AFV Alphabet: C is for Carden Loyd tankette

Carden-Loyd Mk.VI Strängnäs 12.08.11 (3a)

The term “Carden Loyd tankette” actually refers to a series of vehicles which were developed in the inter-war years. The Mark VI was the most successful, being built under licence in many countries.

In 1925, Carden-Loyd Tractors Ltd, a company owned by Sir John Carden and Vivian Loyd, created the Carden-Loyd One-Man Tankette. The idea was developed, and from the Mark IV onwards, became a two-man vehicle. The vehicles showed enough promise that Vickers bought Carden-Loyd Tractors in 1928. The Mark VI tankette became a great success, with over 300 seeing service in the British army, and more sold abroad. In the British army, the tankette saw service primarily as a machine gun carrier, but it was also used as a light gun tractor and mortar carrier.

It later formed the basis of the British Universal Carrier. Several other countries used it as a basis for development of their own tankette designs. Five Dutch Carden Loyd tankettes saw action in Crete, fighting German paratroopers in May 1940.

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Pink is for Girls (and the SAS, Spitfire pilots…)

Pink Panther Land Rover

A “Pink Panther” Land Rover – not just for girls

Recently, I mentioned my AFV Alphabet series of posts to my wife and son, and they asked what I was going to write about next. My reply, “The Carden Loyd tankette”, confused my wife. Thinking she hadn’t heard correctly, I repeated the “Carden Loyd”, but apparently it was the “tankette” label that confused her. As she pointed out, the -ette suffix tends to mean feminine as well as diminutive, and has connotations of soft and fluffy. “It sounds like it should be bright pink, possibly with a bow on top”, said my wife. The Carden Loyd tankette is small, but it’s neither soft nor fluffy. It’s a serious military machine.

This got me thinking. I have a six-year old son and a two-year old daughter. My wife and I are constantly frustrated that the whole world seems to think that our daughter should wear bright pink dresses and play with dolls and toy kitchens, while our son should wear blue and play with trains and cars. Both children play with all those things, and if they enjoy them, why shouldn’t they? Why should pink be a girl’s colour and blue a boy’s colour? When she grows up, my daughter will be able to get a job driving a train, a heavy goods vehicle, or an attack helicopter, so why shouldn’t she play with the toy versions of those things? Equally, my son could become a chef, a nurse, or a care worker, so why not play with dolls and toy kitchens?.

The idea that pink is only suitable for girls is ridiculous, and this becomes even more obvious when you look at the use of the colour pink in the military. Back in WWII, some low-altitude photo reconnassance Spitfires were painted pink. Apparently it provides effective camouflage against cloud, and given the hazardous nature of the mission, anything that helped the pilot survive was a good thing. Until the 1980s, when the SAS operated in the desert, they painted their Land Rovers pink (they’re still known as “Pink Panthers”, even though the colour scheme has changed), because it was considered an effective camouflage colour. These same Land Rovers bristled with machine guns. Pink or not, there is nothing soft or fluffy about a Pink Panther Land Rover.

Photo: Army pink land rover by Paul brown, via Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

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AFV Alphabet: B is for Bishop

IWM-E-17430-Bishop-SP-gun-19420925” by No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit : James (Sgt) –
This is photograph 17430 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.
. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

During the western desert campaign in the early part of World War II, the British were impressed by the German self-propelled guns, and decided that they needed something similar. A requirement was issued for a self-propelled 25 pounder gun-howitzer. By August 1941 a prototype was ready, which had a simple boxy superstructure on top of a Valentine tank chassis. An order was placed for 100 vehicles, although the vehicle didn’t impress crews in theatre. The superstructure was very large, making it an obvious target, and the gun had limited elevation, limiting its range to about half that of the towed version. The choice of an infantry tank hull meant that it was also rather slow.

No further orders were placed, and all the existing vehicles were replaced with M7 Priests and Sextons as they became available. Despite its limitations, the Bishop did provide a useful capability to the British in North Africa in the period before better self-propelled guns were available.

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Large Print, Free Books, Translations

I have several news items to pass on.

Damn Close-Run Thing (large print)

A Damn Close-Run Thing is now available in large print. This is something of an experiment – if sales figures suggest that large print is in demand, then I’ll look at making other books available in that format. If you would like to see one of my other books available in large print, email me and let me know.

This We'll Defend cover

This We’ll Defend is now available for free from most vendors (and direct from this website).

FIB-PT Acero Rojo

A Fleet in Being is now available in Portuguese, and will be available in German soon. Red Steel is now available in Spanish. I’ve set up a new mailing list for announcements of translations. If you are interested in translations, you can sign up at

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AFV Alphabet: A is for Antonov A-40

Inspired by Tim Gow’s A to Z of Wargaming series of posts, I’ve decided to do an A to Z series of blog posts around the theme of AFVs (Armoured Fighting Vehicles). Hopefully I’ll be able to find some interesting subjects.


I think it’s fair to say that the Antonov A-40 flying tank qualifies as interesting. Airborne troops can be vulnerable, because they can’t use heavy support weapons or vehicles. The A-40 was an attempt to address this problem, and provide them with some armoured support. The Soviet Union had previously experimented with dropping vehicles by parachute, but was not satisfied with this method, since the crews had to be dropped separately, and may land some distance from their vehicle.

The A-40 was a T-60 light tank with the addition of glider wings, fuselage and tail. Only one flight was attempted, in September 1942, during which the towing aircraft had to release the glider early, due to excessive drag. The glider was flown down to the ground without any problems, and after removing the glider attachments, the tank was driven back to base. Although the tank did fly and land safely, the idea was dropped. Eventually, the Soviet Union managed to perfect dropping BMDs by parachute with their crews inside.

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