One of the best-known infantry tanks was the Matilda II of World War II. Other examples include the French R-35, the British Valentine, and the British Churchill.
In 1942 the General Staff agreed on investigating self-propelled mountings of the 6-pounder, 17-pounder, 3-inch 20cwt guns and the 25-pounder field gun/howitzer on the Matilda II, Valentine, Crusader and Cruiser Mark VII tank chassis.
The design began as the A12 specification in 1936, as a gun-armed counterpart to the first British infantry tank, the machine gun armed, two-man A11 Infantry Tank Mark I. The Mark I was also known as Matilda, and the larger A12 was initially known as the Matilda II or Matilda senior.
With its heavy armour, the Matilda II was an excellent infantry support tank but with somewhat limited speed and armament.
When war was recognised as imminent, production of the Matilda II was ordered and that of the Matilda I curtailed.
One of the most serious weaknesses of the Matilda II was the lack of a high-explosive round for its main gun.
The Matilda II had a conventional layout, with the driver's compartment located at the front of the tank's hull, the fighting compartment with the turret in the centre and the engine and transmission housed in the rear.
Initially specified before the outbreak of the Second World War, the (General Staff designation) A20 was to be the replacement for the Matilda II and Valentine infantry tanks.