AFV Alphabet: L is for Light Tank, Marks I to VI

IWM-KID-333-Light-tank-MkIII

Although “light tank” can be a generic term, in this case it refers to the series of light tanks (Marks I to VI) produced by Vickers for the British Army in the inter-war period. I’m not including the Mark VII Tetrarch or Mark VIII Harry Hopkins, as they were significantly different from the earlier versions, and would warrant separate posts.

The Mark I Light Tank was developed from a design by Carden-Loyd, by then part of Vickers-Armstrong. Only about 9 or 10 were built, but experience gained was used in development of the Mark II, and then the Mark III and Mark IV. These first four versions were armed with a single 0.303″ Vickers machine gun, and had around 14mm of armour. The Mark V added a 0.50″ Vickers machine gun, giving the tank some measure of capability against other light tanks, and increased the crew from two to three (commander, gunner, and driver). The additional crewman made this version significantly more effective, since the commander was freed from having to operate the gun and radio.

The Mark VI was the only version produced in significant numbers, with production running to 1,682 vehicles. The Mark VIA and Mark VIB variants had the same armament as the Mark V, but the Mark VIC increased armament again to one 15mm Besa machine gun and one 7.92mm Besa machine gun.

All models saw were widely used for imperial policing duties in the British Empire, particularly India. When war broke out in 1939, more than 80% of the British Army’s tanks were Mark VI Light Tanks. Most tanks used by the BEF during the Battle of France in 1940 were Mark VI Light Tanks, and they made up more than half the tank strength during the battles against the Italians in North Africa during 1940. Mark VI Light Tanks also fought in the battles of Greece and Crete.

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Help us to help Chernobyl’s children

Russell and his son

All this hair is to go! Give generously and make it worthwhile.

Almost thirty years ago, on 26th April 1986, there was an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the USSR. Thirty-one people died during the accident. Today, the local children still suffer. As well as the obvious effects from lingering radiation, many are left orphaned when their parents succumb to the same effects.

My seven-year old son and I both have long hair. We have decided to cut off our pony tails to raise money for Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK), who help the children that are still suffering from the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster. The hair itself won’t be wasted – it’ll be sent to The Little Princess Trust, so that they can make wigs for children that have gone bald due to chemotherapy treatment.

Scan to donate £5

Scan to donate £5

We’ll be cutting our pony tails off (and getting our hair cut very short – probably a grade 2) on the 19th of April. In the meantime, please donate in one of the following ways:

  • If you’re in the UK, you can text CCUK54 and an amount (eg “CCUK54 £5″) to 70070.
  • Scan the QR code to the right to give £5 by text.
  • Go to our Just Giving page at http://ift.tt/19BR111.

We’ve set ourselves a target of £500. Anything you can give will be gratefully received, both by us and by the children of Belarus.

Tweetables

Help the children still suffering from the Chernobyl disaster – Click to tweet

Remember Chernobyl? The kids who live there still suffer. Please help my son and I to help them – Click to tweet

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AFV Alphabet: K is for Kangaroo

IWM-NA-24043-Priest-Kangaroo-Conselice-19450413

The Kangaroo was an early armoured personnel carrier, created by simply removing the turret from a tank or (as in the photograph above), by removing the main armament from a self-propelled gun. It was devised by the Canadians as a way to reduce infantry losses. The first examples were based on M7 Priest self-propelled guns, converted at a field workshop code-named Kangaroo (which is where the name came from). As well as removing the main armament, the Priests had their front aperture covered over.

Most Kangaroos were based on Priests (these examples were sometimes referred to as “defrocked Priests”) and Canadian Ram tanks, although Sherman and Churchill tanks were also used. All variants were known as Kangaroos, with the base vehicle name as a prefix (Sherman Kangaroo, Ram Kangaroo, Churchill Kangaroo, etc). Despite being created as a simple and quick solution to a problem, the Kangaroo was a great success, and many more conversions were carried out. The success of the Kangaroo led directly to post-war APCs such as the American M113, British FV432, and Soviet BTR-50.

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AFV Alphabet: J is for Jaguar

Panzermuseum Munster 2010 0934

The Jaguar 1 and Jaguar 2 are West German ATGM-armed tank destroyers, also known as Raketenjagdpanzer 3 and Raketenjagdpanzer 4, respectively. They were conversions of earlier tank destroyers. The Jaguar 1 was converted from the Raketenjagdpanzer 2, with the SS.11 ATGM replaced by a HOT ATGM. The Jaguar 2 was converted from the Kanonenjagdpanzer. The gun was removed, and a TOW AGTM launcher was fitted to the roof. Both vehicles had upgraded armour, a 7.62mm MG3 on an AA mounting and smoke dischargers. The Jaguar 1 also had a bow-mounted MG3.

Even with the additional armour, neither vehicle was heavily armoured, and so rely primarily for defence on speed and their low profile. They have an excellent top speed of 70 km/h (44 mph), and an operational range of around 400 km (250 miles). Both vehicles have a crew of four, all of whom sit in a fighting compartment to the front of the vehicle.

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British Army Reviewing its Position on Women

A woman graduating from Ryazan High Airborne Command School in Russia

A woman graduating from Ryazan High Airborne Command School in Russia
(Photo by Vitaly Kuzmin, CC-BY-SA)

In December, it was announced that the British Army is to review its position on women. Currently, women are accepted into the army, but certain positions (primarily infantry and tank crew) are not open to them. It looks likely that the army will start to accept women into all roles in the next year or so.

I think this is good news. I’ve thought for some time that the Army’s position on women is an anachronism. Predictably enough, much of the commentary has pointed out that there are physical differences between men and women, that the average woman is less strong than the average man, etc. This is all true, but the average is irrelevant. Each individual applying to the army is tested. If that individual is found suitable, they’re accepted. If they aren’t found suitable, they aren’t accepted. It may well be that a smaller proportion of women will be accepted, but that’s no reason for a blanket rejection of all women.

If the British military applied the same logic everywhere, some units simply wouldn’t exist. Pass rates for SAS and SBS selection are reportedly less than 10%. This clearly shows that the vast majority of men aren’t suitable (or possibly that they didn’t like the idea of driving Pink Panthers ;) ). If all men were barred from joining because most of them aren’t suitable, there would be no SAS or SBS, and the military would be very much the poorer for it. So why should it matter if most women aren’t suitable for service in the infantry or armoured corps? Just as with the men, accept those that are suitable, reject those that aren’t.

It’s worth noting that Denmark has been accepting women into the infantry since 1988. Israel has allowed women to serve in any role in the IDF since 2000, and a 2007 report advised making it harder for women to get an exemption from mandatory service in the IDF. I found this quote from a Danish Lance Corporal very telling: “we don’t think about men and women. In Denmark we think professionally“.

Perhaps it’s time for the British Army to start thinking professionally.

Tweetables

British Army Reviewing its Position on Women – Click to tweet

It’s time for the British Army to start thinking professionally about women – Click to tweet

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