Early tank design and use
Initially, it was believed that the First World War would be over within a few months of its declaration. However, a stalemate set in along the Western Front in Belgium and France. In this situation the rival armies dug trenches both to defend the territory they controlled and to launch attacks to try to capture more land. Hundreds of thousands of men and women on both sides lost their lives.
Tanks were developed during the course of the First World War in an attempt to help break the stalemate. They were first developed by the British, who went on the manufacture thousands of these trailblazing vehicles. The images below show early British and German tanks.The Germans began developing tanks after the British first used theirs during the battle of the Somme in 1916. Of Germany’s A7V Sturmpanzerwagen only 20 were ever built for use in war. They saw limited service on the Western Front in 1918. At times captured British and French tanks were reconditioned for use by the German Army.
How are these two tanks similar? How are they different and why?
Look at the images below. Describe the landscape in these photographs of the Western Front. How might a tank have been useful in conditions like these?
Look at the image below. Why do you think tanks were designed with caterpillar tracks rather than wheels?
Why do you think the Germans re-used tanks they had captured from the British? What problems might this cause?
Look at the image below. A basket like this was attached to each of the British tanks that went into action, and inside were two pigeons. What were they used for?
Being a member of a tank crew was uncomfortable and dangerous. What sorts of things do you think could go wrong?
Tank design changed over time. Look at the images of the two German tanks below. One dates from the First World War and the other from the Second World War. What are the similarities and differences?