkins had a revised hull and turret shape. The hull had a more steeply sloping front, while the turret resembled the standard British cruiser tank type, with 'V' shaped sides, giving it a diamond profile when seen from the front. The Harry Hopkins also had thicker armour (up to 38mm) and a larger hull with more internal space. It used the same suspension and steering as the Mk VII, which had four large road wheels on each side. At high speed the tank could be steered like a car by turning the wheels and thus flexing the tracks. At slower speeds a more standard 'skid' steering system had to be used (stopping or braking the track on the side you want to turn towards). The Mk VIII got hydraulically assisted steering.
The Mk VIII was named after Harry Hopkins, one of President Roosevelt's key advisors who acted as an emissary between Churchill and Roosevelt, played a major part in Lend-Lease and was the senior American official dealing with the Soviet Union, despite suffering from terrible health problems caused originally by stomach cancer.
Three prototypes of the Mk VIII were approved in April 1941, using the chassis and mechanical components from the Mk VII, but with the new hull and turret. As with the Tetrarch, the Harry Hopkins was designed by Vickers , but built by Metropolitan-Cammell. An order was placed for 99 tanks and the last tank was delivered in 1944.
By the time the Harry Hopkins was being delivered, the British Army no longer needed light tanks. Their reconnaissance role had gone to armoured cars, while the airborne forces had enough Mk VII Tetrarchs and didn't require the Harry Hopkins.
The chassis of the Harry Hopkins was used as the basis of the Alecto self propelled gun.
Production: 100 (1943-September 1945) (or 99, completed in 1944)
Hull Length: 14ft
Hull Width: 8ft 10.5in
Height: 6ft 11in
Crew: 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
Engine: Meadows 12 cylinder 148hp
Max Speed: 30mph (road), 20mph (cross-country)
Max Range: 125 miles road radius
Armament: One 2pdr OQF gun, one 7.92mm Besa Machine Gun
Armour: 6mm min, 38mm max
Light Tank Mk VII Tetrarch
The Light Tank Mk VII (A17), also known as the Tetrarch, was a British light tank produced by Vickers-Armstrongs in the late 1930s and used during the Second World War. The Tetrarch was the latest in the line of light tanks built by the company for the British Army. It improved upon its predecessor, the Light Tank Mk VIC, by introducing the extra firepower of a 2-pounder gun. The War Office ordered 70 tanks, an order that eventually increased to 220. Production was delayed by several factors and only 100 to 177 of the tanks were produced. [Note 1]
The design flaws of the tank, combined with the decision by the War Office not to use light tanks in British armoured divisions, ruled out the use of Tetrarchs in the North African Campaign. The majority of the tanks remained in Britain, although twenty were sent to the USSR as part of Lend-Lease. In early 1941, the Royal Armoured Corps formed three squadrons for use in overseas amphibious operations, one of which was equipped with Tetrarchs. In May 1942, a small number of Tetrarchs formed part of the British force which participated in Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Madagascar and in June 1942, Tetrarchs were attached to the 1st Airborne Division after it was decided that the design allowed its use as an air-portable light tank to support British airborne forces. The Tetrarchs were transported and landed in specially-designed General Aircraft Hamilcar gliders.  A lack of gliders prevented their participation in the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943 instead they were attached to the new 6th Airborne Division and became part of the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment.
The division used approximately twenty Tetrarchs during Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings in Normandy in June 1944. The tanks were landed by glider, where their appearance caused the Germans to cancel a counter-attack at a key moment in the battle but individually, they did not perform well. Several were lost in accidents and those that did see action proved to be inferior in firepower and armour to the armoured vehicles of the German forces. A few days after the beginning of the operation, the tanks were removed from direct engagement with German armour and used only to provide fire support. By August 1944, most of the Tetrarchs in action were replaced with Cromwell tanks and the remainder were replaced by the M22 Locust in December 1944.
Tetrarchs did not see any further combat and were deemed obsolete by 1946 the last was retired in 1950. There were several variations on the Tetrarch design, including the Alecto self-propelled gun and the Light Tank Mk VIII but none of these were used operationally by the British Army.
