WW2 Argentinian Armor

Tanque Liviano Vickers

Argentina (1938-1952)
Light Tank – 12 Operated


During the late 1920s, Vickers developed a series of export tanks which found success worldwide, beginning with the Vickers 6-ton or Vickers Mk.E light tank, and the Vickers Mk.C and D medium tanks. In 1933, Vickers offered a new model of a cheaper, machine gun-armed vehicle, known as Vickers 4-ton, Vickers-Carden-Loyd, or Vickers “Commercial” light tank, which saw use with Argentina, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belgium, Switzerland, China, and the Dutch East Indies.


Vickers Development

Various variants of the original tank were developed. The first model was the Vickers-Carden-Loyd mod. 1933, which was similar to the A.4E4 Light Tank Mk.I prototype. It featured a cylindrical machine gun-armed turret, a leaf spring suspension with two bogies, and unlike its earlier counterpart, a sloped, relatively well armored glacis.

The Vickers-Carden-Loyd mod. 1934 tank was a modification of the earlier 1933 model, with the main difference being the change in suspension type from leaf springs to coil springs, also known as Horstmann suspension. Argentina was one of two users of this type of model, the other being Switzerland, which also obtained a small batch of five mod. 1934 and one mod. 1933 tanks.

Colorized photo of a soldier next to a Vickers mod. 1938. Source: Colorization by Smaragd123.

Later, two other models were developed, the mod. 1936, which replaced the cylindrical turret with a hexagonal design, and the mod. 1937, which featured the same hexagonal turret with an export Vickers 40 mm gun. Belgium had a different variant of the mod. 1934, the T.15, which featured a conical turret armed with a heavy Hotchkiss M1929 machine gun.

Vickers Goes to Argentina

In 1935, the Ejército Argentino [Eng. Argentine Army] planned a series of military drills for October, which involved a motorized battalion, 30 trucks, 18 motorcycles, and an artillery battery. Due to good performances during the drills, on April 8th 1937, during the presidency of Agustín P. Justo, 12 Vickers-Carden-Loyd mod. 1934 tanks were purchased from Vickers.

With 6 Vickers-Crossley and 12 indigenous HAFDASA Criollo armored cars, and possibly a single Fiat 3000, Argentina had some experience with AFVs during the interwar era. However the Vickers light tanks were a new type of fast, tracked armored vehicle, which Argentina had never used before.

The first six tanks arrived on May 25th 1938, while the remaining vehicles arrived June 7th on board the merchant ship Avelona Star, along with Schneider mod. 1928 105 mm, Bofors mod. 1936 75 mm, Oerlikon 20 mm, Skoda 76.2 mm cannons, and Chevrolet and Volvo trucks. The tanks’ serial numbers ranged from ‘V.A.E. 1991’ to ‘V.A.E. 2002’.

The twelve ordered Vickers light tanks together. Source:


The light tanks, like most Argentine equipment, have been known by various names throughout their service life. According to the official military technical manual, they were called Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd [Eng. Vickers-Carden-Loyd Light Tank]. They were also named Tanque Liviano Vickers Modelo Argentino 1938 [Eng. Vickers Light Tank Argentine Model 1938] in the Revista del Suboficial [Eng. NCO’s Magazine], after the year they entered service. For simplicity’s sake, the designation “Vickers mod. 1938” will be used in the article, which is a common pattern for Argentine AFV designations.


Exterior and Interior

The Vickers mod. 1938 was a small light tank with two crewmembers, a driver and a gunner. From the front, it had a very sloped, thin glacis, interrupted by a square hatch for the driver’s position. It had two front headlights on either side of the tank, and the exhaust mounted on the right fender. The driver sat offset to the right, had a single vision device at the front, and two vision ports on each of his sides. To his left, a grill allowed air to enter the tank. It weighed 3.81 tonnes.

Full page front picture of the Vickers mod. 1938 N°2. Source: Colorization by Smaragd123.

The tank had a cylindrical, 86 cm tall turret with a machine gun mounted in a round external mantlet, with a semi-circular hatch for the commander at the rear of the roof. The commander had two vision slits at the rear, and one at the front. Ammunition for his machine gun was stowed to his left, behind the driver.

The tank was painted in the same standard dark olive green color as all Interwar British light tanks. Initially, an Argentine cockade was painted on both of the turret’s sides, but it was later reduced in size, with Ejército Argentino written above, and below Agrupación de Arsenales [Eng. Arsenal Group], in a circumference around the cockade. A yellow circle with a black number located on the lower right upper glacis and the rear of the turret identified each vehicle.

