PIBWL presents:

Vickers Mark E (6-Ton) light tank

in the Polish service

PIBWL Polish Armour page [ Main page ]   [ Polish armour / tanks ]   [ Polish armoured units ]   [ Steel Panthers ]   [ Links ]Czołg Vickers E w polskiej służbie
  © Michał Derela, 1999-2009 Major update: 17. 1. 2010 (ammended 10.2.2010)

Part I: development history and construction
Part II: international service
Part III: Polish service / gallery



Polish Vickers Mk E type B (Janusz Magnuski)Polish Vickers Mk.E Type B
[note 1]


History - Armament and equipment - Combat use - Camouflage - Models   |   Gallery

This page is devoted to the service of Vickers Mark E (6-ton) light tanks in the Polish Army. A development history, technical description and specifications are in part I. An international service of Vickers Mk.E tanks is described in part II.

Note: in latest 2010 update we corrected among others a number of tanks bought. Some photos may be enlarged. W means external links to relevant Wikipedia articles (you can find places on maps by clicking coordinates at Wikipedia pages).



History of order and delivery

Polish order of Vickers tanks

Polish Vickers Mark E tanks under construction
Polish Vickers tanks under construction in Vickers-Armstrongs factory on Tyneside, June 1932 (note MG magazine covers). [1]

In the late 1920s, it became clear, that the Polish Army needed a modern tank, to replace WWI-era Renault FT-17s. Since the Polish engineers had no experience to quickly design a successful tank (the only early design WB-10 appeared a failure), it was decided to buy the licence from abroad, which would be a good base for own works.

The Polish Ministry of Defence was in contact with the British company Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd since 1926. Initially, Vickers Medium Tanks Mark C and Mark D were offered to the Polish, but rejected (single tanks of this marks were eventually bought by Japan and Ireland). In 1928, Vickers-Armstrongs completed a design of a new, lighter Vickers 6 Ton tank, also known as Mark E (Mk.E). It was to be one of the most significant tank developments, and at that time it was one of the most modern tanks in the world. The tank was designed in two basic variants: Mark E Type A (Alternative A) with twin turrets, armed with machine guns; and the single-turret Mark E Type B (Alternative B), which was the world's first tank with a co-axial gun and machine gun in a turret.

More details and a technical description in Part I.


Polish early twin-turret Vickers Mk.E
Polish twin-turret Vickers Mk.E in initial configuration and earliest (4-colour) camouflage, armed with two 7.92 mm wz.25 MGs. [1]

The Polish delegation was shown a chassis of the new Vickers tank already in January 1927, before the design was completed. On 22 August 1927 the Armament Committee (KSUS) decided to order 30 tanks, but it wasn't proceeded at that time due to a high price, and Poland turned attention to Renault NC tank. Only when the tests of a single bought Renault NC proved insatisfactory, Poland returned to Vickers option. The first 6-ton tank was tested in Poland in September 1930, shown by Vivian Loyd himself. The general evaluation was quite good, and the tank rode a 500-km raid without major defects, with an average speed 22-25 km/h (maximum speed was 37 km/h, for no longer, than 10 minutes). Nevertheless, it revealed some faults as well, like: an overheating engine, thin armour and cramped crew compartment. At that time, Poland wanted to buy Christie's wheel-and-track tank first of all, but when Christie failed to deliver the ordered tank (in the end of 1930), it was decided to chose Vickers offer.

On 14 September 1931, Poland bought 38 tanks Vickers Mk.E Type A, with spare parts and a manufacturing licence. Some earlier publications[1] (and earlier edition of our page) claimed, that further 12 tanks were ordered in parts for local assembly and remained unassembled, or counted as a licence fee, but the agreement text do not confirm this[5]. Price was initially stated at £3800 per tank and £18,500 for spare parts – £162,900 in total (without a separate licence fee). However, since the armoured plates of first delivered tanks were found too vulnerable, a price was eventually lowered to £3165 per tank – £138,770 in total (contrary to order specifications, the 13 mm plates were pierced with 12.7 mm Vickers MG from 350 m distance, and a safety requirement was finally lowered to 575 m distance, with all-distance protection against rifle balls)[5]. One tank finally costed 98 115 złotys W (£1 = 31 zł).

