Mk IV Female Tank

Accession Number RELAWM05040.001
Collection type Technology
Object type Vehicle
Physical description Steel
Location Anzac Hall: Main Hall
Place made United Kingdom: Scotland, Glasgow
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Mk IV 'Female' Tank. A First World War British armoured fighting vehicle, weighing 28 tonnes, and carrying a crew of 8 - driver, commander, two gearsmen, and four machine gunners. Manufactured by the Coventry Ordnance Works, the tank has a distinctive rhombodial shape with a large sponson on each side. The sponsons are each fitted with two light machine gun ports in gimbals. The tank is constructed from riveted armour plate and is powered by a 105 hp Daimler 6 cylinder petrol engine, which is centrally mounted between the sponsons. The vehicle's tracks are fabricated from metal and travel over the entire length of the vehicle. The front glacis of tank mounts a single light machine gun port. On the side of the tank towards the rear is stencilled in white paint the manufacturer's indentification number 4643. The tank is painted with an overall matt brown-green colour, based on paint survivals of the original finish found on the vehicle. The interior of the tank is painted white.

History / Summary

In June 1918 this newly manufactured Mark IV Female tank arrived in Australia, from Glasgow. The tank was used as a propaganda tool and toured to raise money for the war effort. The tank's crew was made up of eight men of the Permanent Military Forces, all formally of the Australian Imperial Force, led by Captain N L Brown. In mid September 1918 the tank featured in War Loan rallies in Adelaide, South Australia. There, a competition was held to name the tank and on Saturday 14 September it was christened 'Grit' by Lady Galway.

Demonstrations were also given in which the tank negotiated a series of obstacles and for the grand finale crashed through a stone building. Later that month, while en route to Melbourne, Victoria, the tank was looted and numerous tools, several pairs of overalls and other small items were stolen from the interior. In Melbourne the tank featured in the Royal Agricultural Show before moving on to Sydney in October, where it again gave demonstrations and featured in War Loan appeals. The tank also gave a demonstration at Albury, NSW, while en route back to Melbourne, and the following year featured in displays in Brisbane.

The tank proved to be extremely popular and three replicas, which were manufactured in Victoria, were employed to tour regional areas to help raise money. After the end of the war public interest in the tank waned and as most of the crew were discharged it became more difficult to maintain the tank in operating condition. It was placed in storage in an Army engineering depot in South Melbourne until it became part of the Australian War Memorial's collection in October 1921 and was subsequently displayed at the Melbourne Exhibitions Building.