The British Matilda tank was acquired by the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease program, and a range of issues was discovered in the first batches, including a very weak tank gun. Soviet engineers resolved to equip this “capricious” English tank with something better.
The Soviet Union began receiving the first batches of Matilda infantry tanks under Lend-Lease as early as 1941. The tanks proved themselves to be highly demanding and “capricious,” but the main problem was the lack of high-explosive fragmentation shells, as well as the paltry caliber of the tank guns. The solution was obvious – the Soviets would have to fit the Matilda with new armaments. To do this, they selected the promising 76 mm ZiS-5 gun, which was soon to become the standard for the Soviet KV-1 heavy tanks, replacing the outdated F-32 guns. The experiment required both the Soviet tank gun and the British tank’s turret to be modified – the armor of the gun mantlet and recoil mechanism was changed, and the modified tank gun was given the designation F-96.
Despite positive results in testing, the Matilda tanks were never modernized en masse. First of all, this was due to the shortage of tank guns – all of the ZiS-5s were used for the KV-1 tanks. Secondly, it was because in the spring of 1942, the British began supplying Matildas with a 76 mm howitzer, which already came with HEF shells, so refitting the earlier batches became a less pressing issue.
For more information, read the full Dev Blog article on the Official War Thunder Forums![forum.warthunder.com]