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> The Vickers Light MKVI B – Quite Useless As A Fighting Tank
The Vickers Light MKVI B – Quite Useless As A Fighting Tank
The first mass-produced British tank.
Being, in terms of numbers, the Vickers Light was the most significant British tank at the outbreak of war, the Mark VIB saw service with the British Expeditionary Force in France, the Eighth Army in North Africa and in various subsidiary theatres. As a reconnaissance vehicle it was satisfactory, as a fighting tank quite useless since armour protection was minimal and the armament ineffective against enemy tanks.
When the Battle of France began in May 1940, the majority of the tanks possessed by the British Expeditionary Force were Mark VI variants; the seven Royal Armoured Corps divisional cavalry regiments, the principal armoured formations of the BEF, were each equipped with 28 Mk VIs.The 1st Armoured Division, elements of which landed in France in April, was equipped with 257 tanks, of which a large number were Mk VIB and Mk VICs. The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, which formed part of the division’s 3rd Armoured Brigade, possessed by this time 21 Mark VI light tanks.
The Mk VIB was also used in the North African campaign against the Italians late in 1940 with the 3rd Hussars and the 7th Armoured Division. Late in 1940 the British had 200 light tanks (presumably the Mk VIB) along with 75 cruiser tanks (A9, A10, A13) and 45 Matilda IIs. An attack by the 3rd Hussars on 12 December 1940 resulted in the tanks getting bogged down in salt pans and severely mauled. The 7th Armoured Division had 100 left on 3 January 1941 and 120 tanks on 21 January at which time they were used in flanking far into the rear and gathering up scattered Italian troops, sometimes joining or leaving the main attacks to the Cruiser and Matilda II tanks. The 2nd RTR continued to battle the Italians with light tanks as late as 6 February 1941.
Being widely used by the British Army, the tank participated in several other important battles. The Mk VIB made up a significant amount of the tanks sent over to the Battle of Greece in 1941, mostly with the 4th Hussars. Ten Mk VIB tanks fought with the 3rd The King’s Own Hussars during the Battle of Crete. The same armoured unit had previously embarked three MK VIB tanks for the Norwegian Campaign but they were lost in transit to a German aircraft attack.