The interior of the Vickers with the driver’s hatch and front grill open. The ammunition bins and the engine can be seen. Source: “Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd”

Both Switzerland and Argentina purchased mod. 1934 light tanks. However, these variants were not the same. At first, the Swiss vehicles were only different by the machine gun’s mounting. While Argentine tanks mounted it offset to the right of the center of the turret, Swiss tanks mounted it offset to the left. However, the Swiss vehicles were gradually modified with a ball mounting for the machine gun, side skirts, a new machine gun, and a hemispherical cupola, while Argentine vehicles remained unchanged. Interestingly, even though the Argentine vehicles were in service slightly longer than the Swiss, they never received any upgrades.

Schematic of the Argentine Vickers mod. 1938. Source: “Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd”
The Swiss Vickers mod. 1934, also known in service as the Panzerwagen 35. Note the difference in the mounting of the machine gun, as well as the side skirts. Source: Jakob Näf.

Armament and Ammunition

The Vickers mod. 1938 used the Vickers Class C/T medium machine gun, manufactured by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd. The model was common to most Vickers export tanks, however, the Argentine version was chambered in 7.65×53 mm, the round used in most Argentine rifles and machine guns of the time. It weighed 20.8 kg fully loaded, had a cyclic rate of fire of 550 to 600 rounds per minute, was fed by 250 round belts, and likely fired at a muzzle velocity close to the regular .303 model, which was around 750 m/s. Rounds were produced by the Fábrica Argentina Militar de Municiones de Armas Portátiles (FAMMAP) [Eng. Argentine Military Munitions Factory for Handheld Weapons] , and contracted to other countries, such as Belgium, for military use.

The Vickers C/T was water cooled and housed in an armored sleeve. Ejection was towards the front of the turret, and out of the vehicle. The cylindrical mantlet gave it 10° of elevation and 37.5° of depression. Its barrel was shorter compared to regular Vickers machine guns, and could be changed from within the tank. It included a conventional pistol grip, leather pads on the receiver for the gunner to rest his head on, and a large leather stock to control the weapon.

The Vickers Class C/T. Source:
Internal view of the gun. Source: “Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd”
Vickers Class C/T (7.65×53 mm)
Projectile and Type Velocity Weight Filler Fuze Penetration (100 m at 30°)
Normal (Ball) ~745 m/s Unknown None None Unknown
Cartucho perforante (AP) ~745 m/s Unknown None None Unknown
Luminosa perforante (AP-T) ~745 m/s Unknown Unknown None Unknown
Trazante luminosa (Tracer) ~745 m/s Unknown Unknown None Unknown
Trazante humosa (IT) ~745 m/s Unknown Unknown None Unknown
Reglaje-observación explosivo (HE) ~745 m/s Unknown Unknown None Unknown
From top to bottom: ball, armor piercing, armor piercing tracer, tracer, incendiary, incendiary tracer, and high explosive, respectively. Some of these cartridges were not made in Argentina. Source:

The gun was traversed manually, and it was linked to the optics. According to the Argentine manual, the optics had variable zoom with two magnifications of unknown power and a field of view of 17°. They also had padding, allowing the gunner to rest his head against the receiver, while leaning close to the optics for a good sight picture. The crew carried a device to reload the ammunition belts.

Internal view of the turret. The optics and traverse mechanism are visible. Source: “Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd”


The tank used riveted armor, classified by the British as C.T.A. bulletproof plates. It had a front glacis with a thickness of 9 mm at an angle of 70° from the vertical, giving it a line of sight thickness of around 25 mm of armor. The driver’s hatch had equal protection, with 9 mm of armor, while the lower glacis had 6 mm. The sides were 7 mm thick and the rear was 6 mm thick. The top and bottom of the hull had 4 mm of armor.

The turret had an all-around thickness of 9 mm. The roof and hatches were 4 mm thick. The driver’s vision port and the commander’s port were protected by bulletproof glass. Despite the weak armor, South America’s lack of heavy weaponry would have made the tank somewhat capable of withstanding fire from light machine guns, tankettes, and most other light tanks of Argentina’s neighboring countries. In its technical manual, the Argentine Army rated the armor as resistant to machine gun fire up to 300 m.


