Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Birthday Tank!

On September 15th 1916 the British used tanks in a battle for the first time in the history of warfare.

The British sent in the first tanks during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which was part of the Battle of the Somme. The tanks used were the British designed and built Mark 1. An easy way to tell the Mark 1 from the 4 or 5 is the steering wheels in the back which was determined not to be worth it to keep. I'm not sure if Mark IIs or IIIs had the wheels on but they never saw combat so if it's got the wheels in the thick of it then it's a Mark 1.

Mark 1 Tank
The Mark 1 tank was a starting point but even compared to later built World War 1 tanks they were bad. The British had 49 Mark 1 tanks for the battle but only could send 32 in to fight due to mechanical issues. The armor was basically tin foil and with the engine on the inside with the crew it made many tankers very sick. They had to deal with the heat of the engine which ran well over 100 degrees then add in the carbon monoxide the engine was putting out and on top of that add in the noise the engine made would seem like enough on it's own. This was all going on when the tank was working at one hundred percent and once you add in that they had to take these beasts into battle made for one of the worst experiences on the battlefield.

You'd have bullets rattling around inside the hull that would injury and kill crew members that they had them where chain mail face armor so they wouldn't loose their sight. They were constantly sick and would puke after escaping inside of the tank into the fresh air. On top of all this these tanks were huge and loud which was like putting a huge bulls eye on the side for your enemy. The guys in these early tanks definitely had some guts.

These tanks scream World War 1 because most tanks that came later had turrets, as did the FT-17 which was in the war. The Mark IVs and Vs were used by numerous countries including the Germans when they could get their hands on them because they really didn't have anything of their own.

I mentioned in my Battlefield 1 Beta Review that I loved getting to use these tanks in that game. In Battlefield 1 the tanks are the Mark V variety.

Today most of these type of tanks are long gone with only a handful left. I went to Washington DC with my brothers a few years ago and I had them stop by the United States Army Ordnance Museum because they had a Mark IV, the only one in the United States. After fighting in the war it was sent to the museum where it's sat rotting since the 20s but it's now in the process of being restored which is great. I couldn't find any of the pictures I took of it but my brother did have one he took so blame him for how it looks, apparently he's never heard of framing.

I do have some miniature Mark IVs which may show up on this blog soon so stay tuned.

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