A25 Light Tank Mk VIII Harry Hopkins
Harry Hopkins byl zkonstruován roku 1941 u firmy Vickers a vyráběn firmou Metropolitan-Cammell. Oficiální značení je "Tank Light Mark VII revised". Na všech třech prototypech byl použit podvozek a další mechanické součásti z tanku A17 Light Tank Mk VII Tetrarch. Hlavním rozdílem je jiné tvarování trupové nástavby a věže se silnější pancéřováním tvořeným svařovanými ocelovými pláty o tloušťce až 38 mm, vnějškově je hlavní rozdíl v lépe tvarované věži poskytující lepší balistickou ochranu.
Do oficiálního ukončení výroby v únoru 1945 bylo postaveno kolem 100 tanků, ty ale nikdy nebyly bojově nasazeny. Několik z nich bylo vybaveno Littlejohnovým adaptérem. Ke konci války, kdy se již mohl dostat do bojů, byl již zastaralý a pro účely vedení války neúčinný a tak představoval pouze nepotřebnou hromadu materiálu. Jeho podvozky však byly použity ke stavbě samohybných děl Alecto vyzbrojených 95mm houfnicí. Je ale podivné, že podobně vyzbrojené a hůř pancéřované tanky Tetrarch byly do bojů nasazeny. Podle některých autorů bylo postaveno 99 tanků Harry Hopkins.
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Self-propelled artillery installation A25 E2 Alecto (UK)
Soon after the entry into World War II, the British army was faced with a problem that had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the combat work of the ground forces. There were no self-propelled artillery mounts with weapons of relatively large calibers, which markedly limited the potential of the troops in the fight against armored vehicles and enemy fortifications. Given the experience of the first battles, it was decided to create a promising self-propelled guns. One of the first models of this class of technology could be the A25 E2 Alecto ACS.
It seems that the decisive factor in favor of creating their own self-propelled artillery guns was the experience of fighting in North Africa. Nazi Germany had a large number of so-called. assault guns on tracked chassis, which allowed for the effective support of the attacking troops. Taking into account the experience of the enemy, the British command in the 1941-42 years initiated the development of several new projects of armored vehicles with weapons of relatively high power. In addition, some such projects were created on the initiative of defense industry enterprises.
Prototype SAU Alecto Mk I. Photo Aviarmor.net
One of the proposals to create a light-weight self-propelled gun with a relatively powerful weapons was voiced by Vickers-Armstrong. This company already had extensive experience in the creation of armored vehicles of various classes, and its plants produced in large quantities Tanks and other vehicles for the army. The existing experience, combined with ready-made components and some new ideas, was to become the basis for a promising project. In 1942, a set of documents on the new development was handed over to the military department, which approved the continuation of work. In the foreseeable future, the development company was supposed to introduce a new model of military equipment.
The offer of the Vikers-Armstrong company was rather simple. The lightweight tank A25, which was later put into service under the designation Mk VIII Harry Hopkins, was to be equipped with an updated hull and armed with an 3,75 inch caliber howitzer (95 mm). Such a machine, as expected, will be fairly simple from a development point of view. In addition, the simultaneous serial production of light tanks and self-propelled guns significantly reduce the cost of equipment and simplify its operation in the army. Finally, the two cars should have similar mobility, while the ACS could show tremendous advantages in firepower. In the future, the proposed architecture of the combat vehicle made it possible to improve its characteristics through the use of new weapons.
The tank A25, proposed for use in the new project, was an improved version of the existing armored vehicle Mk VII Tetrarch. The development of this machine began in the middle of the year 1941. Differences newer tank was more powerful booking and change some other details. Both tanks, in the design of which a number of original ideas and solutions were used, were distinguished by high mobility and maneuverability. These features of a tracked chassis could also be useful in the construction of advanced self-propelled guns.
View of the port side. Photo of the Imperial War Museum / Iwm.org.uk
The project of a promising self-propelled artillery installation based on the A25 tank received the official designation A25 E2. Soon the armored vehicle received the name Alecto, in honor of one of the erinas - the ancient Greek goddesses of vengeance. As the project progressed, additional designations also began to be used that made it possible to distinguish between different versions of the self-propelled gun. In connection with the advent of a new modification, the base version of the machine received the designation Mk I.
The use of the finished chassis of the light tank made it possible to simplify and accelerate the work under the new project, but nevertheless did not exclude the need to develop some original products. So, to turn a tank into a self-propelled gun, it was necessary to seriously rework the hull. Perspective self-propelled guns had to get a gun in the frontal embrasure, which did not allow the use of existing structures. For the A25 E2, an updated package was developed with the required reservation level. Armor sheets of various shapes and sizes with a thickness up to 38 mm were assembled into a single structure by welding and rivets. The layout of the hull was as simple as possible: in front of it, there was a large habitable volume that served as the department of control and the fighting compartment, and the food was given under the engine compartment.
