Trucks & Heavy Equipment | 6 October 2015Tanks: WWI Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Tanks were an essential in the first World War, as they were used to break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front. The following pictures and their descriptions on tanks in WWI are excerpted from Michael E. Haskew‘s book Tank: 100 Years of the World’s Most Important Armored Military Vehicle. World War I A British Mark IV tank negotiates a deep trench on the Western Front. Note the transverse beam, used to help extricate the vehicle from shell holes and other obstacles on the battlefield. The Mark IV was introduced in 1917 with the “male” variant carrying shortened six-pounder guns mounted in collapsible sponsons. It became the primary British tank of World War I. National Army Museum, London/Bridgeman Images “Little Willie” was a prototype tank developed by the Royal Navy in 1916. It required a crew of six and had a top speed of two miles per hour, but its performance was promising enough to warrant a larger prototype. Notice the trailing wheels to aid steering. Zenith Press collection An officer in the British Army’s Royal Engineers, Lt. Col. Ernest Swinton recommended the purchase of a number of Holt tractors as haulers and prime movers for the troops in France during World War I. Later, he advocated the development of an armored vehicle on a tractor chassis and became responsible for the genesis of the tank in the British Army. National Archives This photograph of the SaintChamond heavy tank reveals one of its shortcomings: a forward section that extended well ahead of the chassis and made cross-country movement challenging. Although its main armament, a modified version of the highly successful French 75mm field artillery piece, was an outstanding weapon, the platform suffered numerous shortcomings. Jacques Moreau/ Archives Larousse, Paris/Bridgeman Images This forward view of a French SaintChamond tank at the front near Breteuil, France, in 1918, reveals the steel beam that was used to break through barbed wire obstacles to clear the way for supporting infantrymen. The Saint-Chamond had a distinctive boat-like bow configuration; however, its movement across the battlefield was sluggish. National Archives The first Schneider CA 1 tanks arrived at the end of 1916. The long, box-like craft’s most glaring deficiency was its short tracks, which were overwhelmed by the tank’s mass and easily mired on inclines. Windmill/Robert Hunt Library/UIG/Bridgeman Images This World War I recruiting poster encourages young American men to join the fledgling Tank Corps. Artist August William Hutaf created the striking artwork that depicts an angry black cat, with claws and teeth bared, leaping above a furious armored battle. Library of Congress Tank: 100 Years of the World’s Most Important Armored Military Vehicle Author: Michael E. Haskew Explore the 100-year evolution of the tank and its role on the battlefield, from World War I to today’s armored fighting vehicles. From the Greek phalanx to Roman siege engines, plans by Leonardo da Vinci, and the wondrous imagination of H. G. Wells, the idea of the armored fighting vehicle–the tank–has crossed centuries and given rise to the technologically advanced land warfare systems that populate the armies of countries large and small today. First appearing during World War I as unwieldy boxes mounted on tractor chassis and prone to mechanical failure, tank designs evolved into sleek weapons with the now-classic characteristics of speed, mobility, and firepower. During the 1920s, American Maj. Gen. Adna Chaffee Jr., correctly predicted that mechanized armies would win the land battles of the future. Young US Army officers such as Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Patton risked their careers to champion the development of armored divisions. Modern tanks perform in both offensive and defensive roles, capable of exploiting breaches in enemy defenses and rapidly slashing into rear areas, disrupting communications, supply, and command and control. In Tank: 100 Years of the World’s Most Important Armored Military Vehicle, noted military historian Michael E. Haskew is your guide to the complete 100-year history of these unparalleled machines. He starts with the development of early tanks, moves on to the uses of tanks in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, and covers the modern armored fighting vehicles in use during the Gulf Wars and in conflicts right up to today. Buy from an Online Retailer In North America: In The UK: Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.