Deliveries and further works in Poland


Polish modified single-turret Vickers Mk.E tank
Single-turret Vickers Mk.E, with Polish modifications and late camouflage. It carries a practice tactical circle sign. [1]

The ordered 38 tanks were to be delivered in March-July 1932, but were delivered between June 1932 and early 1933 (should be sent by 28 February 1933, according to last schedule). All were twin-turret variant (Type A), their serial numbers were: VAE 408 – 445. After results of acceptance trials, the Polish tanks were soon modified by adding large air intakes behind the crew compartment to improve engine cooling. It was an unique feature of the Polish tanks only. This, and some other minor improvements, were designed by Vickers on the Polish demand, and completed in Poland in 1934 (1934-1935?) (at the 3rd Armoured Battalion workshops and the PZInż. works), on Vickers' cost[1]. All tanks were accepted by the Polish Army by August 1934, after completing of modifications and a 1200-km test raid of two tanks. Also that year, 22 tanks were rebuilt to the single-turret Type B standard (see below). In 1933, two tanks were experimentally fitted with the British Straussler trench-crossing gear (see here). However, this device appeared impractical and unsuccessful - it got damaged during testing of one tank.

Poland did not start production of the Vickers Mk.E, but the Polish designers started works upon its improvement (it should be noted, by the way, that a licence did not cover engine). Its Polish development was firstly named: VAU-33 (Vickers-Armstrong-Ursus 1933), eventually renamed to 7TP. Main changes were: fitting more powerful and reliable diesel engine, what changed the vehicle silhouette, applying thicker armour and better anti-tank armament. The resulting tank 7TP was the most succesful of Vickers E developments in the world. Turrets of twin-turret Vickers tanks were used in the first series 7TP.
    In March 1936, in order to improve the existing Vickers tanks, one tank (no.1359) was experimentally rebuilt to the 7TP tank standard, and designated V/7TP. It demanded fitting a PZInż.235 (Saurer BLDb) diesel engine in a higher rear compartment, stronger suspension, new transmission, thicker bolted armour plates and other minor changes (according to numbers list, it would be a single-turret tank[1], but it is doubful - in that case it would be a hybrid with Vickers turret and 7TP hull). The modification proved successful, but more tanks were not rebuilt due to the cost. The tank remained in the Armoured Weapons Technical Research Bureau, and there is no information on its fate in 1939. It is worth mentioning, that the Poles developed also a modernized Renault FT-17 tank, with Vickers suspension, but it remained a prototype.

Rear view of a Polish modified Vickers Mk.E tank
Single-turret Vickers Mk.E, with Polish modifications and late camouflage. A cooling air outlet is visible. [5]

The Polish tanks differed from all others Vickers Mk.E having the mentioned large air intakes, that cought the air from both sides of a combat compartment during a ride, and directed it through a housing behind the combat compartment, to the hole in armour plate above the air-cooled engine. Rear corners of the housing were rounded. The left rear corner was a servicing hatch, opening upwards to the right, with adjacent walls (it enabled an access to an engine hatch).
    In the late 1930s, additional high stowage boxes were mounted on rear fenders (it made a built-up side view of the rear part, somewhat similar to the 7TP tank). From the beginning, the Polish twin-turret tanks also had significant box covers for the 13.2mm MG magazines, sticking out of the turrets' roofs (a trivia is, that one such turret of a tank captured by the Soviets, was later used in the Soviet improvised armoured train). During the service, they were also fitted with ventilation cupolas in the hatches.

It is noteworthy, that according to new sources, the Soviets were afraid of alleged Polish plans to obtain a superiority in tanks in the 1930s. Therefore, intelligence reports on Polish plans to buy Christie and Vickers Mk.E tanks, were a spur to the Soviets to buy licences and start mass production of both tanks[5], as their own early designs weren't successful much (it is ironic, that this decision resulted in thousands of manufactured T-26 and BT family tanks, while the Polish economy, combined with lack of agressive plans, allowed to manufacture less then 150 light tanks before the war).