During the processing of the original body of the tank received an updated frontal part. A low vertical frontal sheet was preserved, to which the inclined part was fastened on top. Due to the need to mount the gun, this part of the hull had a characteristic cutout. The onboard parts of the frontal sheet rose above the central part, participating in the formation of high fencing niches. To increase the available space, the hull has lost its sides and roof. Lateral projection protection is now carried out by polygonal box-shaped fenced niches that accommodate part of the stack layouts. Above the main niches there were units of L-shaped section, which also improved the protection of the crew. The aft part of the hull was borrowed from the A25 tank without significant changes. She had vertical lower sheets of the sides and heaped in upper. The stern sheet was mounted with a slope backwards.
Armored A25 E2 Mk I on the ground. Photo of the Imperial War Museum / Iwm.org.uk
The 12-cylinder petrol engine of box-mounted Meadows with a capacity of 148 hp was to be located in the aft compartment of the hull. The engine was connected to a mechanical transmission, the basis of which was a five-speed gearbox. A similar force compartment was used in the two previous projects of light armored vehicles.
Being a further development of light tanks Tetrarch and A25, the promising self-propelled gun "Alecto" was supposed to maintain the existing chassis design, capable of providing high levels of maneuverability and maneuverability. In the framework of the Tetrarch project, Vickers-Armstrong proposed the original design of a tracked propulsion unit, which made it easier to make turns and eliminate the loss of speed.
On each side of the hull there were four large support rollers of similar design. The three front rollers had rubber bands, while the rear rollers were equipped with a serrated rim and acted as a drive wheel. All rollers had an individual spring suspension. In addition, they were equipped with a hinge, which allowed them to swing around a vertical axis. Drives were also provided for controlling this movement, connected to the steering wheel at the driver’s workplace. The design of the track was made so that the tape could be bent in a horizontal plane. Thanks to all this, the self-propelled gun could turn “tank-wise”, slowing down one of the tracks, or by turning the rollers. In the latter case, changing the position of the rollers caused the track to bend and enter the required turn.
Check mobility on rough terrain. Photo Aviarmor.net
The main objective of the newest self-propelled gun A25 E2 Mk I was the fire support of the advancing infantry, which affected the choice of main weapons. The “main caliber” of the new ACS was to become a promising 95-mm howitzer, the development of which began in the 1942 year. Subsequently, this tool, intended for use on self-propelled machinery, was put into service and received the official name Ordnance QF 95-mm howitzer.
On self-propelled Alecto proposed to use a howitzer with a barrel length 20 calibers. The gun could use several types of shells, primarily high-explosive and smoke projectiles. Later, cumulative munitions were also created to combat enemy armored vehicles. The initial velocity of the projectile, depending on its type, reached 330 m / s. The maximum firing range exceeded 7,3 km, but the real values of this indicator depended on the design of the guidance systems and the permissible vertical guidance angles.
On a self-propelled 95-mm chassis, the howitzer was to be mounted using a tumbling rig. In the front part of the open-top cabin, a support was attached that ensured the rotation of the gun mount within the horizontal sector with a width of no more than 12-15 °. The swinging artillery unit could move from -5 ° to + 30 ° to the horizontal. The fighting compartment was protected by a large semicircular shield of the type barbet, completely covering the embrasure of the front sheet. In the center of the semicircular unit there was a window in which there was a moving box-shaped mask. The latter was responsible for protecting the fighting compartment when moving the howitzer in a vertical plane.
Prototype Alecto Mk IV. Photo Mihalchuk-1974.livejournal.com
As an additional weapon, SAU could use existing types of machine guns or personal weapons of the crew. At the same time, there were no devices for mounting such weapons on the machine. All such “means of self-defense” were proposed to be transported in appropriate packing, if necessary removing them from there.
The crew of the armored vehicle was to consist of four people who were in the total habitable volume. In front of the cabin, to the right of the gun, was placed the workplace of the driver. In battle and on the march, he had to watch the road “over the side,” without any viewing instruments. To the left of the howitzers placed the gunner. At his workplace there was a set of sighting equipment and aiming drives. The commander and loader were located behind the driver and the gunner. They had the opportunity to observe the terrain through the cabin.
