A British observers at the Soviet Army maneuvers in 1936 were impressed by the fast BT tanks seen for the first time. As the BT was a modification of an American design by J. Walter Christie, Morris Motors sent a representative to the USA who then purchased a tank, later designated the A13E1, and negotiated the rights to use Christie designs. Power was provided by a light weight 340 bhp Liberty V12 petrol engine also obtained from the USA. Armour was 6-14mm and the battle weight was 14 tons, maximum speed was governed to 50 km/h.
By 1938 the A13 Mk.I or Cruiser Tank Mk. III, was ready for production, and Morris Motors set up a new munitions company called Nuffield Mechanizations & Aero to produce it, An order was placed for 65 tanks which was completed in July 1939. A few of the earlier A13 Mk.I tanks were re-worked to Mk.II standard . The 1st Armoured Division was hastily prepared for deployment to France in the Spring of 1940. Many of its tanks, including its A13's were not ready for combat and had little ammunition, however they were shipped to France regardless of their condition. Unfortunately by the time the tanks reached France, the German Blitzkrieg was already underway . The division put up what resistance it could, but only weeks later the tanks were abandoned in the general retreat. A few were later pressed into service by the Germans and used on the Eastern Front.
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