A confusion in tank designations:

These tanks were known in Poland just as Vickers tanks, or Vickers 6-tonowy (6 Ton) in early documents, while in the Polish publications they are commonly called just Vickers E. Twin- and single-turret variants had no specific designations. However, in the Western sources they are sometimes marked with: "dw" and "jw" letters. They are abbreviations of Polish words: "dwuwieżowy" = twin-turret and "jednowieżowy" = single-turret. These abbreviations are not the vehicles' designations in fact and they are not used in any serious Polish sources. We don't recommend using them, and they can be replaced with proper terms in other languages. If you use them (eg. in wargaming), I suggest they are eventually written: "Vickers E  jw." or: "Vickers E (jw.)", keeping in mind, that they were not tanks' designations.
   Some publications and especially model manufacturers, use completely wrong names for Polish modified Vickers tanks. These are usually: "VAU-33", "Vickers-Armstrong-Ursus", or: "wz.33". In fact, Ursus Works had nothing to do with these tanks. The tanks also had no: "wz." pattern designation. As it was mentioned above, Vickers-Armstrong-Ursus (VAU-33) was an initial designation for the 7TP tank program.

As for original manufacturer's designations, the most correct is: Mark E Alternative A or B or Type A / B. The designations: "Mark A", "Mark B", used in many publications, are therefore incorrect.

We haven't found any information in serious publications about a planned "command" conversion of the Polish Vickers tanks, with a 20 mm gun in a new one-man turret, allegedly designated: "PZInż.126". It seems to be only an "invention" of one model manufacturer.


Polish Vickers Mark E tank with 13.2mm TMG.
A modified Vickers E with 13.2mm TMG and 7.92mm wz.30 TMG on manoeuvres in 1936. Note late camouflage. A triangle is a tactical marking. Also, ventilation cupolas are visible [1]
Polish twin-turret Vickers Mk.E tank with 37 mm gun
Twin-turret Vickers E tanks with 37 mm gun and 7.92 mm wz.25 TMG, in earliest camouflage, 11 November 1933. [5]

Armament and equipment

You can read a technical description of the Vickers Mk.E in part I. Construction differences of the Polish tanks were mentioned above, differences in armament and equipment are described below.

Initial armament:

All the tanks were delivered in a twin-turret version (Type A), without any armament nor its mountings. In Poland, they were first temporarily armed with two air-cooled 7.92mm wz. 25 Hotchkiss tank machine guns (TMG). They were mounted in newly designed in 1933 Polish universal round mountings wz. 34[1] (all weapons mentioned below for twin-turret variant used those mountings as well). A commander sat in the right turret, which was fitted with small sleeves in a roof for signal flags (it was the only difference between turrets).

In late 1933, 16 tanks were re-armed with one air-cooled 13.2mm wz. 30 Hotchkiss TMG in the right turret, and a water-cooled 7.92mm wz.30 (Browning) TMG in the left turret (initially possibly 7.92 mm wz.25 TMG). The 13.2mm TMG was considered for the armament of the Polish Vickers tanks from the beginning, that's why all the turrets were fitted with magazine covers on roofs.

Also that year, further 6 vehicles received temporarilly a 37mm wz.18 (SA-18) Puteaux L/21 low-velocity gun in the right turret, while the 7.92mm wz. 25 TMG or wz.30 TMG remained in the left one (there exist photos of both variants).



Final armament:

Polish single-turret Vickers M.E tank
A turret of the Polish Vickers Mk.E Type B before the Zaolzie operation, 1938 (note a dog sign on a turret). See a whole scene.

Since both the 37mm wz.18 gun or 13.2 mm TMG offered very limited anti-tank capability, and the twin-turret tank could not be fitted with any larger weapon, it was quickly decided to convert most tanks to single-turret ones. For this purpose, 22 turrets of the single-turret variant Mark E Type B, armed with a 47mm Vickers QF gun, were bought in Great Britain and delivered in March 1934. In 1934-1935, 22 tanks were rebuilt into a single turret variant. As a coaxial machine gun, they received the Polish water-cooled 7.92mm wz. 30 TMG, mounted to the right of the gun, with 5940 rounds.

