Tank Light, Mark VIB (E1949.351)
Vickers-Armstrongs dominated British tank production in the years between the two world wars, but in 1936 the government decided to expand the programme. Various other engineering firms, including Fowlers of Leeds, Ruston-Hornsby of Grantham and North British Loco in Glasgow were given small 'educational' orders for tanks. This was intended to give them experience of tank construction to meet increased demand as the international situation deteriorated.
The Light Tank Mark VI was the type selected for this purpose. Early models, Marks VI and VIA appeared in small numbers, followed by Marks VIB and VIC of which some 1,200 were built. Despite the fact that modern production line techniques were employed these tanks could not be described as mass produced in the American sense. Examine the fit and finish of the armour plates and it becomes clear that a great deal of skill and craftsmanship was required to complete them.
Being, in terms of numbers, 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. Our exhibit carries the markings of the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards with 2nd Infantry Division in the BEF, France 1940
[N.B. Currently fitted with tracks and suspension of the T16 Carrier by previous Workshop Manager. Location of original parts not known. Per David Fletcher, 10th February 2017]