The gasoline engine was a Meadows Type E.P.T., which officially, according to the technical manual, delivered 50 hp at 2,800 rpm, and was mounted offset to the right of the driver. It gave the light tank a top speed of 48 km/h, and an average of 30 km/h. At an average speed of 20 km/h, the operational range was 140 km. It had a power to weight ratio of 13.12 hp/tonne. It consumed 0.74 l/km of fuel.

The actual specifications of the engine are not clear. While Argentine sources provide a figure of 50 hp, British sources give anywhere from 55 to 88 hp. Swiss sources say that the engine had 80 hp. It is not clear whether these are different versions of the same engine, if the other engines were uprated, the Argentine tank had a weaker export version, the Argentine version was derated, or they were not the same engine at all. As the Vickers mod. 1938 manual states, it had an output of 50 hp, which will be the value used in the rest of the article.

The driver’s position. Source: “Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd”

The mechanical transmission was mounted at the front, with five forward and one reverse gears. The top speed for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth gears were of 5 km/h, 12 km/h, 22 km/h, 35 km/h, and 48 km/h, respectively. Cooling was provided by a tube type radiator, which was behind the engine, and along with the rest of the refrigeration system, had a capacity of 16 l of water. Fuel capacity was 104 l, with the cap on the tank’s rear glacis.

It used a Horstmann suspension, with two bogies, two return rollers, a 40-tooth sprocket, and an idler for each side. Tracks were 24.13 cm wide, and 2 m long, with good ground pressure on soft terrain and a turning radius of 3.60 m. The Vickers could climb inclines of up to 25°, wade creeks 0.65 m deep, and cross trenches 1.5 m wide.


Upon their arrival in 1938, the 12 Vickers tanks were sent to Arsenales Esteban de Luca [Eng. Esteban de Luca Arsenal], located in the Constitución neighborhood of Buenos Aires, under the Batallón Motorizado [Eng. Motorized Battalion], which was comprised of personnel from the Escuela de Infantería [Eng. Infantry School]. They formed part of the Comando de Arsenales.

To standardize the maintenance of the tanks, President Roberto Marcelino Ortiz signed a decree to create a regulatory technical manual for the Vickers mod. 1938 on October 6th 1939. In 1940, 1,500 copies of the Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd were made, and at least one has survived to this day.

Vickers mod. 1938 tanks during the July 9th parade. Source:

The tanks were involved in various parades and tests, the most notable of which was their first, the July 9th 1938 parade, where all of them were showcased at the end in four lines of three tanks each. The Vickers were shown off as part of the Compañia de Tanques [Eng. Tank Company] under Captain José Segundo M. Salinas, along with some HAFDASA armored cars. Then, they were trialed at Entre Ríos, testing their performance in rough terrain. The tanks could wade small creeks up to 1.2 m in depth and did not sink in soft terrain. It was noted however, that despite their good mobility, their armor and armament were lacking, and cooling was insufficient. At 5:30 AM, the tanks had a minimum temperature of 25°, and at 13:30, a maximum of 32° was registered. Captain Salinas recognized their value as reconnaissance vehicles for the Cavalry.

Their service after the trials is a bit more confusing. At first, in 1943, the tanks were organized in the Compañía de Tanques Livianos [Eng. Light Tank Company] and were under the Destacamento de Exploración de la 6ᵃ División [Eng. 6th Division Reconnaissance Detachment]. Some sources claim that the Vickers were distributed among the regimientos de infantería [Eng. infantry regiments] 1, 2, and 3. Other sources, however, say that six Vickers, the Crossley armored cars, and the HAFDASA armored cars were assigned to a company in the Dirección General de Materiales del Ejército (DGME) [Eng. General Directory of Army Materiel], while the other Vickers vehicles were in the Sección de Exploración de la Escuela de Infantería [Eng. Infantry School’s Reconnaissance Section].

Light tank N°3 with its crew. Source:

The light tanks saw service in the Compañía de Tanques Livianos until 1948, when they, along with the Sección de Autos Blindados [Eng. Armored Car Section], which was armed with Vickers Crossley armored cars, and the Compañía de Tanques Medianos [Eng. Medium Tank Company], were absorbed into the Batallón de Tanques [Eng. Tank Battalion]. In 1948, large amounts of European equipment arrived, including 120 Crusader tractors, 360 M4A4 tanks including several Fireflies, 379 half-tracks of various types, and 290 T-16 carriers. These would replace the previous equipment and modernize the Argentine Army. The Vickers were replaced by the various modified Crusader SPGs in Argentine service, in a new reconnaissance unit, the Grupo de Exploración Liviano [Eng. Light Reconnaissance Group].