The remaining 16 twin-turret tanks with 13.2 mm TMG, were also rearmed with two 7.92mm wz. 30 TMGs with 6600 rounds, in 1936-1937[5] (a reason to do so might be questioned, since the 13.2 mm TMG, in spite of its faults, increased the tank's capabilities anyhow). Their water radiators were lightly armoured. And such was the tanks' final armament in 1939.

There were proposals in 1937 to rearm tanks with 37 mm wz.37 Bofors guns, probably in the 7TP tank turret in case of twin-turret tanks, but it wasn't proceeded, apparently due to a price and a fact, that Vickers tanks were worn out and meant mostly for training.


Armour:

The armour of the Polish tanks was the same, as of basic Vickers Mark E tanks - riveted of rolled armour plates: hull front and sides - 13 mm, rear - 8 mm, turrets of both variants - 13 mm all around, top and bottom - 5 mm. The air intakes' housing apparently was made of ordinary steel sheets.


Equipment:

Polish Vickers Mk.E tank
The Polish Vickers Mk.E in latest camouflage [3]

The Polish Vickers tanks were not equipped with a radio initially. In late 1930s, one tank was modified in this purpose and probably fitted with radio (it demanded a modification of an electric wiring), but more tanks weren't modified due to lack of enough number of radios. Only just before the war, 4 tanks of the 12th Company (company's and platoons' commanders) received Polish RKB/C radio (or newer N2/C). The radio demanded a tall folding transmitter pole aerial, made of a 3.5 m and a 2.5 m bamboo sticks, that could be also joined together. In case of twin-turret tanks, the folded aerial pole was carried horizontally between turrets, on two high struts (like on the 7TP tanks). There is no information, if radios and aerials were fitted also to single-turret tanks and how. There is no information, if the tanks from the 121st Company were fitted with radios as well - it may be assumed so.



Service of Polish Vickers tanks:

Pre-war use:

Polish twin-turret Vickers Mk E in Zaolzie.
Vickers Mk.E twin-turret during a parade in Karwina, Zaolzie, 11 November 1938. [1]

From 1934, the Vickers tanks were employed by a newly formed 3rd Armoured Battalion (Batalion Pancerny) in Warsaw. In late 1930s (probably 1937), with arrival of new 7TP tanks, the Vickers tanks were moved to the 2nd Armoured Battalion in Żurawica W, near Przemyśl. The second unit equipped with Vickers tanks was the 11th Armoured Battalion in Armoured Weapons Training Centre (CWBrPanc) in Modlin W. Five tanks in each battalion were so-called "mob" (mobilization) reserve, not used in peacetime duties. The rest of tanks were used intensively for training, so most of them were quite worn out in 1939.

Between 4 and 20 September 1938, twenty tanks were used in large manoeuvres in Volhynia W. They formed a company, assigned to the motorized 10th Cavalry Brigade (10.BK). The manoeuvres, in fact, were just a preparation for an action to regain the Czech Zaolzie W province, inhabited by a Polish majority and captured by the Czechoslovak forces in 1918. The Polish government took a shameful opportunity to regain Zaolzie, when Hitler took the western parts of Czechoslovakia after the Munich agreement. On 22 September 1938, the 10.BK, assigned to the newly created Operational Group GO "Śląsk" (Silesia), was moved to Zaolzie. The province was taken over without fighting, by separate "agreement" with the Czechoslovak government. The Brigade - and its tanks spent the next two months in Zaolzie.




Combat use in 1939:

During the mobilization in August 1939, the Vickers tanks were used in two light tank companies of Polish only two motorized brigades. The 11th Armoured Battalion formed the 121st Light Tank Company for the 10th Cavalry Brigade, while the 2nd Armoured Battalion formed the 12th Light Tank Company for the Warsaw Armoured-Motorized Brigade (WBP-M).

A light tank company had 16 tanks: it should be 10-11 single turret and 5-6 twin-turret ones. It consisted of the commander's troop with a commander tank, and three platoons with 5 tanks each (detailed company structure). Most probably in 1939 the platoons were mixed of three single-turret and two twin-turret tanks.

