The Tank, Cruiser, Mk I (A9) was a British cruiser tank (also called cavalry tank or fast tank) of the interwar period. It was the first cruiser tank: a fast tank designed to bypass the main enemy lines and engage the enemy's lines of communication, along with enemy tanks.

The Cruiser incorporated the best features of the earlier Mk III Light Tank, and was powered by a commercial petrol engine. The armour was light with a maximum of 14 mm thickness, many armour faces were vertical, and there were numerous shot traps but it could achieve 25 mph. The driver's compartment and the fighting compartments were not separated. As well as the turret armament, which consisted of a QF 2-pounder (40 mm) gun and a coaxial Vickers machine gun, there were two small turrets either side of the driver's compartment, each sporting one more machine-gun. Both these smaller turrets were permanently manned, which gave the tank a total crew of 6 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver and two machine-gunners).

Mark I Cruiser in The War That Came EarlyEdit

While the French Army and the BEF managed to stall the Wehrmacht advance on Paris, their counter-attack soon stalled in turn. The British decided to bring in and concentrate Mark I Cruisers for a renewed attack. Sgt. Alistair Walsh was impressed with their much higher speed and heavier armament when compared to the Matildas used previously and had some hope for success.

However, when the high command elected to advance some Cruisers in a test raid, they received an unpleasant surprise. The Cruisers were much more lightly armoured and so were vulnerable to anything larger than rifle rounds. Soldiers began calling them "Ronsons" given that they lighted on one strike. The orders for an all out attack were postponed for 48 hours and then indefinitely while the brass tried to figure out what to do next.[1]

  1. West and East, pgs. 220-224, HC.

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