The first version of the A25 E1 self-propelled gun was to have a body length of 4,27 m, a width of 2,7 m and a height of 2,1 m. The calculated combat weight was 8,64 t. With a specific power of at least 17,1 hp per ton, the armored vehicle could reach speeds of up to 48 km / h. Estimated power reserve reached 190 km. From the point of view of maneuverability and maneuverability, the prospective self-propelled guns should not differ from the existing light tanks, the “shared” with her power plant and chassis.
Combat "Alecto" Mk IV. Photo Mihalchuk-1974.livejournal.com
The development of the Alecto project was completed before the end of 1942, and almost immediately after that the work was suspended. The reason for this was the problems identified during the test of an experienced A25 tank. The prototype of this light armored vehicle was submitted for testing in the summer of 1942. Soon it was planned to launch the mass production of such tanks at a rate of up to a hundred per month. However, during the tests, the future Mk VIII showed some serious shortcomings, which took time to correct. The self-propelled gun based on it did not have any real prospects until the end of the development of the base tank.
Improving the light tank continued until the middle of the 1943 year, when he still managed to cope with all the tests, go into the series and enter into service under the name Mk VIII Harry Hopkins. Successful completion of this project allowed Vickers-Armstrong to continue work on a new self-propelled artillery installation. However, even now the situation did not allow performing all the required work in the shortest possible time. Due to loading by other projects and for other reasons, the prototype ACS A25 E2 was completed only in the last months of 1944.
According to reports, the development company did not waste time, and created several new versions of the self-propelled gun, differing from each other in weapons and some other design features. In addition, due to the use of different weapons such machines could have different roles on the battlefield.
ACS Alecto Mk II offered to equip 57-mm anti-tank gun Ordnance QF 6-pounder. Such a weapon could accelerate the use of projectiles of several types and accelerate to speeds above 800-850 m / s. Depending on the type of ammunition, penetration up to 80 mm of armor was ensured at a distance of 1000 yards. Later an armor-piercing projectile was created, capable of penetrating more than 120 mm at the same distance. Self-propelled gun with 57-mm gun was supposed to be a tank destroyer and fight with enemy armored vehicles.
The Alecto Mk III project proposed using an Ordnance QF 25 howitzer pounder 87,6 mm. Such a gun with a barrel length 31 caliber could do up to 8 rounds per minute, using projectiles of several types. When using the optimum angle of elevation and maximum charge, the howitzer in the towed version could send a projectile to a range of 12,25 km. In the case of self-propelled guns, the maximum firing range could be significantly less. ACS Alecto Mk III was considered as an alternative for the Mk I, because it had the advantage over it in the form of a more powerful weapon.
The latest version of the development of the existing project was the self-propelled Alecto Mk IV. She was asked to equip 32-pound howitzer caliber 94 mm. This version of the combat vehicle differed from the previous maximum firepower. From the point of view of indicators of mass and dimensions, the gun used in this project was the most powerful of those suitable for mounting on the existing tracked armored vehicle. A further increase in caliber and firepower was not possible due to the limitations imposed by the carrying capacity and strength of the existing chassis.
The first prototype self-propelled gun "Alecto" in the Mk I version was built at the end of 1944, and soon came to the test. Inspection of the equipment at the site showed that, taking into account the refinement of the base light tank, the ACS has, in general, satisfactory characteristics. Nevertheless, new deficiencies were identified that needed to be fixed as soon as possible. Project Mk I was sent for revision, taking into account the possible modernization of the prototype and further continuation of the tests.
The project Alecto Mk II, despite the relatively high characteristics of the used gun, was soon closed due to the lack of real prospects. The 57-mm anti-tank gun was still of some interest in the context of the Pacific theater of operations, but for Europe it was no longer powerful enough. A significant number of new tanks appeared in Germany’s arsenal, with which the “six-pounder” could no longer fight. The project was closed, and the construction of a prototype of such technology was not conducted.
Self-propelled gun with a howitzer caliber 87,6 mm was able to interest the customer, which led to the beginning of the construction of a prototype. However, in the future, the assembly of the prototype was stopped. Apparently, the fate of this development was adversely affected by the emergence of the Mk IV project, which implied the use of an even more powerful weapon.