There is some doubt as to the 121st Company's tanks' number, because Maj. Franciszek Skibiński, the Chief of the 10.BK Staff, claimed in his writings, that the company had only about 7-8 tanks, while Col. Stanisław Maczek W, the 10.BK Commander wrote: "seems, it was only 9" in his memoirs. However, according to official numbers, it should be equipped with all 16 tanks. Also, lesser number would contradict with reports on last fights of the company, considering a number of losses.



Vickers tanks platoon, 1938
The Vickers tanks' platoon, as it could appear in 1939 (photo from manouvres before Zaolzie operation, 1938). Note a tactical sign on a front plate, used during this action only. [4]

The 121st Light Tank Company (commander: Lt. Stanisław Rączkowski) was initially fighting with the 10th Cavalry Brigade (10. BK). The tanks were supporting Polish motorized cavalry, fighting in delay actions against elements of two German armoured divisions in Beskidy mountains, from 1 September 1939. Due to scarsity of armoured forces, the 121st Company was first kept mainly as a reserve, and along with two companies of tankettes, was used as a kind of a "fire brigade", thrown at threatened parts of the brigade's front. On 3 September 1939, the Polish tanks, attacking along Krzeczów W - Skomielna W road, twice repelled the infantry of the 2nd Panzer Division, which was attacking the flank of the 10th Mounted Rifle Rgt. (10. PSK). On 4 September the company supported an assault of the 24th Lancer Rgt. at Kasina Wielka W, along with the 101st Reconnaissance Tank Company. It helped to repel the elements of the 4th Light Division and the 3rd Mountain Division. On that day, the Germans lost 3 tanks and 2 armoured cars. Polish forces stopped the enemy advance that day, losing two Vickers tanks and few tankettes (one tank stuck in creek, and its turret was later utilized as a monument at Kasina Wielka). During the next days, the Company fought day-by-day, losing one tank on 6th September at Trzciana W near Wiśnicz.

On 8 September, during a night march, the company's tanks, being in the rear guard, ran out of fuel and stayed in place near Przyłęk W east of Mielec. This way the 10.BK lost its only "real" tanks. The Brigade commander, Col. Stanisław Maczek, described it this way in his memoirs: "...In my thoughts I'm sending warm thanks to this brave company: for saving the day at Naprawa W, for outstanding participation in the assault at Kasina, for doubling and tripling its presence on the Brigade's eastern flank, for they were supporting the unit's morale just with their presence; for they did not shirk from hardest tasks, telling, that they are only old, training junk".


The 121st Company's Vickers destroyed at Trzciana, 6. 09. 1939.

The company found some fuel at last (reportedly some improvised mixture of kerosene with mentholated spirit), but it was not enough for all tanks, and only 3 tanks arrived to Kolbuszowa W town on 8 September in the evening. Then, the commander of the Cracov Army's armoured forces directed them to move to Nisko W behind the San river. They got assigned there to the 6th Infantry Division to strengthen the soldiers' morale, and finally on 13 September, to the 21st Mountain Division W of the same "Boruta" Operational Group (GO). On 15 September they took part in the combat of Oleszyce W, against German 45th Inf.Div. Among others, they protected the divisional staff. The surrounded 21st Division surrendered on 16 September (its commander Gen. J. Kustroń W fell in a breakthrough trial). One tank was destroyed by artillery near Koziejówka W village, the other two were captured by the Germans[2].

The rest of the 121st Company's tanks found themselves in Kolbuszowa on 9 September, and were used in the town's defence against the 2nd Panzer Division. A heavy fighting lasted all afternoon and evening, both sides suffered losses. The company lost three vehicles, while covering the Polish withdrawal towards the Łęg river (in Dzikowiec W - Raniżów W villages area). It was not the end of the company, though, but it still fought, with the 6th Inf.Div. (of the GO "Boruta"). According to one report, six tanks took part in later battles with the Division, especially during the crossing of the River Tanew W (the Division's attack on Narol W and Bełżec W on 17-18 September). During these battles, Cpt. Rączkowski was injured and commanded from a field car, lying on stretchers. The company had three tanks and about 20 men left at that time[1].


