Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Light Tank Catalogue

At it core, Lend-Lease was a very large mail order. And what do you do when you order something before the dawn of the internet? You use a catalogue! Here is the catalogue of British light tanks offered to the USSR in 1941.

"Descriptions of tanks
  1. MkII "Star" (Valentine)
    1. Description: the tank was designed as an infantry tank, but has also been used as a cruiser tank.
    2. Availability: 20 in the first shipment.
    3. Mass: 16 tons.
    4. Crew: 3.
    5. Main armour: 60 mm.
    6. Armament: one 2-pounder gun, one BSA machinegun in the turret, one 2 inch smoke grenade launcher.
    7. Engine: 131 hp diesel.
    8. Speed: average 12 miles per hour, maximum 16 miles per hour.
    9. Range: 71 miles.
    10. Equipped with a radio.
  2. MkVIII Light Tank
    1. Description: this tank was designed as a fast reconnaissance vehicle, available in small numbers.
    2. Availability: 20 in the first shipment.
    3. Mass: 7 tons.
    4. Crew: 3.
    5. Main armour: 16 mm.
    6. Armament: one 2-pounder gun, one BSA 7.92 mm machinegun in the turret, two 4-inch smoke grenade launchers.
    7. Engine: gasoline "Meadows", 160 hp.
    8. Speed: average 28 miles per hour, maximum 40 miles per hour.
    9. Range: 128 miles.
    10. Radio.
Translated by: Sorvin"


I guess by this point, the British didn't think anyone else would want an older cruiser tank design. As the USSR wasn't too picky about what tanks it bought in the early war, both the Tetrarchs and Valentines were ordered. While this was the only Tetrarch shipment, Valentines continued to successfully serve with the Red Army until the end of hostilities in Europe.

The document was clearly translated in a hurry. The units are still in Imperial, the Tetrarch was "promoted" to MkVIII instead of MkVII, and the Valentine's index became mangled, presumably  from the full title "Valentine II, Infantry Tank MkIII*". The BESA machinegun lost a letter and turned into "BSA", and the smoke launchers on the Tetrarch grew in caliber twice over. 

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