The First World War brought a huge technical breakthrough in the military industry. Its course, especially the events of 1915, showed the need to create more mobile units in the armies.
Tanks - a new progressive weapon for combat
The first tanks of the First World War appeared in 1916. This technical result was achieved by English and French engineers. Before talking about their characteristics, we must understand why the first tanks appeared in the First World War. The fighting began violently, but activity lasted literally a month. After that, the fighting began to be mostly positional. This development of events did not suit any of the belligerents. The methods of warfare that existed at that time, as well as military equipment, did not allow solving the problem of the breakthrough of the front. It was necessary to look for a radically new solution to the problem.
The military leadership of England (yes, in general, and France) with caution perceived the initiative of engineers to build an armored vehicle on wheels or on tracks, but eventually the generals realized the need to increase the level of technical equipment of their armies.
British tanks of the First World War
During the war, English engineers created several models of armored cars. The first option was called "Mark-1". "Battle baptism" was held September 15, 1916 during the Battle of Somme. The first tanks of the First World War were still technically "damp". According to the plan, it was necessary to use 49 tanks in battle. Due to technical problems, 17 tanks could not take part in the battle. Of the 32 tanks, 9 were able to break through the German defenses. After the first battle, problems immediately began to appear that needed to be eliminated:
- Armor should be stronger. The metal of the tank "Mark-1" could withstand hit of bullets and fragments from shells, but in case of direct hit of a projectile by car the crew was doomed.
- Absence of engine room separated from the "salon". During the movement, the temperature in the tank was 50 degrees, all the exhaust gases also went to the salon.
What could this tank have? In principle, for the time being a little: to overcome wire and trenches up to 2 meters wide 70 centimeters.
Modernization of British tanks
The first tanks of the First World War were modernized already during the course of hostilities. The tanks "Mark-1" were no longer used in battles, because immediately the design began to make changes. What it was possible to improve? It is clear that in the conditions of the continuation of hostilities, it was not immediately possible to improve the design of the tanks. By the winter of 1917 the production of models "Mark-2" and "Mark-3" began. These tanks had more powerful armor, which the usual shell could not penetrate. In addition, more powerful guns were installed on the tanks, which gradually increased the effectiveness of their combat use.
In 1918, the serial production of the Mark-5 model began. The tanks of the First World War gradually became more combat-ready. For example, only the driver was driving the tank now. Improved speed specifications, because engineers installed a new transmission at four speeds. In this tank there was no longer a temperature inside so high, because they installed a cooling system. The motor was already somewhat detached from the main compartment. The tank commander was in a separate cabin. Also equipped the tank with another machine gun.
Tanks of the Russian Empire
In Russia, which also took part in the fighting, work on the creation of the tank was boiling at full speed. But it is worth noting that the Russian tanks of the First World War did not appear on the battlefields, although they were very necessary for the tsarist army. The main reason is absolute technical inapplicability. The Russian engineer Lebedenko noted that in 1915 he created the largest tank in the world with a mass of more than 40 tons. It was called "Tsar Tank". During the tests at the range near the tank, equipped with two engines of 240 hp, the engine died. To get it and could not. The model had no special technical characteristics, except for its overall dimensions.
German tanks of the First World War
By the end of World War I, Germany had also lost its tanks with its tanks. It's about the A7B model. If you view the tanks of the First World War, photos of which are in this article, you can see that at that time this model was very modern. The front of the tank is protected by armor of 30 mm, which made it difficult to break through this machine. The commander was on the top platform (1.6 meters above ground level). The shooting range was up to two kilometers. The tank was equipped with a 55-millimeter gun, in the ammunition kit of which there were 100 high-explosive shells. In addition, the gun could fire armor-piercing and shot-projectiles. With the help of a cannon, the tank could easily destroy the enemy's fighting fortifications.
March 21, 1918, there took place a tank battle between the Germans and the British. German first tanks of the First world war, as it turned out, was much more combat capability English “mark-5”. To understand the cause of the huge advantages of the Germans: the British tanks had no cannons, so they could not be so effective to shoot at the enemy.
Harbinger of progress
The French tank "Renault" of 1917 was already similar in shape to the modern one. The tank, unlike the English models, could reverse. The entrance and exit of the crew was carried out already through the hatch (English tanks of the times of the First World War were equipped with doors on the side of the tank). The tower of the tank could already rotate, that is, the shooting took place in different directions (the tank could shoot and right-left, and forward).
The first tanks of the First World War and could not be absolutely technically perfect, because always to the ideal humanity is moving through errors and improvements.