Tanks – WW1 Uncut: Dan Snow – BBC

Tanks Invented by the British in world war one they were a source of fascination for the soldiers who fought alongside? the public were just as mesmerised These are among the first images people ever seen of these lumbering metal monsters and when the battle of [agra] film was released in early 1917 Millions of Britons rushed to see it And who can blame tanks were like nothing else seen before but looking back now at those early [years] of the tank? It’s astonishing how rapidly it’s evolved on the 30th of June 1915 right here on wormwood Scrubs in West London Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George first saw this An armored vehicle that could cut through barbed wire Just three months later [had] it become this This is Little willie. It’s the oldest tank in the world This one wasn’t thought to be long enough to get across the german trenches and so subsequent models were stretched out [Little] Willie was replaced by Big Willie also known [as] mother This was the first tank to hit the battlefield the mark 1 It’s first engagement wasn’t a resounding success But it showed its potential Independently the French had come up with their very own tank designs But they were unreliable and frequently got stuck the real game-changer [was] this the Mark 4 and in to the mark for tank I mean If is the real workhorse for the middle years of the first world war it Bristling with [armored] you got a six-pound gun here You’ve got this would have been a lewis gun or a [like] machine gun here and then you enter the main body of the tank quite Tight for space so even eight people in there eight crew required four of them just required to drive the thing Right in the middle dominating the whole space [is] the engine there. We go sold a pre-war tractor engine as you can see there’s no Partition here between the engine compartment and the crew compartment and that meant that people had huge problems the crews often had to be Hospitalized after a day or two in the tank with they’ve become asphyxiated [by] the fumes coming off this engine also incredibly hot these Exhaust pipes here would have been glowing red hot? And with all the bodies in here as well, it would have been absolutely bacon Even so they were held an affection and often named by their crews The commander’s seat first thing I guess about this is that they would have these windows to see through But of course if they were taking incoming fire to close these and they have to look through the periscope glass periscopes here more slots [uh] machine gun here more holes in it [to] shoot your Pistol through and shoot people off the outside of the tank it was a very very heavily armored vehicle, but also one capable of really Taking the fight to the enemy as well and made a thousand [of] these during world war one And it went on serve with great success in Battles like cambrai The tank was becoming an integral part of the allied strategy as Armored warfare evolved the number of different types of tank multiplied. This was a so-called whippet tank It was designed to follow the heavy tanks into battle then when they made the penetration these could spread out speeding behind the German lines [Sowing] absolute Chaos the French had a similar idea, [but] only a few months earlier in 1917 and launched the popular renault FT-17 This is a light tank and the first with a fully rotating turret But it wasn’t as quick as the whip it This could do 8 miles an hour at dizzying speed around double what other tank can do at the time? The Germans were slow to pick up on the whole tank thing Initially their high command thought it was pretty unmanly driving around the battlefield in a steel container [good] old walking was good enough quite rapidly though. They realized their mistake and they produce this film panzer wagon The Germans were slow to produce them though partly because of the lack [of] that top-down drive and also the lack of materials Thanks to Britain’s blockade of Germany very Few were built And they didn’t really go into service until the last days of the war in fact the germans probably use more captured British tanks in Their own home produced models The Germans even set up special workshops where they brought and repaired captured tanks Meanwhile the British Design just kept evolving after Mark 4 Tank came surprise surprise the Mark 5 now this was the vehicle that played its part in the titanic British victories of the summer and autumn of 1918 it’s spearheaded British attacks like the one [at] the battle of Amien on August the 8th which saw British and allied infantry Advance further into german lines than any other battle on the western front in World War one These marked fires were faster more reliable Than the marked fault they were also able to be steered by one person unlike the four people required to steer this tanks predecessor Britain’s Massive industrial base and innovative culture Was producing tanks which every year were becoming better and [better] by orders of magnitude In less than three years tanks had gone from the drawing board to becoming integral to allied Warplanes They were no longer just a novelty but another part of the machinery of war One that was critical to the final allied victory

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