Introduction - WW1 TanksBy 1916 the military leaders of World War One were frustrated with the stalemate the war had turned in to. Both sides were dug into trenches unable to attack the enemy without suffering horrific losses before retreating back to their own lines. These leaders searched for new weapons that would be able to cross "no-mans land" and punch a hole in the enemy positions. In September of 1916 the British army introduced a weapon which they hoped would do just that. The tank made its battlefield debut on September 15, 1916. What did this weapon look like and where it was first used are all answered in the list of interesting kid-friendly information below.
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Facts about the World War One Tanks First Use
- The tank was first used by the British on September 15, 1916 at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which was part of the Battle of the Somme in hopes that it would enable them to break through the German lines.
- The first tanks used in combat were the British Mark I they had the following characteristics:
- These weapons weighed 28 tons (25,401 kilograms).
- The total length of these tanks was ten meters (32.8 feet).
- These vehicles were equipped with a six cylinder petrol engine.
- These tanks had a crew of eight; four soldiers to control the vehicle and four gunners.
- The armament varied but involved a combination of 6 pounder (57 mm gun) artillery guns and machine guns located on both sides.
- Steering these tanks was extremely difficult. Four crew men had to coordinate actions in an extremely noisy environment which made communication nearly impossible.
- Of the forty nine tanks brought to the Battle of Flers-Courcelette only a few participated in the battle. The others suffered mechanical problems.
- The tanks did help the British take the towns of Flers and Courcelette however the British were not able to continue their momentum. Many of the tanks had mechanical problems.
- These first tanks were extremely slow and crawled along at about 3 miles per hour (4.83 Kilometers per Hour). This lack of speed was a major factor for this new weapons ineffectiveness at the Battle of the Somme.
- The crew of these early WW1 tanks had to endure being locked in a small area that was very hot, dusty, and filled with gas fumes.
Interesting World War One Tank Facts
- Inventors of the tank got their inspiration from farming vehicles that used caterpillar tracks to travel over rough terrain.
- The first tank ever invented was called "Little Willie". Built by the British in 1915 it was never used in combat.
- Germany deployed only twenty one tanks during WW1 compared to the English and French who produced well over 7,000 tanks.
- The first ever tank battle occurred at the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux towards the end of the war in April of 1918.
- Through out the years of World War One the tank never developed into a very effective weapon. This would of course not be the case in World War 2 where it played a major role on the battlefield.