Testing the Matilda Part 2 and why we need an Australian Matilda.

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By Vollketten

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Back in April 2015, I wrote on a similar topic “Australian Matilda Tank vs Japanese Guns” available here: http://ritastatusreport.blogspot.com/2015/04/australian-matilda-tank-vs-japanese-guns.html

It generated some interesting response and it made me curious as to whether the World of Tanks game could tolerate another premium Matilda tank. We already have the Russian Matilda, the regular British tech tree Matilda and the ‘Matilda Black Prince’ so to have another one it’ll need to be different and interesting. In the process of looking at this I’d like to bring you the following which is yet another set of tests by Australia on the Matilda tank and it leads to the prospect of another premium offering as an Australian vehicle which would work nicely alongside the most famous Australian Sentinel tanks.

In the focus on the war against the Japanese in the Pacific theatre it is the USA which gets the most attention and the efforts of Australian, British and Commonwealth countries are often ignored. The Australians in particular in New Guinea fought a long and vicious campaign against the Japanese in extremely difficult terrain which generated some unique modifications.

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A view of the terrain fought over in December 1943 in New Guinea showing the dense undergrowth.

Given the nature of the terrain combat ranges were very short and Japanese gunners unable to penetrate the Matilda’s thick armour would instead cripple them by shooting the tracks off. The tanks would be vulnerable if they were tracked so the Australians embarked on some experimental firings to look at the problem.

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On the 21st of December 1943 an Australian Matilda – One which had already been damaged beyond use was subjected to multiple shots from a 37mm gun. It’s not clear whether this was a Japanese 37mm like the 37mm Type 94 (about 2 inches of penetration with AP under 250 yards) or an allied 37mm gun.

There were 16 or more strikes against the front and corners but here in the sponson top corner which has been patched up with a piece cut from another vehicle of the 11 or so shots have hit the side armour which has resisted at least 4 of them, the rests penetrating could damage the tank track disabling the vehicle.

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Here you can see that the front right stowage bin has been penetrated. These bins don’t appear in the collision model in-game (for the regular Matilda but do for both premium versions). Thanks to the New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum ( http://www.lancers.org.au/ ) who very kindly measured their Matilda tanks boxes for me I can confirm for you that these armoured boxes are cast steel 14mm thick with a 20mm thick reinforcing bar to attach them to the hull. Of note here is the fact that the towing eye has actually deflected a shot too.

Out of necessity the Australians have also shot the drivers rolling hatch with the 37mm and also tried a Japanese magnetic mine on it as well.

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Here the big white circle denotes the dent caused by the mine and the small one the nick from the ricocheting 37mm AP round.

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Faced with the real threat of being disabled by a gun which otherwise couldn’t penetrate the main armour the Australians developed these rather brutal looking cast track guards which back in 2013 ( http://ftr-wot.blogspot.com/2013/05/buff-my-tank-matilda-ii.html ) I had christened as ‘knuckles’ and estimated them to be an 25mm thick. I’m pleased to say I am wrong; the Australian archives confirm these as cast armoured steel 1 ⅞ inches thick (47.625mm) – nearly twice my guesstimate. As such they are rather formidable providing very valuable protection over the front of the tracks but also when the tank is angled significantly reducing the angle from which the front can be hit. They are attached via these large lugs welded to the track guard tops.

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All together a simple and rather smart solution to a problem. The Australians did not stop there however. You will see in the next black and white photo above that the hull has a collar. The same type as shown on the ‘Matilda Black Prince’ and protecting the turret ring from fire by deflecting shots away from it.

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This one is being welded on the 27th of December 1944 as is this one on the same date having armoured boxes (yes that what it says) welded onto the back of the turret.

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Still more was being done to the Matilda with additional armour welded over the front and sides to protect from enemy fire in the form of track links on small metal brackets.

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Dated 22nd May 1945 this Australian Matilda features the collar and additional armour from track links too.

As well as extra links to the side and across the glacis the Australians also protected the backs of the tanks and made modifications.

