Alecto self-propelled gun

The Alecto was a self-propelled gun based on the chassis of the Light Tank Mk VIII 'Harry Hopkins'.

The Harry Hopkins was an improved version of the Light Tank Mk VII 'Tetrarch', the last British designed light tank to see combat. By the time the Harry Hopkins itself had entered production, there was no demand for light tanks, and most went straight into storage.

In April 1942 the General Staff issued a requirement for an air portable self-propelled gun based on the Harry Hopkins (and originally named the Harry Hopkins ICS). Vickers was given the task of developing the new vehicle, but work was delayed by the inability of the War Office to decide how the new vehicle would be used.

When it did appear, the Alecto I used the chassis, machinery and most of the superstructure of the Harry Hopkins. The turret was removed and the superstructure modified to allow space for a 95mm howitzer to be carried in the front of the hull. The resulting vehicle was light, fast and had a low profile. The gun could traverse for 30 degrees to either side, and the vehicle carried 48 rounds of ammo.

The Alecto II was similar, but carried a 6-pounder gun in place of the howitzer. Both versions were two feet lower than the Harry Hopkins, giving them a height of only 4ft 10.5in and a very low profile.

Pilots and development vehicles were built of both the Alecto I and Alecto II, but the project was cancelled at the end of the war.

A small number of Alecto Is were completed, and they equipped the heavy companies of at least one armoured car regiment operating in the Middle East just after the end of the war.

There were also plans for an Alecto III, armed with a 25-pounder howitzer and the Alecton IV with a 32-pounder, but neither got beyond the design stage.

In 1945 a small number of Harry Hopkins chassis were converted into Alecto Dozers. These had the turret removed and hydraulically operated dozer blades installed in place of the hull mounted gun. 

Vickers attempted to sell the Alecto abroad after the Second World War, and an advert for the vehicle appeared in a Swiss military magazine as late as 1948. One Alecto survived until 1955, and was used as a general towing vehicle by artillery units operating on Salisbury Plain.

Stats
Production: Prototypes and development only
Hull Length: 14ft
Hull Width: 8ft 10.5in
Height: 4ft 10.5in
Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, driver, loader)
Engine: Meadows 12 cylinder 148hp
Max Speed: 30mph (road), 20mph (cross-country)
Max Range: 125 miles road radius
Armament: 95mm howitzer or 6pdr gun

Armour: 6mm min, 38mm max

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 June 2017), Alecto self-propelled gun, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_alecto_self_propelled_gun.html

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