The second unit to use Vickers tanks was the 12th Light Tank Company of the Warsaw Armoured-Motorized Brigade (WBP-M), commanded by Cpt. Czesław Blok. During mobilization, four tanks (the company and troops' commanders) received radio sets.

Abandoned Polish Vickers tank
An abandoned Vickers (behind a turret, an open hatch in air inlet housing is visible).
Abandoned Polish Vickers tank
Another abandoned Vickers E Type B, place or unit unknown.
Destroyed Polish Vickers tank
A Vickers tank destroyed by AT guns, reportedly at Tomaszów Lubelski (a driver was killed).

During August and the first two weeks of September 1939, the Brigade was being organized and trained, and stayed on the right bank of the Vistula. The first combat action, against the German bridgehead over the Vistula near Annopol W, took place on 13 September. It was not fortunate, though. The 12th Company attacked the German positions behind Księżomierz W village, towards Annopol-Kraśnik road, too fast, without infantry support, taking all the German fire, and losing two tanks, hit by AT guns from the 4th Light Division. Withdrawing tanks were taken as the enemy and shot at by the Polish infantry (with some wounded only). During the next days, the Polish units were in permanent retreat. The tanks were breaking down and six had to be left behind. There was a problem with finding a fuel as well. On 17 September two tanks were supporting a motorcycle platoon, ordered to capture the road in Krasnobród W town. The Polish unit encountered two armoured cars there (probably from the 4th Light Division), and both were destroyed by Vickers tanks[1].

The last battle - and the second biggest tank battle in 1939 campaign, was the battle of Tomaszów Lubelski W. The Brigade, with other Polish units, tried to break through to Lviv (the WBP-M absorbed numerous Polish units on the way, including 7TP tanks from the 1st Light Tank Battalion and many tankettes from two or three units). The town and nearby villages were held by the German 11th Motor Rifle Rgt, a tank company of the 33rd Battalion (the 4th Light Div), and the elements of the 2nd Panzer Division, coming to the town. The first assault took place on 18 September in the morning. Eight remaining Vickers tanks, along with tankettes of the 11th Company, supported the attack of the motorized 1st Mounted Rifle Regiment, from the north-west of the town (other Polish units were attacking from the west). Despite heavy fighting, the attack failed. Four Vickers tanks (and 8 tankettes) were lost. After dark, the Polish forces attacked once again. After fierce fighting, the Polish achieved minimal success, but only one Vickers was left. On the next day, the Poles, supported by the last Vickers and seven 7TP tanks, attempted the night assault once again. It failed, and only one 7TP survived. The Brigade capitulated on 20 September, after the last breakthrough attempt.


The remaining 3-4 twin-turret training tanks, that were not included into the 12th Company, were gathered in the 3rd Armoured Weapons Reserve Centre (OZ 3), formed in Żurawica. On 17 September, Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union from the east. On the way south towards the Hungarian border (towards the Dnestr W crossing at Nyzhniv), two Vickers tanks and three tankettes were destroyed on 18 September 1939 by invading Soviet tanks near Dobrovody, north of Monastyryska W (probably from the 4th Tank Brigade, 25th Tank Corps)[note 2]. The rest were probably abandoned earlier due to technical reasons. According to one report, one more twin-turret Vickers from the CWBrPanc went to the 1st Reserve Centre, and then improvised so-called 5th Armoured Battalion. It was reportedly destroyed by the Soviet tanks, on 19 September near Monastyryska[note 3].

All damaged, destroyed or broken down Vickers tanks were captured by the Germans and Soviets, but were not used by them (the Soviets took also several tanks from a battlefield at Tomaszów Lubelski, including some German machines).

See miscellaneous photos of Polish Vickers tanks in the gallery.



Camouflage:

Polish Vickers Mark E in an old camouflage scheme.
↑↓ Two Vickers tanks, unmodified and modified one, wearing the "Japanese-style" camouflage, on parade in Warsaw, 11 November 1934. Behind the upper one, a Polski FIAT PF-621L standard Army 2.5t truck can be seen. [↑3]
Polish Vickers mark E in an old camouflage scheme.