Bulldozer on the self-propelled chassis. Photo of the Imperial War Museum / Iwm.org.uk
Of the new variants of the self-propelled guns, only the fourth equipped with an 94-mm howitzer could be reached. This armored vehicle confirmed the design characteristics of mobility, allowing to obtain the desired results on the battlefield. But during the fire tests, new problems were identified that actually deprived the original project of the future. The 32-pound howitzer had a maximum permissible mass, and besides, it was characterized by too strong recoil. The latter could even lead to armor damage. To correct this deficiency, the most serious reworking of the entire chassis structure was required, which, however, was considered inexpedient. The project was closed due to the impossibility of the full realization of all its potential.
Of the four variants of the developed AU ACN A25 E2 Alecto, only two came to the test, and one of them was abandoned according to the results of test firing. Only the basic version of the self-propelled gun with an 95 mm caliber gun could count on the mass production and adoption. In the course of the first tests of such a machine, some design flaws were identified, which should be resolved in the framework of the subsequent refinement. It was at this stage of the project that the project was finally stopped.
The reasons for this decision of the customer and the contractor were simple and clear. The development of a promising self-propelled gun was seriously delayed, due to which the combat vehicle risked morally outdated even before being put into service. In addition, the British army already had several armored vehicles with similar weapons and combat capabilities. In this case, the self-propelled gun "Alecto" would be only an addition to the existing samples. Finally, by the time the A25 E2 began to be tested, the situation in Europe had seriously changed, and it was already clear that the defeat of Germany was only a matter of time.
Advertising artillery tractor based on Alecto. Photo Wheelsandtracks.blogspot.ru
However, after tests at the British test sites, both built prototypes were still sent to the run-in troops. There are photographs showing both prototypes with different weapons, moving along the streets of one of the German cities.
In this situation, the deployment of a full-scale mass production of a new sample without obvious advantages over the existing ones simply did not make sense. The project of self-propelled artillery A25 E2 Alecto was closed due to the lack of real prospects. The termination order was issued at the start of 1945.
The decision of the British command did not suit Vickers-Armstrong, which is why it attempted to find a rejected technology and still get an order from the military. The first attempt to rework "Alecto" was the project to create a tracked armored engineering vehicle. Self-propelled guns were removed from the installation with all the corresponding booking. Hinges for installing dozer equipment appeared on the sides of the hull. The latter consisted of a blade and a system of hinged beams, with which it was possible to move the working body up and down. For a slight increase in performance, a curved part appeared on the front sheet of the case, during which the back surface of the blade had to rest.
A light armored personnel carrier project was also developed. In this case, there was not only a remake of the body, but also a change in the layout of the machine. The engine was transferred to the front of the hull, and the food was given under the troop compartment. The landing was proposed to carry out through the hinged doors in the feed sheet.
Armored personnel carrier self-propelled. Photo Aviarmor.net
Customers were offered an artillery tractor, which was a simplified version of the ACS. The car was deprived of the existing weapons and received a closed frontal part of the body, devoid of embrasures. In the stern, devices for connecting with the towed instrument appeared. It is known that such an armored vehicle was offered by both British and foreign military. In particular, there is information about the testing of a prototype by the army of Switzerland.
Three options for upgrading the existing self-propelled guns were implemented in the form of prototypes and sent for testing. Nevertheless, even the successful passing of the tests did not open the way for the army to the army. The military department of Great Britain was not interested in the proposed armored vehicles, because of which they remained in the form of single copies. Apparently, such a decision by the military was associated with the end of the war and the lack of the need to urgently launch the production of new types of armored vehicles.
Designing the new A25 E2 Alecto ACS began in the middle of 1942, making it one of the first cars of its class in the UK army. However, not the most successful tank was chosen as the basis for self-propelled guns. The design flaws of the A25 / Mk VIII tank first led to a serious revision of plans for its release, and then to the transfer of construction and testing of experienced self-propelled guns. As a result, the armored car, which was interesting for 1942, was put to the test only at the end of 1944, when the army no longer felt the need for such equipment. Attempts to alter the ACS for new needs did not produce any noticeable results either. All projects of a promising family have been closed. Built prototypes of technology, unfortunately, are not preserved.