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This montage shows a variety of shots of the modifications including pierced metal matting over the whole back end to keep off suicide charges and magnetic mines, raised exhausts (those hoses sticking up) and the addition of a crew/infantry telephone to the back (top right image) to allow infantry behind to coordinate with the crew. The bottom right image shows a modified scraper (the upside down Y-shaped black bit) which cleared the “tenacious” coral mud from the sprocket which was causing significant problems for the Australians given the appalling conditions they were fighting in.

Another change is that the Australians fitted the British No.19 Mk.II Wireless Set with some difficulty as it didn’t fit without modification.

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That last shot shows a lovely view inside the cupola. One thing which is apparent is the lack of vision when buttoned up in such close fighting terrain. Driving with your head out for visibility is extremely dangerous in such situations so to counter this the Australians tested a new design of higher and more protected cupola. This would allow more situational awareness with better protection for the commander. The need for this cupola was explicitly demanded by troops in the field sometime prior to November 1943 as the cupola had been made and tested by November that year. This new cupola was a very hefty thing and due to the weight (some 900 pounds) of it cross country the cupola rotating lock failed on more than one occasion but overall the ball race coped with the tremendous increase in weight. A new slightly larger cupola lock pin was thus added to fix the problem but even so was hard to control rotation wise across rough country and that it was advised to just not bother unless the vehicle was on the level.

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It featured a much thicker casting and narrower vision slits but giving all round visibility. Fitted with vision blocks and hatches this new cupola was subjected to firing trials fitted to a removed spare Matilda turret in New Guinea on 15th March 1944 .

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At first they used small arms such as the Japanese service rifle, Owen submachine gun and the Bren gun. Some splash did enter through the vision slots but that’s to be expected and that’s what the protective glass blocks are for behind the slit. Next was firing with the .55 calibre Boys Anti-Tank rifle. The hits here are obvious and the rounds penetrated to a depth of 1 ¼”  (31.75mm). At least two rounds though did penetrate the slit directly and the glass blocks behind.

Next was something more severe.

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These shots above are using the 3” Howitzer firing High Explosive shells at a range of 75 yards but they “had little effect” so finally they tested it against the 2 pounder gun.

Fired from a range of 70 yards these three 2 pounder armour-piercing shells all completely penetrated and passed through the cupola penetrating the opposite side to a depth of ¼ to ½”

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Conclusion:

For general interest this shows the versatility of a pre war tank in the form of the Matilda which even right to the end of the war was ideal for supporting Australian forces in the jungle. It is also ‘different’ enough to warrant serious consideration for WG to develop as a premium vehicle. Better visibility than the standard tier 4 Matilda in-game, better in-mud mobility, better radio range and a lot more armour across the front. Offset this with a bigger cupola and the lack of the Littlejohn device for the 2 pounder. Given that WG already has the ‘Matilda Black Prince’ hull modelled it would require just a little more to add the visual differences across the back and the extra track link armour on the front and sides. The turret is also already modelled along with the 2 pounder or even the 3” howitzer and save for armoured boxes at the back and this new larger cupola there is little to do to have a uniquely Australian tank. Australia day 2017 would seem like a smart day to release it. What do you think? Comment below.

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Sources:

Japanese Tank and Anti-Tank Warfare, Special Series No.34, 1st of August 1945, Military intelligence Division, US War Department http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/wwIIspec/number34.pdf

National Archives of Australia

Australian War Memorial

Test Instruction No.837 – Cupola, Commander’s, Tank Infantry Matilda Mk.IV – November 1943

Test Instruction No.1007 – Cupola, New Type ex. Matilda Tank – May 1944

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37 comments on “Testing the Matilda Part 2 and why we need an Australian Matilda.

  1. Still waiting on them to give the Valentine the Matilda’s 3-in. howitzer as an option. Would be a godsend to those who like using it as a close-range brawler.




