Matilda 1

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Paul Timms
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Matilda 1

Post by Paul Timms » 14 Jul 2002 13:45

Can anyone help with info or links on where to find the colour scheme of Matilda 1's serving in the 1st Tank Brigade in France in 1940.
Thanks

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USAF1986
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Post by USAF1986 » 14 Jul 2002 15:18

Hi! Here's a scan from "Tanks of World War 2" by Chris Ellis (Octopus Books, Ltd, UK, 1981) showing the color scheme of the Infantry Tank Mk I, Matilda I, of the 4th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment as seen during the Battle of Arras on 21 May 1940. A color scheme of the Matilda II as seen during the same battle shows the identical mottled green/brown pattern.

The rear view scan is from "Tanks and Other Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World War II" by B.T. White (Peerage Books, UK, reprint of original two-volume set published in 1972 & 1975). This image also depicts a Matilda I of the 4th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment in France, 1940. The yellow pennant denotes a company commander's tank. White notes that the 4th Battalion used an eye as its unit sign. White also notes that the Matildas were painted in plain green in 1939. Apparently, the Matildas were given the mottled green/pattern scheme sometime before the German invasion of France.

Regards,
Shawn
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USAF1986
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Post by USAF1986 » 14 Jul 2002 15:40

Here's a photo of Matilda I with a column of British infantry in France, 1940. BTW, I'm hardly a British regimental expert...should the unit be 4th Royal Tank Regiment vice 4th Battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment?

Regards,
Shawn
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USAF1986
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Post by USAF1986 » 14 Jul 2002 15:57

I found a photo of a really nice model of a Matilda I of the 4th RTR at this website:

http://webnt.physics.ox.ac.uk/jhill/photo.htm

This model has the mottled green/brown color scheme and the eye unit sign that B.T. White mentioned in his book.

Regards,
Shawn

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Post by USAF1986 » 14 Jul 2002 19:11

Here's a great description of the color schemes and markings (neat history of the eye unit sign!) of British Matilda Is in France, 1940 (used by both 4th and 7th RTRs) from this website:

http://www.missing-lynx.com/articles/br ... /pbmat.htm

The yellow patches were gas detector paint...never would have guessed that!

Regards,
Shawn

The British Expeditionary Force's armoured vehicles were painted in a disruptive scheme of Dark Bronze Green, applied by the troops themselves over the basic factory Khaki Green. All AFVs also had white squares approximately 12" per side located so as to be visible from any direction, on Matilda I's they were on the hull sides, engine deck and turret rear and also on other surfaces. Interior was to be painted in aluminium paint. Vehicles attached to Divisions carried that Division's emblem, 1st Tank Brigade were not part of any Division so lacked this marking. A white number on a coloured square usually denoted a unit's position and status within a Division, this was usually put onto a suitable vertical surface front and rear, on a metal plate. Army troops still had this Arm of Service marking, but theirs was marked onto a metal plate about 12" square. References state that 1ATB used the number 4 stencilled or painted on a red square with a white line above it to denote that they were an Army unit and not Divisional troops, this was certainly true of 4RTR, I have seen one photo of a 7RTR vehicle using the number 5 while most photos show no plates in use.

As it was expected that gas would be used, patches of gas detector paint was painted onto suitable surfaces, often in front of the driver's visor and hull top. This was a mustard yellow colour under normal circumstances, if it changed colour it gave a good reason why you were feeling unwell. Which Company (the Army Tank Brigades did not use the usual Squadron designation) a vehicle belonged to should have been denoted by a mark painted on the turret, approximately 9" high. HQ Company used a diamond, A Company a triangle point upwards, B Company a square and C Company a circle. (7RTR called their third company D Company following Regimental tradition). Photos show these were not always carried, coloured pennants were also carried on radio antennas to mark Section, Company and Battalion commander'stanks.

Vehicles usually carried a nickname in white letters. 4RTR used names beginning with D on the hull front above the driver's vision slit, 7RTR names started with G and were on the hull sides and rear, in white letters. This naming convention dated from the time they were D and G Battalions, Tank Corps, respectively. 4RTR also had another mark first used in WW1, the 'Chinese Eye' in white with a black outline and blue pupil, on the turret sides above the smoke dischargers. These marks were first applied to tanks by Chinese labourers working at British tank parks, who thought the tanks needed eyes or else they could not see... All British military vehicles before late 1940 carried a civilian registration plate with white letters and numbers on a black ground to conform to then current legislation. This practice was dropped in 1940 as fewer civilian vehicles were in use, and the number of military vehicles increased rapidly. The vehicle census number, carried as well as the registration before then, was used to identify the vehicle, as instead of being painted in small characters on the side of the vehicle, was now some 3 or 4 inches high and in a more prominent position. These numbers were prefixed by a letter to denote the type of vehicles. Tanks (and also, tracked Carriers) were prefixed T. Thus vehicles can be identified by one or other number. Photos indicate that the census numbers were not painted on Matilda I's in France.

Of the 140 Matilda I's built, the details of serial, registration and contract numbers held in the files of the Tank Museum, Bovington are -

Prototype T1724, CMM889 Ordered January 1936

First Pattern T3433 to T3492, HMH788 to HMH847 60 tanks ordered April 1937

Second Pattern T5551 to T5610, RMY905 to RMY964 60 tanks ordered
May 1938 and T8101 to T8119, PMX458 to PMX476 19 tanks ordered January 1939

By the time the final 19 vehicles were built, the use of registration numbers was dropped in favour of just the census number, so they may not have been used on these vehicles. On later Matilda II's some carried registrations and some did not. The late type vehicle in the Tank Museum does have the number but the markings are of an Arras period vehicle, which as none came back to UK are not correct for that actual vehicle.

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Paul Timms
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Thanks

Post by Paul Timms » 14 Jul 2002 19:51

Thanks all.
Now my Matilda 1's will go into action correctly camouflaged (when they arrive from SHQ)

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Paul Timms
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Matilda

Post by Paul Timms » 29 Jul 2002 19:58

I didn't doubt you guys, but i was near Bovington and went and checked. It was smaller than i rememberd. The Dark Green was lighter than i thought (does that make sense !). It's the first time i've been since the Tiger was put together . Wow. Anyone who can should go and look.
It was worth the admission alone.

Paul

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