20th century [ edit ]
World War I [ edit ]
In World War I, industrial initiative also led to swift advances. The car industry, already used to vehicle mass production and having much more experience in vehicle layout, designed the first practical light tanks in 1916, a class largely neglected by the British. It would be Renault's small tank design the FT, incorporating a proper [ citation needed ] climbing face for the tracks, that was the first tank to incorporate a top-mounted turret with a full rotation. In fact the FT was in many respects the first truly modern tank having a layout that has been followed by almost all designs ever since: driver at the front main armament in a fully rotating turret on top engine at the rear. Previous models had been "box tanks", with a single crowded space combining the role of engine room, fighting compartment, ammunition stock and driver's cabin. The FT would have the largest production run of any tank of the war - with over 3,700 built (most of those in 1918) it was more numerous than all British and German tanks combined. [i]
Interwar [ edit ]
The Carden Loyd tankette and its derivatives were adopted by several nations as small tracked vehicles carrying a machine gun for armament. At a time of limited military budgets, tankettes were relatively cheap and functioned as reconnaissance vehicles and mobile machine gun posts. In 1928, the British firm of Vickers-Armstrong started promoting another design by John Carden and Vivien Loyd as the "six-ton tank". Although rejected by the British Army, it was bought by a large number of nations in small numbers. It formed the basis of the Soviet T-26 (around 10,000 built) and the Polish 7TP tank and influenced the Italian Fiat M11/39. The British Army did not use the design as a light tank themselves but a developed version of the Carden Loyd tankette as the starting point for a series of British light tanks intended for use in imperial policing and expeditionary warfare. As the only tank fit for immediate manufacture, it was a key element in the expansion of the British Army in the period leading up to the outbreak of war. Ώ]
In general, French tanks of the 1930s were well-armored, innovative vehicles that owed little to foreign designs. However, the light tanks lacked firepower and almost all French tanks were handicapped by their one-man turrets, even the larger tanks such as the Char B1, which overworked the commander who, besides directing the vehicle, or even a troop, had to load and aim the turret gun. The lack of radios with the light tanks was not seen as a major drawback, since French doctrine called for slow-paced, deliberate maneuvers in close conformance to plans. The role of small unit leaders was to execute plans, not to take the initiative in combat. [ citation needed ] In 1939, a belated effort was made to improve flexibility and increase the number of radios.
Throughout the interwar period the US produced only a few hundred tanks. From the end of World War I to 1935, only 15 tanks were produced. Most were derivatives or foreign designs or very poor quality private designs. The Christie designs were among the few better examples, but the US Army acquired only three Christies and did not pursue the idea any further. Budget limitations and the low priority given to the army meant that there were few resources for building tanks. The US Army instead developed and tested tank components such as suspensions, tracks, and transmissions. This paid off when production had to be initiated on the outbreak of war.
World War II [ edit ]
At the start of World War II, the majority of all of the great powers' tank forces consisted of light designs. The most common were the British Light Tank Mk VI, French Renault R35, German Panzer I, Italian L3/35 (classified as a light tank by the Royal Italian Army, a tankette by others), Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, Soviet T-26, and American M2 light tank.
Soviet [ edit ]
The Soviet BT tanks [ citation needed ] were the most advanced in the 1930s, extremely fast and mounting high velocity 45 mm cannons. Their only drawback were their petrol engines which caught fire often and easily during the Nomonhan fighting which lasted from about May through September 1939. ΐ] The Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go light tank was equipped with a diesel engine, and although mounting a 37 mm cannon, it was a low velocity gun with a maximum effective range of about 700 meters. However, this conflict would be instrumental in developing the famous T-34 medium tank.
Germany [ edit ]
Germany's armored Panzer force was not especially impressive at the start of the war. In the invasions of Poland and France, the German forces were mostly made up of the Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks. The Panzer I was little more than a training vehicle armed only with machine guns, the Panzer II with a 20 mm cannon. The Panzer division also included some Czech designed light tanks - the Panzer 35(t) and the Panzer 38(t).
American [ edit ]
American light tank development started with the M2 light tank series. These light tanks were mechanically very reliable, with good mobility. However, they had a high silhouette, and only a few saw combat. The M3 Stuart series was an improvement of the M2 with better armor. The new medium tank just entering production in 1940 was the M2A1. This was a poor design with thin armor and a high silhouette.
The M3 Stuart saw use in the North African Campaign but was relegated to reconnaissance as soon as US-built medium tanks became available. Further light tank development in the war led to the improved M5 Stuart and then included the M24 Chaffee.
British [ edit ]
The British withdrew their light tank designs from their armoured divisions early in the war, but used some later designs for minor amphibious operations and airborne operations. Α] In general they used armoured cars for reconnaissance and the last of the light tank designs, the light tank Mk VIII "Harry Hopkins", was only produced in small numbers.
Japan [ edit ]
The Japanese made extensive use of light tanks that were much better suited to jungle warfare than larger designs, Β] such as the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank.