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    • Whilst I don’t think the 3-inch howitzer will make that much of a difference on the Valentine, I would still like to see the gun as an option. 🙂

      This was my opinion on the forum:
      – Nerf the aim-time for the 6-Pdr Mk. III to 2.5
      – Buff the rate-of-fire for the 6-Pdr Mk. III to 18.18
      – Buff the aim-time for the 6-Pdr Mk. V to 2.3
      – Buff the rate-of-fire for the 6-Pdr Mk. V to 18.18
      – Buff the aim-time for the 75mm Mk. V to 2.3
      – Buff the rate-of-fire for the 75mm Mk. V to 13.04

      That would put it in a good place. Other things they could do is:
      – Give it the historical 3-inch howitzer
      – Give it the historical 210 hp engine*

      *you could make a decent tier IV or V premium. Have a historical Valentine XI with 60/50/60mm of hull armour, sideskirts, the 210 hp engine and 75mm Mk. V.




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  2. Thomas says:

    we dont need another – they can get the russian because the cannon is pathetic and it’s a tier higher than the standard matilda…




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    • Robert says:

      But the Russian Matilda IV has -15 degrees of gun depression, one of only three tanks in the game. And it’s armor can be more than trollish. Add to this the APCR shell and the Matilda IV is quite a nice tank. Will not give away mine!




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  3. Wulf Corbett says:

    No, I don’t ythink we need another tier 4 British Premium Medium, especially one so close to the standard ‘Tilly. It’s certainly a nice writeup, but essentially it’s a Matilda with 10-15mm extra armour, 10m extra view range and no top gun choice. No-one really cares about the radio.

    Will they ever upgrade the Sentinel’s 2 pounder? I’ll be happy if & when they give us the Sentinel AC4. Premium if it has to be, but better yet in the regular Tech Tree with the 25 pounder option…




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  4. Michael Hughes says:

    As an replacement for the Matilda BP, maybe.




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  5. one50nine says:

    As much as Australia Day is closer, ANZAC day (25th of April) would have a greater cultural significance to us, and also be a chance for everyone to learn a bit about us, instead of just happy Australia day, here’s an Australian tank.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    No more matilda because no cares about tier 4 tanks.




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  7. Swatdennis says:

    Well, sure! I do not mind! I do mind that the official Matilda has 121 pen on its standard rounds, so please, make this the official Matilda!




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    • Wulf Corbett says:

      Yeah, the 2 pounder isn’t up to much without the Littlejohn adaptor, but in this case I don’t mind so much, it WOULD have been available had it been needed. And without it, where would the Matilda be in the Tiers? A very very weak tier 4, or a virtually invulnerable Tier 3!




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  8. marianr87 says:

    I don’t care what the rest say, but I’d certainly want it.I’m just afraid that with all extra armor haging on it will be even darn slower that Matildas already are.




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  9. SMGJohn says:

    I rather have this than a bloody CW reward tank.




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  10. wfschepel says:

    This could be a tier 5 rather than a tier 4. Also, the mathilda should be classified as a heavy tank. I mean, infantry tanks are for all intents and purposes heavies.




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  11. Anlushac11 says:

    Meaning no disrespect, loved the article. Very informative about ANZAC Matilda’s. But since so many Matilda’s in game would rather see a ANZAC Valentine CS. Dont get me wrong, if this modified ANZAC Matilda made it in game I would buy it.




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  12. Klimax says:

    Rita, do you have any sources on Matilda using Little John anti-armor adapter? It would be great.




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  13. John West says:

    As an Australian and reading this post it has made me quiet proud, thanks for posting this. But, we don’t need another Matilda in game. Just look how they created our Sentinel. I don’t trust them to make our Matilda. Yes it would be more armored but it be even slower and probably unplayable. My 2 cents. But saying this I’d still buy it.




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  14. I’m all for more Aussie tanks, this certainly seems interesting and would love to own it along side my ACI and the AC IE/IV when they bring it out




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  15. killswitch95 says:

    I would love to add a 4th Matilda to my collection…




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  16. SEA_survivor says:

    Anzac day would certainly be a more appropriate time to release it than Australia day, but based on the SEA server’s acknowledgment of the importance of the day to Australia and New Zealand this year (Or lack thereof -No effort made to even mention the day on the website) I can’t see it happening, sadly.

