World War I 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 - new progressive weapons for battle
The first tanks of the First World War appeared in 1916. This technical result was achieved by British and French engineers. Before we talk about their characteristics, we must understand why the first tanks appeared in the First World War. The fighting began violently, but the activity lasted just a month. After this, the battles began to be mainly of a positional nature. This development did not suit any of the warring parties. The methods of warfare that existed at that time, as well as military equipment, did not allow solving the task of breaking through 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) cautiously perceived the initiatives of engineers to build an armored vehicle on wheels or on tracks, but over time, the generals realized the need to improve the technical equipment of their armies.
British tanks of the First World War
During the war, English engineers created several models of armored vehicles. The first option was called “Mark-1”. “Baptism of Fire” took place on September 15, 1916, during the Battle of the 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, the problems that needed to be fixed were immediately visible:
- Armor should be stronger. The metal of the Mark-1 tank could withstand the hitting of bullets and shrapnel from the projectiles, but in the case of a direct projectile hit the vehicle, the crew was doomed.
- Lack of engine room separated from the “salon”. While driving, the temperature in the tank was 50 degrees, all exhaust gases also went to the salon.
What could this tank? In principle, for the time being a little: to overcome the wire and trenches up to 2 meters wide 70 centimeters.
Modernization of British tanks
The first tanks of the First World War were modernized during the course of hostilities. Tanks "Mark-1" more in the battles were not used, because immediately began to make changes in the design. What has been improved? It is clear that in the conditions of continuing combat operations, it was impossible to instantly improve the design of tanks. By the winter of 1917, the production of the Mark-2 and Mark-3 models began. These tanks had more powerful armor, which the usual projectile 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 mass production of the Mark-5 model began. The tanks of the First World War gradually became more combat-ready. For example, now only a driver was driving a tank. Speed specifications have improved because the engineers have installed the four-speed gearbox. In this tank, the temperature inside was no longer so high because they installed a cooling system. The motor was already somewhat separated from the main compartment. The tank commander was in a separate wheelhouse. They also equipped the tank with another machine gun.
Tanks of the Russian Empire
In Russia, which also took part in the hostilities, work on the creation of the tank was in full swing. But it is worth noting that the Russian tanks of the First World War did not appear on the battlefields, although the tsarist army was very necessary. The main reason is absolute technical unsuitability. The Russian engineer Lebedenko noted that in 1915 he created the largest tank in the world weighing over 40 tons. He received the name “Tsar-tank”. During tests at the site of a tank equipped with two engines of 240 l / s, the engine stalled. Lead it could not. The model had no special technical characteristics, except for its size.
German tanks of the First World War
By the end of the First World War, Germany also gained its tanks in the war. This is an A7B model. If you look at the tanks of the First World War, the photos of which are in this article, you can see that for those times this model was very modern. The front of the tank is protected by 30 mm armor, which made it difficult to break through this car. The commander was on the top platform (1.6 meters above ground level). The firing range was up to two kilometers. The tank was equipped with a 55-millimeter cannon, in which ammunition was 100 high-explosive fragmentation projectiles. In addition, the gun could shoot armor-piercing and caricature shells. With the help of a gun, a tank could easily destroy the enemy’s 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 Renault tank of 1917 was already similar in form to the modern one. The tank, unlike the English models, could give a backstop. The crew entered and exited through the hatch (British tanks of the First World War were equipped with doors on the side of the tank). The turret of the tank could already rotate, that is, the shooting took place in different directions (the tank could shoot right-left and forward).
The first tanks of the First World War could not be completely technically perfect, because mankind always moves to the ideal through mistakes and improvements.