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British tank production, 1934-1945

Coombs, Benjamin (2011) British tank production, 1934-1945. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86489) (KAR id:86489)


This thesis examines the governmental, industrial and strategic factors that influenced British tank production from 1934 until 1945 against the wider context of the British war economy arid the tank programmes of Canada and the United States. The changing organisational structure of controlling the British tank programme has been reviewed alongside the mutual considerations of war planning for the armed forces generally. A central theme of this research has been to provide a history of war production by highlighting the specific demands placed upon individual firms against the different pressures of war, such as the threat and effects of bombing and shortages of skilled labour and components. This study has shown that the priority for aircraft production, together with the immediate requirement to provide large numbers of tanks to the army during the first half of the war, meant that the initial problems associated with British tank design were unavoidable. The transformation from quantity to quality tank output during the second half of the war was achieved by the introduction of new tank designs, improvements in assembly efficiency, and by accepting greater numbers of Lend-Lease tanks to supplement General Staff requirements. This reliance upon American armour originated from the first orders during 1940 until the end of the war, although British over dependency was demonstrated when both nations contracted their respective tank programmes prematurely during 1944. The Canadian tank programme greatly assisted British efforts to supply the Russian authorities with the preferred Valentine tank, which was necessary to achieve their operational doctrine of standardised equipment. Finally, the post-war British tank programme inirrored the pre-war arrangement of Vickers-Armstrongs and the new state controlled Royal Tank Arsenal, whilst the civilian tank firms transferred to their core industries to supply the re-emerging peacetime markets.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Connelly, Mark L.
Thesis advisor: Bowman, Timothy
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86489
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:54 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 16:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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