Light Tank A3E1

Also known as the Machine-Gun Carrier No. 1, this is a very difcult tank to classify. It does not ft in anywhere. It was built by the Ordnance Factory at Woolwich. It went to the Tank and Tracked Transport Experimental Establishment (or T&TTEE – what the Tank Testing Section had been called since June 1925) on 29 March 1926 as their number 52, but with the WD Number T1021. It took part in the Dominion Premiers’ Display on Camberley Common on 13 November 1926, although this appears to have been its only public appearance. It is described in the brochure as being ‘an experimental type of machine to carry two machine-guns mounted front and rear and to be inconspicuous. It embodies an effort to reduce the cost of manufacture by utilizing a commercial type of engine and a cheap type of cast steel track’. Te brochure goes on to list a weight of six tons 14 cwt, a water-cooled AEC four-cylinder engine rated at 40hp giving speeds of 16mph on the road and 10mph across country; it could climb a 35-degree slope, had a circuit of action of 45 miles and could negotiate a gap 5ft 9in wide. It had a crew of three, listed as a driver and two machine-gunners, and was armed with two machine guns. Te tabulated data in the T&TTEE record lists a four-speed, two-ratio transmission with Rackham steering clutches, built of 12mm plate (representing armour) and an overall length of 17ft 9in, no doubt to give it some trench-crossing potential, an overall height of 6ft 1½in and a width of 6ft 9in, but we are not told what type of suspension it had and this is not obvious from photographs of it. Te driver’s head occupied an armoured cube at the front, on the right of the vehicle, although this rather limited the traverse of the front machine-gun turret. Te rear one had a wider arc of fire, but it is not clear whether the rear gunner could make his way forward inside the vehicle or had to stay where he was. Te vehicle was issued to the Superintendent of Design on 27 June 1929, after which we hear no more about it.


Light Tank A3E1, Carrier – Machine Gun No. 1. Experimental Three Man Tank.