At the start of WWII, Vickers Mk.VI series tanks were the primary tank of the British Army. Like most pre-war designs, the Vickers Mk.VI was lightly armored and armed with only machine guns – much like its direct German adversary, the Panzer 1.
As a result, combat operations soon proved disastrous against equally fast and far better armed German tanks like the Panzer II and the Czech-built Panzer 38(t). In 1940, of the 400 Vickers VI tanks sent in support of French forces against the German invasion, only 6 made it out of France. However, in North Africa, the Vickers VIs had a better showing. In 1940, during “Operation Compass” against Italian forces in Egypt, 200 Mk.VIs formed the backbone of the British armor, together with 75 Cruisers and 45 Matildas that drove Mussolini’s forces back to the northern tip of Libya.
The Vickers Mk.VI served with the British Army during the Battle of France, North Africa, and in the Far east. The Vickers Mk.VI at the American Heritage Museum is the only one on public display in the United States. It is on display across from the Panzer 1 tank in the War Clouds exhibit.