United Kingdom (1925)
Tankette – 8 built

The Carden-Loyd competitor

Morris-Martel was a British inter-war tankette developed from prototypes designed by Lieutenant-General Sir Giffard Le Quesne Martel. Intended for reconnaissance, eight were constructed for the Experimental Mechanized Force and were tested against experimental models of the Carden Loyd tankette – built by John Carden and Vivian Loyd as a response to Martel’s work – on Salisbury plain in 1927.

The British inter-war Morris-Martel Tankette prototype
The British inter-war Morris-Martel Tankette prototype

The Morris-Martel Tankette had a two man crew. The driver sat on the left side of the vehicle next to the machine gunner. This was a different lay out to the successful WW1 Renault FT tank where the driver sat low down in the front of the vehicle and the machine gunner/tank commander sat high up above him. It was open topped and it must have been uncomfortable for the crew to operate in wintery and rainy conditions.

The project was abandoned after testing with the Carden Loyd design chosen instead, however during its short existence the tankette attracted “quite a lot of publicity” and was a pioneer of the tankette concept

Origins

The Morris-Martel tankettes were developed from the Morris-Martel agricultural tracked tractor.

Morris Martel tractor
The Morris Martel agricultural tracked tractor

The Morris-Martel One-man Tankette

The first prototype tankette was built for one man to drive and operate the machine gun. An upper armoured casement superstructure was fitted around the tractor’s drivers seat. Later an armoured cover was added to the front of the vehicle to protect the radiator.

An armoured cover was added to the front of the Morris Martel one-man tankette to protect the radiator.
An armoured cover was added to the front of the Morris Martel one-man tankette to protect the radiator.

The Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette

It was deemed necessary that the tankette should have a crew of two. One to fire the machine gun whilst the other drove the vehicle. It was too much to expect one man to operate both under battlefield conditions. The upper armoured casement superstructure was widened to enable two men to sit side by side.

A Crossley, 4-cylinder, in-line, water cooled 14hp petrol engine was used in this tankette but later replaced with a slightly more powerful Morris, 4-cylinder, in-line, water cooled 16hp petrol engine

The upper armoured casement superstructure on the Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette was widened to enable two men to sit side by side.
The upper armoured casement superstructure on the Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette was widened to enable two men to sit side by side.

The Morris-Martel Improved Two-man Tankette

The final prototype had a completely new track suspension system. It was called the Morris-Martel Improved Two-man Tankette.

Sources

On the Vickers Carden-Loyd tankettes on Wikipedia
Aviarmor

Specifications

Dimensions 3.05m x 1.54m x 1.64m (10ft 1in x 4ft 9in x 5ft 5in)
Total weight, battle ready 1.8 tons
Crew 2 (driver, machine-gunner)
Propulsion Crossley, 4-cylinder, in-line, water cooled petrol engine 14 HP
or Morris, 4-cylinder, in-line, water cooled petrol engine 16 HP
Speed (road) 18 mph (30 km/h)
Range 89 mi (144 km)
Armament 0.303 in (7.62 mm) Vickers machine-gun
Armor 5mm to 10mm
Total production 8

Gallery

The Morris-Martel One-Man Tankette
The Morris-Martel One-Man Tankette prototype.

The Morris-Martel One-Man Tankette with armoured front radiator
The Morris-Martel One-Man Tankette with armoured front radiator.

The Morris-Martel One-Man Tankette with armoured wheels
The Morris-Martel One-Man Tankette with solid wheels.

The Morris-Martel Tankette undergoing trials
The Morris-Martel Tankette undergoing trials.

The Morris-Martel Tankette with rear wheel attachment to help it cross undulating terrain
The Morris-Martel Tankette with rear wheel attachment experiment to help it cross undulating terrain.

The Morris-Martel Tankette had a two man crew
The Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette had a wider cab to accommodate both men side by side.

The Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette undergoing trials
The Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette undergoing trials.

The Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette with two tone camouflage
The Morris-Martel Two-man Tankette with two tone camouflage.

Heavy/Assault Tank T14
A1E1 Independent
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