    The way these 2 countries are treated on the server, it really feels like we aren’t welcome, and yet WG won’t let us return our accounts to the NA server.




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  17. We don’t need another Matilda premium in the British tree – the Matilda BP should be rebalanced as a tier IV with its premium MM removed. Us Australians have numerous AC variants that can fit into the UK tree as premiums (seeing as a mini-branch is now impossible). These are:

    – AC I Sentinel: In game.
    – AC II: If we consider the Sentinel a KV-1 then the AC II is the KV-1s. Lighter, potentially faster, and armed with a 6-Pdr.
    – AC III Scorpion: Basically a Sentinel with a 400 hp Pratt and Whitney Radial.
    – AC III Thunderbolt: with the redesigned hull, offering better protection. With the more powerful Perrier-Cadillac engine, and armed with a 25-Pdr gun/howitzer adapted to fire like a tank gun.
    – Sentinel AC IE2/IV: WG planned tier VI Australian premium (not in game, yet)
    – AC IV: Basically a Thunderbolt hull and engine, with an expanded turret and armed with a 17-Pdr.

    So with all these in mind, I don’t see the need for a more armoured, but worse armed Matilda.

    In fact, I’d rather a premium British Valentine tank with the missing 210 hp engine and armed with the 75mm Mk. V.




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  18. Very informative article, but I don’t think we need another Matilda any time soon.




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  19. wolvenworks says:

    interesting.




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  20. OrigamiChik3n says:

    I wonder if this up-armoured Matilda was ever field tested. Being infantry tank (i.e. slow) to begin with the added weight without upgraded engine must have made her even more sluggish.




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  21. 1389__ says:

    A finely written article, a fun and pleasing read.
    On another note, not too many differences in game terms, and the reworked cupola seems a weak spot (AT 2 comes in mind). But still, could be interesting.
    Also, Rita should consider accepting more of these historical articles, since they are quite interesting to read ?




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    • Rita Sobral says:

      I always accept them, and actually have a 3 part incoming that’s been taking awhile to see the light of the day due to my fault. Its huge and needs grammar proofing, and I always try to search for the best moments.




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  22. marianr87 says:

    We don’t need another Matilda, but we sure do need some new soviet premium medium, especailly if it’s a t-54 clone.

    Geez people, leave off!. An Australian Matilda would be just fine.




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  23. Anaemic Warrior says:

    I actually like the idea of an Australian Matilda, We have like a tonne of Shermans, I don’t see why we can’t have more Matildas You could even perhaps have this as a sidegrade in the tech tree pretty much like what the KV1-S is to the KV1 the Australian MKIV Matilda Could be side to side with the ingame Matilda.

    As an Australian myself I approve, but maybe that’s just bias.




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    • Daedal says:

      Holy shit you are actually right! They call this world of T-54 clones, but we have (USA) M4, M4A3E2, M4A3E8, Fury, M4A2E4, M4 improved, (UK) Sherman III, Sherman Firefly, (FR) M4A1 REVALORISÉ. And if Israel tanks come (in one way or another) we can have minimum 1 or (what I know out of my head) 3 more shermans. Then I think there was something about a sherman with A-19 122mm soviet gun.
      Oh found the article http://ftr-wot.blogspot.com/2013/05/foreign-shermans.html




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  24. The Sentinel being not a such fun to fight with (no pen, no mobility, etc…) I hope they make it better with the new Matilda! Viva Australia!




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    • Wulf Corbett says:

      I am regularly achieving top 5 with the Sentinel in Tier 4 & 5 battles (not so much T6…), and still only getting 3rd class medals, so someone is doing even better!




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  25. I wouldn’t mind this version, but they really need to give standard mattie her armored stowage bins back. It was an unhistorical nerf that needs to be reverted ASAP.




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  26. […] Testing the Matilda Part 2 and why we need an Australian Matilda. […]




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  27. DarthPaulGames says:

    This is a great Idea. As someone who works with local Australian RSL’s and plays World of Tanks it would be nice to have more than one premium tank to stand by




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