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  • Matilda in Soviet Service

    I got curious, and ended up translating this article from Tankmaster 1999-06:

    Matildas in Soviet Service

    Hopefully some of you will find it of interest.

    Scott Fraser
    Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

    A contentedly cantankerous old fart

  • #2
    Very nice, thanks.

    Some new info about the 7th Guards Army for me.

    Dann

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
      I got curious, and ended up translating this article from Tankmaster 1999-06:

      Matildas in Soviet Service

      Hopefully some of you will find it of interest.

      Scott Fraser

      You missed all photos from this article
      If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by amvas View Post
        You missed all photos from this article
        I did! But then you have all the photos on your site, eh?

        I was more interested in the information. There are few photos of Red Army Matildas, and they are all reprinted in every article.

        Cheers
        Scott
        Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

        A contentedly cantankerous old fart

        Comment


        • #5
          Great article. I did not see reference to the 5th Mech in Dec 1942 and its Chir River fight with Balck's 12th PZD. The corps had 193 tanks, Matildas and Valentines. The slow Matildas probably accounts for the Germans high kill ratio at the State Farm battle.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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          • #6
            One reason for the relatively poor reputation of the Matilda compared to the Valentine amongst Soviet tankers was that, because of its weight, the Matilda was classified and issued as a medium tank, whereas the Valentine was classified as a light tank. That meant that the Matilda was regularly compared with the T-34, with which it compared favorably only in armor thickness, and unfavorably in mobility, firepower, and range. That said, in 1942 the Matilda was still a viable tank against the panzers, and both 5th Mechanized and 10th Tank Corps were issued with Matildas in place of T-34s as their medium tanks (10th Tank Corps also had Soviet light tanks and KVs, so the 5th Mech remains the only corps-sized formation equipped entirely with British tanks).
            By the middle of 1944, the Matildas and a lot of the earlier (40mm - armed) Valentines were relegated to crew and tank driver training at the Tula Training Grounds. My understanding is that their mechanical reliability made them very suitable for this, as putting T-34s in the hands of untrained drivers simply guaranteed a breakdown or worn out treads and engines in no time!
            Finally, the Matilda was nicknamed "the English Workman" by Soviet troops because, so the story goes, the tank was "tough, dependable, but a little slow" - an explanation that probably was not communicated back to the British factory workers!

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            • #7
              I am coming to realize that the Matilda is much overlooked and perhaps not as highly regarded as it could be. It's main failings, other than the unsuitable tracks, were its slow speed and its armament.

              It's a bit contradictory the slow speed was not a problem when accompanying infantry, but the lack of an high-explosive round was a real disadvantage in the infantry support role. At the same time, it was pretty much safe from German weapons until the high-velocity 75mm became common and its 2-pdr was quite effective against German tanks until 1943. But it was too slow for breakthrough and pursuit, which was what it was expected to do as a "medium tank". (That's a very flexible term.)

              The Valentine was a different tank altogether. In Soviet use, classed as a light tank, it served with the Stuart and T-70 in the recce role, and because of its 75mm gun, the troops loved it. They couldn't get enough, and much like the P-39 and P-63 aircraft, it was kept in production just for Lend-Lease. It is another tank that gets forgotten in the popular view of the war, which seems to skip a few years between the Battle of Britain and D-Day.

              I'm pleased you guys enjoyed this. I have a few more articles I've translated, mostly on specific aspects of the design and production of the T-34. These include "Т-34 Снизу доверху" (T-34 - From the Ground Up), "Сталинградская тридцатьчетверка" (Stalingrad 'thirty-fours), several articles from Tankomaster and M-Khobbi, and much of "Т-34-76 и Т-34-57 и боях за Москву" before I got distracted by the T-34 Encyclopedia.

              Cheers
              Scott Fraser
              Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

              A contentedly cantankerous old fart

              Comment


              • #8
                Snow would become packed under the side skirts, necessitating frequent stops to clear the tracks--adding to the Matilda's and its formation's slowness in snow movement and combat.
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                  I got curious, and ended up translating this article from Tankmaster 1999-06:

                  Matildas in Soviet Service

                  Hopefully some of you will find it of interest.

                  Scott Fraser
                  How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                  Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                    Finally, the Matilda was nicknamed "the English Workman" by Soviet troops because, so the story goes, the tank was "tough, dependable, but a little slow" - an explanation that probably was not communicated back to the British factory workers!
                    That probably sums up the British army in WW2 !
                    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                    Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                      "The Valentine was a different tank altogether. In Soviet use, classed as a light tank, it served with the Stuart and T-70 in the recce role, and because of its 75mm gun, the troops loved it. They couldn't get enough, and much like the P-39 and P-63 aircraft, it was kept in production just for Lend-Lease. It is another tank that gets forgotten in the popular view of the war, which seems to skip a few years between the Battle of Britain and D-Day.
                      Cheers for the translation of that article, Scott.

                      Regarding the Valentine, I thought it was mainly the 6pdr (57mm) that the Soviets received after the 2pdr (40mm) versions. I didn't think they got too many with 75mm gun (which was the Mk. XI), but I may be wrong. However, I believe IIRC that they did fit 76.2mm guns to some Valentines.
                      Last edited by panther3485; 14 Dec 09, 06:18.
                      "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                        Cheers for the translation of that article, Scott.

                        Regarding the Valentine, I thought it was mainly the 6pdr (57mm) that the Soviets received after the 2pdr (40mm) versions. I didn't think they got too many with 75mm gun (which was the Mk. XI), but I may be wrong. However, I believe IIRC that they did fit 76.2mm guns to some Valentines.

                        As discussed, the Matilda and Valentine were apples and oranges to the Red Army. They had different roles, so there were different expectations. As scouts, Valentines were not expected to get involved in the direct support of infantry, although it certainly happened. The lack of an HE round was a severe shortcoming of early British guns, and it was not just from the Soviets who complained, however, for them it was a critical requirement for a gun tank.

                        If you look at the TOE of Soviet units, you can get an insight into their thinking. Once they got past the huge combersome units they started the war with, they set up their tank units to reflect their mix of capabilities and requirements. There were a few heavy tanks to take on enemy tanks and strongpoints, the sharp end was the more numerous medium tanks, used more with the infantry as well as the above tasks, and an even larger force of light tanks for scouting. The Valentine fell in with the latter, conceptually, although as the war continued the distinctions in roles disappeared and the composition of units became more homogenous.

                        It's a curious footnote that the T-34-57 "tank-istrebitel" was not put into production, even though the 57mm ZiS-4 gun had much better armour penetration than the 76.2mm F-34. It was a very potent weapon against tanks, but did not have the same effectiveness against infantry, soft targets, and strongpoints. The F-34 became the gun of choice in the T-34, and the rest is history, as they say. The ZiS-4 was abandoned, but as the 57mm ZiS-2 anti-tank gun, it remained in use and was a very effective weapon, used widely to the end of the war.

                        Cheers
                        Scott Fraser
                        Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                        A contentedly cantankerous old fart

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The Matilda in Soviet service in late 1941

                          No doubt of interest to this thread.
                          Best wishes,
                          Alexander Hill
                          Attached Files

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by komBat View Post
                            No doubt of interest to this thread.
                            Best wishes,
                            Alexander Hill
                            Yes, interesting. It is only recently that we have such decent information to work from.

                            Cheers
                            Scott Fraser
                            Calgary, about six blocks north.
                            Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                            A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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