World War 1 Tanks Continued

Char D'Assault St. Chamond

This early combat tank developed in 1916 was the predecessor to the modern self-propelled gun tank therefore was an important vehicle in terms of its development. Its origins are French, while this tank served throughout the First World War from its inception. The Chamond was a monster of a tank that really was unable to negotiate the battlefields with any agility at all. Its saving grace was its gun that was valued greatly.

Designed by Colonel Emile Rimailho the centrally located engine was sited beneath the armoured hull of the tank. The driver was able to sit at both the front and the back of the tank meaning the vehicle did not have to be turned around in order to travel the opposite way. The tank had a forward firing 75mm elevated gun, four Hotchkiss machine guns, one on the right front, right back plus one on each side offering all round security.

To man the tank eight crew members were required with drivers sitting both at the front of the tank and one at the back. The tank was relatively spacious for the crew but this had a down side as it made the vehicle more cumbersome. The open engine also meant that the crew suffered as they breathed in fumes constantly. Three hundred and seventy seven Chamond tanks were made during World War I with only one now in existence. This is housed at the Musee des Blindes in Saumur. View a video below

Fiat 2000

The Fiat 2000 was Italy’s first tank that was produced solely by them. Prior to this tank being designed Italy used a French designed sample namely the Schneider CA1. Fiat’s in-house tracked vehicle was to become the fore-runner to tanks that were used leading up to World War II. Fiat’s first attempts were less than sleek in design being awkward looking to a great degree.

The Fiat 2000 was a heavy tank with thin or narrow tracks that proved awkward when it came to crossing boggy terrain. The top dome housed a gun (65mm), while there were seven mounted machine guns as a means of defence. The tank had a top speed of 4.5 miles per hour and was manned by no less than ten crew men. In fact the tank was so slow that on occasions ground troops would outrun the vehicles.

As for use in mountainous regions where Italian troops often fought it was a no go. There were in fact only two Fiat 2000 tanks built in 1918 with neither of them being used in the First World War

Holt Gas Electric Tank

This tank was produced in 1918, the final year of World War One. It was the first tank designed in the United States of America and was based upon studies of the First World War in Europe. As with many other tanks of this era the tank was far too cumbersome resulting in poor performance.

Only one original tank was designed and produced with the whole set up being cancelled in 1918. Holt teamed up with General Electric to design this American tank system. This new tank housed a six man crew, while armoury included a 75mm Vickers Mountain Howitzer and two Browning 7.62mm machine guns.

The transmission cooling system made the tank very heavy resulting in disappointment all round. Traversing rough territory was not easy and the tank only really performed at all when running on a level surface. The tanks top speed was six miles per hour which was faster than some other models but none the less was slow by comparison to todays vehicles. Holt eventually became the company we know today that designs great plant machinery namely Caterpillar.

Little Willie Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Winston Churchill was instrumental during his years at the Admiralty for the introduction of the tank as a weapon of war. The name Land ship was attached to these early vehicles comparing with the Battleship that was associated with the sea. Originally this tank was thought up as a means of transport to get troops through enemy lines while at the same time firing its guns on the enemy.

The very first prototype known as “Little Willie” was produced in 1916 by Fosters of Lincoln. The tank was the first of its kind in history and was ten feet tall. The steering was partly controlled from the back of the tank, while the tank was originally made to accommodate two crew members but eventually there were six in total as personnel was required to man the guns.

Little Willie could only travel at two miles per hour which was very slow but inevitably its introduction followed by other tanks during World War I had a positive effect on the outcome of the conflict as far as the British were concerned. 

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