Tank Development in WWI
“No present day army could fight against an army consisting of say 2,000 tanks, and it therefore follows that all large Continental armies will have to make use of tank armies in the future” - British Captain Giffard Le Quesne Martel
The tank might be one of the most important innovations in weapons technology during World War I. The use of armored vehicles in warfare was not only an amazing innovation in weapons technology but also revolutionized the way in which warfare in general was conducted. This invention pushed warfare past the stage of stagnant battles of attrition. It allowed armies to break down the extreme defensive constructs of trench warfare and therefore greatly reduced the casualties involved in exchanging frontal assaults against fortified machine guns. Although the effects were not greatly realized during WWI, the advancements made in tank technology were immeasurably important in the progression of modern warfare and arguably essential to the Allied victory.
While the technology is fairly recent, the concepts involved in the tank have existed for years. Leonardo Da Vinci actually drew blueprints for an armored vehicle in 1487. Tanks have also been compared to Hanibal’s elephants or even ancient Egyptian chariots. Although these previous modes of transportation had a similar effect during their time, it was not until WWI that modern armored vehicles were brought into battle. HG Wells’ 1901 publication Anticipation of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought foreshadowed the need for tanks in battle. Wells argued in this essay that a smaller more experienced army is significantly more effective than a large army of amateurs. He claimed that the “engineering men” operating these tanks would be skilled and well trained, creating a more efficient army. It was not until 1915 that the military took this advice to heart.3
In the summer of 1915, Sir...
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