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Light Tank, Mk VII, Tetrarch


The Tetrarch was designed in 1937 by Vickers, and production was ordered to start in 1938. Because production was to be moved to a different location, which was subsequently bombed, production did not start until November 1940. Since the Light Tank, Mk VI was already in production as the British light tank, and because focus shifted to heavier cruiser and infantry tanks after the Allied defeat in May 1940, production was eventually limited to 177 tanks.

The most notable characteristic of the Tetrarch was the suspension. It featured four large roadwheels, the rear-most of which also function as the drive wheel.

Because of a flawed cooling system, the Tetrarch was no employed in North Africa. The first time the Tetrarchs saw action was during the May 1942 invasion of Madagascar. Later, during Operation Overlord, a squadron of Tetrarchs were air-landed as part of the British airborne landings. The high speed of the tanks made them suitable for reconnaissance, but by August, only three Tetrarchs remained in action, the others having been destroyed or replaced with Cromwell cruiser tanks. In addition, 20 Tetrarchs were exported to Russia as part of the Lend-Lease program.

Two variants of the Tetrarch were made: a close support variant, featuring a howitzer, and an amphibious DD (Duplex Drive) prototype. An improved version, the Light Tank, Mk VII, Harry Hopkins was also designed.

Technical Details

  Tetrarch I Tetrarch I CS
  • Commander
  • Gunner
  • Driver
Physical Characteristics
Weight 7.62 t
Length 4.11 m
Width 2.12 m
Height 2.31 m
Armour (range) 4-14 mm
Speed (max) 64 km/h
Primary weapon QF 2 pdr (1) QF 3 inch howitzer (1)
Secondary weapon Besa 7.92 mm machine gun (1)


Right side view of a Light Tank Mk VII "Tetrarch"
Front and left side of the CS variant, armed with a 76,2 mm (3 inch) howitzer

Further Reading


  1. CHAMBERLAIN, Peter & ELLIS, Chris. British and American Tanks of World War II : The Complete Illustrated History of British, American and Commonwealth Tanks, 1939-45. Weidenfield : Cassell, 2000. 224p. ISBN: 03-0435-529-1.