The tanks in the Polish service were first camouflaged in early camouflage, consisting of relatively small patches, probably 4-colour, separated with thin dark stripes (see on a photo of a twin-turret tank at the top of the page). It was probably a Polish camouflage pattern of 1928, consisting of patches in dark brown, dark green, blue-gray and light yellowish gray (there is a possibility, that it was a factory camouflage).

In late 1932, a Polish standard three-colour camouflage scheme was introduced, commonly called in Poland the "Japanese-style" one (photos suggest, that it was used on Vickers tanks from 1934). It consisted of big irregular patches, separated with black stripes. There are however doubts as for the colors used, with original documents lacking. Traditional publications commonly quote bright yellowish sand, dark green and dark brown, what seems in accordance with photos. According to the newest research of tankette parts, however, it probably consisted of yellowish sand, olive green and light blue-gray; blue-gray being the lightest shade. (read more on tankettes page). The interior was blue-gray, inner surfaces of hatches were camouflaged.

Polish Vickers Mk.E in earlierst camouflage (Thierry vallet)
Polish Vickers E Type A in the earliest 4-colour camouflage, 1932-1933.
Copyright © Thierry Vallet - Kameleon Profils - courtesy by the author.


Since 1936-37, all tanks were repainted in a final standard camouflage scheme, of irregular patches of greyish sand and dark brown airbrushed over a base color of olive-green. The patches had soft transitions, their shapes were mainly oblong and horizontal. There was not any standard pattern of patches. Transitions between colours are often inconspicuous on black and white photos. An interior was painted sand, including hatches.

Polish Vickers Mk.E in late camouflage (Thierry vallet)Polish Vickers E Type B in the standard final camouflage, in 1937-1939.

Copyright © Thierry Vallet - Kameleon Profils - courtesy by the author.
Polish Vickers Mk.E twin-turret (Adam Jońca) Polish Vickers Mk.E single-turret (Adam Jońca)Polish Vickers E tanks twin- and single-turret, in a standard 1937 camouflage.

Drawings - Adam Jońca, [3] (note: these drawings are rather old and may not represent camouflage accurately)

From the early 1930s until 1939, the Polish armoured vehicles, including Vickers tanks, carried no nationality signs in any form. In September 1939, the tanks generally carried no insignia at all, since usage of any insignia in case of war was forbiden by the regulation from 1938. Before the war, there were used tactical signs of metal sheet attached for training purpose - discs (the 1st platoon), triangles (the 2nd) or squares (the 3rd). The signs were white with a vertical red stripe for a platoon commander, or with a small red disc, triangle or square inside for the 2nd in command. Also, the tanks taking part in Zaolzie operation in 1938, had tactical signs of colour stripes (examples are on photos), and also some (probably unit's) insignia on turrets, like a dog, or a (probably) dancing elephant.

The tanks' numbers (from a range 1354-1361 and 1462-1491) were painted on the front and rear plates, only until 1937 (later, registration plates with new numbers, were carried inside).


Specifications:

The technical specifications are in Part I.


Models of Vickers Mk.E:

Models of the Polish variant of Vickers Mk.E light tanks (other Vickers Mk.E models are described in part II). The models present tanks with air intakes, in 1939 configuration, unless noted otherwise. Most of kits have incorrect names. You can share your comments on the models.

1/72:
- Modelkrak (Mkt 7212) - "Vickers-Armstrong-Ursus (1 turret)" or "VAU jw" (wrong name!)
- Modelkrak (Mkt 7213) - "Vickers-Armstrong-Ursus (twin-turret)" or "VAU dw" (wrong name!)
Polish producer. Very fine resin models of Polish Vickers Mk.E, both variants. Good detail, high quality resin and white metal for tracks and suspension.

