The British Mark I was the first armoured tracked armed vehicle to enter combat in 1916 changing the game of war on the Western Front in WWI. The name tank was initially a code word to maintain secrecy as the title “Landship” was deemed to be too obvious.
The Mark I was developed to break the stalemate of the First World War by being able to service incoming machine gun fire, travel difficult terrain, destroy barbed wire and cross trenches to push through enemy lines supporting the infantry.
On the morning of 15 September 1916 during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette the Mark I tank was first used to cut through barbed wire to clear the way for infantry, they were even driven through houses to destroy machine gun emplacements and to further to push through enemy lines. However its first engagement wasn’t a resounding success. Of a total 49 Mark I tanks deployed only 9 managed to reach their objective. This was due to either breaking down or becoming stuck. Despite this British high command saw its potential and made a request for 1000 more to be made.
The Mark IV was a more heavily armoured, improved version of the Mark I and went into production in May 1917. The Mark IV was developed with two different types Male, and Female. The Male tank was armed with two 6-pounder guns mounted on each side, as well as three mounted Lewis machine guns mounted on the sides and front of the tank. The Female was armed with 5 Lewis machine guns. The Mark IV was used in large scale at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917. This battle saw nearly 400 British tanks and infantry totally over run the German lines in the initial attack.
Thanks to the Mark I and Mark IV the tank has become a vital part of militaries all over the world, with each country vying to make bigger, faster, more armoured tanks then their enemies. The Mark I showed the world what the tank could do, changing the battlefield forever. Massive emphasis is still placed on tanks in the military with some of the most advanced including British Challenger 2 and American Abrams.