Right at the outbreak of the Second World War, British high command issued an order for a new infantry tank design that would replace the outdated Matilda and Valentine tanks. At the time, it was expected that the new conflict would turn into a trench war, just like WW1, thus emphasis was put on thick armor and good firepower at the cost of speed. After initial struggles, the first prototype of the tank, that would later be designated as the Churchill Mk I, was built in late 1940 and was hastily rushed into production in 1941.
However, as the vehicle was hasted into production, proper testing and evaluation could not be done, leading to the first version of the Churchill being plagued by various issues such as lack of engine power, reliability issues and inadequate firepower. Nevertheless, the tank had to be accepted in an “as-is” state as the British military had a shortage of armored vehicles after retreating from France in 1940.
A total of 303 Churchill Mk I infantry tanks were produced in 1941. However, nearly all were later on converted to special versions and trainer vehicles.