- Mirage
New, excellent plastic kits of the Polish producer, with many fine details, soft tracks. Available among others here. See a preview On The Way
- Mirage (72604) - "Vickers E Mk.B" (incorrect name)
Polish Vickers Mk.E single-turret. It can be completed with or without air intakes.
- Mirage (72603) - "Vickers E Mk.A" (incorrect name)
Polish Vickers Mk.E twin-turret in a configuration from 1932-34 years only! (wz.25 MGs and lack of air intakes - for some unknown reason, they didn't decide to produce most useful variant, nor even make it a separately sold option... You must buy Vickers E Mk.B kit for air intakes and 7TP twin-turret kit for wz.30 TMGs instead, or scratchbuild them).
1/76:
- EXO KIT (7601) - "Vickers Armstrong Ursus 33 twin turret" (wrong name!)
- EXO KIT (7602) - "Vickers Armstrong Ursus 33 one turret" (wrong name!)
EXO KIT simple resin kits of the Vickers E in 1939 configuration. One-part hull, one-part tracks on each side, turrets, armament, three tankers.
- Ostmodels (P4) - "VAU33jw" - Vickers single turret (wrong name)
- Ostmodels (P5) - "VAU33dw" - Vickers twin turret (wrong name)
Resin models, I don't know them.
- Milicast - Vickers Mk.E Model A (twin turret)
Resin model - it isn't in stock now, I don't know this kit.
- [20mm] BPcast (PL101) - Vickers tank
Seems to be simple model for wargamers
1/35:
- Mirage
Polish producer. Injection kits, basing partially on old forms of 7TP kit. Medium quality, mediocre accuracy, no interior, awful vinyl tracks.
- Mirage (35304) - "Vickers E Mk.B" (incorrect name)
Polish Vickers Mk.E twin-turret - configuration from 1932-34 years only (wz.25 MG's and lack of air intakes).
- Mirage (35304) - "Vickers E Mk.B" (incorrect name)
Polish Vickers Mk.E single-turret. It can be completed with or without air intakes.
 
- RPM (35071) - "Vickers E Mk.A" (incorrect name)
Polish Vickers Mk.E twin-turret. New model, quite good quality and accuracy. Configuration from 1932-34 only, without air intakes. It has both wz.25 and wz.30 MG's. Wanting to make a tank from 1939, a modeller must scratchbuild air intakes. It also contains totally fictious decals for alleged Finnish version.
- RPM (35901) - separate track links for 7TP, T-26 and Vickers - this kit is a must for the ones above.


A gallery of Polish Vickers tanks

Part I: Vickers Mk.E tank - history and construction

Part II: Vickers Mk.E tank - international service


Notes:
1. Drawing - Janusz Magnuski (J. Magnuski: "Prezentuj broń!: oręż żołnierza polskiego 1939-1972", Warsaw 1974), improved by PIBWL.
2. Skirmish place at Dobrovody and losses according to source [2]. The Soviet 4th Tank Brigade claimed to take part in some skirmish at Dobrovody and capture one tankette (Janusz Magnuski, Maksym Kołomijec "Czerwony blitzkrieg", Pelta 1994, Warsaw). Source [2] indicated the 5th Tank Brigade.
3. Report on a Vickers from the CWBrPanc is from source [1], which claims it was destroyed by the Soviet 23rd Tank Brigade tanks near Monastyryska on 19 September. However, the 23rd Brigade operated some 50 km south. Also a place may be incorrectly given. There is no confimation in [2].


Sources:
1. Janusz Magnuski: "Angielski lekki czołg Vickers Mark E w polskiej służbie"; Nowa Technika Wojskowa nr. 5 and 6/99.
2. Rajmund Szubański: "Polska broń pancerna 1939"; Warsaw 1989
3. A. Jońca, R. Szubański, J. Tarczyński: "Wrzesień 1939 - Pojazdy Wojska Polskiego - Barwa i broń"; WKŁ; Warszawa 1990.
4. Jan Tarczyński, K. Barbarski, A. Jońca: "Pojazdy w Wojsku Polskim - Polish Army Vehicles - 1918-1939"; Ajaks; Pruszków 1995.
5. Rafał Białkowski: "Pancerna afera, czyli... czego nie wiemy o czołgu Vickers E w Polsce" (and Piotr Mruk: "Czołg lekki Vickers 6-ton Mark E w dokumentach Centralnego Archiwum Wojskowego"); Do Broni special issue 2/2009.


History:
10. 02. 2010 - small amendments
18. 01. 2010 - major update, corrected number of tanks bought, added and improved photos
24. 06. 2003 - updated


Our thanks to Chris Amundson for a language assistance.


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Text copyright © Michal Derela, 2003-2010.