The Crossley and Vickers vehicles were stored under the Agrupación de Talleres Fábrica General Paz [Eng. General Paz Workshop Group]. In 1950, an army inventory still listed the Vickers tanks, but not the Crossleys. By 1952, neither were mentioned anymore. The Vickers disappeared from Argentine records, presumably sold as scrap, although one was allegedly turned into a playground attraction. The tanks were in service for 14 years, far past their prime.


The tank was a much needed first step towards the serious mechanization in the geographical context of Argentina, as before it, the only vehicles available were old armored cars and possibly a Fiat 3000. Sadly, the tank was obsolescent on arrival. Its armor, speed, and armament were, in a wider context, inadequate, and it was soon relegated to reconnaissance duties. Despite this, it had a relatively long service life, only being phased out once more modern equipment arrived in Argentina.

Despite being a decent vehicle for late 1930s South America, where most AFVs were machine gun armed tankettes, many tanks from neighboring countries would have given the Vickers a hard time. Peru’s Tanque Ligero 38/39M easily outmatched the Vickers mod. 1938, with a decently powerful cannon, more than bulletproof armor, and double the amount of tanks. Bolivia’s Vickers 6-ton tanks, despite being thinly armored, would have been resistant against the Vickers C/T, and were equipped with a cannon which, despite being rather weak, was better than a machine gun for tank on tank combat. Chile and Brazil had obtained M3 light tanks throughout the Second World War, and Chile even had a conversion of a Carden Loyd tankette into a tank destroyer, using a 57 mm M18 recoilless gun.

A group of Vickers mod. 1938 tanks. Source:
Peruvian Tanque Ligero 38/39M (LTP) tanks in 1938. Sadly, even on arrival, the Vickers tanks were outdated and outnumbered. Source: Jaroslav Špitálský via

While all of these tanks would have been a serious threat to the Vickers, the tank was merely a stopgap. Its largest achievement was giving a much needed push for the mechanization of the Argentine Army. Soon after, the Vickers would be joined by the indigenous Nahuel and Yacaré, and imported M4, Crusader Tractor, and T16 tracked vehicles. These AFVs replaced the various armored car models the Army had in service, and soon, the Vickers mod. 1938 themselves.

All that remains of the Vickers today are at least two of the Argentine Class C/T Vickers machine guns, “E.317” which can be seen in a video on the machine gun made by Ian McCollum’s Forgotten Weapons channel, and possibly “E.321” which was sold on Cowan’s auction house. Interestingly, it appears both were outfitted with a Boys anti-tank rifle’s bipod. It is possible that this was a modification done to them after the tanks’ scrapping, as the Vickers machine guns were still useful.

Tanque Liviano Vickers. Illustrated by David Bocquelet

Tanque Liviano Vickers Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 3.62 x 1.89 x 1.88 m (11.88 x 6.20 x 6.17 ft)
Total weight, battle-ready 3.81 tonnes
Crew 2 (driver, commander)
Propulsion Meadows E.P.T ,6 cylinders, 50 hp at 2,800 rpm. (36.77 kW)
Speed Max speed. 48 km/h (29.82 mph)
Average speed: 30 km/h (18.64 mph)
Range 140 km (87 mi)
Power to weight ratio 13.12 hp/tonne
Suspension Horstmann
Transmission gearing 5 forward
1 reverse
Fuel capacity 104 L (27.47 gal)
Ground clearance 0.327 m
Trench crossing capability 1.5 m
Armament Vickers Class C/T 7.65 mm MG
Elevation and traverse 360° manual traverse, -37.5-10° elevation
Optics Two sights of unknown magnification, 17° FOV
Ammunition capacity Unknown
Armor Hull: 9 – 4 mm
Turret: 9 – 4 mm
Communication None
Production 12


Ricardo Jorge S. Fogliani, Blindados Argentinos, de Uruguay y Paraguay.

Ricardo Jorge S. Fogliani, Nahuel DL 43.

R.R.M. 62. Reglamento de Descripción, Conservación, y Dotación del Tanque Liviano Vickers Carden Loyd.

Order No. TD.3577. Vickers.

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