Cold War [ edit ]
Light tanks continued to be built, but for very limited roles such as amphibious reconnaissance, support of airborne units, and in rapid-intervention forces that were not expected to face enemy tanks. The Soviet PT-76 is a specialized light tank –amphibious with sufficient firepower to engage other reconnaissance vehicles, but very lightly armored. The US fielded small numbers of the M41 Walker Bulldog with a high velocity 76mm gun, and better armor, but it suffered from range limits, and its weight was too heavy for most air transport of the day. The US M551 Sheridan had similar strengths and weaknesses, but could also be airdropped, either by parachute or LAPES. The French had their AMX-13 light tank, which was designed for its capability to be quickly air-dropped for use with paratroopers and also able to support lightly-armed infantry and perform force-reconnaissance effectively.
The British FV101 Scorpion, the fire support variant of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) series of vehicles that replaced armored cars in British service, has been described as a light tank and was sold to many smaller nations. Another light tank in the Cold War era was the Swedish IKV 91 armored vehicle. It had a low-pressure 90mm gun, strong armor against 20mm grenades, and it was fully amphibious.
Post–Cold War [ edit ]
Light tanks, such as the PT-76, continue to play a small role in tank warfare, although many are losing favor to cheaper, faster, and lighter armored cars. The light tank still fills an important niche in many armies, especially for nations with airborne divisions, Marine Infantry, or those without the resources and funding for main battle tanks. They have important advantages over heavier tanks in Southeast Asia and other nations in the Equatorial region. Their compact dimensions and short to nonexistent barrel overhang lets them maneuver through thick rain forests, and their weight reduces the risk of getting stuck in mud, and simplifies recovery of stuck or damaged tanks. This makes the light tank the preferred choice for infantry support in Equatorial nations. Post–Cold War light tanks include the Stingray light tank, Ajax, ZTQ-15 and the M8 AGS. Light tanks based on infantry fighting vehicles chassis include the CV90105T, 2S25 Sprut-SD, Tanque Argentino Mediano, ASCOD LT 105, and Harimau.
Table of General Staff 'A' Numbers
Here is a complete list of British vehicle A numbers. Also D3, L1 - L4. Links in Bold are to my own pages.
Vickers Medium TanksMk II did not have an A-number
Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine was developed from this vehicle.
A10, Mark I and IA, Tank Cruiser Mark II and IIA photo study
 Modern light tank design [ edit | edit source ]
 Countermeasures [ edit | edit source ]
Typically, the armor in contemporary light tanks is modular, sometimes up to three configurations. 
The flat hull, is necessary for amphibious light tanks to plane across the surface of the water is not nearly as blast-resistant as the V-shape hull.  It has been suggested that underbelly armor appliqué could be applied after the light tanks come ashore and before they encounter explosive devices. 
 Weapons suite [ edit | edit source ]
Missile fired from a M551 SheridanGuns capable of defeating modern tanks at reasonable ranges requires a large vehicle to carry them. Gun weight is typically the product of caliber and muzzle velocity. Large caliber guns on light tanks often sacrifice muzzle velocity in interest of saving weight. These guns can make and disable close-quarter targets but lack the power to penetrate some tanks. Alternately, high muzzle velocity guns often sacrifice gun caliber in interest of saving weight. These guns can make and penetrate long-distance targets but lack the explosive power to disable some tanks.
 Mobility [ edit | edit source ]
The design of the PT-76 allows for easy transition from land to water with little preparation.A C-130 delivering an M551 Sheridan (now retired from service) using Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES).Tactical mobility Some light tanks such as the PT-76 are amphibious, typically being propelled in the water by hydrojets or by their tracks. Most amphibious light tanks weigh little and often utilize aluminum armor. Some light tanks require no modifications for river crossings. Crews simply raise the easily accessible cloth sides around the hull, cover the hatches, turn on the bilge pump and shift the transmission to water operations. Often a fold down trim vane is erected to stop water from flooding into the hatch. Some amphibious tanks, such as the PT-76, are able to transition from land to water with little to no preparation and fire from the main gun while afloat. 
Some light tanks, such as the M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance vehicle, could be rigged for low-velocity airdrop from cargo aircraft.  With this method the tank is pulled out of the aircraft by brake chutes and skids to a stop. The crew does not ride in the tank during extraction, but parachutes from another plane. Upon landing, they go to their tank, release the lines, and drive it away.