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A12 Matilda production numbers


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Almost all sources do state 2,987 as the total number of the A12 Matilda tank (Mk I...Mk V) production. Most of them also call the Mk IV as the most produced variant.

However the table published some time ago with WD numbers (perhaps incomplete) gives the total of 2,275 with more than 1,000 allocated to the Mk III variant and less than 500 Mk IVs (OK, almost 700 including the Mk IV CS). Does anybody have the correct production figures for the Desert Queen?

Cheers

Michael

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I can't offer any particular insight into the overall number, but if most sources agree on a number then it is likely that the number is accurate.  Primary sources will either be any surviving records from Vulcan Foundry or the contract cards at Bovington Museum archive.  Both of which may be incomplete or inaccurate.

 

The WD number allocations should not be taken as definitive.  Number blocks allocated for particular vehicle types or manufacturers were not always fully used.  It is feasible that numbers allocated for MkIII were used for some MkIV as that model came into production, and that the specific MkIV number range was additional.  It is also feasible that some tanks contracted as MkIIs were completed as MkIIIs and some contracted as MkIIIs were completed as MkIVs. That sort of thing certainly happened with Cromwells and Centaurs.  I suspect that the only absolute dividing line is between Mks I and II because of the major changes of secondary armament and drivetrain.

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On 11/5/2020 at 3:40 AM, Das Abteilung said:

I can't offer any particular insight into the overall number, but if most sources agree on a number then it is likely that the number is accurate.  Primary sources will either be any surviving records from Vulcan Foundry or the contract cards at Bovington Museum archive.  Both of which may be incomplete or inaccurate.

Actually I don't think I could deny the total - around 3,000 looks reasonable for the A12.

 

On 11/5/2020 at 3:40 AM, Das Abteilung said:

The WD number allocations should not be taken as definitive.  Number blocks allocated for particular vehicle types or manufacturers were not always fully used.  It is feasible that numbers allocated for MkIII were used for some MkIV as that model came into production, and that the specific MkIV number range was additional.  It is also feasible that some tanks contracted as MkIIs were completed as MkIIIs and some contracted as MkIIIs were completed as MkIVs. That sort of thing certainly happened with Cromwells and Centaurs.  I suspect that the only absolute dividing line is between Mks I and II because of the major changes of secondary armament and drivetrain.

Agree in all, but the data I found follows the same way - most blocks are described as "Mk.II and III" or "Mk.III and IV". Let's have a look:

 

T3671                 Mk.II                 1

T5734-5812       Mk.III               79

T6712-6736       Mk.I & II          25
T6805-6898       Mk.II                94
T6923-7025       Mk.III & IV      103
T7304-7433       Mk.III & IV      130
T10075-10459   Mk.II & V        385
T18890-19023   Mk.IVCS          134

T26831               Mk.II                  1

T27752-27849   Mk.IV & IVF     98

T29908-29931   Mk.IVCS           24

T35241-35444   Mk.III & IV     204

T37153-38149   Mk.III             997

total                                       2275

 

Of course 712 vehicles are missing, but there are AT LEAST 96 Mk.II, 1076 Mk.III, 98 Mk.IV, and 158 Mk.IVCS.

Other 847 are: Mk.I (at least 1, max. 24), Mk.II (at least 2, max. 408), Mk.III (at least 3, max. 436), Mk.IV (at least 3, max. 436) and Mk.V (at least 1, max. 384). 

So the total of Mk.III, Mk.IV, and Mk.IVCS together is 1769, whereas Mk.I, Mk.II and Mk.V combined total is 506.  

Thus Mk.IV (icluding the F and CS variants) could be the most numerous only if less than 13 per cent of these missing 712 and the blocks common for Mk.III and IV were Mk.IIIs.  The rest (520 of the common blocks and 620 of the missing ones) would have to be Mk.IVs. Could it be possible?

Cheers

Michael

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by KRK4m
table included only partially
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I imagine the only way to investigate the discrepancy will be to do your own original archive research from primary sources, for which I can think of only 2: the afore-mentioned Vulcan Foundry (wherever their records may be now) and the records at Bovington.  But I imagine that is exactly what the previous authors have all done and yet failed to make the numbers match.  Bovington will admit that there are gaps in their records.  They have what they were given and were not the original custodians or compilers of the data.

 

The other possibility is that there is a discrepancy between orders and production with the larger number being ordered but production being curtailed at the smaller number once it was obvious that the Matilda was past its sell-by date and with newer designs like Churchill incoming plus the 6pdr versions of the Valentine.

 

"Mk. II and V" looks like a misprint somewhere as there wasn't a V and even if there was it wouldn't have been ordered alongside the much earlier II.  Probably means III and IV.

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A high percentage of earlier versions were rebuilt to Mk IV standards. However, those changes were almost always internal so externally, it would be impossible to tell in most cases. 

 

It may be worth re-assessing the production figures on that basis. The total number of Mk IVs 'produced' may well include all those earlier Mks that went through the re-work programme? That could well explain why the Mk IV is considered the most numerous variant, even if the figures don't seem to match that statement?

 

And if you think it's confusing for us looking back into history, spare a thought for the Battalion Technical Officer from 11 RTR who had to strip down dozens of old Matildas in vehicle parks across the the Middle East and North Africa, just to find enough of the correct transmission seals for his own tanks (it was impossible to determine whether a tank had the right type by external visual inspection or by census number).

 

John

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I hadn't thought of factory re-works.    There were also the CDL conversions.  Those could easily have been double-counted.  The difference in the figures quoted above is 712, as noted.   I wondered if the Russian tanks were excluded but that number doesn't work. 

 

We could be missing production records from one or more of the other manufacturers.  Do your figures give numbers for all of them?   These would have been direct orders rather than sub-contracts from Vulcan.

 

I'm intrigued by the gearbox seal story.  I thought that only the MkV had a different gearbox?  Was the V a direct development of the II rather than the III or IV?  Surely any seals used on other Mks, even if different brands, should have been fit form and function interchangeable?  Or are we suggesting individual manufacturer variations?  Who made the transmissions?  I know that Bovington had to do a complete strip down of the drivetrain on their runner (Mk III?) during restoration and had to go out to Australia for various parts but I don't recall transmission seals being mentioned as a particular difficulty in the Youtube restoration diary.

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It wasn't a different gearbox - it was a different type of seal and fitting. I don't understand the technicalities but I do know from the account that the two types of seals were incompatible - they are referred to as 'old type' and 'new type' in the account and the BTA needed the 'old type' for his (CDL) Matildas.

 

CDLs - After a certain point in production (can't remember when), all Matildas that left the factory were manufactured with the internal fittings necessary to streamline conversion to CDL (earlier CDLs were converted from scratch). I suspect (but can't prove) that the reworked Matildas had the fittings added too.

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